The Cambridge Dictionary describes domestic violence as “The situation in which someone you live with attacks you and tries to hurt you.”
Violence is often seen through the victim’s eyes; however, the mind, mouth and other senses fail because abuse is not defined by others or by the state’s history. It isn’t defined by social structures, physical structures or even by culture. What does that mean? Domestic violence isn’t defined except for those abused; even then, it isn’t clear due to post-traumatic stress disorder. Those who are being abused cannot recall events properly because most suffer from traumatization. That is why we have a rabbit hole that systems of “state” cannot resolve.
Understanding Domestic Violence through an Okanagan College Student’s Experience
I interviewed Cecile, a mature student at Okanagan College, on March 7-9, 2021. “There is a rabbit hole when it comes to defining hurt,” Cecile explained. She is a victim of domestic violence.
Cecile is a mother to her 15-year-old son, who was taken from her when he was 7 years old. Cecile was accused of thwarting access for over 8 years. Her abusive ex-husband was granted full custody and was able to take him to another Province by the Judge’s order in Supreme Court before any proper trial was set.
“My son, who was 7 years old at the time, was ripped from his home, his school, his appointments, piano classes, Tae kwon do, minor baseball, first communion and from all his friends with no formal investigation, and no evidence. My lawyer said to me in a little meeting room at the courthouse, “all you have to do is tell them that you will never go to the police again, and you will keep your son.” I left the courthouse with a final order in a matter of minutes. My ex-husband got approval by the court to move our son out of the province without any regard to our son and the implication this would have on him.
“We finished packing his toys and things from home that my son wanted. We both had a few minutes together before his dad was coming to pick him up. I looked at my beautiful son and asked him if he wanted anything else in his bag. My son fell to the floor, lost his air and said, “but mommy, you won’t fit in the bag.” I held and rocked him until it was time for him to go. I looked at him and said, “where there is a goodbye, there is always a hello.” That was the last I saw him at home. After that, I battle to communicate with him ever since. I see him for 2 to 3 weeks in the summer and every other Christmas, that is until COVID 19,” Cecile said.
This is what her ex-husband did once her son was out of the Province:
He cut the landline phone.
He got a cell phone.
He explained that their WIFI connection was poor where they live. Cecile understood this since she fled with their baby from that very home to the women’s shelter.
COVID 19 and Interprovincial Parenting
“Since they took my son, I have been at the mercy of his dad and the institutions that keep the abuse going. Covid adds to the stress because when there are lockdowns and not hearing from them creates further concern. At least I felt comforted knowing he was safe at school. Still, with the pandemic, my son is home with poor WIFI service and no landline phone, every time I try to communicate to my son’s father, I am coming up against my own trauma, but I push through that and keep trying to communicate,” Cecile said.
The current Covid pandemic has changed all access for Cecile and her son. Her son suffers severe anxiety due to the pandemic and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“My ex-husband has stated that travel is not a good idea due to Covid. My son also expressed to me in brief moments of connection that he is too afraid to travel and come to another Province. He hasn’t gone to school consistently since the Pandemic. I signed forms for my son to have therapy for his anxiety. I am left in the dark. I bought my son a cell phone which includes unlimited data, but my calls don’t get through. I send text messages, but hardly any response,” Cecile shared.
What Cecile has learned about her situation is that state systems will not put a majority of people at risk by revealing the corrupt system we have here in Canada.
“The only thing that works for me is my faith in God. Despite oppression and abuse. God’s love for us will take care of my son going forward during the pandemic.
Why is Domestic Violence so Puzzling?
Abuse is puzzling. The degree of violence becomes more confusing, especially when the institutions themselves deny any abuse. It was abuse when Cecile’s ex-husband, the agencies and courts stripped her of her finances, her communication with her son, and her visits. Their child has become the tool her ex-husband uses to get back at her, with the systems’ approval that should have protected them. The violence continues.
“I am told I can see him anytime in the town and Province where he lives. The court order reads that I have generous access. What that does not solve is domestic violence or how the violence is affecting my son and me. It does not solve the fact that my ex warned me that I will not see him anymore than I do now if I move closer,” Cecile explained.
The court order forces Cecile to make access arrangements with her ex to see their child. This puts more stress on Cecile, who must follow the court order. Why? “Because I have to deal with my ex, who is abusive, to agree when and if I can see my son,” Cecile said.
The political stance on structural violence is the core where internal family violence becomes the violence of the structure in which we are governed. Stein says it well,
“Value and legitimacy of the various kinds of states and state agencies and of the state as such. Careful consideration of the standard theories leads repeatedly to findings that state values are secondary and derivative. Value accrues primarily to personal and community characteristics such as liberty, conscience, cultural creativity, and religious conviction. The state puts itself at risk whenever it goes up against those.” (XIV, Stein)
“Stopping the violence” slogans are misleading.
Cecile’s experience in finding help reveals that many hotlines, societies, and non-profit agencies read that they can call a number and get help immediately. Cecile stated that she does not doubt that abused mothers get help, but the slogan, ‘Stop the Violence,’ is misleading.
“There is no such thing as stopping the violence When I went to the women’s shelter, they had me fill out a detailed form so that they could assess the level of risk. They provided help and a plan to get housing and direction to stay safe. However, these very agencies do not help when it comes to custody and access within the legal system. Legal Aid is what parents use who cannot afford a lawyer. These institutions fail so many who are domestic violence victims,” Cecile said.
What do Mothers and their children need when they are threatened by violence?
They need the following:
Changing the law on how MCFD (Ministry of Children and Family Development) is governed.
Financial support for proper legal counsel.
Better Government systems to work with parents, who are trained professionals to assess and work with both parents so that therapy is mandatory for the whole family.
Donations/funding to help mothers see their children who are far away.
Ways to communicate and co-parent safely with an abusive ex-husband, this is not possible; however, the courts and institutions force it.
Cecile could not afford the travel costs there and back for her son’s flights and her own. Planning vacation time around her ex-husband’s access dates (which were not negotiable) was a problem for her when she had to book her vacation time. This added more stress, made her sick where she had to go on sick leave numerous times.
