Manitoulin fosters women’s healing and self-care with wellness day and One Billion Rising for Justice event

LITTLE CURRENT—The M’Nidoo Minissing Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be hosting two events to promote and foster women’s healing and self-care in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8) on Wednesday, March 5 at the Little Current Recreation Centre.

The first event will be a Women’s Wellness Day from 9 am to 2:30 pm at the recreation centre. The day will focus on self-care and healing through morning yoga, a guest speaker and interactive wellness workshops.

“This is the second year we have held the Women’s Wellness Day,” explained Marnie Hall Brown, board co-chair of the M’Nidoo Minissing Coalition Against Domestic Violence (MMCADV) and an outreach counsellor for Manitoulin Family Resources. “The idea originated from our desire to hold an event for International Women’s Day and to acknowledge woman’s role in society, families and the community and encourage self-care and balance in everyday life.”

“Our goal with the wellness day and One Billion Rising for Justice is to engage as many people in the Island community as possible,” added Kristin Bickell, program coordinator for Manitoulin Northshore Victim Services (a supporting agency of MMCADV) and a MMCADV board member. “Violence against women effects everyone in a community, so by engaging as many people as possible we can take a step forward in reducing violence against women in our communities.”

The wellness day will include morning yoga followed by a light breakfast. Guest speaker Tammy Albers, a victim of violence against women, will be sharing her story, followed by a catered lunch. In the afternoon there will be a variety of workshops, including beading, a healthy eating cooking class, a yoga session and traditional First Nation water teaching.

“We want to expose individuals to different ideas and encourage them to take care of themselves,” explained Ms. Brown. “It is also an opportunity for women to network with other women and leave feeling empowered, bringing that feeling back with them to their communities and families.”

“Anyone is welcome to attend both events,” said Ms. Bickell. “Both are more directed at women, and we want to create a safe environment for women to express themselves, but we feel it is critical for men to attend as well and support their partners, especially in taking a stand opposing violence against women.”

One Billion Rising For Justice is a global movement that encourages “women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in communities and break the silence and release their stories—politically, spiritually, outrageously—through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right,” states the organization’s website.

The One Billion Rising for Justice Manitoulin event will start at 5:30 pm on March 5 at the recreation centre.

“One Billion Rising for Justice events are held across the world between February 14 and March 8 (International Women’s Day) in support of awareness and the end of gender violence,” said Ms. Brown. “We are having a similar theme to last year with singing, dancing and drumming. It will be a high-energy night with an open format. We will have some performances such as Zumba, traditional drumming, jingle dancing and hula hooping—with many being interactive. There will also be opportunities for individuals to sign up to speak or perform through an open microphone forum. We want people to come together and raise their voices and be a part of this global movement.”

Both events are open to anyone and are free. Ms. Bickell said that transportation may also be available across Manitoulin through volunteer drivers.

Throughout both events individuals will have the opportunity to participate in the Clothesline Project—a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt, which they then hang on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.

Locally, the Clothesline Project was launched in 2011 and has been growing ever since.

The mission of the MMCADV is to reduce domestic violence through awareness, education and coordination of services. Coalition supporting agencies include the Crown Attorney’s office, Manitoulin Family Resources, Victim Services, police services (OPP, UCCM, Wikwemikong Tribal, Espanola Town Police), Victim/Witness Assistance Program, Kina Gbezhgomi, the Children’s Aid Society, Manitoulin Supervised Access Center, Rainbow Lodge, Probation and Parole Services and the Wikwemikong Health Centre.

For more information on the Women’s Wellness Day or One Billion Rising for Justice, to register for the wellness day or to inquire about possible transportation, call 705-859-3378 or email victimservices@eastlink.ca.

Robin Burridge