We talk about:
– Writing poetry, plays, and more
– The idea of “home” and “place”
– Being Cobourg’s Poet Laureate
– Poetry Present (submit your poem here!)
– How writing keeps Jessica well
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Check out my conversation with Kristiane Black!
We talk about:
– Aesthetic energy
– Her work at Trinity United church in Cobourg
– What faith and social justice mean to Kristiane
– What it means to be engaged in her community and why it’s important to her
– Encouraging healing and recovery
– Kristiane’s take on Transition House’s role in the community
– advocating for mental health treatment and understanding
– How the work she does keeps her well
The trans pride flag at George & Orange.
Yesterday was Transgender Day of Remembrance. Cobourg Queer Collective describes this day as a day where “we remember and honour our transgender siblings who have lost their lives due to transphobia: from hate crimes, from illness, from murder, from suicide, from substance abuse. And we acknowledge that transgender people of colour and two-spirited Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by this due to racism and xenophobia.”.
I started my day by checking in with (and being checked in with myself) by a few transgender and gender variant queers in my life. This is something that happened throughout the day, and it was the most powerful thing I experienced throughout the day (which is saying something, because there were tons of powerful moments). These check ins weren’t heavy or energy draining, quite the contrary, actually. They were gentle and energizing:
“Hey, how are you doing today?”
“I’m feeling good, stoked for some events today”
“Awesome, I’ll see you there!”
These simple questions are transformative. They go to highlight one of the many messages tied to this day- we are not alone. The work we have done and are doing, both personally and in the context of our communities, is noticed by the people around us and this day is a time to be conscious with the space we create and the energy we put out into the world. We are all capable of caring and being cared for.
At 4, I went to George & Orange, a wine bar and restaurant in Cobourg and held a chair while my friend, Ariel, stood on it to put up the trans pride flag in front of the restaurant. Her friend, Jenna, is the owner of the restaurant and has been a long-time supporter of transgender rights, even flying the trans pride flag for the entire month surrounding Pride this year.
Jenna and staff at George & Orange.
“Trans Day of Remembrance is about celebrating the lives of people who have lost their lives to violence against trans people in the past year and years past, as well as raising awareness about discrimination against trans people in general,” Ariel shared, “”Jenna is a good friend of mine, I also used to be an employee here. She’s always been an outspoken supporter of the transgender and LGBT community in general- and also of me as an individual.”
It was powerful to see that flag flying out front of this local, small-town, woman-owned business. It was also powerful to feel the loving energy that filled the place as the staff, Ariel, and myself chatted about what this day meant for us. The restaurant also planned to support the efforts of Cobourg Queer Collective, who would make their way to the restaurant after the rally they were holding later that evening.
At 6:30, Cobourg Queer Collective, lead by Ashley Bowman and Kim McArthur-Jackson, met outside of MPP David Piccini’s office on Division Street in Cobourg. Although this wasn’t the original location intended for the event, Cobourg Queer Collective stated, “This year, we will also recognize that the forward momentum that we had hoped was happening, seems to be reversing in many areas. In our own province, our governing party (the Ontario PC Party) felt it appropriate to acknowledge our trans siblings plight by putting forth a motion to further marginalize them, by not acknowledging their gender identities and removing mention of them from school curriculums. While the leader of the party had stated that this will not move forward, it should NEVER have come up to begin with.”
Photo by Jay Boyd-Stofleth of rally participants with MPP, David Piccini.
There were around 50 people in attendance, including PC MPP David Piccini himself, who attempted to answer the many questions people had for him while also listening to the speakers.
“It’s pretty amazing to see quite a few people here. This cause is very close to our hearts as allies and we’re so happy to be here. I’m hopeful that our MPP will recognize that Northumberland County will be unwilling to accept the level of prejudice that the PC government is considering putting in place,” says Heather J.
While some people’s motivation for attending the event was largely political and about using their privilege to make systemic change, for other people, especially trans and queer people, this event was about just being there with a shared intention.
“I’m here to show solidarity for trans people who have lost their lives,” says Natalie K., “I just felt it was important to show up, maybe take some pictures, and be a part of such an important event in our community.”
Photo by Jay Boyd-Stofleth of event coordinators, Ashley and Kim.
Event co-organizer, Ashley, says she’s “hoping to achieve more awareness of trans issues at both a local level and a provincial level” at the third annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event for Northumberland County.
Overall, the day was powerful, though it also left me with a few questions. Why only one local business acknowledging this day? Why only a single event in Cobourg? Why nothing at all in Port Hope or the rest of the county? These events take an incredible amount of work to coordinate and it’s easier to hope that someone else will take on that labour. With such high rates of violence against transgender people, next year, lets do even better.