“It is costly to pay for travel, lodging, medicine and food. I couldn’t carry on with the salary I was making. I decided to go back to school to gain better employment so I can afford to see my son.”
What Can a parent do to keep the Connection with their Child when there Is power imbalance?
Cecile shared what she does to keep hope alive and ways she communicates:
“I keep trying to call and tell my son I love him and goodnight. When I have seen my son before Covid, he told me he gets those messages even if it does not show.
I keep a journal of letters to my son. Words of inspiration and words that express my love for being his mother. Information about me, traditions we celebrated, memories we share. One day he will read them.
I continue to pray for my son and his dad every day. I pray blessings over my son every night. I write and speak of my gratitude for the gift of my son. I rely on my faith in God while my son and I are oppressed.
I keep a box of treasures that I find that my son will smile over for the different stages of his life. Treasures he will have. I also have a keepsake of memories to help him remember the loving and fun moments we had. I also kept his milestones in sports and the special CD he made in his Grade 1 piano class.
Hope for a change of Systems and Agencies when it comes to domestic violence.
We can change state agencies and state systems; however, the challenge I have for all of you is how? The Community of families is our politics. And if there is violence within the community, the very political platforms that allow violence because it’s riskier not to what does that say about our laws? What does that say about MCFD and the Courts?
The truth of what matters is that Cecile did the right thing. She did everything she could legally and within the system to protect herself and her son. The structure failed her son, but as a mother, she did not.
“The state structures failed us. My ex-husband who hurt us, has my son. The very structure and laws silenced my son and I,” Cecile said.
Here is a piece of Cecile’s writing that she wrote in one of her classes:
(Dialogue between a mother and her son)
I tried to write a dialogue with you, little one—but I erased it. Too much emotion flooded my heart. I had your toys and boxes of memories in my car, sitting in the front seat. You always wanted to sit in the front seat. In the box are toys that made you smile; I can still hear giggling. It’s the joy of Christmas lying inside the box, your favourite toy Sheriff Woody beside the other toy Jessie from Toy Story. I parked my car at Value Village—me and my box of memories.
The sign read: OPEN AT 11:00 AM. It was 10:30 AM
It took courage to go to Value Village, little one.
I sat in front of the closed doors—it was hard to drive there.
I even took a picture of our memories,
A story to be told
You warned me that you would be going far, far away.
That I would be alone
I didn’t understand
You told me so
Yet, I did not know
I held you, caressed your forehead.
“Mommy, I’m afraid you will be on the street with no money. What will happen to you?”
Oh, dear, my little one.
“Mommy has God, and He will take care of me.”
“I’m not ready to be a saint, aren’t I too little?”
I take one of your finger puppets.
“Let go of everything, take the picture and then let go,” I remember my friend Anne saying that to me.
There were five finger puppets.
I kept one. It was the little chicken because it had a loose string.
“Can you fix it, mommy?”
“I can fix anything.”
The little chicken said the sky is falling.
The sky fell for us, when you were taken.
I kept the little chicken.
Stein, Edith, translated by Sawicki, Marianne. “An Investigation Concerning the State.” Edith Stein. An Investigation Concerning the State. Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc.: 2006. SBN 0-935216-39-1. Book.
Cecile, (remains anonymous) is a mature student at Okanagan College who was willing to share her experiences living with domestic violence.
My beautiful parents were hit with a few challenges this year, one of those challenges was my dad’s back injury and my mom’s back issues that prevented them from shoveling. One of the greatest blessings for seniors in the Okanagan Valley is the ability to have help through our communities. Here is a resource link for senior’s that is a huge help for those who qualify in times of great need:
Christmastime was different for many people this year. My Christmas preparation after school ended was helping my friend after she had a knee replacement. Covid 19 changed everything for many of us. My other friend who is from Columbia and myself jumped at the chance to help our friend in need. My friend from Columbia shared her tradition with us, which made it very special for the three of us to experience.
She pulled out from her red bag candles, a unique prayer book in Spanish and an eight candle holder. She lit seven candles, but she had no candle in the eighth. In her family tradition they light candles and do prayers and songs to celebrate the second coming of Christ and celebrate Jesus’ birth for days before Christmas day. She brought her musical instruments I remember playing in music class from elementary school. She pulled out a triangle instrument, tambourine and shakers. She gave us songbooks that held Christmas songs in Spanish and others published in English. She opened up this old Spanish prayer book her parents gave her when she was a child who celebrated Christmas in a fashion much like Shabbat but not quite.
After lighting the candles, she helped us understand that they celebrate the seven days of creation, and God rested on the eighth. She read the prayers in her language of Spanish then translated the prayers for us. The prayers were beautiful. In between the prayers we sang a beautiful song for the baby child Jesus a child’s song from long ago. My friend, who had knee surgery, smiled over this new experience, and I felt great peace and love that night that will stay with me forever.
Our families weren’t together this year, and yet somehow, in that little room, singing and praying in a tradition different from mine shed a new kind of light. A ray of HOPE, despite how Covid 19 changes how we do things today, ‘change’ is something to embrace rather than grieve over.
This brief little encounter into a tradition taught by another especially helped each of us endure a difficult Christmas without our family and the ‘familiar,’ into a culture that provided a ‘grace’ period.
“We didn’t realize we were making memories; we just knew we were having fun”
(This is an interview and article I wrote and pitched for my final assignment last year in my Journalism class)
Alicia Boisvert, a 27-year old mother of two children, had her world torn apart when her children were wrongfully taken into the care of MCFD (Ministry of Children and Family Development) on April 8th, 2014.
Her baby at the time was returned to her care more than 30-days later. The oldest, however, was ripped from the only home he had ever known, forced to be apart from his mother and brother for five years in an abusive foster home and was finally returned to Boisvert on March 7th, 2019, after a long and gruelling battle with the MCFD.
“Our family is very busy today, a lot of fixing, to be honest, re-cooperating. We didn’t have any involvement with our oldest son because of the MCFD; the whole family needed to adjust to Trayton being home again,” Boisvert said.
In 2014 Boisvert was at a crucial point in her health, battling a tumour and other serious health issues that needed surgery and recovery time. She had no family alive, to help so she took advice from a good friend and reached out to MCFD by writing them an email on April 6th, 2014. Two days later, there was a knock on her door; a social worker came into her home asking her to take a drug test and said they would go over the paperwork of the agreement.
