Thunder Bay

Struggle, persistence and strength: Women's Day in the northwest an opportunity to reflect

‘If we’re silent, we’ll lose the rights we’ve already gained,’ says Women’s Centre director

‘If we’re silent, we’ll lose the rights we’ve already gained,’ says Women’s Centre director

Jana-Rae Yerxa, left, Gwen O'Reilly and Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs raise the flag representing International Women's Day Monday morning in Thunder Bay. (Heather Kitching CBC)

The International Women's Day flag has been raised at Thunder Bay's city hall, marking the official launch of a week of events aimed at improving the lives of women around the world. 

This year's theme is "Women Resist; Women Persist," said Gwen O'Reilly, the director of the Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre.

It was chosen to honour U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren, who stood up in the senate and read a letter from Martin Luther King's widow, despite Republican efforts to silence her," O'Reilly said. 

"Clearly the results of the U.S. election, and many other things that are happening in the world, we can't be silent," she added. "If we're silent, we'll lose the rights we've already gained and we won't move forward."

Canadians challenged to reflect on colonialism

The coordinator of the Aboriginal Community Advocacy Program at Confederation College spoke at yesterday's flag-raising. 

Jana Rae Yerxa talked about the impact of colonialism on Indigenous women and challenged Canadians to reflect on their relationship to it.

She cited the conversation about residential schools as an example of where discussions of colonialism often don't go deep enough, because such discussions are frequently limited to the role of government policy. 

"A better question to ask would be 'what are the ideologies — what are the ideas that created the residential school system, and are those ideas still alive?' and I would say, yes they are still alive and those ideas, unfortunately, live inside many of us."

Canadians need to think about how they internalize colonial attitudes and act on them unconsciously, she said.

International Women's Day activities around Thunder Bay

March 7: 

  • 5 p.m.:  Sign and noisemaker potluck at the Centre Francophone, 234 Van Norman St.  Bring your own supplies. RSVP by calling 684-1955.

March 8: