Monday, December 31, 2018

Batter to jesus, 2018

And so it is.

I try to sit here annually and recap the year that has just expired, what has passed away, and this year is no different. But jesus, what an eulogy this is.

2018 is gone, and good riddance.

Today I have seen many eulogies, and I have also seen a lot of self righteous prose from pedagogues who stand high and mightily on Twitter pedestals, preaching from the mount.

"Oh, it wasn't the year's fault, it was you."

B'y, we're not that stunned. It wasn't the universe.

Suck it, and suck it for everyone who has spent this year with pain. We know the universe and stars did not magically coordinate to turn our lives upside down, but we also know that we have hurt, things have been bad and by fuck, we will not be belittled in how poorly we have felt through this year.

B'ys, here it is, and buckle up because I am going in dry:

You do not get to tell someone who has hurt, or who has experienced loss, that their experiences are less or mean less. You do not get to rank or judge anyone's experience, loss, emotions or hurt and tell them how to process or be. You do not. You certainly do not get to break someone then determine how broken they are permitted to feel. Like that one? Therapists are great.


In the words of Brian Fallon, "Everybody's hurt and mine ain't the worst but it's mine and I'm feeling it now."

If it is your hurt, feel it.

If this year has been bad - hurt, yell, scream, say goodbye to it with a vengeance and wield your sword into 2019. I don't give a fuck if you had your biggest loss or your hamster died - no person can judge another person's hurt. I am here if your 2018 was a hellscape.

And I hope your 2019 is a better place.

I often come here to get feelings out through my fingers and into the keys. I am not sure I can do that tonight.

What I can do is express a little -

2018 was a very hard year. The hardest. And I know plenty who felt the same. Many of us tried our hardest to find ways to dig out of holes when the dirt seemed to fall perpetually and to be a blizzard.

Tonight I got a text from a friend that simply said, "We made it."

And we did.

This year I experienced the hardest losses of my life, but I have also learned lessons.

I have learned lessons on love, loss, trust, lies, selfishness, and how to just survive.

I have seen the best and worst of people.

But, the biggest lesson I can take from 2018 is friendship.

I fear using names in case I miss someone. This is not the intent.

I have made friends who I would trust with my life, and one special friend who I spend weekly sushi dates with and who I trust my life with.

That is one name I will use. Jason, you have been my rock. Thank you for days eating tuna rolls and listening to my broken, then mending heart. You are my best friend and I could have never asked for a better person to come into my life. I am so happy you have also found your happiness. This life is a journey, and I am so happy we can be buddies and vent through it all over wasabi. I would not have made it without you.

I have lost friends. I have lost people I trusted with my life and who I would have never guessed would not be here right now. This time last year I sat at this exact table, typing hopeful words and falling for a fairy tale that was a pretty, painted fiction. Naive. This time last year I was hopeful. I am hopeful again this year, but not because of hollow text and promises, but because of real actions. I have learned a lot.

And now I know a lot about what love is and is not.

Never again will I be a fooled little girl.

And some of the people who have helped keep my head above water cannot be thanked enough. I hope you know who you are. I hope you know how much I love you and how appreciated you are.

And then there is that one person who has been there through it all, who had a sixth sense for when I was at home on the couch feeling my lowest, and who would talk to pick me up, make me smile.

For whatever reason, I remember every second we talked and every interaction. You were always standing out to me. And now you stand out even more as the most important person in my life going into 2019. My biggest regret is being blind to it until now.

He was the person who I eventually met in the gym, talked to in the hall for ages and who I couldn't keep my eyes off and who wouldn't stop making me laugh. He still does.

And the simple sound of his voice on the phone is my favourite thing in the world.

That one.

I hope you know what you are to me now.

2018 was a fucking cesspool.

And you can subtweet or mansplain my part in it as much as you want, but at the end of the day you need to just jam your fingers up your hole and have a spin because I'm not having it.

Nor should anyone who has hurt this year put up with someone else telling you how to feel, or that someone else had it worse. Someone always has it worse, but that is not a measuring stick on your life.

If turning the page on the calendar makes you feel like you have a new start I am happy for you, and I hope you get the reset you need.

I know I am heading into 2019 with the best friends and best support I have had in my life.

And the most hope.

So, my dear, fuck you to 2018. Fuck you.

And, if 2018 was bad for you, fuck that too. Only you can weigh your hurt and anger, nobody else. "But starving kids in Africa" was a comparison our parents leveled in the 1980s when we didn't eat our Kraft Dinner. Sometimes your heartbreak or hurt do not give a fuck.

I wish you love, I wish you peace, and I wish you a kickass 2019 that is better that the shitpile we are leaving behind.

And remember, when we rise from the ashes, we rise as the whole god damned fire.

Happy 2019, y'all.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dear 19 Year Old Dwan...

Two weeks ago Pam Frampton penned a letter to her 19 year old self that held many strong messages we can all relate to (Pam's fantastic column can be found here:

Upon reading I found myself thinking, "What a wonderful exercise." Reflection can be a brilliant, or a painstaking tool, and I like to believe we all have much to learn from it.

And then I wondered, "What would I tell 19 year old me now?"

Here goes:

Look around - these people around you are diverse, and all have a part in your life that shapes you. By the time you are 36 most of them will be gone. You will reflect, they will pop up in memories sometimes, or in stories in rooms when you are talking about the past. They will go. Very few will remain. But soak them all up now, their words and experiences.

You will leave him. It is coming soon, and you will hit your breaking point, walk away and say no more. You will heal, and you will use this as fuel for so much in your life. The abuse stops now, and it will make you fierce.

Stay true to yourself. You owe nothing to anyone. No matter how many people tell you how you should be, what you need to change, how you should shape yourself to fit their ideals - do not. Stick to who you are and embrace it. You will not always be everyone's cup of tea, but that is okay and you will learn to accept that. Those who cannot accept you are not worth your energy.

There are bad people in this world. You will find many, but you will learn lessons from them all to take you through the rest of this messy life. Even when you sit and feel duped, at times when you think you have it all figured out, just remember - learn. Take the experience. Sometimes the hurt will burn like a thousand fires, and only you can put them out.

You will not finish your academic career as a forensic anthropologist. I know, right? Crazy. You will actually realize what a huge part of your person and being the fishery is and will dedicate your life to the industry that has sustained your family and community for decades. I know you might not believe me, but it is true. And you will realize that the things you have taken for granted deserve your energy now.

Mom and dad will be your best friends. I know it is hard to fathom now, but you have just moved out and are experiencing your freedom for the first time. Everything will come full circle. Appreciate them and all they have to give you. Listen to the stories, their experiences. They are usually right, even though your stubborn pride will often not let you believe it.

What makes you different are all qualities that will bring you to understand yourself, eventually. You will grow into the quirks, the stubbornness, the one liners, the chewed nails, lack of makeup and the entirety of who you are. People will criticize, they will judge and they will try to change you. To those people you say, "Fuck off," and keep doing you.

Oh, and you will be a part of so many wonderful hockey teams that your love of the sport will turn into a massive part of your life. You will meet so many people, laugh until you hurt, and will once again find that comradeship you had to leave behind when you were no longer a DC Destroyer. You will be 36, the sorest person on earth, but every time you lace up you will be in your happy place.