“I told the worker that I don’t have a problem with getting a drug test. I said, “let’s go,” the kids were at daycare; I got in the car with the social worker. Thinking back over my youth file, the only time I had anything was only for survival as a child, so this information should never come into play in this case, to begin with. I thought, let’s clear whatever they need clearing, then let’s focus on my son,” Boisvert said.
Trayton, who was 4.5-years old at the time, suffered from behavioural issues. The daycare informed Boisvert that he needed a higher level of care than what they can provide. They said she needed to find him a suitable place. Her youngest baby was fine and did not have any issues. Trayton’s birth was traumatic; they had to use forceps, which caused some brain damage. With Boisvert’s upcoming surgeries, Trayton needed to be placed somewhere fast, plus he needed to be assessed, but the waitlists were long. Both she and her partner Frank Chartrand agreed that calling the MCFD was the best choice at the time.
On that traumatic day, the worker pulled out the paperwork that Boisvert signed. It was a VCA (voluntary care agreement), on the basis that she had the right to revoke it at any time; the second part of that agreement was to have full involvement in all of Trayton’s appointments.
The workers had her VCA agreement, and on April 8th, 2014, they picked her children up. That was the last she saw of her son Trayton except for sporadic supervised visits for the next five years, the drug testing results eventually came back clear.
“I had no idea where my children were. At this point I am calling around desperately asking what is going on. The response I got was well, the file’s changed. I said, what are you talking about? They said well, the file has been changed to a ‘removal’ and they gave me a court date, with no other explanation.” Boisvert said.
The battle had just begun, not only was Boisvert fighting for her life, she was fighting to get her oldest child back. After years of court dates and mediations, many adjournments and custody hearings, MCFD was taking her to court for a CCO (continuing custody order) so they could adopt her son out. They lied to her, and bullied her the whole time despite the odd social worker who was kind and tried to help. She ended up getting a better legal aid lawyer who got an adjournment which was crucial to getting her son back.
Trayton is now 9-years old. He has unspecified neurodevelopmental disorder with ADHD-Combined Type, which is a very tough diagnosis. that one can have, they can work with Trayton using various combined skills. The family is relieved that Trayton is finally getting the help they wanted years ago.
“I have recently seen a lot of people who got their child back who agreed to the MCFD’s terms even though they didn’t do what they were accused of. They got their child home, they agreed that they did something that they didn’t do that follows them for the rest of their life. I adjourned that CCO case I sacrificed time because at the end of the day although my son’s back home there’s a lot of trauma we are working through, it is really about holding the ministry accountable.” Boisvert said.
I made a genuine and reasonable effort to contact Katrine Conroy, MLA for the Ministry of Children and Families, and John Horgan, Premier of BC, for comment and MCFD policy verification; however, they did not get back to me despite many attempts. The MCFD client relations referred me to contact one of their front-line social workers, who stated; she is not to talk to the media.
This assignment was given to us in our communications class at Okanagan College. The assignment has as its main objective a reflection of the writing process and its significance to our future professional life. To facilitate this reflection we were asked to interview someone who holds the kind of job we might like to have. This interview turned into one of the most important interviews that I will keep close to my heart. Throughout the interview I was given an eagle eye view into the depths of how MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying and Euthanasia) impacts all of us.
Do you believe that connecting to the audience breaks the minute we forget who we are communicating with? That is one of the fundamental lessons I am learning in my last year in Communications, Culture and Journalism Program, at the Okanagan College.
Knowing our audience is vital in all channels of communication. How we make that connection with each other is a learned art. I interviewed Alex Schadenberg, the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, for my communications assignment.
During the whole interview I was hanging on Schadenberg’s every word. The interview was supposed to be only for an hour, but the time flew by, the next thing I knew it was two hours later. He spoke to me with authenticity that comes from a deep passion and drive for the love of human dignity. That is how this interview impacted me in ways that I will never forget. Just so you know I will be posting the entire interview under ‘Community Profiles’ here on my blog: https://okanaganvalleyview.com/, once my final exams this semester are over.
I asked Schadenberg: What do you remember the most about what you learned in school about communication that stuck with you?
“One thing that sticks in my mind is in Philosophy. I studied Thomas Aquinas and I think he was right in one of his principals, he said you have to speak to people where they are coming from. His idea was, if something is true then truth is knowable, so therefore you speak to the person from where they are at. I try to keep it on the average person as I can if you read my material. Why do I do that? Because I think, if its true, they understand– then its knowable,” said Schadenberg.
I thought about what he said for awhile, but I could not quite get my head around what he meant. Guess what I did? I went deeper and looked up Thomas Aquinas to help me understand this essential communication expertise.
“Furthermore, the king’s laws must result from the “deliberation of reason” and have the consent of both the nobility and the common people. These were radical ideas for a time when kings claimed no one but God could hold them accountable.” (Walker)
Schadenberg helped me see audience in a wider lens which I am going to carry with me in any position that I apply for and work in. My goals for working in the field of Communications and Journalism is to focus on how community can impact change that benefits all people rather than just a select few.
When you want to make a difference and communicate to people where they are you can reach them where you are. Once you connect to your audience you have built a relationship that will grow and it will impact donations in a non-profit organization to enhancing corporate meetings by reaching all levels of management and employees, as well as all affiliations. Building relationships on all levels of industry can create a stronger foundation to cope with the ever-changing media that will benefit everyone.
We are here to communicate, build relationships and make a difference in peoples lives. I will leave you with this lasting message of what I will take with me in my new career in Communications. How we connect with others is based on what we say to each other about what we know. The forever question we need to ask ourselves is: Do we really know who we are speaking too and have I reached you?
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” Winnie the Pooh
It seems like there is this urgency to have everything work and be in order for there to be success in the classrooms. I watched the Professors online struggle as they tried to make this online experience less painful for us the students. But, behind the names of students that flowed in I saw a lot of Professors apologizing for the delay and the technical challenges that popped up with students and with the systems that really we didn’t have much control over. Nothing was smooth, nor was it easy, there was static, background noise, some had video, some didn’t. One class I had the videos of faces swirling every second which made me dizzy.
