So, how did the women fare this year?

The Howe Sound Women’s Centre shared their annual report last week.

I’ve been doing a wonderful online program called Deyen Transform: Canadian history through the lens of Indigenous Women. In it, I learned that the majority of Indigenous communities, before contact, were matriarchal – they centred and valued women as life-bringer, life-givers, wisdom-keepers. This didn’t take away from the experience of being a non-woman. It signified an entire different structure to a society, that was less about power-over, and more about power-with.

I’ll be honest, I’m kind of bone-deep-homesick for that kind of society.

I’ve been thinking about what metrics we might track, as critical metrics of how well we’re doing as a society. There’s an old saying that “what you measure, matters” – that by measuring and tracking something, you are indicating that it is important, and you pour more effort into improving those metrics. Take GDP for example. Or a national tally of Olympic medals. These things drive funding, public policy, all kinds of decisions that sometimes defy logic. (Goodbye ancient forest, GDP needs you to be monetized and tracked as something “productive.”)

What if we said that our three most important metrics, as a society, was

1. maternal health and well-being (let’s track the mental and physical wellness of new mothers, for the first 5 years of motherhood… what might that tell us about how well we’re doing as a society? My guess is that if they are thriving, the ripple effects of that are far-reaching… and if they’re struggling, as we do, in this current system, we should pay attention to why.)

2. the health and water quality in local waterways (this would probably be a great indicator of the overall health of ecosystems, of fish, of how we’re managing any resource extraction impacts)

3. the health of Indigenous language (because I see this as an indicator of the supports provided to Indigenous communities, that massive intergenerational healing is taking place, and because the health of the people, the language and the land are interconnected, it would also tell us about the overall wellbeing of place and people.)

So, that’s my vote-for-me-for-Queen-of-the-World pitch.

In the meantime, I recommend the Deyen Transform course, if you’d like to revisit Canadian history, and are willing to confront a few hard truths. Hearing it delivered through the lived experience of First nations women is deeply impactful. The next cohort runs from January 4 to February 18, 2022.

So, how are things looking for women in our community? Read Howe Sound Women’s Centre’s report here.

I can see a lot of “metrics” that could be improved, if we, as a society, decided that THIS is what mattered.

Each year the Howe Sound Women’s Centre provides safety, support, and programming to thousands of individuals in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the communities they serve and with that, increased demand for their services. Their major revenue source, Pearl’s Value and Vintage, closed for three months. And their major fundraisers, Raising our Voices and On the Runway fashion show, both had to be cancelled. (COVID. Did you even ask why?) As executive director Ashley Oakes writes, it’s hard to find the words to paint the picture of the past year – some love child of a rollercoaster and a hurricane, it seems.

But they rallied, remarkably.

Because they were more needed than ever.

(COVID. Did you even ask why?)

Remember last fall, when Maude Cyr ran 110km up the Sea to Sky to raise money for the Howe Sound Women’s Centre? Well, if you contributed to her run, you contributed to help their programs.

Maude, we are so proud of you!

The Centre also has a monthly giving program, so you can sign on to make an automatic donation every month. You know who does that? Yeah, our very own Stay Wild Natural Health. ❤

Well, the pandemic isn’t over, and neither is the vulnerability of women, children and non-binary folk in our decidedly non-matriarchal society. So, while we get started replacing the patriarchy with a more life-centred partnership-oriented structure, keep your eye and hearts on the Howe Sound Women’s Centre, and feel free to support or contribute, to lift up all the women.

“As we put 2020/2021 behind us, we set our focus on the coming year. We know that the impact of the pandemic on survivors of violence will be felt for years to come. The rates of family violence, high conflict divorce and separation, and mental health needs following a return to “normal” will remain high. In the coming year HSWC will launch the TRAVERSE — Sexual Assault Response Team program. This initiative will make available trained, crisis support workers 24/7 to respond to survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking. Additionally, we will launch a counselling subsidy program in order to remove the barrier of cost to accessing clinical counselling services for survivors of violence, focus on establishing more affordable housing options for survivors throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor, and begin a rebranding process to ensure our service.”

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