Is Canadian Policy Helping Women?

A group of women farmers gather in Ibumba, Kabale, southwestern Uganda (Photo Credit - Trina Moyles)

The global cry for gender equality has never been louder. Rural Indian women are fighting for farmland, Ugandan and Kenyan women are fighting draconian “anti-miniskirt” laws that criminalize their thighs, and Canadian First Nations and aboriginal womenare fighting for a national inquiry into the tragic deaths and disappearances of more …

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Permaculture or Spermaculture?

Confronting patriarchy in permaculture (Photo - TMoyles)

For Halena Seiferling, a master’s of policy studies student at Simon Fraser University, it’s a question generated not from facts or statistics, but from one of the most essential principles of permaculture: observation. “I started to wonder about some of the voices, typically male, that were leading the conversation about …

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Las Guajiras de Cuba

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I’m soon en route to Cuba, the alligator shaped island only miles south of the Florida Keyes, the tiny island that could – viva! and couldn’t – coño! The place where mangos are considered tantalizing fruits and good looking guys and gals. Where art flows like water, most people are university educated, child health indicators are …

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Congolese Refugees in Nakivale Refugee Camp: “We Can Never Go Back”

More than 400,000 farmers have been displaced from the conflict in eastern DRC (Photo - TMoyles)

For over four years, *Hanna, a 33-year old eastern Congolese woman, and her family have been living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, a UNHCR operated camp located in southern Uganda. She and her husband live in a semi-permanent house, grow maize and beans on small, scattered plots surrounding Nakivale, and are …

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Notes on ‘Writing What I Fear I Cannot Bear to Know’

Over the weekend, I participated in a writer’s workshop in Edmonton called ‘Researching Social Justice & Writing What I Fear I Cannot Bear to Know”. The workshop was organized by the good folks at the Centre for Global Citizenship (University of Alberta) and facilitated by two academic and creative powerhouses, …

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‘Do You Know What ‘Misogynist’ Means?’

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I was rattled last night by CBC’s recent reports that leaked violent, sexually explicit posts on a private Facebook group that was run by fourth year male dentistry students at Dalhousie University. It made me question my own stereotypes of ‘who is a misogynist?’ The group called themselves “Class of …

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In Need of Light – Diwali in India

Diwali, a 4-day Hindu celebration of 'light over darkness'

Last week’s lament about small farmers was saturated in angst. It wasn’t something I spun from thin air, it wasn’t from a gut emotion, spat out for the fun of the exercise. My frustration is a product of the many conversations I’ve had over the past twelve months with small …

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A Eulogy for Family Farmers on World Food Day

WFD 2014: Year of the Family Farmer

Tomorrow, October 16, 2014, is World Food Day. On the 69th World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has chosen to celebrate The International Year of the Family Farming (IYFF). It’s a noble gesture on the FAO’s part – considering the historical and current efforts made by family …

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Women Who Dig – Research with Refugee Farmers

Nakivale Camp in southwestern Uganda, (Photo by Matt Darvas)

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to interview women from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Canada and Uganda about their lives as farmers. The writing process has been a journey in itself; listening to the recordings of many women’s voices, over and over again, and hearing what I didn’t hear the …

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Indigenous Farmers Confront Canada’s Goldcorp

Tomasa at her home in Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo Credit - KJ Dakin)

Lines etch across Tomasa Perez Jimenez’s tawny features as her eyes study her floor. The cracked earth contrasts with the party pink of her traditional blouse. Her voice is quiet and steady as she discusses the mine that has been operating on her doorstep for more than a decade. “In …

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The Art of Yarn Bombing

(Kay Niedermeyer)

By Kay Niedermeyer Yarn bombing, or “knit graffiti” is a thing I’ve always appreciated but never created or participated in myself until very recently. My inexperience with yarn bombing would probably surprise people who know me both as a rabble-raiser, and also a gal whose hands have been pretty much …

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A Complicated Cup – Coffee & Poverty in Uganda

Early morning contemplations on a complicated substance.

I’ve been brewing (pun intended) over the subject of coffee in Uganda since the first morning I woke up and enjoyed a strong cup of Nescafe – coffee that was produced in Uganda, processed in the US and shipped back to Uganda for my own consumption. I haven’t yet written …

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The Cocoa Connection in Rio San Juan, Nicaragua

(Photo Credit - KJ Dakin)

What I recently learned from las campesinas (women farmers) living in the lush rainforest region of the Rio San Juan department of southern Nicaragua tasted pretty sweet. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but chocolate sure does. The raw form of chocolate, anyways. In the Rio San Juan department, women and their husbands …

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Behind the Canadian Flag – Mining in Central America

Mother and daughter farmers with their children and grandchildren in Comitancillo, Guatemala.

Seven years ago, I broke the stitches that secured the Canadian flag to my bright blue backpack. It was a symbolic act. It was a traveller’s coming of age moment when I realized that I was no longer proud of my country’s political reputation abroad. When I was 19, I …

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On CBC Radio – Book Project About Women in Agriculture

How are women farmers contributing to food security worldwide?

I was thrilled to be invited by CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon program to share more about the process of researching and writing a book about global women in agriculture. Check out my interview that was aired on May 8, 2014 at around 14 minutes into the program. Thanks …

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Dirty Hands and the Love of the Land

Young women farmers in Alberta are challenging the odds against them.

A decade ago, Heidi Ellis never would have dreamed of becoming a farmer. She grew up in the city of Strathmore, ON, only an hour’s drive from Toronto. “Farming is the last thing I thought I’d ever do,” Ellis says with a laugh. “Growing up, I remember picking peas from …

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Permaculture vs. Gold Mining in Guatemala

Indigenous seed saving in Tuixcajchis (Photo by KJ Dakin)

In the arid mountain village of Tuixcajchis, Aurelia Jimenez Zacories is always growing something on her small but productive tract of land. She spends her days coaxing vegetables and the staples of corn, wheat and potatoes from the soil, raising livestock, building organic soil, planting trees and saving her seeds …

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Humble Lessons from Landslides & Everything Permaculture is Not

The earth moves in miraculous, frustrating ways.

Last week I wrote about African proverbs, garden wisdom and the power of patience and confidence against what we can’t predict in life, including the rain and sun and whatever other element Mother Nature casts our way (or doesn’t). Oddly enough, all of the above manifested with extremity since I …

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