School of Life
I grew up in Ottawa, the capital of Canada.
My mother was poor, and we did not watch television or go to movies. I was picked on in school for looking different from the other children, as I was multiracial and my parents were divorced. I didn't have a lot of friends.
Books became the doors to new worlds, and the more I read, the more new worlds opened up for me. I battled with Joan of Arc in France, dreamed with Anne of Green Gables in Prince Edward Island, and was entranced by Scherezade for 101 nights. I imagined myself as these great women, and wanted to live the way they did. These characters were my introduction to feminism; they all were wise, brave and spoke their minds. I wanted to be a writer so that I could create new worlds for myself.
As I grew older, I read more and more. Books about history, art, world religions, and philosophy. Books that made me ask questions. I often wondered where all of the women were in the books that I read...didn't women have a 'herstory' in adult life too?
I had difficult times with my life as a teenager, and I dropped out of school at 16. I was aimless, working in deadbeat jobs and wasting my life.
My reality call was getting pregnant at 18. I kept my baby, but it was difficult to live poor and without a high school education. I worked at several low-paying night jobs until I was lucky enough to find a subsidized daycare spot for my son, which facilitated my working during the day. I joined a union, and eventually became the vice-president of my union Local. I met my husband at a function for our trade union, and now have two sons.
I kept up my reading, and I grew more and more interested in women's rights, labour rights and the peace movement.
The Internet made it easy to find people who were also engaged and involved with these movements; I started joining protests, writing letters to our government, and organizing rallies and events to support the causes I believed in.
I found World Pulse on the Internet while looking for women-positive organizations, and was captivated by the range of stories and the powerful voices of the writers. When I first read about the Voices of the Future program, all I could see was opportunity! I can be honest, angry, nurturing, funny and female...all at the same time. I now realize that I attended my own School of Life, and I have my own story, all while belonging to a global sisterhood.
Women in Canada are much the same as other women around the world - we have families, we need to work, we are fearful of sexual violence and assault, we are concerned about the environment and education, and we need to be heard!