A lifetime of activism, participation on World Pulse, and a study of quantum physics give Tamarack Verrall hope for the future.
“We thought we would have had this all cleared up in the 80s.”
I was told that I was born yelling. By the time I was six, I began to understand why. I got the message early that girls are responsible for everything wrong with the world. By age seven, my first stranger in the park. By nine, the first man pulling up beside me in a car with his pants open. I never told my parents. I didn’t want to lose my freedom to roam. That year I was told to wear a shirt in summer. By 11, no more bicycling to meadows for picnics with my girlfriends. Then things got a lot more serious. My best friend was shamed for being sexual with her boyfriend. Later, I held woman after woman who had been raped.
I have started at the beginning because I can go back 67 years and give a somewhat long view. I have been working for a half century toward an end to discrimination against, oppression of, violence against, torture of, and murder of women and girls on this planet—and violence toward the Earth itself. And I have never been as hopeful as I am now, since finding World Pulse.
When I started this work it was an innocent time when we would address each insult, each danger one by one. Five of us opened one of the first women’s centers in Montreal in 1969. We went from five women to 300 in months and kept going. We fought for a right to birth control, to end legal rape within marriage, to address women dying from illegal, botched abortions, limited work options for women, and stigma against divorce.
We learned about the women 100 years prior who tried to stop WWI. We were greatly influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and by strong outspoken sisters in the US. We began small newspapers and learned how to do layout in our living rooms. We wrote letters to try to find and connect with each other.
In 1973 I went to a women’s camp in Denmark. There I met 20 women from Italy, each of whom had thought she was the only feminist in her country. Most of us had been groped, ridiculed, punched, or raped. We gathered statistics in our various countries. We formed networks.
In the 1970s we set up women’s centers, rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters across Canada. In the 1980s we began to discover the numbers of children who had been sexually assaulted: primarily girls by fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and brothers; boys by sports coaches and church clergy; and indigenous children forced into residential schools where they were regularly beaten and raped. The size of this epidemic was overwhelming.
I started groups for girls aged 4 to 17. I continued to hold women and hear their stories about having been raped. We learned and taught self defense. When we spoke out we were labeled man haters and the press was vicious. Women have all along been ridiculed or punished for being part of women’s movements, and this was a time when women came under extreme pressure to disassociate from the word feminist. But the stories continued to pour in and we refused to stop talking.
We were galvanized as we formed group after group for women to come forward and tell their stories. I managed to get my foot in the door of Canada’s main federal prison for women and I heard the stories from the women inside over a 10-year period. I met with federally sentenced women all across Canada and heard their stories too. I can count on one hand the number of women who did not speak about having been raped before their lives slid off track.
I’m not telling you all this to say I’ve done a lot. Thousands of us have. I’m telling you because we thought we would have had this all cleared up in the 80s. Now it is 30 years later and rapes and beatings continue. This is the big question: How can this still be happening? And how do we stop it?
The full story is finally emerging as we are finding each other and speaking out in ever increasing numbers. We are putting our stories together globally and creating extraordinary times.
A roving feminist group, Isis Women, touring Vancouver, BC in 1975 or 1976. Photo by Mo. Courtesy of Tamarack Verrall.
Something shifted for me when I found World Pulse. As soon as I began to read the stories pouring in from all over the world, my vision sharpened, my trust in what is possible grew, and a deeply held, ancient dream that we would find each other and rise together was suddenly there in front of me. I realized that we were truly rising globally.
Now there is so much good, powerful work going on—AWID, Half The Sky, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Women’s Earth Alliance, International Women’s Media Foundation—all essential, unapologetic, inspired, courageous, powerful, full of such important news. Black Lives Matter. Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. Idle No More.
We are in this together. Through World Pulse, and the connections being forged with other like-hearted organizations, I believe that we are creating a quantum shift. The connections within our own countries are that much stronger and more hopeful. Our news internationally that much more full and trustworthy. We are forming an unbreakable network, alive and growing as long as we continue to speak about, acknowledge, and insist upon what is happening and what needs to change everywhere.
What is different now from my early days of activism is the speed, the courage, the openness, the depth of action, the depth of imagination and determination that is gathering collectively. Though we believed before that we were creating a movement of women with every woman in mind, what is happening now through World Pulse has turned little ripples into a giant wave; a small breeze into a cleansing wind; a spark into a volcanic eruption of evolutionary, new-ground-forming change.
Recently I’ve been reading about quantum physics to learn about how the Universe works and how change comes about naturally. It is now understood that in nature, when a degree of tension builds and causes enough stress, a series of incremental changes takes place, shifting into a new form. This can happen slowly in increments, or sometimes suddenly and completely.
We are now extremely aware that we have a global crisis of how women are treated on this planet. We’re creating a paradigm shift. Old ideas are to dying off and new ideas are taking hold in the next generation.
Quantum Jumping.This has been described as a “handshake through time and space.” On World Pulse, we are finding our own power and each other. Our connections form a bridge to jump from one reality into a new one. We are leaping into a new life.
Quantum Entanglement. This is interconnectedness from moving in simultaneous synchronization, even when separated by distance. On World Pulse our stories and conversations are forming one movement. They are set in motion and buoyed by the continual interconnectedness, the continual growth of respect and love made possible through our conversations with each other.
Quantum Teleportation. This is transferring information without being physically in the same place. On World Pulse we are in a global dance; a celebration of difference and inclusion, a choreography of change. We listen and welcome; we absorb waves sent to each other in love and in perfect symmetry. We are creating self-fulfilling prophecies. Trusting that we can. Desiring it with our very lives.
How can I convey my profound gratitude to be able to meet and be in ongoing discussion with others creating change, and to meet in person World Pulse sisters from the other side of the world? I am grateful for the purity and beauty of the respect, the commitment to each other, and the love. All of the beautiful work being done to redesign what has been called tradition, rescuing girls from sexual slavery, teaching girls to be proud to be girls, encouraging stories, speaking out about what is both possible and necessary, creates a quantum shift.
I am grateful to the men who join us. You have such an important role to play. Thank you for being here. Thank you for not being defensive as we women celebrate finding each other. You are in a position to have a great and necessary effect on other men and boys. Many of you have begun to do this. Imagine if every man would speak with every other man and boy he knows, hold meetings, volunteer time to be involved in this way. Teaching men and boys new ways of relating to women and girls creates a quantum shift.
Together, we are building momentum. I want to see the day when so many of us are connected that we can stop the world from business as usual when we need to. When even one woman is badly treated. When even one mining company packs up intending to leave pollution behind. When even one corrupted official steals money. When any election or government meeting is held without addressing offshore money and the corruption of the global economy. When any action is taken in the wrong direction,we can form the collective power to stop it.
We have already shifted into a new reality. We are in it. And we are in it with each other. This is a dream come true.