Beyond Borders: A Night of Feminist Resistance met with overwhelming response

On Saturday, March 4, the organizers of Beyond Borders: A Night of Feminist Resistance opened their doors to women of all walks of life at Jack Purcell Community Centre. The event was held in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, and was a night of thought provoking entertainment and culture.

Organized by groups like the Ottawa CUPE District Council and the Canadian Federation of Students, among others, the event featured spoken word poetry, and live musical performances by women from different backgrounds who sought to educate each other on the intersectionality of feminism in the modern world.

The event started out with an Indigenous prayer from Colleen Cardinal of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network, and branched out to artists and activists who shared their stories from being brought up as Muslim, as well as being a visible minority, to facing issues of poverty, and what it means to be queer in our modern society.

Karen Cocq, one of the event organizers and a member of CUPE, spoke about the necessity of this kind of event, given the overwhelming response that it elicited from youth in the community, with a majority of speakers being students.

“We were more focused on women and labour in particular, and this year we decided that we wanted to have something broader, and bring together women and resistance across a whole bunch of communities and issues,” she said.

Cocq also noted that the event was expressly political, and that it came together after the Women’s March in January.

“We thought there’s a kind of appetite for something different, and something that brings people together,” she said.

Tanisha Green, a second-year master’s student in criminology at the University of Ottawa who was there representing Fight for $15 and Fairness, agreed with the political motivation behind the cause.

“I think now is definitely a pressing time, just because of the political climate, with the Muslim ban, and Trump being president,” she explained.  

“It’s just so in our face … how can you not be mobilizing? How can you not be organizing? I think it’s definitely motivating for a lot of people. I think a lot of people are more upset than they have been in a few years, and I know for myself that I can’t stay complacent. I can’t see my sisters and brothers in the struggle alone.”

According to Cocq, the night was not only a stepping stone towards building a stronger and more resilient community, but it also lent itself as a stage for women to raise their concerns about issues that they’ve been dealing with for years.

“I think all the issues that people spoke to tonight, are actually very old and longstanding. Women have been dealing with these issues for decades and decades, and I think what this moment currently shows, with the rise of hate speech and that someone like Donald Trump can get elected, is it’s not anything new but it’s what happens when we don’t speak about these issues openly and we don’t challenge them on a daily basis.”