I tend do better when I am in a classroom setting. I find I am more focused and attentive maybe more disciplined. This Pandemic has caused quite the attention all over the world, many have lost their lives and some are breezing through it with lingering symptoms that last and continues to last with no end in sight. Covid 19 has floated into every home if not from the media it has come in through the phone, through the walls of space and time. Comparatively to the Pandemic of the Spanish flue in 1918, society itself has shut down but Covid 19 differed in the fact that we have moved into a new era of culture, communication and changed ‘live-in’ spaces. We are seeing an undercurrent of turbulence, that keeps coming unnannounced really. Precautions are taken, staying home as much as possible and yet this moment has created quite the urgency to have everything work out and have it done concisely, and perfectly.
There is no doubt about it we are adjusting, we have moved our studies online and the College is sorting all the kinks. What I find most interesting is how each Professor engages the students in this new space of learning. I am grateful for being in this time and age it gives me the chance to step back and reflect on my own learning space, how Covid 19 has changed how I look at learning and what it is that I can do to slow myself down and be ready for the messy and unpredictable side of life online and off. Don’t get me wrong I always new life is unpredictable, but this is a different messy its a ‘wired’ messy, a strange encounter with pixels and codes that form on the screen through transmission of sound and light.
We are making history, and yet on the ground level of things, we are repeating history just in a different way. Are we ready for messy? I think so.
There is something beautiful about messy and turbulent it breathes life and forces us to focus and stay awake in life. The best part of learning online is to push ourselves out of our own comfort zones into a new media a new excitement of engaging ourselves in a small space. It’s like the space in my office, a blank wall gives me the expanse of creating ‘story’ in ways I would never have created thanks to Okanagan College.
‘I walk by the river, and pieces of me leaves traces underneath like rocks beneath the current, life flows smoother over time, if we simply let it be.’
The strength and heart of a woman is the foundation for the rise in women’s leadership among our country and all nations over the past centuries. Women have made an impact politically and historically in Canada. In 1921 Agnes McPhail was the first woman elected to the House of Commons. It took time between 1867 to 1921 to have this kind of progress. “As a result of a legal challenge known as the Persons Case launched in 1927 by the famous five, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Emily Murphy and Irene Parlby, women were recognized as “persons” under the British North America Act, 1867 and gained the right to sit in the Senate of Canada. In 1930, the Honourable Cairine Reay Wilson became the first woman appointed to the Senate.
Since the 1980s, women’s representation in the Senate of Canada has been higher than in the House of Commons. As of 14 January 2020, women hold 48 of the 100 occupied seats (48%) in the Red Chamber.” (2020, Montpetit)
Women have deep wounds that have spilled out over time, these wounds have not stopped us from carrying our voices. The first woman I wanted to highlight here is, Doris Anderson she was the Chatelain Magazine Chief Editor who throughout her life had her share of great heartbreak and challenges. She ended up a single mother to her three sons. She saw a need in women and with her writing shared those experiences and highlighted women of all walks of life where equality and women’s rights had been silenced. This led her to advocate for women throughout her career. Her voice carried far and vast which led her to create the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, this was huge in the 1960s, which gave women equal rights and were included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What was it about Doris the woman that moved her to want equality? I like to think it was her lived experience growing up and her many interviews with women over the years who needed help, who needed change. These women she spoke too including herself were forgotten due to fewer wages and issues that prevented single and widowed women from accessing healthcare and other resources.
“Like many feminists, I never dreamed – or wished – to be rich, we wanted far more than that: We wanted to change the world.” (1996, Anderson)
Not all women had the courage to push through and pave an open doorway for all women to walk through. The majority of women continue to battle especially today in a gender-changing movement which I call this the third wave in the feminist movement. As a woman, I often wonder if we have lost our grounding to what and who we are in the world today?
Historically the indigenous women have been erased in centuries past thrown out of their homes on reserves, they were stripped of their children and were forced into poverty, and worse having to resort to doing anything to get by. What was it like for these women? I base their womanhood on courage, courage to go on, and heart to keep going.
Let me shine the light on Mary Two-Axe, a Mohawk woman born on the Kahnawake reserve in Quebec who married an Irish-American but lost her Indian status. Losing her status wounded her so much that she was moved to advocate for the rights of indigenous women. In 1968 she established the equal rights for Indian Women Association which is a provincial organization that fought for changes to the Indian Act and succeeded despite opposition from male First Nations leaders. Two-Axe didn’t give up, by 1985 Parliament passed Bill C-31, which amended the Indian Act removing the discriminatory measure that took away women’s Indian status and restored status to thousands of First Nations women. She was the first to regain her status.
What made others listen to this woman? What did she have that so many of us want? Maybe its drive, and not giving in, believing in something takes a lot of heart. Athletes have this type of drive, but women have a deeper ingrained drive to see the ‘whole’ of situations, not just the one issue. To see the whole of oppression, the whole of poverty, the whole of politically unjust Acts passed in parliament, and power imbalanced court rulings. Inequality can shake a nation of women and it’s up to all women to bounce out of powerlessness and bring about changes to old Acts in parliament that are wounding our nation still. Where some of our families and lots of our land are polluted which is calling for an outcry of women speaking their voices in our communities and our country, we call our own.
How we view discrimination, slavery, and dominance which truly those three things don’t come from a place of peace, tolerance or community in unity. Many women have changed the face of our country Canada. They have enforced laws to protect women from freedom of slavery, freedom from rape and abuse. Is it enough? All women contribute a huge balance in the world.
I understand the gravity and enforced powerlessness we still have, but we need two opposite poles to keep the balance ‘even’ in society. Men, women and all genders share one thing in common, wanting to build a better Canada, to live in communities more accepting, and to be treated without the age-old dominance structure that can go either way.
