It had been a great beginning, along the eastern shore of Lake Superior. I leftthe Ontario woods andreached the land of the open skies, Manitoba. I am so moved by the gentleness, the kindness, the generosity of the women along Lake Superior and am infused with the water of that Great Lake. I have loved it for many years. This time I had the chance to befriend the women caring for these waters, and caring for the women in their communities.
I headed north, to The Pas, Manitoba. It was through woods, hours with no sign of people, just moose, deer and a black bear. In The Pas I met withwomen who have been working together against violence against women for a long time. The chance to visit another solid, welcoming shelter. Once again a discussion about why we still need them, and why more than ever. All across Canada the Shelters are full. Once again stories of World Pulse were such welcome news. Our connections deepened. The chance to be with these women was a rare opportunity. Canada is a vast land.
I had two hopes for my time in Winnipeg, to meet with Shannon of Moon Voices, and to visit the Sacred Fire at The Forks on Indigenous Day. The Forks, now the centre of Winnipeg has long been a meeting and trading place. Visiting there for me is to remember the missing and murdered indigenous women from this area. The river running by hashad many murdered women’s bodies hidden in it. Families of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women continue to drag the bottom hoping to find their missing sisters, aunties, mothers, daughters. I was especially grateful for the time with Shannon, who could envision many possibilities of sharing news, information and connection with WorldPulse.
In Regina I met with two dedicated women coordinating the shelters across the province. They immediately saw the possibilities and value of connections with World Pulse and will be sending out information to all of the shelter workers in Saskatchewan. I visited one of the shelters and met with Stephanie who I found out wasalready a World Pulse sister! We jumped into discussion about the empowerment women feel when they share their stories, get support back, and have the chance to read so many other stories, how self blame drops away so fast.
A few hours north in Saskatoon, met Ashley at the University Women’s Centre, who joined World Pulse right away and plans to spread the news. More good talks with Shelter workers, special time with Kerri, the family violence counsellor at the Indian and Metis Centre, a welcoming from Arin at the Open Door Centre. Then more magic of connections. Dipti from Montreal told me that Zehra and I should meet in Saskatoon, and we dove deep into an evening of conversation and planning. Zehra felt that Zahaar and I should meet,connecting the possibilities of World Pulse with the extensive work that Zahaar has done for many years, at the UN and beyond.
On the road north again and west, to Edmonton, Alberta. A morning meeting with the Institute for the Advancement of Indigenous Women, exploring possibilities of connections between First Nations women globally. Jen and Jan, Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, will also be sending out information about World Pulse to their member groups. The chance to meet again with WorldPulse sister Maria, of Women Arise!
Along the way I got great responses from women runningcamp offices as I checked in. They were curious about a woman travelling so far alone. I gave out flyers and encouraged them to write from their rural homes.
When I got to the West Coast, old friends and new were ready for meetings in Vancouver, including precious meetings in person with World Pulse sisters Colleen Penrowley and Tikiri Herath, who organized gatherings in Vancouver and Victoria, new links to Soroptimists, and Sharon Lewis, World Pulse sister who I had been looking forward to meeting, and who organized a Talking Circle in Duncan.
The west coast also brought the special chance to thank our amazing Team in person. Also an unexpected surprise that my dear sister Olutosin’s visit overlapped mine by an evening, and we had the chance to meet!
Down the west coast to the women’s Born to Drum Camp, and some rest, drumming, meeting friends and presenting World Pulse.
Then to the east! Four Atlantic Provinces where again I met women working at women’s shelters andwomen’s centres, as well as strong and wonderful First Nations women leaders. Again, that magic of being sent from one to another woman who it was felt we would, and did value the chance to talk together.
From my stop at the Gignoo Women’s Shelter, run by First Nations women, I was invited by Joanne to meet Maggie and Alma, First Nations Grandmothers. Across Canada First Nations women speak immediately about environmental disasters. They spoke of the blockade standoff to the oil pipeline threatening to go through the area ofthe Atlantic Ocean where Beluga whales give birth. In the west, oil spills are being documented by First Nations people, and an oil pipeline is being blocked from going to the west coast, and to the south, blocked at Standing Rock, North Dakota. In the north, there is action being taken led by the Land Protectors including Beatrice Hunter, an Innu leader,against a proposed dam that is planned to be built on ground that is too soft, that would give way to flood her entire Inuit community. These Grandmothers spoke of leadership they are taking as women, their roots in matriarchal tradition, roots harmed by European settlers but not lost. This was reinforced by my meeting with Odelle and Linda in Newfoundland, the large island that forms the most eastern part of Canada. They have done extensive documentation on the erasure of matrilineal traditions among First Nations peoples.
I continued to meet women throughout the east who are dedicated activists. Linda MacDonald and Jean Larsen have been working for years to bring forward nationally and internationally the concept and reality ofNon State Torture, that is, naming the gender based violence, in all its horrific ways, to be called for what it is: torture. Linda is now a World Pulse member, and their work available through www.nonstatetorture.org. I met in groups large and small through the Atlantic region, with the Grand Finale a planned meeting in person with Shirley, World Pulse sister from the Philippines, who happened to be studying at the COADY Institute in Nova Scotia. She sent out a note through the school which resulted in 10 of us meeting, with most already World Pulse sisters. What a finish!
Each of these meetings has reinforced my belief that continuing to connect with each other by phone, email, Facebook, Skype,World Pulse, all ways we can, is so important. Meeting in person is a special kind of gift. Still real and also such a gift is the depth of connection we now have with so many dedicated, strong and beautiful World Pulse sisters all over the world. This information is what I am thrilled to be carrying. This gift I treasure, as I also treasure time and reinforced connection with these Canadian sisters and many more not mentioned. The opportunity to be in touch with each other, to know what we are doing, to know we are together in this is making change possible. This journey I took this summer was long. But letting women know what we have in World Pulse, and being in the fine company of such dedicated women hereturned into just what I had hoped. By the end it took75 Days, 21,000 km, about 45 meetings large and small.The connections are made. The work we are all doing now together is stronger. The chance to experience this land and these dedicated women was a time I will forevercarry deep in my heart.