By Kelsey Rose and Lynnaea LeDrew
Published: April 27, 2012
Last Saturday, April 14th, The Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society celebrated thirty years of serving the women and children of the Sea to Sky Corridor.
The well-attended event, ‘Women. Inspire. Our World.’ was indeed a night of inspiration and enlightenment. It was also a reminder that violence against women is still prevalent in our society at home, and abroad.
Opening the evening was Squamish local Mina Dickenson who kept those in attendance on the edge of their seats as she retold her religious persecution and later escape in the 1980s from post-revolutionary Iran. Mina’s personal details and unique perspective had the audience at times laughing and at other times, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Second to speak was Katrina Pacey, a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society. Katrina gave the crowd an inside glimpse of life for female sex workers living on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. So often misunderstood and misrepresented, Katrina told the brave path these women took all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to demand change to how the Canadian justice system currently criminalizes and marginalizes sex workers and so placing them at increased risk for violence and abuse. Katrina is also involved with the Missing Women’s Inquiry.
The keynote speaker for the evening was internationally renowned feminist, activist, and humanitarian, Stephen Lewis. Stephen told many stories of his work with women and HIV/AIDS in Africa and India through his work with the UN and the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Touching on many troubling and difficult topics such as human trafficking and systemic rape, he was able to underline that there is a continuum of violence against women: it may look different in various parts of the world, but the marginalization of 52 per cent of the world’s population continues unabated.
The anger was overt as he spoke of the lack of political will of national governments and international bodies such as the UN Security Council alike. Always, he brought the focus back to the grass roots organizations like the HSWC doing the work daily on the ground.
This amazing event and all three speakers’ stories filled the room with knowledge, inspiration and a sense of empowerment. It also continued to underline the necessity of the important services that the Howe Sound Women’s Centre provides to women and their children throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor. The HSWC would like to thank the speakers, sponsors, staff and volunteers for making this event a success.