And finally, you will never fit the ideals laid out for how and who you should be - and that is okay. It is easy to look at your life and wonder why it does not look like others, but it is good and you will be okay. That small apartment on Colville will turn into a small apartment on Freshwater, Malta, Abbott, Terra Nova, a house you will leave due to a failed relationship, and other small apartments. Relationships fail, friendships end, and life circumstances change. Through it all, you persist.

You land your dream job. You are loved by two little furbags who adore you. There is hurt, there are hardships, but you gain the tools to work through it all over the next 17 years. And there are good people who come along. Wait for them.

Keep your head up, kid.

Keep pushing, keep asking questions, keep challenging when something does not seem fair or right, and use the voice you find. You will find it very shortly. You have been finding it for a while now (thanks, Mr. Broderick!)

And, most of all, remember what one of your mentors will post one day that will stick with you: "This living, it is messy, but it is beautiful."

Monday, September 17, 2018

Believe her.

Hello, bloggerverse. It's been a while.

I have been generally quiet and just trying to enjoy things, cut the bullshit and rage-inducing things out of my life and drop the blood pressure to a normal level.

But, buddy I AM FIRED UP NOW.

If you have been following the Coronation of Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat in the United States of America's highest court, and the recent allegations brought forward by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, you should be too.

In an anonymous letter to Senator Feinstein, Dr. Blasey Ford (who has since stepped forward to attach her name to the piece) described a sexual attack Trump's heir to the justice throne perpetuated on her then-15 year old self. He was 17.

He pinned her down.
Tried to rip her clothes off.
His friend watched.
Cheered him on.
Hopped on to join.
Turned up the music when BK's hand was not enough to muffle her screams.

Dr. Blasey Ford also spoke to her therapist about the attack in 2012 and the lasting effects it has had on her life.

So, of course, the MAGA kiss-asses have started their rage campaign and have begun to smear Dr. Blasey Ford with "LIAR" and the scarlet letters of the endless list of expletives used on those who dare come forward with sexual misconduct allegations.

BK had his cronies drum up a letter signed by 65 female classmates who declared the teenager they knew surely could not rape (only two, when asked by Politico, said they would stand by their praises).

Two hundred women have since signed a letter stating Dr. Blasey Ford's description of what occurred matches what they have experienced at their alma mater.

I mean, she passed a polygraph and all...

And, in the midst of it all, the President of the United States and White House staffers have dismissed her story and called her a liar.

The President.

Let's be clear here -

The false reporting of sexual assault sits somewhere in the 5-8 percent range; comparable to that of other crimes.

So, sit your ass down before you get on with the, "Women accuse men to ruin their lives and lie about rape all the time!"

Ronnie down the road has the same probability of falsely accusing Willis of robbing his chainsaw.

This isn't about all men being rapists, all allegations being true, or all of us angry witches stirring our cauldrons to try and ruin the lives of anything with a penis because we hate men.

It is rather about asking the important questions -

Why are we still at the point where it is the victim who has mustered up the courage to come forward who has to bear the brunt of an attack on her body?

How does the administration of a world superpower choose to believe a man who attempted to rape, and push to put him in a position of power to have autonomy over the bodies of approximately 150 million women?

How are we living in an age when the long fought battle, and subsequent victory of Roe v Wade is in jeopardy at the very hands of an attempted rapist, while the bigger focus is on his victim?


She didn't. She tried to raise alarms when his name was on the short list, contacting the Washington Post.

Maybe her courage bubbled to the surface at just this point because she could not bear to see the autonomy of millions of women - their reproductive health and lives - put in the hands of a man who assaulted, degraded and destroyed her.

Maybe she had just had enough.

But, maybe she is lying, right? Maybe she summoned her witchy powers and took her evil vagina time machine back to 2012 and planted those notes with her therapist.

We are all liars, after all, if we do not run and report our assaults and rapes immediately on the second.


We are embarrassed.
And we are just not believed.

So, park your criticisms for once and believe women (yes, before that person jumps in - men get assaulted too, we know, but that's not the topic here. Come back for another episode).

My timeline this week has been a mix of Kavanaugh, coupled with the ex-CBC radio host/serial assaulter peeking his mug out of his hole again. Oh, and how about coaches who are now being nailed with decades and decades of their vile acts by women who are now coming forward and drawing strength from each other to face their abuser?

I will never understand why we keep giving abusers platforms while attacking and re-victimizing those who dare use their voice to name their abusers.

Just stop it.

Take a minute, wonder if any woman wants her name and reputation dragged through the mud of every social media outlet, attacked and re-victimized, forced to re-live the worst moments of her life. Why would she choose to step forward knowing the repercussions?

I have seen many ask the critics - "What if she was your wife/mother/daughter?"

Yet, this question should not matter. You all have women in your lives. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford shared an experience that is far too familiar to many of us.

And many of us have never breathed a word, never taken our abusers to task, never seen them brought to justice.

I believe her.

We need to stop demonizing the women who speak and we need to channel that energy in to ensuring those accused are investigated thoroughly, and brought to justice.

Oh, and stop with the "boys will be boys" bullshit, and trying to use the fact that he was 17 to water down the severity of the act.

That old adage is the exact reason why so many women do not come forward for decades - we are led to believe this is the norm and we must accept that some boys just cannot control their urges.

Maybe our skirts were too short.
Their hormones were raging and we grew boobies.
That shirt was a liiiiiiiiittle tight.

We question ourselves or try to push it all away.

When I was 17 I was no angel, but sneaking a flask behind the Chain Locker was a hell of a lot better than turning up the music to muffle someone's screams while violating them.

Funny, I drank it with a lot of guys as well, and none of them ever attempted to rape me with the music up.

Do I believe people cannot be rehabilitated? No. I do, however, believe that admittance and owning an action is a key step to healing for all involved.

Denial and painting the victim as a liar, or further victimizing her, are not good moves. Apologize, better yourself, seek the treatment and support you need - let everyone heal. BUT OWN IT.

Let us make sure abusers know their actions will not be condoned and there is no statute of limitations on how long before your actions will demand answers or bite you in the ass.

And let's fight like hell to make sure Kavanaugh crawls back into his hole and never gets to hold the bodily autonomy of millions of our sisters to the south in his hands.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Boots.

See, I have these boots.

I had never worn the boots, despite being 6 years old, and the boots became the crux of many a joke over the years.

This is a blog about the boots.

I'm going to go full Sophia Patrillo here - "Picture it, St. John's, 2012..."

Our varsity cross country team is about the head to Halifax for the AUS Championships. It just so happens we are going to fly back home the night of Mardi Gras and, given we were clearly going to kick ass, we were going downtown to celebrate. Our flight would get in at 10 pm.

I needed a costume. I settled on Catwoman. Now, not just ANY Catwoman, Halle Berry Catwoman.

I went to a million places and found every piece of the costume, right down to the belts, the headwear, everything -

But I could never find the right boots.

Finally, a friend said, "Try a sex store."

Sure, why not? I walked in, strolled nonchalantly past the anal beads, and told the clerk what I was looking for. He delivered.

