The Pictou County Women’s Resource and Sexual Assault Centre started International Women’s Day off with some inspiration from Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard. The senator spoke during the breakfast event that took place at Summer Street last Thursday morning.
Bernard took to the podium to talk about the roots of gender-based violence as well as her work in the Senate. She began talking about how early society starts defining gender by choosing blue for boys and pink for girls and how violent some of the new toys targeted at boys are.
“Some of our toys teach little boys to be violent,” she said.
Bernard also focused on the intersectionality of women’s rights issues, such as the high violence against trans women and the fact that violence against racialized trans women is even higher. The senator also talked about violence against women with disabilities such as financial vulnerability, employment opportunities, housing security and more.
She shared that she never quite considered herself a feminist, but now she does, and she sees the need to have more racialized women, women with disabilities and transgender women included in feminism and the fight for the cause.
With the release of the new Viola Desmond portrait on the $10 bill, Bernard added that we must also celebrate survivors and what they have done for us, Viola Desmond being one of them. She told the story about why Desmond was in New Glasgow in the first place when the incident at the Roseland Theatre happened. In 1946, Desmond was travelling across the province when her car broke down in New Glasgow. She was travelling to teach women of colour how to do hair and selling her own beauty products — something she took up after she could not get into local beauty schools or find products for women of colour.
“I see this $10 note as an injection of hope,” said Bernard. “The reconciliation really begins with us looking at having greater awareness and actions.”
Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard speaking to guests at an International Women’s Day breakfast last Thursday. (Brimicombe photo)