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Activism & Action Our Voices

Lunch with a Feminist Icon

A feminist icon has lunch at The Pilot in Toronto

Let me gift you with a feminist trivia game for your next feminist holiday gathering. And I’ll wrap it up with a big hint: the questions all have the same answer.

Question #1: Who was the woman who saved the life of abortion rights advocate, Dr. Henry Morgentaler, by fearlessly stepping in front of an attacker wielding garden shears at Morgentaler during the opening of Toronto’s first abortion clinic on Harbord Street?

Question #2: Who led the fight to get abortion legalized in Canada in the 1980s, while serving as president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NACS), the feminist lobby group that represented more than 700 women’s rights groups across Canada and, from 1971 to 2007, successfully pressured the government to take action on daycare, birth control, women’s right to choose, maternity leave, family law, poverty, racism, women’s equality in Canada’s Charter of Rights, and violence against women—to name just a few issues?

Question #3: Who is Canada’s Gloria Steinem? Okay, that’s not an entirely fair question as we like to think Canada has a few. But, on top of authoring seven books, hosting a prime-time TV show, and writing countless articles about the women’s movement and social justice, this woman also co-founded, Canada’s largest independent, alternative news outlet and discussion site, and served as its publisher?

Question #4: Who understood and acted on intersectional feminism—social justice for all women—long before it was a thing?

Still stumped? You can imagine my frustration when I excitedly gabbed to everyone I knew that I was meeting Judy Rebick for lunch! Too often, the response was, Who is Judy Rebick?

Judy Rebick’s latest book is a memoir titled Heroes in My Head

 Who is Judy Rebick?

Well, I can tell you that Judy Rebick is a woman who not only shows up when she’s needed—she gets there early. She was already waiting for us at The Pilot tavern, a hangout for writers, musicians, and artists since Toronto’s Yorkville hippie days in the 1970s. Gordon Lightfoot performed with Bob Dylan here. It’s also steps away from the Toronto Reference Library, a place where writers spend a lot of time.

When I arrived, Rebick looked up. Though we had never met, we recognized each other immediately. Her stance, head of thick but now graying curls, and iconic glasses gave her away. Rebick greeted me with a big “in solidarity” hug. LiisBeth’s associate editor Lana Pesch, rushed from her day job, as eager to meet this feminist icon as I was, joined us soon after.

We quickly ordered coffee and lunch so that we could get down to talking without further interruptions. Rebick, now 73, was as keen to know about us as we were her. We shared histories and some great stories, then I shifted the conversation to a topic we came to learn more about: growing a sustainable media outlet in a time of turmoil for media enterprises in general.

Judy Rebick on Idle No More

I asked her what we, as feminist changemakers and publishers, could learn from her experience both as a long-time feminist journalist and as a co-founder/publisher/editor of, an alternative online publication (launched 2001) and now one of the country’s most successful, attracting 800 members, two million page views, and 350,000 unique visitors per month according to Google Analytics.

Specifically, for LiisBeth and our readers, I wanted to know the path to’s success. How did it ever get off the ground and survive this long, without a major foundation footing bills, angel investors or sponsors, or even a paywall?

Rebick told us that she and her co-founders were convinced that Canadians were frustrated by the mainstream press extolling neoliberal narratives. They wanted and deserved an alternative point of view on current issues and events. So Rebick and friends created a plan and hit the road to find funding. In one year, they raised $200,000 in startup funding including $120,000 from the Atkinson Foundation along with funds from some 18 unions—enough to code and launch

Seventeen years later, Vancouver-based now generates approximately $350,408 in revenues, of which $121,000 (34.8 percent) come from reader donations. Income from sustaining partners (unions) represented another 50 percent while 14 percent comes from grants and various sponsorships. While the site promotes its advertising utility, less than 1 percent of its revenue comes from ads.

Rebick explained that unions backed as the publication offered a way for the left to connect and unions to connect with their constituents about ideas, critiques of policy, and economic analysis that the mainstream media largely ignored.

