Who said feminism is dead? With all of the controversy and challenges that women-centred organizing and advocacy groups have faced, they are as strong and committed as ever.
The second RebELLEs gathering is taking place in Winnipeg from May 20-23. A pan-Canadian young feminist gathering that is open to all young women between the ages of 14-35, the first RebELLEs gathering in Montreal attracted over 500 participants. The RebELLEs website reports that the initial gathering was productive and successful.
“For three days, young feminists gathered to share experiences, stories and analysis. We engaged in creative resistance actions in the streets, learned from and with one another, shared our feminist talents and danced up a storm. We returned to our regions with a strong foundation for a young feminist movement in place, one that RebELLEs all across the country have been building upon for the past two years.”
A Winnipeg RebELLE, Charly Wreggitt, believes that the roots of the RebELLEs movement are similar to the beginnings of most feminist groups.
“We live in a society that has to see changes made, and at the end of the day ‘the true north, strong and free’ isn’t as free for everyone as we would like to think. The RebELLEs formed in Quebec as a grassroots organization to fight against patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism, homophobia, the threat in cutbacks that feminist organizations were and still are going through and for First Nations’ and immigrants’ rights. RebELLEs was formed as a way for young feminists to fight back and to show Canada we haven’t given up and that feminism is still very much alive.”
Extending the invitation to all young women with diverse political views and identities, from all regions, cultures and languages, with an interest in feminist issues and struggles, Wreggitt explains that the RebELLEs gathering is a place for women to unite and organize.
“The main importance of this gathering, in my opinion, is to connect with other feminists across Canada. To sit in a room with some of these womyn [Wreggitt’s preferred spelling of women] is an amazing experience. To realize just how many smart, energetic, enthusiastic young Canadian womyn there are, who are willing to fight for a cause, I don’t even have words for it.”
She goes on to tackle the rumour that feminism has peaked. “There seems to be this reoccurring buzz, I keep hearing that feminism is dead, that there’s no need for feminists anymore, that our society is no longer patriarchal but that womyn and men are equal. What Canada needs is to hear that we’re still out here — especially for younger girls to hear. Young feminists are the ones who have to take over now and to inspire young girls to grow up and fight for their rights as well. The gathering’s not only an opportunity for womyn who already identify as feminists to meet, but for womyn who have even the smallest interest in what we believe in to find out more.”
Addressing the extensive cuts in federal funding to women’s organizations, Wreggitt still sees hope.
“Sadly, feminism’s being overlooked in Canada. Recently, many feminist organizations have been shut down as a result of lack of government funding. Luckily, feminists seem to be a pretty resilient group. Gatherings such as RebELLEs are being organized with basically no funding, relying on the work of determined womyn willing to give up time to do what they can.”
Wreggitt is hoping that the gathering will help build up the feminist network in Winnipeg and is looking forward to the positive energy that the gathering will build on.
“The energy that’s still being carried around from the first gathering is amazing, and the thought of building up this energy even more and using it to continue our struggles against a patriarchal society is really what makes me the most excited.”
The upcoming RebELLEs gathering in Winnipeg will be a place to learn about feminism and what it means to other young women, share reflections and analysis of different issues that affect young women from diverse backgrounds, learn about and discuss priorities for action as young feminists, share struggles and discuss strategies to resist and combat patriarchy and other forms of oppression, create solidarity and reinforce the RebELLEs young feminist movement in Canada and celebrate struggles and solidarity.