"Why have the boots never been worn?" you ask.

Fast forward to AUS. We have to get to the airport so we all put our costumes on beforehand. Mine is a tad revealing so I put a hoodie over it though I did get weird looks in a hoodie, those pants and the boots. I stopped counting how many times Nick would look at someone who was giving me strange glances and say, "She's a dominatrix." I dealt out many a punch that night.

When it is time to go through security, they tell me I need to take off my coat. I lean in and, with a whisper, explain that I'm wearing a costume that isn't family friendly and no kids need to see the Itty Bitty Titty Committee here strapped up in leather and spikes. 

"Ma'am, you still need to take off the coat."

Here I am, in all of my glory - tired, cranky, thirsty and standing in an airport looking like the security guy just paid good money for an old fashioned flogging. 


I swear I walked back out and in about 576 times (okay, maybe an exaggeration, but still...) until they finally did a body scan as I was about to cry and wondering what else I would have to take off.


The plane takes off and the night is young, the weather is great, the team is pumped. We watch the map and our little plane logo circling over St. John's.

Then it starts to go back.

We ask the attendant who will not tell us what is going on and, until we were on the ground again, IN HALIFAX, did they tell us it had been too foggy to land. We are all checking our watches and thinking at least we'll get to rock Halloween somewhere in Halifax that night.


"We're heading back to St. John's."

You have never seen Catwoman, a wizard, Jesus, a cowboy, two cowgirls and Batman so pissed off.

So, why have I never worn the boots? We landed at 6 am, missed Mardi Gras, and I spent a lifetime sitting on a plane wearing more pleather, studs and chains than I am comfortable with.

Last night I wore the boots and now you know their story. I'll probably never wear them again but hey, I can tick the box on "owns a pair of boots from a sex store."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Lonely End of the Rink...

In April 2017 I was getting on a plane. I remember opening CBC, as I do each morning, and reading an article about a woman who had started a Sunday afternoon skate for a group of women who wanted to play hockey.

"I think I want to play again."

I had not put on skates in 20 years, but at that moment something went off in my head and told me I had to.

I emailed Liz Ohle.

"Liz, I saw your article. I would love to play. I haven't played in 20 years. I don't know where to start."

That following Sunday I showed up at St. Bon's with my dad's 40 year old Cooper shin guards I had worn in high school, a Marc Andre Fleury jersey and my old hockey bag that had disfunctional zippers.

I faceplanted at least twice. Maybe three times. Maybe more.

And it was the best decision I've ever made.

I like to think everyone has that happy place. The smell of the ice, the rink, the dressing rooms.

And in the year and a bit since I decided to lace up my skates again there have been so many moments where I know hockey both saved me and broke my heart.

This weekend we said goodbye to a powerhouse. I was only lucky enough to meet Ingrid this year through Eastern edge, our Friday night senior women's league. I had always heard stories, read the history of the league, and knew what a strong proponent she was for women's hockey, the game, and fun.

Just a great person who loved life and everything in it.

And watching the steady stream of jerseys go in to the church reminded me of just what this game can do.

We laughed, we cried. And I've never felt so honoured and blessed to be a part of this group - to put on skates, gear and a jersey, drink beer and feel everything be alleviated from the day, week, month and year when I do.

Today was a very hard day. Things have not been overly great, and sometimes you feel everything is weighing down, crashing down, and the heart hurts.

Then you find yourself looking at your skates and feeling like if you could just put them on, hit the ice, it will all be better.

And it was.

I love my teams; I love the guys, the girls I play with. I love the feeling of hitting the ice, the sounds and feeling of blades cutting in, and going until you feel your lungs and legs are going to give out (penumonia be damned).

I love this sport, I love the people, and I love what it has given me, and continues to give me.

I'm so thankful I emailed Liz. Take the chance, do the thing.

And I know I have some of the best friends I'll ever have in my life to take me through, even at the lonely end of the rink.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day, Dad

There are two pictures I have always believed sum up the relationship between my dad and I perfectly.

In the first I'm months old. I'm laying next to him in bed with a shit-eating grin on my face, a huge puddle under me. His expression says, "Ah well." Mom always said when she took that pic all she could think was, "Shit. She's just like him."

In the second I'm probably three years old. I'm sprinting through the tall grass in our backyard, same grin. Dad stands in the background, hands on his hips and the same "Ah well" expression.

Today is Father's Day, and I feel the need to tell a little bit about my dad, Roy.

My mother will always say, "You're just like your father," and I cannot imagine a greater compliment. Though I carry my mother's fire, looks and loudness, I know what she means.

Unlike me, my father has always been a soft spoken man. I have hardly heard him raise his voice in my 36 years, unless it's telling me to turn off a hockey game that's going poorly, ranting about the fishery or politics, or my mother has spoken her trademark sentence: "Do you know what you should do now?"

As long as I can remember, my father has been a hardworking, intelligent man, always stressing the importance of working hard and kicking ass. A fisherman since he was 13, splitting his time then between the boat and the fish plant, he has always been a man who never shied from hard work, and was well read in his down time.

And he is brilliant. The man can clear a Jeopardy! board like no other, is a library of history, and reads more than anyone I've ever met. He always has.

He always stressed the importance of music and books to me. He bought me The Doors boxed set when I was barely old enough to read the lyric inserts, and would read to me every night. Books and music were two things that were never a waste of money, and if I wanted either he found a way to get it.

One of the happiest moments I can remember is buying him tickets to see George Jones, his favourite musician, and the look on his face when he opened the card and realized what it was:

He bought me my first pony, picking mom up at the plant on her lunch break and simply saying, "Yeah, we have a horse now."

He encouraged every sport I ever wanted to play, and never went easy on me when I was sooky or didn't play well. If I couldn't handle it, I shouldn't play it.

He took shots on me, decked in goalie gear, with mom's tea buns as the neighbours watched and mom hid her face in embarrassment. Never much of a baker, that one.

Hockey. That was always our love. When I was tiny, mom would take me to the arena to watch dad play and I would hand him Shopsy's beef sticks over the glass as he skated by when the whistle blew. I'll never understand how he ate them while he was playing and didn't crumple from heartburn. But he did.

I remember the heartbreak one evening when my babysitter had to call the arena to get dad because mom wasn't feeling well at work, and only then did I realize he didn't play for the Detroit Red Wings. I guess Carpenter's Home Hardware was almost as glamourous.

He would go away for tournaments, returning with medals and trophies, always bringing me a He-Man or She-ra doll when he could.

And he would insist Bob Probert was one of the best to play the game.

Then there was the fishery.

The fishery is as embedded in our family as our name. My father fished with my grandfather and, when my grandfather passed away, he took the wheel.Mom would take me to watch him sailing out past the pier, and let me sit on the VHF radio in the evenings.

I'll never forget the first time he took me to Trepassey with him to move the boat and we went across the harbour. He let me hold the wheel and I felt like a superhero.

And though it was an industry we all loved, and one that was beautiful to me as a child, I knew there were politics because dad would return from committee meetings and tell me about the issues, hand me issues of the Union Forum so I could read about it. As I got older and started asking questions, I knew there was much more to the industry than the boats sailing through the harbour.