The idea of an online newspaper and participative forum for readers was totally rad at the time. That was early-stage internet and way before Facebook or Google.

Since its launch, some 90-plus independent news and magazine channels have appeared, and none have readership figures as high as yet. In Canada. But as Rebick filled us in on’s journey—the type of stories they chased and how—we were reminded how critically important alternative media is to any functioning democracy. Such media organizations hold political and business leaders accountable, bring new business models to light and offer an outlet for ideas of alternative world–making.

We were also reminded that financially sustaining an alternative indie media enterprise is a little like figuring out how to keep a fish alive and healthy out of water. After all, how do you challenge the status quo if you’re trying to raise money from people who benefit from systemic inequality?

Rebick certainly got us thinking, because at LiisBeth, we have similar values and face many of the same challenges as We believe passionately that feminist entrepreneurs can change the world. We have faith in the idea that grassroots storytelling and discussion opportunities matter. And we dig deep to figure out what it takes to create, grow, and leverage a sustainable, social justice–forward digital media enterprise in today’s world.

Rebick believes that technology-enabled movements, aided by aligned alternative media outlets, are transforming power. Social movements—not governments, lobby groups, or corporate social responsibility initiatives—are correcting the course, exploding our ability to imagine new worlds, advance democracy and human rights, and force action on climate change. Rebick explained how different recent tech-enabled protests such as Arab Spring, Idle No More, and Occupy were to the anti-globalization rally in Quebec in the late 1990s. And she should know. She was there. On the ground. Involved in it all.

And suddenly, it was 2 p.m. Rebick was in demand again, at another meeting. She signed my copy of Ten Thousand Roses, the book she wrote on the making of a feminist revolution, and graciously rushed out.

Lana and I lingered, talking about how our conversation with Rebick was like getting drawn into an incredible living book on Canadian feminist action and social progress. The entire meeting was so engrossing that we completely forgot to document the occasion. No group selfie or even a picture of Judy. And we are a social media organization, with an online magazine and newsletter!

How will anyone ever recognize this incredible feminist icon? Chagrined, we took a picture of the chair she sat in.

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 Related Reading

Our Voices

Meeting a Feminist Icon: LiisBeth Publisher PK Mutch on encountering the leading feminist activist of her life

Gloria Steinem speaking to Farrah Kahn at the “Courage of A Movement” event, Toronto, Dec 12, 2018

Last week I heard, met—and got to put my arm around the waist of the amazing Gloria Steinem as she graciously posed for a photo with me after a keynote speech she gave in Toronto. As I stood beside her, my mind sparkled like a string of holiday lights, and my heart was on fire with hope, but to the touch, she felt breakable, delicate.

And there it was: The feminist movement, its power to inspire, and frail progress embodied perfectly in one of its most dedicated, creative and impactful voices.

Steinem, now 84, was in Toronto on December 12 to participate in “The Courage of a Movement”, an event organized by the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP). More than 700 people attended. While ticket prices were steep, there were many sponsored tickets available.

Steinem opened her talk by saying how much she admires Canada’s First Nations land acknowledgment practice and conceded that her homeland often has a huge influence on Canadians. “I promise to go back, and try to do something about the ridiculous situation we have.

“I would just ask you to remember that [Donald Trump] was not popularly elected. He lost by six million votes. Three for other candidates, three for Hillary Clinton. He’s just there because of our crazed institution called the electoral college, which just tells us we have to get rid of it. Incidentally, it is a legacy of the slave states. So we are trying to treat him as a great instruction on everything that we need to do, right? And we are woke. I just want to say. We are seriously woke.”

The audience erupted.

Other key points in her talk included the importance of understanding that history began in North America long people the Europeans showed up, and how many early cultures did not have gender pronouns, or words for race. “I mean, the paradigm was a circle, not a pyramid. It was really profoundly different.

“Our whole world is divided into two kinds of people, those who divide everything into two (or see things in binary terms) and those who don’t.”

