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The Gender Files

Ghosts of Violence Ballet Comes to Vancouver

Jarrah Hodge
Oct 30th, 2011

We Can BC is the local branch of an international campaign to end violence against women. This year, as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, We Can BC is helping to bring the Ghosts of Violence ballet to Vancouver. 

The haunting, emotionally-charged piece is inspired by women in violent relationships who have lost their lives at the hands of a partner.

I spoke with project coordinator Anastasia Gaisenok about the the unique event which will be coming to Vancouver in December.

How did this idea come about/how was the event put together?

"The Ghosts of Violence Ballet was inspired by Silent Witness Project in New Brunswick, which is a travelling exhibit of red wooden silhouettes representing women murdered by their partners," said Gaisenok. 

Designer Lisa Bohn shares tips on success and on giving to community

Loretta A. Cella
Aug 7th, 2011

Lisa Bohn is a dynamic young woman in Vancouver who is establishing her career as a graphic designer and knows the importance of giving back, networking, and building a portfolio.

A few months ago, Bohn, entered the Passion Foundation's social enterprise logo design contest and won.

Her innovative design was exactly what our foundation was seeking. She is talented, community-minded, and has a passion for taking her artistic gifts to new horizons.

"I always knew I loved anything creative and making things 'look pretty', but I had no idea I could actually make a living out of it -- until I went on a trip to Vancouver", says Bohn.

Book review: Feminism For Real

Jarrah Hodge
Jun 29th, 2011

If I had to pick a must-read book from those I've read this year, it'd be  Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Copy of Feminism, edited by Jessica Yee, a  "Two Spirit multi-racial Indigenous hip hop feminist reproductive justice freedom fighter," who founded the Native Youth Sexual Health Network.

I read a lot. But this book has been more important for changing how I think about my feminist activism than all the books I've read in the last year combined. You can read some preview excerpts at the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives' website (they're also the book's publishers), but I would encourage you to buy the book and read the whole thing for yourself.

Love Vancouver inspires young female leaders

Loretta A. Cella
Jun 12th, 2011

Seeing everything that people were doing to sustain the health of our planet really made me feel inspired to continue what I'm doing knowing that others around me are doing so much more to help the planet!

Vancouver recently held its first Love Vancouver Festival, a festival of green art, music and lifestyles. Over 6,000 people people gathered at the Olympic Village to take part in the event.

With the support of Vanessa Violini, the Passion Foundation's  passionTOaction girl team were donated a table and given an opportunity to show a performance to share their passions about sustainbility. The four passionTOaction young women who participated, along with their dedicated volunteer coordindator, Jennifer McRae, who called their experience "inspiring."

Participant Marie-Claire Massicotte was also moved by the event. 

Edelman Vancouver gives big to nonprofits

Loretta A. Cella
Jun 5th, 2011

Team 3 with Passion director Dave Macdonald (far left) and executive director Loretta Cella (bottom left)

For the past four years, Edelman Vancouver, an independent public firm, has been launching an incredible corporate social responsibilty contest for local non profits called the Little Give.

Little Give provides three nonprofit organizations a multi-disciplinary Edelman team for 48 hours of public relations and social media creation and development, as well as $2500 in aid.  Little Give has been so successful that their Montreal and Toronto offices have jumped on board to take part.

This year, my organization, Passion Foundation was one of the three winners, along with PALS Autism School and St James Music Academy of the DTES.

passionTOaction: Five young women get passionate about sustainability

Loretta A. Cella
May 2nd, 2011

The passionTOaction team.

 Five months ago, Jennifer McRae, 26, a recent graduate from Simon Fraser University, approached the Passion Foundation about an idea to engage young women in understanding the vast spectrum of sustainability through story telling, dialogue and experiential learning.
McRae completed the Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue program at SFU. It provided an out-of-the-box learning opportunity and life-changing experience that she wanted to share with other young women.
In fall of 2010, she worked with Passion Foundation to develop the program, called passionToaction (p2a). In early 2011, a call was put out to high school girls from across the Metro Vancouver area, including a write up on Walking the Talk BC.

Make pay equity an election issue

Fiona YorkKaitlin Gray
Apr 28th, 2011

Author Linda McQuaig.

On International Women’s Day this year, Linda McQuaig -- 
journalist and best-selling co-author of The Trouble with Billionaires -- wondered how a hedge fund manager could earn 82,000 times as much as a nurse. Is he really working 82,000 times as hard, or contributing 82,000 times as much to society?

If the answer is “no”, pay equity is designed to even out the discrepancies. Simply put, pay equity reflects the right to equal pay for work of equal value.

Buy pay equity legislation is determined by federal and provincial governments, who are in turn affected by various groups with power and influence, the democratic will of the electorate and changing political priorities.

While provinces have made some progress, the Canadian government has consistently failed in achieving equal pay for Canadian citizens.

Pain, poverty and pleasure: Shifting the perspective behind bars

Loretta A. Cella
Apr 23rd, 2011

Viewing the world through the lens of a 19-year-old woman in prison isn’t easy, unless you’ve been there. Even when you have, it’s not always the same storyline.


Ms. J has served two years of her four-year sentence for manslaughter and several accounts of assault. Her story was made public in the South Surrey Delta Leader earlier this year as she and a peer, who was also there that night, came up for parole.

Since completing a Passion Project with a group of young women in the Burnaby Youth Custody Centre last December, I have been meeting with Ms. J almost every week for coaching.

As part of my commitment to the young women who take part in the Passion Projects, I don’t walk away from the projects without offering additional coaching to them if they want it.

Ms. J requested it.

SlutWalk coming to Vancouver in May

Jarrah Hodge
Apr 15th, 2011

Toronto's SlutWalk, held April 3, drew more than 1000 protesters. Photo from Marcel and Me.

On April 3, over 1000 protesters took to the streets of Toronto as part of an event called SlutWalk. The event was created to protest a comment made by a Toronto Police representative, who, speaking to York University students, asserted: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

Data on the rise of women

Michelle Pham
Apr 12th, 2011

No matter how amazing a woman is, she won’t be respected by her own sex unless she’s loved by a member of the opposite one. Women are petty this way.

Is this true?

Despite the suffragette movement, the introduction of the birth pill, the notorious ‘Persons’ Case in Canada and the pro-choice activists permeating our society, we have not yet finished the battle for improvement in women’s rights, health and status. Granted, we have come far, but we have not reached equilibrium yet. A friend of mine brought this statistic to mind: Of people employed by UBC making over $125,000, only 20% are women, and they make on average $9,000 less than their male counterparts. In our own backyard, the scales are imbalanced.

I come from a family where divorce and the state of singleness (by choice) is rampant. I have two successful aunts (one a self-made millionaire) and the other a retired nurse who decided to never wed after the Vietnam War. They chose their careers and ambitions, and they never looked back. I never thought this to be peculiar.

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