Fast forward to today:

It has never been more apparent to me that I am, indeed, like my father.

We'll sit, debate fisheries issues, compete over the Jeopardy! board, play TV bingo, drink at the island in the kitchen, and share in a mutual hatred of all things Leafs and Sens. He might be a Wings fan but he's a realistic one.

His morning ritual consists of going to the Wings message board, typing, "Blashill fired yet? Nope? K." and carrying on with his day.

I know I have been blessed with strong, hardworking parents who taught me lessons that have gotten me where I am. I don't know where I would be without them both, honestly, and their strength through my times of weakness, their lessons (easy and hard).

And I know I certainly wouldn't be where I am today without my dad. I wouldn't have the appreciation and knowledge of the industry I hold dear, I wouldn't appreciate a fine book, a fine drink, or a fine debate.

I certainly would never have the strength and guts to take life by the horns.

Thank you, dad. Thank you for all you've done and continue to do. Thank you for the constant lessons. When mom walks into the kitchen, sees us both half cut playing TV bingo and ranting about the NHL and says, "You're just like your father," I'm never prouder.

 "Hungover? Sin."

Friday, June 15, 2018

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet..."

When Rogers TV's Erin Sulley reached out to ask if I would participate in a panel for their "Women Leading Change" series, I was more than flattered. I would join MHA Cathy Bennett and City Councillor Hope Jamieson to discuss the roles and experiences of women in politics and the political movement. I questioned if I belonged there.

But I said yes.

Yesterday was easily one of the most empowering days I have had in a long time.

As we sat waiting, about to film a panel discussion that would air internally for Rogers staff all across Canada, the chairs placed for St. John's staff began to fill up - and with women came an equal number of men. That in itself indicated this was about to be a very important discussion.

We shared our experiences - our backgrounds, why we do what we do, who has helped us along the way, what we would do differently, what we see as the opportunities going forward.

And the hour flew in shared stories of support, hard realities, facts, hurt, harassment, and hope.

The United Nations states that only 22.8 per cent of all national parliamentarians were women as of June 2016, a slow increase from 11.3 per cent in 1995.

22.8 per cent.

As of January 2017, only 18.3 per cent of government ministers were women.

As of June 2017, only 2 countries have 50 per cent or more women in parliament in single or lower houses.

Our own province is "ahead" of the game at 25% - 10/40 sitting Members of the House of Assembly are women.

Women are champions for issues such as affordable childcare, paid domestic violence leave, pay equity, putting an end to gender-based violence, and a whole plethora of issues where a woman's experience and voice at the table are necessary to paint a full picture.

Yet, we have work to do.

Is it because women are the primary caretakers and affordable childcare is lacking? Is it because of the type of backlash women get in the public eye is sexualized, violent, and women simply do not want to put up with that bullshit?

How can we encourage more women to put their names on the ballot?

Newfoundland and Labrador has an opportunity for change in 2019. God knows we need it. St. John's showed us it was possible with a record number of women elected in the last election - and a record number of veteran councillors unseated for new, fresh ideas.

We can do it.

But we need our voices at the table.

I have often said lately I feel we are at a watershed moment of change. Though it may not feel like it when we see the news, read the headlines, watch our neighbours to the south have children torn from their arms and put in internment camps, we have an opportunity for change and social movements have never been so powerful and determined.

Women and men are marching.
Children are stepping out against gun violence.
Victims are speaking out against their abusers

And all are supported amidst the detractors.

Yesterday's panel was powerful, and women and men alike came up afterward to tell us what a wonderful, important conversation it was.

The best comments came from the men in the room who simply said, "I never thought about that," or simply, "We need to be better."

We also need to realize there are a lot of good people out there with good ideas, a will for change and skills to bring to the table. We need to support them, mentor them, and get those names on the ballots.

Only then will we create change.

And it's coming.

Huge thanks go to Rogers TV for the opportunity, and huge thanks to everyone who came out in studio and online.

And huge thanks to those who are creating and supporting change.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Let it Be.

2018 was going to be great.

And now, 6 months in, 2018 has been a year where everyone seems to be struggling to find the good. When we said goodbye to the septic tanks that were 2016 and 2017, bidding adieu to what seemed like constant misery, 2018 said, "Hold my beer."


And the little victories, even the big ones sometimes, seem to be swamped by a constant shit storm. It's easy to feel like they are winning.

For whatever reason, when VOCM just played "Let it Be" it felt like a gut punch I can only compare to hearing "Fiddler's Green" the day Gord Downie died.

I guess that's just it - we have to let it be.

We have to keep fighting and pushing through.
We have to keep helping one another.
We have to keep reaching out for help, and to help.
We have to keep our heads above water.
We have to keep surging forward.

And, by doing so, we will come out the other end.

I always try to remember one of my favourite quotes from Mr. Rogers: "“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

We can all be helpers.

If you are struggling or need to reach out to someone, there are options:

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention:

In Newfoundland and Labrador there is the 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-737-4668

And reach out to your friends and family. I promise nobody will turn away.

I hate you, 2018. But there isn't really a whole lot I can do about it.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom,
Let it be."

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


"Work hard, be powerful, and you will be great."

Those words were said to me at a young age by a teacher of mine who I still thank for being where I am. He spoke volumes in very little words, nurtured what he saw were my strengths and taught me lessons I carry with me.

My parents and family did the same, and I am forever grateful.

I believed them.

But, sometimes life tells you that is moot.

I have been blessed with strong women in my life. I serve on the Board of the St. John's Status of Women Council and I am forever in awe at the diverse, powerful, kickass group of sisters who sit around the table and discuss activism and policy to benefit our fellow women. We are trailblazers who follow the path beaten by women who sat around kitchen tables in St. John's and strategized ways to smash the barriers that were placed in front of us.

And we lost one this week.

The first day I walked in and sat around the table, I remember being in awe of Tammy Carpenter. Her strength, wit, power and dedication to improving the lives of women in any position were all breathtaking. She was a powerhouse, and someone I always considered myself blessed to have gotten to know. When her absences were frequent I never imagined that cancer could take down such a force of nature, such an icon for women's advocacy, and such a wonderful person.

But it did.

And today, Kate Spade died.

There are those who will say we should not grieve "celebrities" or be affected by their deaths. But, when someone who thrived on colour and making the lives of others brighter takes their own life, we get a punch of reality.

I've never owned a Kate Spade product. I've rolled my eyes at those who would spend that much money on an accessory. I have never been a person who could justify such a luxury.

But, Kate Spade was a person. A woman. Successful. A woman who's colourful world was not enough to battle her demons so she put a noose around her neck and left this world behind.

It's a stark reality.

We are told to be strong, to fight, to be powerful. Yet, our demons, diseases, all come to take us down and tell us it does not matter.

And it's often hard, in times like these, to see the good.

Be kind to one another. And love. In the end, that is all we can do.

Through tears this week, I saw a powerful message from a strong sister who has faced her own trials over the past months:

"This living, it is messy. But it is beautiful."

And that is what must carry us through.

If you are struggling, reach out. Nobody is alone in this. We're all in this messy place together.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Out of the Box



Yesterday morning, in my overtired 4 am to-the-airport state, I open Twitter to a tweet from the "Voice of the Common Man" (VOCM), so aptly named it's one of those "if you don't laugh, you'll cry" monikers.