She pointed out that normalized violence against women is the major determinant of whether a country is violent on its own streets and whether it will use violence against another country. In other words how a country treats its women is how it operates in the world.

The Courage of a Movement Panel

The Courage of a Movement Panel, from left to right: actress Patricia Fagan (Canadian Stage Company, Soulpepper), writer, lecturer, political activist and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, moderator Marci Ien, 15-year-old blogger and author of “Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change” Hanna Alper, and Manager of Consent Comes First, Ryerson University, Farrah Khan.

During the panel session that followed Steinem’s keynote, she was asked if she believed society has truly made any progress towards gender equality and social justice.

Steinem noted that gender equity is still far off and advancements are fragile, however, she believes we have made significant progress at a key and fundamental level. “We’ve actually changed the majority consciousness. Not the power structure. Not where the money is. But consciousness comes first. So, that’s big.”

She added that at this time in history, people who been seriously deprived by hierarchy and patriarchy are increasingly mad as hell. This is also big.

To another question posed by an audience member – “Will things get better in the future?” – Steinem replied “I’m a hopeaholic. Yes, we do need to be realistic. But I do think hope is kind of planning. I have to say that part of the good thing about being old, and I am very old, is that we remember when it was worse. We can all see how bonkers [patriarchy] is and that’s why we need to work together. We each have something to bring. I’ll bring hope. You bring anger. And there’s no stopping us.”

Three wise women at The Courage of a Movement event, Toronto.

Left to right: Jan Borowy Cavalluzo, LLP; Shelly Gordon, and Manager of Consent Comes First, Ryerson University, Farrah Khan.

Outside the auditorium, I asked three wise women, Shelly Gordon, Farrah Khan (also a panelist), and Jan Borowy Cavalluzo why they attended. Gordon remarked, “Gloria still has a lot of advice for how to keep moving social change”. Borowy Cavalluzo said for her, “Gloria has been an inspiration to the feminist movement for decades. Her approach to the intersectional feminist movements is important and I am interested in what she has to say.”

So, while the 84-year-old Steinem may be frail in body, her power to fuel the feminist movement is still robust and relevant as ever.

Sample Newsletter


“Comfort & Joy” photo by: Jack Jackson


Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

That’s how I felt standing next to Gloria Steinem in Toronto last week. Steinem is now eighty-four years old and still wearing boots with five-inch heels.

The woman is beyond inspiration.

A powerful voice for feminism, as well as a professional and personal governance role model extraordinaire, Steinem makes no apologies about her views on patriarchy as a persistent rapacious force of devastation for both half the planet and the environment. She is genuine when she says she wants to (still) change the ridiculous situation in the US.

And at a time of year that can be a bowl of mixed nuts for many, it was grounding to hear the words from a woman who never gave up on the movement or the fight. She’s been ridiculed, criticized, heckled, and slammed for her ideas of equality and fairness. But she kept going, continually unearthing, learning, leveraging her incredible humanity, creativity, and wicked wit to advance gender equality.

During the panel session which followed her keynote, Steinem was asked if she believed that a gender just world would be possible by 2030. Seven hundred of us attending the “Courage of A Movement” event waited in suspense.

After a few moments, she replied “I’m a hopeaholic. Yes, we do need to be realistic. But I do think hope is kind of planning. I have to say that part of the good thing about being old and I am very old, is that we remember when it was worse. We can all see how bonkers [patriarchy] is and that’s why we need to work together-the young and the old. 

We each have something to bring. So I’ll bring hope. You bring anger. And there’s no stopping us.”

Wow. With that, I left feeling joyous and full of ambition for 2019.

Read the full VIEWPOINT here.


The Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum 2018 snapshot review by Jack Jackson.
Music credit: This Changing Life by Joan Armatrading

What the EFF? Wow. The 2018 Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum was a jam-packed two days of provocative talks, lab sessions, “think and do” workshops, movement classes, and creative writing practice. Overall theme? CONNECT + TAKE ACTION. We’ll have a full report next year but for now, check out these SIX action items from the forum here.

