Clearing a New Path™ and Clearing a New Path Podcast™ are products of Radar Media, located in Dorchester, Ontario on the traditional territory of the Anishnabek, Haudenosaunee, Lenape and the Attawondaron or Neutral peoples who once used this land as their traditional beaver hunting grounds.
As a settler here I’m committed to deepening understanding of Indigenous communities and reframing responsibilities to land and community.
I am grateful to Mother Earth for the opportunity for love and connection and to the spirits of the Elders and the Medicine People who still walk the Earth.
FEBRUARY 23, 2023
I come to this work as a white woman of privilege; a vulnerable allyship student.
I get things wrong often and I am open to, and welcome opportunities to be called in about the content in this newsletter, in order to create safe, brave spaces for all.
The purpose is to unite people in rural Canada.
I am grateful to walk along this journey in grace, love and empathy together.
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RURAL WOMEN AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:
AN INQUIRY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND A TOOLKIT FOR CHANGE
Hello Amazing Humans,
On September 22, 2015, Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam were murdered in a triple femicide in rural eastern Ontario. In June 2022, a coroner's inquest examined the circumstances of their deaths to consider how future femicides could be prevented. The jury produced 86 recommendations for system changes for possible implementation by the provincial government and other public bodies.
The Learning Network of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children held a Special Event with several of the folks involved with the inquest recommendations. (I watched the recording the it was quite eye-opening and informative.)
A list of resources was provided, one of which is an advocacy kit for rural Canadian communities. Please take a look and share with your community networks.
Today’s episode is with Pamela Cross, a feminist lawyer; a well-known and respected expert on violence against women and the law for her work as a researcher, writer, educator and trainer. Pamela has decades of experience working with intimate partner violence cases and wore a number of hats during the inquest including as an expert witness as well as developing the advocacy toolkit.
This was the note I initially received from a newsletter subscriber, and it moved and inspired me to connect with Pamela Cross and her team:
I edited her letter slightly, just removing some of the text.
Since I used to be a farm wife, I experienced what authoritarian men do to harm women. I was treated as an unpaid servant, and falsely accused of doing things which I would never do. Judges and govts. side with men, and do not listen to wives. When my husband made us all homeless by losing the farm, through his mismanagement, I was glad to be away from him. He had taken away my will to live.
Here in Alberta, quite a few women in rural areas have been treated inhumanely by their husbands. One woman finally shot her husband. The judge gave her a long prison sentence, without taking into consideration the severe abuse she suffered, which was witnessed by her sons.
My theme suggestion is the unequal legal treatment of rural women. Things that were done to me showed the unequal legal treatment of women. I endured the arranged kidnapping of my deaf son for six months, with the judge agreeing that I was "an unfit mother". A man's word is taken as truth. I was a good mother.
I saw other women who had given up on life. A woman can tell by another woman's dead eyes.
Though women were recognized as persons in 1929, in practice, men had the same attitudes towards women. Alberta may be the worst province because of all the Proud Boys here. Only men count in their beliefs.
I know that shelters for women have been overfilled during the pandemic, and the situation has not let up in Edmonton.
What are the solutions?
Why aren't boys taught to respect girls in schools? Women I know who are working in schools say bullying does not stop.
There is no willingness by principals to talk to all staff about bullying, which is mainly focused on girls.
Girls in high school do need to learn about dangerous male behavior. I taught Planning 10 in BC high schools, and there was nothing for girls about what to watch out for in men.
(Name withheld for her protection.)
Some staggering statistics:
BLACK HISTORY MONTH:
AMPLIFYING BLACK RURAL ENTREPRENEURS
When I put out a call for folks to suggest someone as a guest on the podcast, Stella Sehn’s name came forward. And as luck would have it, Stella was speaking at an Alberta Women’s Entrepreneur Event the following day so I signed up for the free event.
The group is called WESTEM and the event was called Inspire 2021 - Celebrating Women’s Entrepreneurship in Southern Alberta.
There was a diverse group of women on the panel, and when a question was asked about discrimination faced by women in the group, Stella spoke up about her experience.
Stella Sehn and her husband Sheldon Hill run Sweet Pure Honey. They are beekeepers and they work their 400 hives in Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, which is an 8 hour journey from their home. It’s hard work and Sheldon spent off seasons working in the oil patch until he was laid off. Times are sometimes tough but they have persevered with gratitude, attitude and love.
I asked Stella how she ended up in the beekeeping business and she said she fell in love with a farmer in college. Before our interview, Stella and I spoke on the phone and we had an instant connection.
I am struck by her courage and vulnerability, and her strength and perseverance to live as her authentic self. I feel confident you will be too.
Next week: During this week’s podcast, Pamela Cross talks about Ontario municipalities and creating a Community Safety Plan. This is not required for every province or territory in Canada.
Jean Bota works with the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association (ACCPA) and we talk about a project she collaborated on called ‘‘Building Capacity in Rural Crime Prevention”.
Coming soon: On Family Day, also known as Islander Day, Louis Riel Day and Nova Scotia Heritage Day, I had a fabulous conversation with four new female municipal councillors serving in Ontario, on their first 100 days in office, the barriers they faced winning the seat but also the privilege it takes to even run a campaign in our current a broken system.
I am also super stoked about speaking with legendary Indigenous storyteller, Isaac Murdoch about his life’s work!
UPDATE ON CHAMBER REPORT
If you haven’t had a chance to read the report on the inclusivity efforts of Canada’s Chambers of Commerce, and/or viewed the list to find out how your local chamber stacked up, you can do that here.
I had the privilege of working with a team of post-secondary students from equity deserving groups through Venture for Canada’s Intrapreneurship program to build the assessment framework and come up with recommendations. The students did all the work, I was just a guide.
Next week will be the last week I will spend with an incredible second group of students, also from equity-deserving groups, who are creating a DEIA implementation toolkit for all organizations to move from the recommendations set out by the previous student group, into actions.
A few of us did have a Zoom meeting with leaders at the Canadian Chambers of Commerce. Their response was two-fold: the organization has other priorities, ahead of DEIA and that most chambers lack resources.
Hopefully this toolkit will take care of the latter.
Want to suggest a topic?
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