Heather Conn Blogs

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Fiestiness and fun: International Women’s Day comes to the Creek

The Suffragettes

Thanks to The Suffragettes, an all-women performance group on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, I’ll never hear the song “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” the same way again.


The four nimble dancers, clad in suffragette-style period costume, shared a hilarious, feminist parody of the children’s song on March 8 as part of an International Women’s Day celebration. To the applause of 150 people at Roberts Creek Hall, they related the tale, to the same tune, of a lady who swallowed a lie, rather than a fly.


The lady in this song version, whose lyrics are attributed to Meredith Tam, swallowed the rule “Live to serve others!” along with lipstick and fluff and a ring: “looked like a princess but felt like a thing.” One day she awoke: “She went to her sisters/ it wasn’t too late/To be liberated, to regurgitate.” She threw up the lie and unlike the woman in the original song, she will not die.

Nicholas Simons

This playful song was part of an excellent line-up of local talent—singers, musicians, and poignant speakers—at a pot luck supper sponsored by the Sunshine Coast Labour Council. Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons welcomed the crowd, which sat at tables adorned with arrangements of deep pink roses.


Emcee Alice Lutes, a Sechelt councillor, and some audience members teared up when shishalh elder Barb Higgins (Xwu’p’a’lich) recited a poem she’d written, Walking on a Mountainwhich evoked “warriors of the heart.”

 Barb Higgins ((Xwu’p’a’lich)

Barb’s daughter Holly later sang several songs, her solo voice resonating clear and loud across the hall. She recited her own poem, which included the line “Thank you for this blood that runs through my veins.” She invited everyone in the hall to join hands with the people beside them, look into their eyes, and say: “Be strong.” The mostly female crowd—at least a dozen men were present and welcomed—eagerly complied.

Dionne Paul

Shishalh band member Dionne Paul, a local Idle No More activist, shared a moving story about her birth. As part of what she called The Sixties Scoop, when Canada’s federal government was taking First Nations children away from their homes, she was to be adopted by a non-native couple in West Vancouver. Her mother, in an abusive relationship, was unable to care for her. At the hospital, only minutes before she was to be handed over to the pair, her aunt and uncle rushed in and said that they would raise her. As a result, she grew up surrounded by her true heritage, enjoying the cultural blessings of her First Nations lineage.


She said: “My dad was the very first feminist I ever met. He told me I could be whatever I wanted. I got my fire, strength and drive from my dad.”


Fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, mothers, and Gaia—all were honoured at this free neighbourhood event. From “Bread and Roses” and other labour songs to the traditional European songs performed by the seven-member group Sokole, the evening reinforced a flavor of gratitude and solidarity among women and all humanists, regardless of gender, who seek a world of respect and equality. As local school board rep Betty Baxter told the audience: “Our movement accepts people for who they are.”

Jill Conway, Karen Stein, and Daniela Dutto

Popular local groups such as the Knotty Dotters and Definitely Diva rounded out the delightful evening. An a cappella trio of Karen Stein, Jill Conway, and Daniela Dutto sang a women’s liberation song from Tanzania and a beautiful rendition of Gaia Chant: Another World is Possible by Ann Mortifee and Chloe Goodchild. Another world is possible, a new day is here/we can work together now, to go beyond the fears. . . Oh Gaia . . .             

The hope, clear spirit, and irreverence expressed throughout the entire event–not to mention an ardent refusal to adopt Stephen Harper’s vision for Canada–reminded me yet again why I feel so grateful to live in such a fabulous activist community.

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March 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm Comments (3)