• Magazine

    Letter from the editor

    This issue of Briarpatch is about opening our activism to new voices and new perspectives. As Naomi Wolf recently observed, “our (Western) moment of feminist leadership is over now, for good reasons… . [T]he leadership role is shifting to women in the developing world.”

  • Magazine

    Forgotten histories of treaty-making

    In Compact, Contract, Covenant, J. R. Miller provides the first comprehensive history of treaty-making in Canada. From the earliest days of trading partnerships and military alliances to modern comprehensive land claims, Miller explores the complex and shifting relations that guided the formation of treaties.

  • Magazine

    Forging ahead

    Even after the doctors had left, the Peruvian alpaca sweaters lay neatly folded in the large suitcase near the entrance. The clothing had been carefully selected, packed and transported to the edge of town the previous day in the hope that a group of foreign doctors who were passing through the area might take an interest. After perusing the collection, however, the foreigners purchased the inexpensive finger puppets in lieu of the pricier sweaters, hats and mittens.

  • Magazine

    Blanket condemnations

    The burqa, chador or niqab (henceforth used interchangeably), a loose-fitting robe worn by some Muslim women that covers the body from head to toe, is one of the most powerful symbols of women’s subjugation under Islam. This garb is often presented as an existential threat to the West, capable of destabilizing the very foundations of our liberal democracies.

  • Magazine

    The Honduran Committee for Peace Action

    When I asked Dr. Almendares about the legacy of COHAPAZ, he explained how instrumental these grassroots women’s organizations have been in Honduran human rights movements. “The women have learned a lot about natural medicines, first aid, and birthing through their community organizing.” Pursuing health may not necessarily seem revolutionary, but he says, “health is directly linked with the ability of these women to participate in political action that benefits their communities.”

  • Magazine

    The blind leading

    Over the past decade, much has been written about female literacy and how access to even a basic education can reduce poverty and improve the lives of women and girls. But for millions of women in the Global South, it is access to eye care that they need most.

  • Magazine

    Cupcakes, gender, nostalgia

    In the summer of 2009, on a humdrum Edmonton afternoon, three of us went out for cupcakes. Fellow sociologists, knitting buddies and feminist reading group pals, we found ourselves at Fuss, a cupcake, gelato and coffee shop all rolled into one. It was there that we began to ponder the phenomenon of cupcake shops that seem to be popping up everywhere.

  • Magazine

    Stolen sisters

    Some things defy articulation. How can a community conceptualize the vicious, racist misogyny that leaves scores of Aboriginal women missing and murdered? We try, because silence really is complicity — because we are all affected, we are all related and we do not accept the loss of these women.

  • Magazine

    No one answer

    Marilyn Waring’s decades-long career has been as varied as it has been influential. She was the youngest woman elected to the New Zealand Parliament, is a long-time activist for lesbian and gay rights, and has tended her own goat farm for many years. Waring recently spoke with Briarpatch about the state of women’s rights in the Global South and how women in the North can support southern resistance to economic inequality.

  • Magazine

    The gender of enlightenment

    There is a glass ceiling for women seeking spiritual advancement in the Buddhist temples, or “wats” that dot the Thai landscape. Women who seek to be ordained as Bhikkhunis, the highest order of Buddhist nuns, possessing equal status to monks, continue to experience significant resistance from the religious clergy and more conservative elements of Thai society. In this country of over 300,000 monastics, Dr. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, whose ordained name is Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, is a trailblazer in the movement to create a Bhikkhuni order in Thailand.

  • Magazine

    Letter from the editor

    As this issue goes to press, three thousand rallies are taking place in communities around the world calling for action in Copenhagen on climate change. In February, anti-poverty and indigenous rights activists will take to the streets of Vancouver to protest the Olympics.

  • Magazine

    What the right does right

    Progressives in Canada today have no shortage of ideas. What we lack is movement — any movement. There is no women’s movement, no labour movement, no peace movement. The antiglobalization movement fell apart in the wake of 9/11. Copenhagen notwithstanding, even the environmental movement has become more an exercise in individual consumer choice than a demand for systemic change.

  • Magazine

    Selling the Olympics in the schools

    In the name of education, British Columbia has spent at least half a million dollars teaching wee ones the awesomeness of the Olympics. In response, Olympics opponents are trying to counteract what they call “pro-Olympic propaganda” by introducing classroom workshops of their own.

  • Magazine

    When we were feminists

    The day after the reunion, the subject line of Kelly’s email reads: “Did you hear?” On August 4, 2009, the same night as four university girlfriends and I had gathered for a 20-year reunion, a man walked into a gym in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, and opened fire. The coincidence is surreal. My undergraduate girlfriends and I had planned the reunion as a memorial of sorts to mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

  • Magazine

    Mass protests and the future of convergence activism

    Ever since tens of thousands of people converged on the streets of Seattle and successfully shut down the World Trade Organization in November 1999, convergences have been the tactic of choice for confronting global capitalism.

  • Magazine

    From invisibility to stability

    The first step toward addressing an issue is to make it visible. An alcoholic will fail to get sober until he or she admits to having a problem. Slapping around one’s wife was not a punishable offence until it became socially and legally recognized as domestic violence. Visibility is gained through definition, and with visibility comes the power to create social change. Transgender and gender nonconforming people are just beginning to shed the cloak of invisibility that has shrouded their participation in social and political life.

  • Magazine

    Collective power

    I have been covering demonstrations, protests and sit-ins as a photojournalist for many years. Documentation of protest was part of my work as the coordinator of the East Timor Alert Network between 1986 and 1992. One of the salient features of the modern state is the disconnect between the centralized bureaucracy of government and its largely fragmented citizenry, who have very little influence on decision-making between elections.

  • Magazine

    Water fight in the Thompson Okanagan

    “A lot of people have got their hearts broke, trying to make a living off this land without any water” Wolverine tells me. We are walking down the hill from his house towards a small field planted with flowering squash. His dog, Bingo, trails behind.

  • Magazine

    Boosters’ millions

    The latest estimate of the cost of the Olympics to be borne by the public is $6.1 billion. This figure includes the expansion of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, the construction of the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver rail link, the expansion of the Vancouver Convention Centre, the construction of an athletes’ village and various venues, and a ballooning security budget. The two-week sporting event is set to be the most expensive entertainment spectacle in B.C.‘s history.

  • Magazine

    Food politics and the tyranny of rights

    It’s the end of October in Montreal. About 20 of us have stepped away from what could be the year’s last sunny autumn evening for an opportunity to hear from one of Canada’s most important elder activists and thinkers. Brewster Kneen is in town to talk about his new book, The Tyranny of Rights (Ram’s Horn, 2009).