Shecosystem coworking and wellness space, Toronto, Canada

If you’re working at an organization that is closing, the story of Shecosystem shutting their doors might give you renewed hope and a different perspective. As we usher in a new year, perhaps identifying what needs to end, change, or be “shecomposted” in your business (or life!) is worth a closer look. Read Sue Nador’s piece on how shecomposting is fertilizing new ground here.

It’s Campaign Season! If you think our advocacy for women and gender-non conforming entrepreneurs is worthy, or you find our content of value professionally, we hope you will consider contributing to our 2018 Patreon Fund Raising Campaign. Each online magazine refresh and newsletter takes a community to create and disseminate. We have 2000+ subscribers, but less than 30% contribute financially. We are open access and rely 100% on reader donations. Our impact is measurable. So if social justice and economic transformation are on your intentions and gratitude list this year, here’s your chance to donate to LiisBeth.


Carol Anne Hilton speaks at the EFF 2018 on Indigenomics

When Giants Break Free-A New Reality for Indigenous Relations in Canada

On Dec 5th, EFF speaker Carol Anne Hilton’s report on the indigenous economy in Canada and its potential to reach $100B by 2023 was released. The report says that if achieved, “total Aboriginal income would be greater than the level of nominal GDP of Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island combined.” Hilton is the founder of the Indigenomics Institute, an economic advisory group launched in 2018 that works with public governments, Indigenous communities, and the private sector to overcome economic barriers imposed on Indigenous communities. You can read the full report here.

Photo credit:

Vegan Egg Nog?

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the best-selling author of Isa Does It and Veganomicon, and her restaurant Modern Love has locations in Omaha and Brooklyn. Her recipes are equals parts humour and delight. Cheers to Isa’s Matrioshka Eggnog recipe for a creative twist on a holiday favourite!

Huge kudos to Christina Zeidler, Chief Alchemist and founder of Toronto’s hottest art hotel, the Gladstone Hotel, and their entire staff for developing and implementing a feminist business framework that guides business decision making and operational practice.  Zeilder and her colleague, Chris Mitchell presented their framework and the journey undertaken to get there at the recent Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum. You can read more about feminist business practice at the Gladstone here. Better yet–just go and stay there! You will feel the difference.

Food Starter entrepreneur Eden and founder of Coco and Al  promoting her Keto friendly baked goods at Food Starter’s booth at the St. Lawrence Farmer’s Market

One-Eyed Innovation Mindset At Work

On Dec 11th, Ontario’s only food processing startup incubator, Food Starter, announced the need to close its doors by January 31st, 2019, leaving 160 self-employed food entrepreneurs and growth stage companies without accessibly to well-priced food processing resources and a place to make their products. Over 65% of Food Starter’s clients were women and 80% were people of colour and/or newcomers. Programming which supported their market feasibility assessments and commercialization will also cease.

Meanwhile, just a few miles away, McMaster University announced another $1M in federal funding to expand its tech incubator. Down south, the city of Chicago proudly announced the opening of a new, 67,000 square foot, $34M food and beverage incubator known as “The Hatchery” — with shared kitchens, storage, and office space for roughly 100 startups.

Let’s be clear. Food Starter had sustainability issues from its inception—and not all of them were related to funding. They were however, not intractable. A longer runway would have gone a long way to provide the time needed to sort them out.

The enterprise needed just $500K per year to continue to advance food entrepreneurship in Toronto and beyond.  That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money poured into tech incubation–and conferences like Elevate in Toronto –and across the country every year.

You can’t eat a computer. Just sayin’.

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash



We receive MANY queries and asked you last month to choose your favourite from our top 3 but…only got ONE vote 🙁 

So let’s give it another try!

Below are the top 3 story ideas we’ve received recently: VOTE HERE  for your TOP PICK.
OR tell us what you want to read in LiisBeth 2.019!