"Question of the day: Should teenage girls be permitted to get an IUD for birth control purposes?"

I did a double take. Were we talking about Improvised Explosive Devices? Had they made a typo?

No b'y.

VOCM, a local media outlet, was asking their readers, in a province already exposed for its hot takes on issues such as the "scandalous" rainbow crosswalk in Springdale and the "daring" LGBTQ2S+ presentation in Middle Arm, if teenage girls should be able to *gasp* take advantage of one of the more effective and modern devices of birth control and reproductive health.

As you can imagine, I nearly needed a Xanax. My blood pressure went through the roof and the pitbull came out (pitbulls are loving dogs, by the way, and I in no way support breed specific legislation, but they are also gloriously loyal and will defend to the end).

Get. Out. Of. My/her. Box.


"IUDs are one of the best birth control methods out there — more than 99% effective. That means fewer than 1 out of 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant each year. IUDs are so effective because there's no chance of making a mistake. You can't forget to take it (like the pill), or use it incorrectly (like condoms)." - Planned Parenthood

I am not a teenage girl.

I have, however, been one (many moons ago).

I was a teenage girl with periods so bad I deliriously beat my head off the porcelain of our bathtub to try and stop the pain before doctors injected shots of Demerol into my ass and discussed the options.

IUDs, Depo Provera shots, birth control pills - all were offered as options by doctors who compassionately educated me in the side effects and possibilities of each. I did not choose an IUD, but I know plenty who have and for a miriad of reasons. I did not choose one because my mother had nearly died with one due to a genetic issue, one I am unsure I carry. It wasn't worth the risk. My choice had NOTHING to do with the method.

Guess what, folks? It's none of your business what any woman, teenage or adult, jams up her box, injects in her arm or ass, or swallows in pill form. None. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

IUDs are an effective method of birth control and also an effective method of managing many other health issues a young woman can face.

At the end of the day, if a teenage woman is experiencing unmanageable pain with her periods, or she is out banging half the town, it is no one's business but her own and her loved ones. She can make that choice.

Not you.

Women revolted and, in record time, before noon on a Sunday, the Question of the Day was taken down.

I will offer no thanks to VOCM. A news outlet should have enough sense not to ask that question in the first place and, without the backlash of numerous women and allied men alike, we'd still be watching the colourful polls rack up in "yes," "no," and "unsure."

B'ys, stay out of our uteruses (uteri?). Stay out of our boxes, our lives, our choices.

Whether we are 14, 36 or 75, GTFO. Batter. Seriously. You don't belong here.

Also, if anyone is familiar with the IUD implantation procedure, they would also know there will hardly be a line of 13 year olds lining up to have their cervix and uterine wall dug at.


Some day, some how, maybe people will realize that a woman/girl's sexual choices, activity and birth control methods are her's. Some day.

Maybe I'm being hopeful and optimistic in this septic tank of a world. Maybe.

Until then, if a young girl wants an IUD, let her have one. It is none of your business, no matter her reasons. Gynos will not implant one without informing of side effects and possible unintended consequences. Not every teenage girl who seeks an IUD will wind up with HIV as we watch Allan Hawco star in our Newfoundland and Labrador equivalent of "Philadelphia," all of the social media warriors crying, "BUT WE TOLD YOU SO ON THE VOCM QUESTION OF THE DAY!"


Get out of my box. Get out of hers. And go mind your own business.

Everyone woman and girl deserves to make her own sexual choices and to do so without the backwards, judgemental eyes of the local media and critics following her through the door.

/end rant

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Forget Me Not

No, this isn't some depressing post with some hidden meaning.

Having a shit day? Having a great day? Let it go and have a jam.

Sometimes there doesn't need to be a reason to enjoy a great, fun song; the type of song that makes you perk up a bit in the kitchen and just dance with the dog.

And everyone needs a little Brian Fallon in their life.

Seriously, how can you not enjoy the old school, fun feel of this video? How?

"Stacy, I never thought I'd miss the small talk,
I never knew the gift the day was.
I just used to hear the time clock,
Whistle stop,
Sleep and get back up again..."

Someday I'll get to see Fallon live. Someday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What are we at, B'ys?

Oh, Newfoundland, you sure are beautiful aesthetically.

Your rugged coastlines, vibrant and teeming waters, rolling hills that are unmatched anywhere, and colourful saltbox houses that stand out the minute one flies over your landscape - breathtaking.

It really is too bad that you are the Regina George of the world, dressed to the nines but hideous and ugly on the inside; driven only by desires to never be happy and to eat your own.

It sure has been a month. Hell, it has been an existence in this province.

It did not take long after clips of Anthony Bourdain's Newfoundland episode of Parts Unknown started to leak that the ugliness leaked out simultaneously.

"LOUD NOISES!!!11!!!1!"

(We have an unhealthy obsession with blaming everything on our French neighbours and, ironically, raging at them for claiming a distinct culture...)

Bourdain issued an apology. Of course, that also drew scorn and more rage.

We seem to thrive on being enraged.

On the heels of a month where the small town of Springdale made international news for refusing a *gasp* rainbow crosswalk to be painted in their town (on the request of high school students - CHILDREN - who simply wanted a symbol of inclusion), maybe we should tuck away our outrage and try to be grateful for a little positive exposure?

Following a month where our own legislature has been thrown into a whirlwind of controversy over bullying and harassment complaints, where our own elected representatives have continued to shoot themselves in the foot, how about we stop doing the same?

And this morning, media are all over the small town of Middle Arm where children were yanked from a class because they were being taught *gasp* acceptance of their LGBTQ+ peers and learning that maybe, just maybe, they would be accepted themselves.

If any message illustrates perfectly just how important that class is in our communities, it is a tweet from @DavidMaherNL this morning:

"I didn’t come out as gay in my rural high school.
I saw how the few openly gay kids were treated. “Fag” was the go-to insult. I saw the gay kids get bullied “why would I want to be ridiculed like that?”
I would have given anything for someone to tell me being myself was okay."


What are we at?

I wish I could say the mentality of entitlement, of outrage, of the often hatred-driven agenda is a new one.

Back in 1993 when our new high school was built, and we were all excited at the prospects of a new identity for our sports teams, we held a contest. We needed a mascot. Okay b'ys, I grew up around the bay. It was an obvious choice that the Looney Toons character who adorned the mudflaps on every second car was a choice - we picked Taz. Our new high school team would be named the DC Devils.


We had to change the name to the DC Destroyers. I'm still surprised nobody raged about "condoning destruction and violence" then.

When a friend of mine died by suicide in high school, his bandmates gathered around and sang his favourite song under their breath as their best friend went into the ground.


And this from one small town.

So, spare me if I say I find it hard to believe we are making any ground after some of the instances that have come to light recently.

You might read those examples and see a common strain of religion, but I will not dwell or debate on that. Religion is never to blame, it is the interpretation and how it becomes a crutch for hatred and agendas.

We are a culture of entitlement, of back-biting, of covetousness, and we are malicious.