Womanhood to me means the heart and wholeness of family. This has been my experience and my journey. Watching my grandmothers gave me a sense of what kind of woman I am today. There is something mysterious about women, almost like there is a hidden club of unity that only women on a level beyond this earth knows about. My grandmother lived through many hardships lost both her husbands had 3 children and raised them on her own and yet she had a faith in God that moved mountains and the miracles and the stories she could tell of how a mother prays and how prayer has healed and strengthened her family has woven our lives in such a way that grounds me as a woman. My other grandmother had a strength and a freedom that united her family of 6 by her eccentric joy of life, her faith and trust and love for people a true humanitarian are the very angels she met on the streets and throughout her journeys and travels. She brought to our family the very spirit of life and giving that one can see and experience around her. Both my grandmothers’ stories and history shared with me formed a stronger bond that paved the way in my faith, my strength and my endurance as a woman today.
When I first got my period, my mother kissed me, told me she is off to get a few things to celebrate. When she came back, she hugged me and said, “ You are now a woman, we giggled and we talked!” as we ate ice cream together. That is when I realized not only was my mother a ‘mother’ but since I became a woman that day, I entered into a new relationship with her, friendship and an ‘in’ with all the mothers of the world. My mother was still my mother and treated me as such, but there was an added joy in our relationship, a friendship of mother and daughter that we still have today. My experiences of my womanhood hasn’t always been an easy path, I felt left out when my dad and my cousin’s who were male playing sports that we girls weren’t allowed to participate in. Instead, we had to do the dishes and I was always envious of the boys. This soon dissipated when I was twirled around by my father who was pleased to see me help my mother.
I conducted a study on ‘womanhood’ early on in the semester, and I’ve had the most heartwarming experiences while speaking with men, women and other genders who shared with me their responses. I have shed tears with some of them, laughter with others and reminisced with some. I believe my study won’t end after this story is done, but for the sake of this final paper, I have included all the responses that I have gotten. I hope it changes you as it has with me. Also, I have included a timeline chart of our history of our ancestors of ages passed much we have overcome and how much more we need to go for a more balanced unity. Indigenous people have suffered more than we can truly grasp, and yet, they dance to the rhythm of love, a love that holds the life and blood of our history of nations.
Women have survived the loss of land, loss of health and loss of children. Women have learned that despite all of the struggles historically, we have survived, many kinds of abuses that we have a voice. Slowly we rise and give birth to a world that has forgotten what it means to hold creation in the heart of the womb and how through ‘giving’ to the world more life, there is always hope for the future.
Interview Question: What does ‘Womanhood’ mean to you?”
(For the respect and honor of those I interviewed some are kept anonymous and I used only first names)
“Womanhood means to me, ‘the rock’, strong like my wife, without her I wouldn’t make good decisions, she is who I go to for strength mentally. She, my wife, I value her opinions on things, she sees it differently than I do, women see things differently than men do, she’s the foundation of the home, to build a home you need a strong foundation. When we travel to purchase a home, I always ask her opinion on where to live. When tragedy happens, she’s strong in that area on what to do how to console someone. Womanhood is a calmness on how to deal with things… reason with things. Womanhood is not all about stable, but it’s down to earth of the soil to decipher what is real. Women can do with less, she can make do with less, all the other treasures like nature of ‘woman is not that way of richness in material things, I as the father and man, I have to weed material and toys out, I gather and hunt, yet a woman takes the rewards and turns it into a feast. Women can see a hummingbird and sees the bird more fully, she sees on a deeper level she sees the creature of the bird the loving beauty in life, a baby a living creature, the reasoning of life some of that men lack. So, two people need to do that gather, support in man and woman is the foundation of that.” (2020, Brian)
“I love being a woman, motherhood is a blessing to be able to conceive through our heavenly God, ‘birth’, holding my baby’s fingers and after giving birth counting them, unwrapping my babies seeing their heavenly eyes, creation, birth. Women have some difficulties being a mother, being a wife~ you have to do many kinds f things all at once. Raising a family is the most beautiful but it is filled with many challenges as a mom as a woman. I would prefer to raise my family my children and I am glad I did at home being home to raise them to do that. As a young woman I always wanted to be a nun the calling was there, but my choice was marriage… I was very young when I married my husband, I love being a woman.” (2020, Ginette)
“I think the reason I’ve been having so much trouble with this question is because its very complicated, for me, and kind of depressing to be honest. In my mind, the biggest symbol of womanhood is motherhood, and I’m not a mother. I’m not a girly girl, I’m not a wife, I’m not even in a relationship. So, what does that mean for me if those things are how I define womanhood? There’s basically no purpose for my life? There are a lot of single women with no kids and I think most of us feel pressure from society and a family to have kids, but also pressure from ourselves. Like this is what I’m supposed to do, this is the natural order of things. Then when it doesn’t happen, I am a failure, to myself and to my family. On a basic level I know that’s not true and there is so much more for me to contribute to the world and woman power and all that, but on a deeper level it IS true because it’s how I am biologically engineered to feel, whether from a nurture perspective. Even from a scientific perspective, regardless of gender, the purpose of life is procreation, so if we don’t do that, what is the point? To cope with all that, I think I’ve kind of pushed it away and just focused more on what I can do to be a good person, a good human. I don’t think gender has anything to do with being a good person, but maybe I’ve just latched on to that concept because I failed at what I really consider to be womanhood. I think this concept can be extended to expectations for ourselves and life in general too. Like there was a certain way I thought my life would turn out, I was raised thinking I could do or be anything I wanted. I had all these lofty goals and plans, none of which materialized, so, I’ve kind of failed at life when compared to my expectations anyway.” (2020 Anonymous)
“Womanhood means feminine genius. It means living authentically as a female. Authentic womanhood is appealing.” (2020, Adele)
“Womanhood to me means being strong and weak at the same time…Being a woman to me means connection with other women, that creates a bond like no other. Womanhood means to me trying to be a good example as a woman to my beautiful daughter. Womanhood means complex but beautiful emotions, a great intuition! Womanhood is beautiful!” (2020 Gerda)
“Womanhood is a gift from God. Reflecting back on my life when I began to be a woman was very important to me. I was able to make decisions without other adults telling me what to do. I started applying wisdom I learned from my parents or other adults. I was ready to be married and to be a mom. Womanhood opened the door for me to face the world and challenges in my life. Very special feeling of experience to do and make decisions on my own feeling grown up. Being in control with my feelings and emotions. Feeling that finally people will listen to me as a woman not like a child, freedom to me.” (2020 Mara L)