1. The Duality of Entrepreneurial “Struggle Porn” and Unseen Women’s Labor from a business owner in the gaming industry
2. Portrait of Swedish Feminist Party leader Gudrun Shyman
3. Women are the backbone of Africa’s labor force but lack of opportunities to advance. Why a conducive environment for African women to thrive makes sense.


LAST CALL! 2 x SIGNED COPIES of Gender Physics by Betty-Ann Heggie. Share our Patreon page on the social media platform of your choice and email us your mailing address here and you got yourself a sweet holiday read.


Essential for everyone who feels overwhelmed and anxious about our hyper-connected world—whether you’re a corporate lawyer, a student, a sales person, or a yoga instructor—How to Not Always Be Working includes practical suggestions and thoughtful musings that prompt you to honestly examine your behavior—how you burn yourself out and why you’re doing it. A creative manifesto for living better, it shows you how to carve sacred space in your life. This book is a quiet revolution, a guide filled with practical advice to help you curb your obsessions and build boundaries between your work, your job, and your life. –
Marlee Grace lives on the rural coast of California. She works with improvisation as a method for navigating being alive and making work through movement, quilting, writing, and podcasting.

By effortlessly telling this short, intense tale in the voice of an unnamed, ungendered (and brilliantly unreliable) narrator, Dionne Brand makes a bold statement not only about love and personhood, but about race and gender–and what can and cannot be articulated in prose when the forces that inhabit the space between words are greater than words themselves. – Penguin Random House Canada

Theory is a book for those who are intrigued by how a brilliant thinker approaches lost love, unmet potential and unreliable narration. But if none of that appeals to you, Brand’s gorgeous prose and sly humour will definitely win you over. ” – Sadiya Ansari, The Star


  • New $9M Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Announced!  And the Hub grant was given to Ryerson University. What do people think? Read all about it here.

  • Women human rights defenders are under threat worldwide and Amnesty International has chosen to focus all of this year’s Write for Rights cases on courageous women peacefully advocating for human rights. December 10th was International Human Rights Day but the continues. Take action here

  • On the lighter side, looking for something different to make for dessert this holiday season? Check out this amazing sweet potato pie recipe by Eden Hagos, founder of Black Foodie. Brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, sweet potatoes…mmmmm.

  • Jennifer Armbrust, founder of Sister and an L.A. based feminist business school and a coach for embodied business practice has launched a new book called Proposals for the Feminine Economy! Check out her website and the book which offers 100 pages of proposals, principles and photos here 

  • Baby, It’s Cold Outside Controversy–Innocent Traditional Song? Or Precursor to Date Rape? “I think the song has always been creepy, but we didn’t have the words to explain why,” said Lydia Liza, 24, a singer-songwriter. Check out this New York Times article and let us know what you think by tweeting us @LiisBethHQ 

That brings us to the end of our December newsletter, the last of 2018! It’s time for the LiisBeth team –and you–to take a break, allow time for self care and reflect on where to take this work in 2019.

To date, we have published 49 newsletters and 168 original feminist business practice stories along with advocacy pieces to help shine a light on this growing community. We have mounted two Entrepreneurial Feminist Forums with our partner, Feminists At Work, and have loved every minute of serving this community and others, working to advance gender and social justice.

As our holiday offering this year, the LiisBeth editorial team (Lana, Margaret and I) donated $200 to help advance the mission of Match International-an international women’s fund working at the intersection of women’s rights and innovation.

Thank you all for your support, volunteer time, feedback, participation, and encouragement. We could not continue to do this work with out you and your readership.

Have a great holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

We will be back mid-January–with pens and hearts a blazin’–and a lot of good news for 2019!

NamasteCheers, and Peace,

Activism & Action Our Voices

Growing Into Feminism

Photo: Clique Studios


In her book “Living a Feminist Life”, Sara Ahmed asked the question: “When did feminism become a word that not only spoke to you, but spoke you, spoke of your existence, spoke you into existence?”

In other words, how does someone reach a point when, without apology, you identify as a feminist? Especially when it seems the only place you can find courses on the subject are in university calendars?