Those on the outside see experiences like those portrayed on Parts Unknown and see the beauty. Broadway goers see the happy, welcoming people dancing and singing across a stage, labels of the happiest and most welcoming people on earth - and I cannot help but think we are some good at putting on a show to the outside.

Come visit!

Come in and have a cup of tea, dear, and watch the gannets diving over the clothes blowing on the line. You'd better not be gay, though, and please pronounce everything correctly - from Quirpon to Rose Blanche - lest we piss in your cup and then write an enraged Facebook post about it.

Come for the icebergs, stay for the bigotry.

And I don't know how we change it.

This embedded hatred, masked self-loathing, and inability to see outside ourselves needs a makeover, and not one to make it more aesthetically pleasing. If there's any old adage Newfoundland solidifies it's that "you can put lipstick on a pig..."

We have the unhealthiest population - ravaged with substance abuse, obesity and disease - but don't dare point that out.

Our economy is trash, young and not-so-old people alike, families, seniors, all struggle to get by, and we fight still for basic decencies like pay equity, a livable wage, respectful workplaces - but she's some pretty here.

We have the highest rates of domestic violence in the country, but we brush it under the rug still, and calls for change fall on deaf ears.

We are a culture driven on self interest and selfishness, but nobody wants to accept that.

Nobody wants to own it.

I'm still shocked that our legislature voted itself out of existence (albeit temporarily) in 1933. That might have been the last time a group of Newfoundlanders got together and said,

"B'ys, we're screwed and maybe we need to fix it."

It might not hurt if we stopped for a moment now, took a good, long look in the mirror. If we read the comments, look around, see what we are and the true problems that fester like an infection under the surface, we might not like what we see.

We might then have a desire for change.

But, until we stop feeding the trolls, until Facebook and news article comments sections stop being breeding grounds for hatred and loathing, and until we stop being in denial about it all, I'm not sure anyone is willing to take that look at themselves.

We need to be better, folks. We need to put the wheels in motion to break the cycles, and we need to say, not type or pretend, that we are better than this.

If we are going to rage and type scathing reviews over the use of the word "Newfie," maybe we need to stop the behaviours that paint us as a punchline; maybe, just maybe, we need to be more concerned with what is under the surface than looking pretty.

I love my home, but Newfoundland is an ugly place sometimes.

Monday, April 16, 2018


We played our hearts out this weekend.

It has been a heavy week and the hockey world is hurting. Looking around the arena on Saturday, there were jerseys with name plates that said, "Humboldt," "Broncos," and stickers that displayed the logo representing 16 of our own lost. We tried to do our part.

Half of us arrived on Friday, full of nerves and excitement. The beer helped. We sang, we laughed, we watched the Pens lose (and I swore a lot). It was a wonderful place full of energy that I, and we all, needed. And I looked around a lot, once again realizing how special teams are.

On Saturday we headed to the arena, a little hungover and riding a bag of nerves. We laced our skates, sat in anticipation; we hooted, hollered and ramped up what we needed for what we figured was our hardest game to come.

I somehow opened the scoring. We beat St. John's 2-1. We were on wheels and the team played unreal. We played hard and we played tough.

We drank beer, we celebrated, and we laced up again for Bishop's. We trounced them 5-0. Quigs was a wall.

We headed back, all tired and saying it would be an early night. 23 beer later I decided on one more as we harassed teammates in bed, knocked on doors, had singalongs and laughed until our stomachs hurt.

And I wouldn't have traded how tired I was the next morning for the world.

We went out against GFW, a little hungover, a lot tired, and got bounced. We didn't know if we would make the championship but it was likely. We went back, drank some more and waited.

And then we were in.

I don't think we could have played harder than we did in that game. We played against friends, women we've played with and against all year, and we played like dogs.

And in the last two minutes, 4-3.

Denise was yelling. I put my forehead on the boards and couldn't watch. We stacked the line and as the clock wound down we realized we were going to do this.

And we did.

There were yells and cheers, laughs and tackling. And in that moment I remembered what it was like to be a part of a winning team who was all guts and heart. We had won.

There were many laughs.

"Drunk again, Leeanne?"
"Me too, mudder."

"This is Alexa. Go the fuck to bed."

"B'ys...we hates to tell you...Botwood is back there 20 minutes..."

"Go fuck yourself."

And my stomach still hurts from laughing.

I think that win meant a little extra this weekend. It was a weekend of friendship, of hard work, of fighting, of memories.

3 wins.
1 championship.
41 beer and 1 hurting liver.
381 more days until Botwood 2019.

And we did it for you, boys. We made sure to lay sticks at the memorial on the highway.

It's been 20 years since I last laced up my hockey skates. Back then I never dreamed I would be a part of such an awesome group of women, make friendships solidified in our love for the game and a good time. Hockey was something that was not achievable for girls and we sat by, watching the boys play, watching our dads, and wishing the game was more inclusive.

Now, girls all across the province lace their skates up and know that some day they too can spend weekends with their friends, playing the game they love, and making memories that will last a lifetime (even when you're 36 years old).

And I needed it. I am forever grateful that Laing messaged me on Twitter this year and invited me to a skate up the shore.

The Southern Shore Breakers kicked ass. And I could never have wished to be a part of a better team of women. Let's get back there and win it again, girls. Let's show them what we're made of.

And let's never take one minute for granted because, in an instant, you never know how quickly life can change.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Humboldt, Saskachewan is roughly the size of Marystown.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The tragic April 6th accident that has now claimed the lives of 16 of those on board the team bus has reverberated throughout the hockey world, and communities. Actually, ripples of the tragedy can be felt across the globe.

If you've grown up in a small town, this tragedy probably hits your heart a little harder. Those team busses and team trips were luxuries. Each year you looked forward to invitationals, regionals, provincials - you never really had much opportunity to get out of your town.

Those trips were where you made some of your best memories. You sang, tormented the chaperones and coaches, and fed off each other's energy as you headed to some other small town to play your hearts out. Nerves would be rampant but nobody admitted it.

I recall Steve Brooks threatening to pitch a few of us out of the van if we didn't stop singing Dennis Leary's "Asshole" on repeat, getting banished from Botwood for getting on a huge team drunk after getting blown out the whole tournament, mooning cars from the back of the bus as we headed home from Avondale, and Matthew getting a bad cold and bombing the next day because we had held his face in a snow bank in a game of Truth or Dare.

We still tell the stories when we see each other, 20 years later.

A lot of time is spent on those busses when you're a team. Teams are like little families, and your teammates are some of your best friends.

Imagine, in one second, losing 16 members of your little family.

When the plane carrying Lokomotiv Yaroslavl went down in 2011 the hockey world grieved. The hockey world is a close community, you know - one that spans across teams, leagues, towns, provinces, countries and continents.

Humboldt feels different.

A lot of us have grown up in a Humboldt. A lot of us have been those young people on that bus with the world laid out ahead of you, though nothing in the world feels more important at that moment than the win.

Small town boys with big dreams, playoffs looming, hopes and visions of sitting on a bus in the Show some day, undoubtedly.

I'm proud to be a member of the hockey community. I've thought a lot about my own teams this week. I play with some wonderful, spirited, fun-loving, hockey-loving folks who I wouldn't trade for the world. I've become a part of a few teams this year. I'm thankful for each one, and for the support, friendship and camaraderie each one has brought.