“Womanhood is being able to keep the man and the child in your family happy while keeping yourself strong at heart through thick and thin. Being able to provide for your family emotionally and lovingly.” (2020 Ben)
“Womanhood to me means being me, TRULY me. Not judging myself by societal or cultural expectations and embracing all the elements that make me a woman. Crucially, it is about acceptance of all these things too, the good AND the bad and appreciating that the middle aged-spread, hormone fluctuations, the impact of children on my identity are what makes me a woman, just as different qualities made me a woman when I was at a previous life-stage, womanhood is also the confusion and constant struggle, from conflicting messages on what I should be – this is more the reality, the constant struggle to not listen to those voices and just be authentically me.” (2020 Julia)
Womanhood, I am not sure I have never thought about it. Maybe passing over from a young adult to a woman who has gained some life experience through being a mum or a wife. Womanhood means being a mother to my boys, I gave up the chance to win a gold metal in figure skating but giving to them… there is nothing else better” (2020 Kelly)
“I think ‘womanhood’ begins with puberty our first ‘period’. We are told we are ‘now a woman’ and that’s probably true, physically but definitely not mentally!!! Soooo the question is when do we become a ‘woman’ both mentally and physically? Some females are ‘girls’ all their lives…and some are ‘ladies’. We are focusing on the term ‘woman’ …I know I’m not a ‘girl’ nor can I be described as a ‘lady’. But I would be honoured to be called a ‘woman’. Jesus called his mother ‘woman’ with respect. I think a woman is a mature-ish person, maybe with a little learned wisdom, maybe a forgiving heart, patient, kind, trusting and hopefully loving to all she meets…. Yes! I’d like to be known as a woman!!!!” (2020 Sandy)
“Womanhood to me is when her breasts start to develop and hair starts to grow down there. Some girls hit puberty faster than others.” (anonymous)
“It means to be what you are. A creation of God that has been uniquely designed by God for a special purpose, of which we can not yet know. It means to exercise every gift, talent, to the maximum, regardless of what that is. It means equality with a man, but not sameness. Men are uniquely given a way of being, that is not the same as a woman’s unique way of being. Both are meant to compliment each other. It is not related to interests. A woman may be interested in car repair, and a man in knitting. It is about how this interest is exercised and expressed in the fulfilling of that activity. A woman and man both offer a unique, but different perspective and approach to that activity. There are some activities that are better suited to a woman, but, some men may do that activity well. There are some activities that can not be done by a man, such as childbirth, and some women can not do, such as impregnating an ovum, some activities are unique to our genders. Women have been fooled into thinking that they need to be men to succeed…men have been duped into thinking that it is wrong to be a man. Genders have become confused and distorted. Society needs to take some time to undo these distortions, which are creating havock in a mixed up world that is searching for truth.” (2020, Lindael)
“I have never understood either that term or the masculine version. It implies that there are inherent differences between the two. Uniqueness’s I guess might be the term but in todays world, we are being encouraged not to distinguish between the two and that I think is a result of feminism. However, since you asked what it means ‘to me’, I will answer this way because to me, there are major differences between the two most widely recognized genders. Manhood implies an inner toughness that can be brought to question by one’s actions or inactions. I also align the term with the male reproductive organs as they are apparently tied closely to the above noted toughness. Womanhood though has nothing to do with the reproductive bits other than to say that women are inherently strong, much stronger than men in more important ways than physical strength. It engenders their ability to carry human life, a feat that if it were left up to men would result in the end of humanity. The motherly piece is encased in the term to me as well. After the birth the nurturing and the love that mothers possess is nothing short of awe inspiring. Men do not share the ability to love as deeply or strongly as women do. They simply don’t have the connection to their kids that mothers do because of the gestational requirements so closely attached to the ability to give birth. I am more traditional than say my kids are and I still see the distinction between men and women and I do believe that each gender is, in general, capable of things that the other is not as capable of and it is important to recognize ones strengths rather than try to convince the rest of the world that there is no such thing as differences based on gender. In a round about way, manhood is a dominant term and womanhood sparks memories of my mom whom I miss terribly” (2020 Mexi cali)
“To me, there are so many different aspects to determine when a girl becomes a woman. Age is the least reliable of the benchmarks the ability to become pregnant, is also not reliable, just like from the age of first menstrual period. Becoming a woman is a very complex issue where many changes to the physical, mental, psychological, and medical changes have been completed and the ‘girl’ recognizes and accepts these changes for herself. Womanhood begins at different times for different girls. Boys, on the other hand never fully grow up, and they never become mature. Womanhood is a very complex, multifaceted progression that takes years to complete. And even at that, it doesn’t ever end until death. Every girl and woman change from one stage to the next, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly example: – Body can make significant changes over a summer season, but the mind doesn’t. or ~ the mind/brain will mature before the body. This is why men have such difficulty understanding women. The old adage is, men marry women, hoping they will never change. Women marry men, hoping they will change. Both get disappointed 50% of the time (Divorce rate).” (2020 Alan Jh)
“To me, Womanhood is taking ownership of the XX chromosomal pair. The natural ability to carry and birth life (whether one does or not). Living with and embracing all that is, including the challenges that come with the physiology (menstruation, cramps, hormonal storm, infertility). Men and women can have masculine and feminine traits and behaviors to varying degrees. These don’t have anything to do with womanhood, aside from shading the experience to make it unique to the person. A person can wish they were born a woman, and may even alter their body to assume female traits. That does not make them a woman. I am lucky in that my emotional/sexual identity matches up with my physiological identity. Mentally and emotionally, I am a female born into a female body – that to me is what womanhood is.” (2020 Lady tehMa)
“Womanhood to me means, when my mom kicked my dad out of the home, when me and my other brothers and sisters were still small kids, my mommy did everything, worked two jobs 6 days a week for years, – father never paid a penny of child support-we always had a warm safe bed to sleep in food in our bellies and clean clothes to wear – lots of hugs and kisses too. Sounds simple but when you’re a kid isn’t that not all we really need, on her only day off if the weather was nice, she always seemed to find the extra energy to take all the kids to the park. I can go on all day about my mom, but here is a small sample of womanhood. I have zero pity for deadbeat mom’s or dad’s, knowing what my mother had to do for us kids, love you mommy—(2020, the truth)