Photo by Jay Boyd-Stofleth of the rally.
Check out my interview with Adam Bureau where we chat about:
– Adam‘s favourite things about Cobourg
– Adam’s career
– The Cobourg DBIA, Downtown Coalition Vitalization Plan and the Board of Management and Adam’s participation in those things
– The Safe and Inclusive Streets Strategy in Cobourg
– Adam’s vision for economic development in Cobourg
– Affordable housing
– The waterfront
– Transit in Cobourg
– Parking in downtown Cobourg
– Snow removal in Cobourg
– Tourism from a “locals first” perspective
– Being a foster parent
– Youth engagement
– How cannabis could be managed in the municipality post-legalization
– Why Adam’s running for council
Check out my interview with Nicole Beatty! We chat about:
- Nicole‘s favourite things about living in Northumberland County
- About Nicole’s career in community development and resource development management
- What lead Nicole to run for council
- Nicole’s experience with being a young women running for town council
- Nicole’s vision for economic development in Cobourg
- Nicole’s vision for culture and tourism in Cobourg
- Nicole’s vision for sustainability in Cobourg (including the inflatable floating playground at Cobourg Beach)
- Nicole’s vision for affordable housing
- Nicole’s vision for engaging youth in the community (including all-ages show venues and a youth advisory council)
- Nicole’s advocacy work
- What community looks like to her
- Nicole’s favourite Cultivate moment ever
- Cannabis legalization, the role of municipal government in managing it, and looking to Indigenous communities to learn from them.
- What song Nicole is learning on uke
Local Organizations Nicole is Associated With:
- Local Food for Local Good
- Sounds of the Next Generation
- 100 Women Northumberland
- Cultivate Festival of Food & Drink
Born to Love You by Ellen Torrie (Click her name to check out her rad new website!)
I’ll Wait by Sweet Alibi
Burn the Rapists, Not the Witches by Backyard Riot (From their brand new, locally written and recorded EP!)
Bro Hymn by Pennywise
The Nothing Exists Radio Hour Episode 14: Backyard Riot (DIY Punk, all-ages shows, new EP, problematic favs)
April 13 LIVE @8pm on Northumberland 89.7: Truly local radio:
LISTEN HERE if you missed it live:
Join Lyss and guest, Rob Stevenson of Medicine Wheel Natural Healing, to discuss topics such as:
– How and why we started using cannabis
– How and why Rob got involved in the cannabis industry
– How Rob hopes to help support the community in Alderville
– What exactly he means by “Traditional Indigenous Medicine”
– What to expect when you go to Medicine Wheel
– What quality control standards Medicine Wheel has
– All about his new Mukwa product line
– What he has to say about all the other dispensaries opening in Alderville
– What kind of growth we can expect from Medicine Wheel
– All about the True North Seed Bank storefront grand opening on April 20th
“Rob Stevenson is an Anishinaabe man of the Bear Clan from Alderville First Nation in Southern Ontario. Rob’s experience with cannabis began through self-medication to help control anxiety and stress. Seeing its benefits for himself, as well as countless friends, family, and acquaintances, Rob has long been a proponent of cannabis as an effective natural medicine. Seeing the difficulty many in his community had with gaining safe access to quality natural medicine, Rob sought a solution to this problem and opened Medicine Wheel Natural Healing…[which] opened its doors on June 21, 2017”
** cleopatrick is a Northumberland-local band from Cobourg.
Support The Boys:
05/02 – HAMILTON, ON – THIS AIN’T HOLLYWOOD*
05/03 – LONDON, ON – RUM RUNNERS*
05/04 – ST. CATHARINES, ON – THE WAREHOUSE*
05/05 – PETERBOROUGH, ON – THE RED DOG*
05/10 – GUELPH, ON – EBAR*
05/11 – WINDSOR, ON – THE WINDSOR BEER EXCHANGE*
05/12 – TORONTO, ON – LONGBOAT HALL (CMW)*
06/01 – WASHINGTON, DC – SONGBYRD
06/02 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – ORTLIEBS
06/05 – NEW YORK, NY – TBA
A few nights ago, there was a fatal shooting at my local hospital. A couple in their 70s who had been spending the summer, as usual, in Northumberland County were patients in the hospital for undisclosed reasons when the husband, Tom Ryan, shot his wife, Helen Ryan, before being shot and killed by police. Immediately, there were vague reports released on social media by local media, and immediately, people began speculating.