Last week, CV Harquail, a colleague, shared this remarkable article with me: Amanda Sinclair’s Five movements in an embodied feminist: A memoir. Sinclair says we become feminists over time by experiencing physical and intellectual struggles thrown at us by a system that routinely subordinates women and gender minorities. She says our lived experiences and feelings lead us to feminism. We don’t seek it out. It finds us.

I decided to consider my own journey and put this theory to the test.

My first awareness of feminism came in 1975, which coincided with the United Nations’ declaration of the Year of the Woman. I learned about Gloria Steinem. Morgentaler risking his life to open abortion clinics to make the procedure safe and more available to women in Canada. The Equal Rights Amendment in the United States (and a woman!) Phyliss Schafley fighting against the extension of women’s rights. Cheeky Iona Campagnolo who ran for leadership of the Canadian liberal party and endured a pat on the bum from the eventual winner – and returned it! Iris Rivera, who taught us you can get fired for not making your boss a cup of coffee.

When all this turbulent media coverage swept over me, I was 13.

The stories, good and misleading, followed by brutal backlash, created fireworks that awakened me. From personal experience, I saw that girls were encouraged differently than boys. This felt unfair. Now I was learning that I was not alone. In the library, I found Sisterhood is Powerful, a collection of essays from the front lines of feminist struggles and devoured it. Shortly after, I joined a grown-up feminist club with my like-minded best friend. We simply believed that anything boys could do, girls could do. And we wanted others to believe that, too. Naively, we thought this idea was an easy sell—until we invited two women from the club to speak to our grade 8 health class about gender equality. Our lockers were vandalized. From then on, classmates routinely taunted us and called us lesbians. So much for prospects of a first kiss at that year’s dance!

During high school and university in the early ‘80s, feminism wove in and out of my life, by comparison, in quiet ways. Yet, it influenced my choice of study—journalism—as I had witnessed the power of the pen. Feminist leaders became my role models for their courage to speak truth to power—and endure the often terrible consequences with such grace. I thought it was cool that feminists were considered dangerous. They taught me what standing up for myself looked like.

When I got married, feminism inspired me to hyphenate my name rather than follow tradition and take my husband’s.

Though the 80’s and 90’s, I rose through the ranks of a publishing company, mostly by fitting into the system, then started another company.  I soon learned that life in corporate environments is a truly a sheltered one. Once outside, as an entrepreneur again, in a male dominated industry (agri-food), I routinely encountered gendered prejudice—suppliers of equipment would ask where my husband was before they would believe I was serious, Canali-suited men in boardrooms and talked over me as though I didn’t exist–even though I was the founder and operator. After the exit, and upon re-entering the world of working for others, I learned that I was paid less than male predecessors and replacement for doing the same job. So much for #Becauseits2015.

As I reflected on defining moments in my life, I was astonished by how often I drew on the work of feminists to navigate through challenging personal and professional times. It turns out that, yes, experiencing gender inequality—and feeling it physically and mentally—is how I “grew a pair” of eyes to more clearly see the exploitative social, political, and economic systems that work to nail potential to the floor. It also ignited hot-metal level of desire to dedicate myself to working for change.

Sinclair is right. Feminists are forged over time by women, gender nonconformists or men willing to challenge inequality. Many of our struggles are personal, waged against day-to-day injustices. And sometimes, like Dr. Christine Ford, those struggles are splashed on the world stage, forcing us to see how easily a woman and her lived experience can be brushed aside by norms that privileges all that is masculine and male. It’s actually astonishing to realize how little has changed since Anita Hill, or the UN’s bold declaration of 1975 as the year of the woman.

I experienced Ford’s story like it was my own. And to make sense of the matter, I once again reached out to find support and grounding in feminist analysis, ideas and inspiration. In many ways, feminism is a little like that wise, leather-clad, New York auntie in your family—the one that other family members side-eye and sometimes “forget” to invite to dinner parties–but still, you go to her for advice and sense-making, when explanations by others around you just aren’t cutting it.



Photo: Stocksy