“Interesting question. To me, it was a definition of the differences, mostly expected of us, that society imposed on each. It seemed to work for thousands of years. That is the differences ‘allowed’ based on one’s sex. That seems now to be no longer an item that is even up for discussion. Yes, feminism is the big push to rid society of allowing any room for difference and preference. Is it a good thing to lose our acceptable differences? Men really have not been part of the push, they are just still men and were expected to change and accommodate new roles. Which, for the most part seems to be the case. Women some and some not, do not want to acknowledge any differences. Maybe good but also showing not good, as the accustomed rules that women lead in are being forcibly removed from society, and not all recognize this as a good thing. They were always just labels but carried a vast amount of privilege and power in each class. Now, its just the ‘Hood’ one group, no longer differences acceptable within society. Wrong/right, time will tell.” (2020 liisgo)
“I am very glad to be a woman in today’s world!! My grandmothers had hard lives. they raised huge families with little income and had none of the life conveniences that we have today. like washers/dryers/vacuums etc. (crazy that they both lived until their late 90’s). My mom raised 4 of us but she had those life conveniences and she could eventually enter the work force when we all left home…. But she still had that 1950 mentality of doing everything for my father. I’m so lucky that I could get married when I wanted to, have children when I wanted too, dress the way I want too, and get a better education…all MY decisions. Glad I married a man who respects the way I think about myself and has never tried to change it. This next generation of younger ladies have so many choices out there to be whomever you want to be and they are all your decisions to make there is no doubt in my mind that there’s a powerful wave of women coming in the near future as Helen Reddy said ‘I am Woman hear me roar’ lol). (2020 W105)
“Womanhood may mean different things to different people, in different cultures. Womanhood, manhood, are similar to adulthood. It distinguishes when one leaves adolescence to become a mature adult, or more specifically, a mature woman, or mature man. Legally this happens at 18 or 19 in our culture, but some may subjectively consider other traits than just age.” (2020, Jlabute)
“I never use the word. to me it is archaic, think it is still used in bodice ripper novels though.” (2020, normaM)
“To me, ‘womanhood’ means to identify as a woman, and live your life as such. Might that be a stay at home mom who wears dresses and make up, or a woman who hunts and fishes, and is in the trades, or someone who is a combination.” (2020 whatwhat)
“To me womanhood means many things. It’s accepting yourself and your body, allowing it to adapt and change as you do. Being able to build the people in your life up, and not take them for granted. It means being grateful for the things you have but still striving for growth! Womanhood isn’t just one thing. It’s a million little things all bundled together that makes us who we are!” (2020 Britney)
“To me, womanhood means love, who I am, being best nurturer, I can be to whomever crosses my path, whether in person or not. It is to care about one’s self at every level and to care for others. It is an honour that God chose me to be a woman. It is love, it is unconditional love, forever eternal love. I am a woman. I am love.” (2020 Shannon)
“My view of womanhood has changed over my 47 years. What I believe now is that my womanhood is a quiet strength. It’s a firm and unshakable belief that all people deserve respect, compassion, love and the grace of forgiveness. There is a true wisdom in womanhood. I feel I truly became a woman when I stopped being afraid of what others think. I stopped being afraid of judgement and began to trust my God given instincts. Womanhood is something you don’t achieve until you have walked through the battlefield of life and come out the other side. Slightly beaten down, but with so much strength and understanding.” (2020 Cathy)
“Womanhood is strength and leadership. In some ways, we have let society take our strength away. We have to take it back. We are the leaders of the family. We shape the children and guide the men. We have the power to quietly shape our culture. We just have to believe in ourselves.” (2020 Carmen)
“Womanhood, a God-given blessing to partner with manhood – His mankind. A precious gift from my beloved God. It is to ensure His creation and to maintain His love. Women are powerfully strong human beings. A fusion to the world in partnership with life. Womanhood exemplifies love, kindness, compassion, benevolence. Women are awesome and wonderfully made entities to be fully matured in a Mary-like state. A woman possesses a great gift – a womb – a sacred place where life begins. A co-operative element of God’s creation.” (2020 Anne)
“Womanhood is about wisdom and guidance acquired over time. She is the heart of the home. She is the one who guides her family to explore the life they were meant to have. When she passes from this earth she is missed for her comfort and strength. She is mourned because she is so unique, she can never be replaced.” (2020 Sandy K)
“Nothing! I only look up to Mother Mary as a true and strong woman. No matter what life looked like she just followed God’s instruction. I also loved that she pondered in her heart and remained silent. Now that is true strength!! She never gave up and always trusted in God, I can only try!” (2020 Deborah)
“Womanhood is a gift, a great and beautiful gift. This gift is both physical, inscribed in the structure of a woman’s body and spiritual inscribed in the unique and marvellous attributes of woman. A woman’s body looks and moves differently because of the structure of the hips and the roundness of the body. As well, a woman’s body has the capacity to welcome and make space for another human person, a child in the womb. A woman carries the baby in her womb under her heart and the child becomes attune to the mother’s heartbeat. This capacity to welcome and make space of other human persons is also part of the spiritual make up of a woman. A woman makes space in the home for her family, friends and neighbours. A woman makes space in her day to listen to, to comfort and to encourage family, friends, neighbours, coworkers and even strangers. A woman makes space within her heart for family, for friends, for neighbours, for coworkers and for strangers. A woman carries the cares, concerns, needs fears, joys, sorrows, triumphs, defeats, wounds and more of those she loves within her heart. Just as the womb expands with the growth of the baby, so a woman’s heart expands as love grows within and more space is made for a woman to carry others within her heart. A woman has the gift of being receptive to others, she is able to receive another person, make space for his or her need so the person may forge ahead living joyfully. A woman gives life to a unique and precious person through childbirth, so too a woman is able to give life to every unique and precious person she encounters in her day. A woman touches so many lives, she influences so many people, shapes and moulds her children, her spouse, h er friends, her coworkers her neighbors through her capacity to receive, to give life and to carry others within her heart. Truly, womanhood is a gift, far greater than any wealth, or power or honour, for a woman transforms the lives of every person she encounters by revealing to them how precious and unique they are.” (2020 Maria M)
I knew before the doctors told me that I had life in my womb. I didn’t know what was wrong, I knew that my body wasn’t my own and it felt different, like I was sharing my body with someone. I thought I was going crazy and I turned to my husband at that time while he lay half asleep and said, “My body doesn’t feel like my own I feel like it’s been invaded.” July 1st, 2005, I felt very sick and thought I had been poisoned. We got to the hospital and on Canada Day I found out I was pregnant, and there truly was, ‘fireworks’. I was so happy to feel sick because I had a baby inside me and I loved the very life that I haven’t even seen yet. This is the beauty of life.