The overwhelming response I observed was that it was a mercy killing where Helen must have been terminally ill and her husband, graciously, had agreed to end her suffering. Within the next day, the story was uncovered that Tom had been a “violent, horrible man” who Helen’s cousin, Connie Woodcock, had expected would potentially kill her eventually.
“I did expect him to kill her sometime. We are all shocked it happened, but not terribly surprised,” Connie told Northumberland Today’s Pete Fisher.
I’d like to believe that the reason so many people immediately assumed this to be a mercy killing is due to people wanting to believe the best about one another. However, I think that this reaction is also, at least partially, due to our culture’s tendency towards sticking our heads into the sand when it comes to intimate partner violence and unhealthy dynamics in relationships. Maybe it even has something to do with the dynamics associated with ageism, where few people realize that domestic violence is an issue for seniors who have been married for a long time.
Even with the #MeToo campaign going viral, and the more local expression of solidarity with survivors of gender-based violence, Take Back the Night Port Hope in the very recent past, there were only a few women I knew who were whispering amongst each other, do you think this may have been intimate partner violence?
The standard gendered expectations are often our default: he was protecting her. As it turns out, Tom Ryan had been controlling for a long time in ways that many intimate partner violence survivors can relate to. Helen’s cousin Connie told Pete Fisher,
“He had threatened Helen many times. She had no money of her own,” she said. “I thought at times that she was right over the edge too, except when I spent time with her she started to be more normal and like the person I knew as a kid. He completely had her under his thumb.”
This kind of behaviour is common in many relationships. Sometimes it is obvious to friends and family members, but often, it’s far more subtle. In fact, there are similar toxic relationship habits that are relatable for far too many people. Some of these habits may include:
- Feeling as though your partner is your “everything”
- Constant communication (phoning your partner multiple times throughout the day, getting angry when they don’t respond instantly to texts)
- Expecting your partner to solve your problems
- Expecting your partner to change for you
- Spending little to no time with your friends, only spending time with your partner
- “Keeping score”
- Being dishonest to “keep the peace”/Being afraid that if you don’t be dishonest to “keep the peace”, that your partner may be so upset that they may harm you or themself
- Threatening suicide or self-harm if your partner does something you don’t want them to/tries to leave
- You guilt your partner into doing what you want them to do/not doing what they want to do
Sometimes, it can be really dangerous for women to leave abusive or unhealthy relationships. Sometimes, it can also be really dangerous for men to leave abusive or unhealthy relationships too, but the reality of the situation is that women are disproportionately affected by intimate partner violence. And even more disproportionately affected by intimate partner violence is women of colour, indigenous women, immigrant women, queer women, women with disabilities, transgender women, and women living in poverty.
Regardless of identity, one way to work towards less intimate partner violence is to talk about healthy relationships. Some qualities of healthy relationships include:
- Regular check-ins/Setting aside time to communicate (being honest about what’s going on for you and asking how things are going regarding the relationship for your partner goes a REALLY long way)
- Respecting each other’s privacy
- Knowing and being able to list positive qualities of your partner’s close friends
- Thinking your partner has good ideas
- You trust your partner
- You appreciate and value your partners growth
- You support your partner in their goals and accomplishments that they’re proud of
- You can name things your partner enjoys
- Even when you argue, you are able to acknowledge that your partner’s feelings are valid and that they have some good points that you may just disagree with
- You compliment your partner
- You enjoy spending time with your partner
- You say positive things about your partner to other people
- You and your partner each have your own friends, hobbies, and interests, as well as shared friends, hobbies, and interests
It’s important to talk about these things. It’s also important to talk about the role toxic masculinity played in this murder, as well as in intimate partner violence in general. While women are expected in our culture to be polite, caring, and submissive (an expectation that is changing, but still systemically ingrained in Canadian society), men are expected to be the opposite. Strong, emotionless but for anger, controlling, in charge. Basically, constructs of masculinity encourage a kind of spiritual death that isolates and dehumanizes men, and feeds violent behaviour, especially in relation to women, who are constructed as opposite these highly-prized masculine traits.
While constructs of femininity have been and are continuously going through a radical reconstruction, constructs of masculinity, by their nature, have not evolved in the same way. Further, the radical reconstruction of feminine gender appears, in 2017 Small Town Ontario, to be causing a reaction in the form of hypermasculinity. It makes sense- an action results in an equal or greater reaction.
So let this be a call of anyone who bothers reading this to work harder on doing that work that healthy relationships require and to magnify is voices of survivors of intimate partner and gender-based violence.
And let this be a call to the men reading this to do that work required to redefine masculinity- because the current construct isn’t working for anyone, when you really think about it.
Resources (to be added to):