Advocacy Committee Report
Members of the CFUW-KW Advocacy committee – chair Rose Tekel and members Cheryl Ambrose, Elizabeth Simpson, Margaret Binek, Diana Cherry, Mary Cunnigham, Karin Manley, Ann Power, Barbara Spronk and Laurie Tremble – have been busy with a number of projects on the Club’s behalf during this Club year.
Our major project this year was the organization of a lunch to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the killings at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. The committee met in June and we decided to truly make this commemoration a National Day of remembrance and action to protest violence against women. As we had been and continue to work to bring to attention the situation of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women, we decided to choose a guest speaker who could address both the general issues dealing with women and violence, as well as speak to the issues in the Aboriginal community. In order to achieve this goal, we formed a partnership with the Aboriginal Student Centre of Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as the Guelph chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. Because of these partnerships we were able to ask Lee Maracle, one of Canada’s major literary figures and acclaimed First Nations educator, to be our guest speaker at the lunch.
All members of the committee worked extremely diligently to make this a very successful event. Although not meant as a fundraiser, we were able to raise approximately $1320 for the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique Commemorative Award of the Canadian Federation of University Women. We read out the names of the 14 engineering students who had been murdered and honoured their memory.
As well, we were able to bring together in one room a highly diverse audience of women and men to once more appreciate that we must all work to eradicate violence against women. The approximately 100 people from various backgrounds and situations all stood as one and cheered at the end of Lee Maracle’s talk, which connected us all with one another as well as Earth in quest for eradication of violence.
We continued our work to bring more attention to the situation of over 1200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. A 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. They met twice with one of the Members of Federal Parliament, asking and receiving specific information of monies and how they were spent to deal with the issue of Aboriginal women and violence.
We continue to work 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 Wilfrid 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.
To further advocacy on the issue of women and science education, Rose Tekel attended the International meetings of Women and Physics held at Wilfrid Laurier University. Work also continues on poverty issues. Committee member Barbara Spronk has taken on a position as Board member of the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo, primarily dealing with issues of poverty in our community