2013-14 Advocacy Committee Report
At the November General Meeting, committee member Kendra Foord gave a very moving presentation commemorating the Dec.06, 1989 killings at the Montreal Polytechnique and reminding us why this commemoration continues to be important. Members were also invited to look at the display of the photographs of the murdered women to remind ourselves of the beauty, youth, and promise.
At the December meeting of the CFUW-K-W Advocacy Committee we decided to concentrate our advocacy work on the issue of women and violence. More specifically, we decided to work on bringing more attention to the situation of over 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Our committee set out the work in three task groups: one group would write letters to MPs expressing our concerns and asking for action on the Federal level to develop solutions to the high levels of violence against Aboriginal women. Another group of committee members took on the task of contacting our three local Members of Federal Parliament and meeting with them to outline our concerns about the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. A third group of our members took on the task of preparing material dealing with the situation of Aboriginal women in the Kitchener-Waterloo area to present at the AGM to be held in Kitchener-Waterloo in June, 2014.
Each of the groups has been working on these tasks in close consultation with members of the Aboriginal community in our area. In particular, we have been working with the Aboriginal Student Centre of our two Universities; Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier. The Advocacy committee has had a long standing relationship with the Aboriginal Student Centre, including providing support through donations of food on a regular basis. We have also publicized events held at the Universities, dealing with aboriginal and women’s issues.
In order to be effective in our campaign, committee members have individually and as a group worked diligently to become familiar with the complex issues involved in violence and Aboriginal women. We have collected bibliographies, and read and discussed a great deal of material. This is indeed a complex issue and we have come to appreciate the tremendous amount of research that has been already done. We also believe that we need to continue to advocate for more concrete and effective action on this issue.
Committee member Dianna Cherry composed six different letters to local MPs and federal government officials urging action on this issue. These letters were sent by several members of the committee as individuals, hoping thereby to maximize the impact of our campaign. Finally, two members of the committee met in April with MP Peter Braid to put the case for action and to discuss what further steps need to be taken. As well, we have promoted among our members in the club as well as advocacy committee, to respond to the consultation set up by the Federal government on legalization of prostitution.
To further advocacy on the issue of women and education, in January our club members had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Dr.Shihini Ghose, Associate Professor of Physics and Computer Science and Director of the Centre for Women in Science on the work being done at the Centre to promote science education for girls and women. We plan on working closely with the Centre to support this program.
Work also continues on poverty issues. Committee member Barbara Spronk has continued as an active member of the Poverty Free KW on behalf of CFUW-KW, participating in presentations of PFKW to Kitchener and Waterloo Regional councils on poverty issues, compiling a report on the consequences of the proposed Fair Elections Act for homeless people in the region, and serving as the “Voiceover” in a PFKW publicity video.