And I can't imagine losing half of them in one fell swoop.

This weekend our Southern Shore Breakers senior women's team will load our gear into our rigs, hit the highway and head to Botwood (I should probably check and see if they're going to let me in after that ban I got when I was 17 for the hotel party and the bathtub full of booze). We'll play our hearts out, drink a lot of beer, laugh until everything hurts, and make memories and stories to carry in to next year.

And you never know how quickly all of that could change in an instant. Appreciate every moment. "Go Breakers!" And Go Broncos.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Protecting the Owner-Operator: Breaking Free of Company Control

My blog tends to teeter from the personal to the professional. Those who know me know that my professional life is embedded deeply in who I am.

The following is an article I wrote and was published in The Union Forum, Issue No. 02 - Spring 2018. Bill C-68 is important to not only Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and Atlantic Canadians but to all Canadians. For this reason, I felt like sharing.

Protecting the Owner-Operator: Breaking Free of Company Control

On February 6, 2018 Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Dominic Leblanc, announced changes to Canada’s Fisheries Act. For fish harvesters, their families, fisheries organizations and coastal communities, February 6 was an emotional day, one that many waited on with bated breath for decades.

I cannot recall the first time I heard the term “trust agreement.” I try to pinpoint it as it was a pivotal moment that shaped me and my future academic and career paths. When the dirty little tool called the “trust agreement,” or “controlling agreement,” entered into our fisheries, it was a point in time that retooled the mechanisms of an industry once built firmly on kinship and survival.

I grew up in Spillar’s Cove, a rural town outside the historic fishing community of Bonavista. Bonavista was the original “company town” in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery. When then-Minister of Fisheries (or, “Minister of Fishermen,” as he often stated) Romeo LeBlanc introduced limited entry licensing and the policies of Owner Operator and Fleet Separation in 1979, five licenses were grandfathered and permitted to remain property of now-defunct Fishery Products International.

The names of these vessels exist still in policy documents – Margaret R, Random Buster, Silver Jubilee, Rose Venture, and the name I often sat as a child and repeated over the VHF radio in our little dining room, waiting for a response from my father – “Edwin Charles, do you read, over.”

The fishery was family to me. My grandfathers, father, uncles all made their livings from the sea; my grandmother, mother, aunts all worked in the fish plant.

The dichotomy of the independent harvester and the company boat was evident. While company control had not yet turned into the monster we are now faced with, the pieces were there; the creation of a class structure within the social fabric of our little coastal town. The result was a class of hardworking people who live an industry that runs through our veins as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, yet often produced nothing more than a reduced paycheck and a suit of oil clothes.

As I grew up, our fishery changed. As value increased, there were forces under the surface, from deep corporate pockets, that were morphing the relations within our industry and within our towns.
Trust agreements began to rear their ugly heads in the 1990s, as our fisheries shifted to rely on more lucrative shellfish like snow crab and northern shrimp[1].

I remember standing on the wharf in Old Perlican in 2005, an excited 23 year old Masters student. I wanted to explore the dynamic of trust agreements in a community other than my own, I wanted to speak to harvesters about their experiences, and I wanted to produce work that would open up the discussion on these contracts with the devil.

As I sat at the table of the only harvester who had agreed to speak to me, it was then and only then that the true control exhibited by a trust agreement became clear. Like Fight Club, the first rule of a trust agreement is, “Do not talk about a trust agreement.”

In 2007, then-Minister of Fisheries Loyola Hearn, announced that there would be a 7 year period for harvesters in trust agreements to get out; in 2014, the efforts had consisted of nothing more than high priced lawyers finding more ways to open loopholes.

Since, the deep pockets of corporations have meant more licenses have been stripped from the hands of young harvesters who long to sail on the Atlantic. Plants continue to outbid those who try to better their enterprise and have driven the price of licenses far beyond the reach of the harvester. As a result, the autonomy of the independent harvester is overshadowed by corporations making decisions on when one sails, who crews a vessel; while watching money roll into their bank accounts without regard for those on the decks who bring the wealth to shores.

Trust agreements and corporate control beat down and strip what we, as resilient Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, have survived on for generations – hard work, preservation of our marine resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods in our coastal communities for the future.

When Minister Dominic LeBlanc stated and restated his commitment to enshrining Owner Operator, Fleet Separation and PIIFCAF in legislation, a ripple of hope could be felt throughout coastal communities. The corporate lobby came out swinging, seeing their deathgrip on the fishery loosening, and finally being told that value would no longer be funneled from our coastal communities and into banks on Bay Street. No more.

The five grandfathered vessels from Bonavista are more than names immortalized in fishing policy; they served to be harbingers of decades of erosion of identity and the social fabric of entire communities. The circumvention of these policies have had an effect far beyond the simple ownership of licenses and the concentration of wealth into corporate coffers.

To hear Minister LeBlanc’s announcement has been equally as surreal, emotional, and the result of decades of activism and dedication from those who hold the fishery dear to their hearts.

Bonavista Harbour in winter
Photo credit: Tony Seaward Photography

[1] Trust agreements separate the beneficial interest of a fishing license from the title. Most often, these agreements are between a fish processing company and a harvester. While the company maintains control of the license and takes a hefty percentage of the profits, the harvester fishes for a share. These agreements vary in terms but one thing is constant: the harvester is a labourer, the company the employer who exploits.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Not every blog is thought provoking or contains much substance.

Sometimes the most productive days are ones with your favourite songs, quiet, and planning.

And sometimes you just need to share those songs and your favourite shows to make sure others know how awesome they are. Here you go.

"Step right up
Get yourself wrecked
Come on whisper my name
I mean since it's so late
A thousand miles away
I'll be creeping down your spine
And making you wait, wait and wait

And I hope you find a handsome young man
Who can love you like I, baby, just like I can
Who will take you out dancing, while you waited me out
Making good use of the blues you found

Go on light it up
Let your hair down
You deserve the wee hours and the shivers downtown
Because I'm waking up
You're stumbling home
What, you think I forget
I remember each and every lonesome night lone

And I hope you find a handsome young man
Who can love you like I, baby, just like I can
Who will take you out dancing, as you waited me out
Making good use of the blues you found
Making misery so proud

And if I saw this much blood
If it was all on your hands
If the pills in my system came to call you up again
Would you buy me a drink, to calm down
Would you buy me a drink right now?

And I hope you find a handsome young man
Who can love you like I, baby, just like I can
Who will take you out dancing, while you waited me out
Making good use of the blues you found

And I hope you find a handsome young man
Who can love you like I, baby, just like I can
Who will take you out dancing, while you waited me out
Making good use of the blues you found
Making good use of the blues you found
Making good use of the blues in you now
Making misery so proud
Making misery so proud
Making misery so proud
While you waited me out."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Motherhood Paradox

I have a question, hive:

Why do we still shame and question childless women?

We've come a long way, baby, but while some things have become more acceptable in our festering cesspool of a society, the notion that a woman is childless still draws ire and judgement. As Amy Sohnn has pointed out, "These days, it is no longer taboo to be gay or unmarried, but if you don’t want (or don't have, for whatever reason) kids, everyone looks down on you."

