Walaa, Aghssan and I started a new stage of the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program at the beginning of October – a stage in which we had the opportunity to share our stories and the stories of our communities with a very diverse group of women and to learn more about the actions taken by many of them in Canada, in the promotion and protection of women’s rights.
We shared this exciting and challenging experience with Nuala Nazarko from MATCH International, a feminist organization working in Canada for more than three decades. MATCH acts as a bridge for Canadian women and women from the “global South”, and along with the Nobel Women’s Initiative, arranged a series of activities for us in Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa. We had the chance to meet with students, activists and people interested in either women’s activism or in the situation of our countries at different events in the University of Regina, the First Nations University in Regina, the University of Winnipeg, the University of Ottawa and Carleton University in Ottawa, in addition to separate events in community centers and venues.
The energy and solidarity that we received from all those amazing women who were part of the local committees who convened the events and invited us into their university classrooms and community centers made the challenge to present and harmonize the three very different and difficult realities in which each one of us live much more easy. Their words of solidarity and their questions reflected their interest in our countries’ situation, in the situation of the women in our home, and in the goals of our activism.
For me, it was very important to have the few but noteworthy moments of exchange with the different women academics and activists in these places, who are involved in different issues regarding gender violence and women’s rights. From short talks around the dreadful situation of murdered and disappeared indigenous women in Canada and their research around this issue in the University of Regina; to hear the alarming situation of sexual abuse on university campuses in Ottawa; or the experiences around creating a foundation in Canada with the only aim to provide girls with skills, tools, and opportunities to be part of the necessary changes in their communities; or having dinner with a group of feminists in Winnipeg, from a wide range of different generations, who use different languages, but who, at the end, are moved in their activism by the same principles and values. All these moments were especially significant as these were the moments in which we started to construct bridges between our communities and ourselves, and strengthen those already created among Walaa, Aghssan and I, from whom I keep learning everyday.
There are no words to thank all of these women who were involved in the organizing of the tour and who opened their houses and hearts for us during those short but exciting days; including MATCH International and Nobel Women’s Initiative who gave me the opportunity to present my story, which is marked by those women and men, who back at home in the Montaña, struggle everyday to transform our story as a society to one where justice and equality can be a reality for all.