“Dying is easy its living that scares me to death”
Today, I received a survey in my inbox, from Dan Albas, with this link at the bottom:
I was happy to fill out the survey, but it is a concerning survey, because I happen to be one of those people who honors all life and felt the need to do that. I walked with a friend who was diagnosed and later died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). I also walked with another friend who had esophageal cancer. Recently, my good friend had a double mastectomy. And another of my friend that I had grown to love very much and still do died of prostrate cancer that metastasized to his bone. It’s not that unusual for me to have so many friends who got sick and got better, and so many others who got sick and passed away. That is because I facilitate a prayer circle for those who suffer from cancer and other catastrophic illnesses.
When I met Mildred for the first time, she was in her late 70’s, she was dying and I volunteered to be there for the family and for Mildred for 4 months. I was very young and didn’t really have a clue about life much accept that I wanted to volunteer. The first time I met Mildred I fell in love with this beautiful old woman and her family. She had the biggest smile for me, and even though the pain was intense she never once complained, she only smiled and prayed. Her humility and strength was a surprise to me. She couldn’t speak but we held space together. The moment I will never forget is when I caressed her hair and rubbed gently her forehead. This was love. I loved her very much, and her life and process of dying has given me the gift of seeing the world through the authentic eyes of a human being, leaving this world to Heaven.
My friend, who had ALS it was a process for her, she began to fall, and then she needed braces to walk, then a wheelchair, then she needed assistance to talk through innovative computerized equipment. She too, always had a smile, and peace, and even in her darkest days, she was filled with life beyond the chair, and her circumstances had moved so many people to see the strength and in her that came from God. She prayed through everything, and we could see her peace in such a trial.
My other friend she too suffered with cancer then addiction because with cancer and pain medication it was difficult to control. She never gave up, she never took the easy way, she had her moments but she was so strong, and her prayers were so strong, that even in her suffering, she showed us how to live and love, despite the circumstances that life can bring. She struggled with every breath and yet she smiled, and holding a hand and sharing a prayer this too is love.
Euthanasia takes so much away from family and the person who is suffering. It takes away the dignity of life and the process of death. It takes away the love that can only come forward in the process of death in such a way that brings the very truth and fibres of family and friends to levels that one just can’t get to unless we go through this transformation of life to death.
Animals do not have a choice. We cannot make laws that suit animals be okay to suit people. There is a reason we have free will. I strongly urge those who are suffering and afraid to rethink what they are doing because with every action of choice there is a consequence. We have consequences here and the families where a loved one chooses to end their lives out of fear and not fulfilling their circle of life and choosing to kill themselves will leave a permanent separation from family for the rest of their life with no way to be reunited. We h ave reuniting with our relatives as a celebration, why do you think this would end after death? This is not the end there is an afterwards and all actions have their consequence.
Do not leave fear of death and pain the only legacy to your family. Be brave finish out your life and allow the compassion of others to do for you what will help them in their life have compassion and honor for a human being
I want to tell Mr. Justin Trudeau, how sad it is that Government legalized euthanasia without really thinking about what these 6,700 people and families have missed because they chose to die by MAID. Where is the honor in taking the easy way out, when all you have left is fear, fear one leaves to their families and fear one leaves afterwards. What does that tell us about human beings and the worth of a person? to deprive another of compassion and care? because of what ? PRIDE?
I leave you with this today of my view this evening from the Okanagan Valley, life is more precious to those around us than we realize. We are all connected in life to a much greater purpose and in the dying process that purpose is fully realized. The value your life has to others, is more valuable to teach the world how to love and how to have compassion that MAID destroys.
This video below as well, brings to light another view.
It all began the week of the mini winter storm, my blessings turned into overflows of relief as I headed back to school. The roads were a mess, my heart was filled with built up grief and my student loan was due to come at any time. Thanks to Saint Vincent de Paul and my parents I was able to survive the Christmas season.
During my first week, I managed to win the grand prize at the Kelowna Winter Carnival! The prize came from the Student, Graduate, and Co-op Okanagan Employment Centre. This was the first prize I won of the season at the College. Well, that isn’t completely accurate I did win a chocolate candy at the Christmas party. I spun the wheel and managed to get ‘naughty’ twice! I am now a newfound believer that good things happen to those who keep trying to win contests that the college has!
My second day of classes I ran into some major issues with my having a dead battery and missing Sociology. How is this possible that my battery dies on the most important day of the week– the 2nd class!!!!! Nothing like a grand prize to fill an empty bucket! I drove to school today new battery in place, wearing a new sweater to brighten the day only to end up late for my second class because I drove around campus for 20 min looking for a parking spot. The good thing about today is that there was lots of spots for me in the overflow parking for students on Gordon! Yes, I was 20 minutes late but, I was wearing a really nice sweater that I won so, I was happy!
One of my New Years resolution is to be super organized, I decided to ensure I do all homework and prepare ahead of time! I stayed up all night last night to do this quiz only to realize when I got to class today that it wasn’t due until next class. This is great I am living up to my resolution. Overall this has been a great week, I have been humbled, and blessed, destroyed, and hope filled, and to top it off my student loan came through just in the nick of time.
The joys of being a 2nd term first year student has its challenges. I believe anything is possible because God is the rock on which I stand and put my trust on.
I am looking forward to the amazing adventures I will embark on as I move to the rhythm of college life. The song that comes to mind for the start of this journey is by Whitesnake, ‘Here I go Again’.