Explain yourself immediately, young/old lady!

This week there have been many discussions around the tables, in rooms, about where we have been, have come, and where we will go as women. The surge of positivity and energy I have felt coming out of this year's International Women's Day has been like no other. I feel hopeful that it will only intensify and that women are mobilizing, uniting, and are ready for a fight like no other time in our generation.

We do, however, still try to fit in boxes, and society still pressures us to fit the molds that have been created for women for centuries. As I sat at a table this week, discussing our lives with a group of powerful women, many were discussing parenthood, all with children of varying ages. As I looked around, only two of us were childless.

And then the statement came: "I don't know why you don't have kids!"

I do. And it's none of your business. I am not, as some might suspect, a Succubus who feeds on the souls of children, nor do I hate the little people created by the women whose wombs lack tumbleweeds (like mine must have!)

Motherhood is a loaded question for many. Those who drop the bombs are often unaware that many women feel death by a thousand cuts every time our value and purpose as women are put on display simply because we have not given birth.

Our (in)voluntary decisions often come with feelings of being betrayed by our own bodies, by the puzzle pieces not falling into place when and how they should, or we simply make the choice to not be mothers.

And this is okay.

The judgement, however, as well as the side eye and pity-laced facial expressions all seem to amplify as a woman, and her god-forsaken, barren womb age.

The minute you say you are childless, the reaction is often textbook. We get bombarded with questions by those who come at us with the firepower of a thousand suns. It is best described as Suzanne Condie Lambert said: "Think Transylvanian peasants with torches. Or “Dr. Phil” audiences when the topic is “Sassy 14-Year-Olds Who Think They’re Smarter Than You.”

"You don't know what you're missing out on!"
"Your biological clock is ticking."
"It seems selfish!"
"Who will take care of you when you're old?" (Because all of those folks in nursing homes are childless! Who knew?)

"What is wrong with you/her?"

There is moral outrage targeted at those of us who have not ticked off this very necessary and obligatory piece of a woman's uterine to-do list. Indeed, "Over 200 introductory psychology students at a large U.S. Midwestern university agree: People who don’t have children are not only miserable, but deserving of our moral outrage. That is the result of a new study that found that deliberately not breeding makes you look like a bad person who lives a purposeless life devoid of real joy. Bonus finding: Men and women without kids were equally despised, proving that there is no gender limit to our disgust toward those who do not procreate as directed in the handbook Being a Correct Adult" (Moore, The Real Reason why Society Hates You if You Don’t Have Kids, 2017).

Imagine! Here we are, living our lives and not knowing we are miserable, unfulfilled in our lot and being smug assholes.

News flash: your judgement is best packed away in the boxes you feel we should fit in, the ones who set out the guidelines and necessary characteristics of how to be a purposeful woman in this world.

Many of us do not choose to be childless - our bodies and/or life circumstances decided that for us - and many of us do choose to be. Neither is anyone's business. The questions, the judgement, the guilt most often evoke a response in ourselves where we do, indeed, question if we have failed and measure our worth on the yardsticks placed by those who tell us what our roles as women should be.


Childless women have a myriad of reasons why we have not procreated - health, careers, fears, or simply not wanting to be mothers. We owe no one our reasons, and we deserve to not have our reasons and worth questioned.

We are still role models.
We still carve paths for little girls to ensure the world is a better place.
We become the volunteers, the voices, the aunts, the cousins, the friends, the women who have decided that while our bodies might not give birth to the girls we aim to make a better world for we still have responsibilities. We can still make this world a better place.

While many mean no harm when asking a woman's reasons for not bearing children, we all need to be conscious of what a loaded question it can be - and simply realize that no woman is obligated to be a biological mother. This does not, in any capacity, lessen our power or our place in this world.

And, as Radhika Vaz pointed out in Unladylike: A Memoir, “How come when a woman says she wants a baby no one ever asks ‘why?”

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bread & Roses

International Women's Day, March 8th, has always been one of my favourite days of the year. It is a day to not only celebrate who we are, and our victories, but also to observe and reflect on the struggles of our sisters before us.

And to unify our strength and voices for battles to come.

The first National Woman's Day, designated by the Socialist Party of America, was observed in 1909 in the United States on 28 February to recognize the strike of garment workers in New York. After this iconic strike, an international Women's Day was recognized in 1910 in Copenhagen, to honour the women's movement.

Throughout World War I, where the roles of women are often written out of our history books, International Women's Day also became a mechanism for protest. It was during this period that March 8th became the day recognized. In 1917, Russian women protested and went on strike, demanding bread and peace, resulting in being granted the right to vote.

In 1975, International Women's Year, the United Nations also recognized March 8th as International Women's Day.

There is a very watered down history of why we observe and celebrate when we do.

IWD is powerful.

Every year, our annual Bread & Roses brunch grows in size. This is an event named aptly for Rose Schneiderman's iconic line in her famous speech where she declared, "The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too." I think we will soon have to build a piece on the Holiday Inn to hold all of the powerful women, of all generations, who attend.

This year there were over 300 women and allies in the room, all activists, feminists, all generations, all united in our histories and in our battles. Sister Mary Shortall gave a strong speech on our struggles and victories in both the political arena and in the labour movement. El Jones gave our keynote and had the house on its feet (as she always does) and her words resonated powerfully through the walls. I think we are all vibrating still.

And each year I realize that I am truly lucky to fight alongside such powerful activists as we claw our way through. While we have made gains, such as the optimism in small movements in the 2018 budget brought down by our Federal government, and movements on important pieces of legislation we have been advocating for (domestic violence leave, pay equity, anti-harassment, abortion clinic buffer zones, and the list goes on), we still feel like we are moving through quicksand at times.

As Mary said in her powerful speech yesterday, "Baby steps are not good enough."

But, I do feel we are at a pivotal moment in time.
We are mobilizing.
We are uniting our voices and drawing on each other for strength.
We are using our histories and our battle scars to say, "Enough."


They tried to burn us.
They tried to oppress us.
They tried to control our bodies.
They tried to keep our abortions in dark, back rooms.
They tried to stop us from the vote.
They tried to tell us we don't belong here.
They tried to put us in categories.
They tried to tell us who we are allowed to be.
They tried to keep us in the kitchen.
In the sweatshop.
In the river.
In the ground.

Yet, we persist.

They question our intelligence.
Our feminism.
Our motherhood.
Our behaviours.
Our roles in our workplaces.
Our looks.
Our sexuality.
Our dress.
Our femininity.
Our masculinity.

Yet, we persist.

And, while the movement has always been growing, I feel there is a different dynamic reverberating under the ground now, and there will be baby steps no more.

This time we're going to bring this shit to the ground.

We will continue to fight in the trenches, but we are also taking our fight to the streets, to the legislature, to the hills we are prepared to die on to see the girls who come behind us - our friends, our daughters, all who we leave a path for - finally have equality.

As we approach International Women's Day, let us use this time to both reflect and act. We all have roles to play and no action is too small, no voice too quiet.

Let's get shit done.

"As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days
The rising of the women means the rising of us all
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes
But a sharing of life's glories, bread and roses, bread and roses."