The Centre for Gender Advocacy’s two-week campaign, Another Word for Gender, is in its third year at Concordia, taking place from Sept. 23 to Oct. 4.
The free events, open to the public, act as an introduction to feminist action and organization, demonstrating the type of work in which the centre engages.
“We want to inspire people, pass on skills that will allow them to inspire people and bring people together who are interested in challenging inequality, gender violence and social justice,” said Bianca Mugyenyi, the centre’s programming and campaigns coordinator.
The Centre understands that to get at their root causes, gender oppression and matters like sexual assault need to be spoken about in relation to other social issues.
“[We’re] helping to educate about gender as existing not in a vacuum, but as connected to First Nations issues, environmental issues [and] other social justice struggles in general,” said Maya Rolbin-Ghanie the centre’s publicity and promotions coordinator.
Feminism is often still perceived as something only dealing with women’s issues. The Centre, however, emphasizes these events are open to everyone.
“Everyone has a gender and so we’d like to believe that there’s something here for everybody,” said Mugyenyi.
This annual series of events began in 2008, originally called Too Cool for School, while the organizers feel the new name that Rolbin-Ghanie came up with is more inclusive and interesting, while also addressing gender.
“We’ve been making an effort […] particularly in this series to bring men more into the discussions,” said Rolbin-Ghanie.
Norman Achneepineskum will talk about murdered and missing native women through his experience with his mother on Sept. 26 and Dan Parker will host a Men and Feminism discussion Sept. 30. The keynote speaker, Glen Canning, will speak about the role of men in challenging rape culture, among other issues, on Oct. 3, relating his personal experience of his daughter’s sexual assault and suicide.
Other informative events include a media skills workshop on Sept. 24, which will teach attendees how to effectively communicate with the media to reflect their values. A new addition to the program this year is the Trans’ History Workshop on Sept. 25.
Many events are not only informative but fun and engaging. The open-mic night showcases participants’ musical and spoken talents. World renowned dubpoet, d’bi young, hosts the Art and Activism workshop on Sept. 27.
“We can’t really organize sustainably unless we’re having a good time,” said Mugyenyi.
While the events are mostly attended by Concordia students, the organizers are engaging students from other campuses and the community this year especially. Glen Canning, for instance, will be speaking at McGill University.
One of the largest events of the series, the Annual Sisters in Spirit Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Native Women on Oct. 4, is a massive community affair. Founded by Bridget Tolley, participants memorialize her mother’s death and petition for the disregarded murders of Native women.
Canada rejected the UN’s call for a review of violence against Aboriginal women on Sept. 19, which is one of the reasons the march will be timely.
“The government negligence in the rejection of this UN inquiry is something that we’re going to be addressing,” Mugyenyi explained.
The Centre believes Concordia students can get an even broader education from these events.
“We have lots of different ways that people can engage in terms of skills, interests and level of participation,” said Mugyenyi. “The more new faces we see, the more excited we get.”
For the complete schedule, please visit genderadvocacy.org/events/anotherwordforgender/