Event rings in the holidays, remember victims of Polytechnique massacre

As exams approach and holiday celebrations get pushed until finals season is over, Equal Voice uOttawa and the Undergraduate English Students’ Association (UESA) decided to hold one last hurrah to celebrate the winter festivities before everyone locks themselves in the library for the next two weeks.

The Non Denominational Holiday Party, or #NONDOM, was held on the evening of Dec. 6 at Café Alt, and featured festive decorations, free food and drinks, and poetry readings throughout the night.

Although the celebration was a joyous one, it was also one of remembrance, as it was the 26th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre.

Natalie Hanna, a U of O alumna, was the featured poet of the night, and she performed poems on everything from trigger warnings to the massacre itself.

“Given that it’s also the 26th anniversary of the École Polytechnique shooting, I thought that that would be particularly important to reflect in the pieces I was reading tonight,” said Hanna.

Equal Voice uOttawa is the local chapter of the Canada-wide Equal Voice multi-partisan, non-profit organization. They hold multiple events throughout the year, usually focused on networking and encouraging young women to get involved in government work.

“We wanted to have an event that would make us more known to the campus, because I feel like a lot of people are scared when they hear ‘women in politics’ and they think it’s really serious, so we want to show that, no, we do have a fun side,” said Danika Leminski, recent University of Ottawa graduate and co-president of Equal Voice uOttawa.

Equal Voice uOttawa collaborated with UESA to have a more relaxed event than they normally do, as well as to reach out to a wider variety of students. The night began with a poetry open mic, where three poets read original poetry to the intimate crowd.

“(UESA) have done events like this in the past, so we wanted to partner with them, because we really liked the stuff that they did, and especially the topics that they were talking about, a lot of women’s issues, like equality and things like that, so they brought a speaker who talks about that,” said Leminski.

Although Hanna has performed at the UESA’s blUe mOndays events before, she was delighted to speak at an Equal Voice event, as she is a strong believer in the necessity of equality in politics.

“Equal Voice promotes the participation of women at all levels of politics, regardless of what party they belong to, and that’s critically important because there’s something quite important that’s lost if we don’t have women’s voices also reflected in the laws that we make.”

As a lawyer and poet, Hanna spreads those important values through her work that Equal Voice promotes, and was a perfect choice to help celebrate the holidays and promote gender equality at the #NONDOM event.