BU Gender & Women’s Studies program caps year of giving

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The Gender & Women’s Studies (G&WS) program at Brandon University (BU) supported community programs with more than $15,000 through the Margaret Laurence Community Grants Program in 2017. The grants are made possible by the Margaret Laurence Foundation.

The latest grant is $1,000 to support the screening of “Fire Song” at the Evans Theatre on Wednesday evening, part of the Pride Brandon celebrations of Pride Week.

“Fire Song” tells the story of Shane, a gay Anishinaabe teenager in Northern Ontario, who is struggling to support his family in the aftermath of his sister’s suicide. If he fails, he will be forced to choose between his family’s home and his own future. It will be shown at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14.

Other Margaret Laurence grants provided this year have gone to support women’s, newcomer, and Indigenous programs. The annual grants are flexible, and designed to help foster links and engagement between community-based organizations and the G&WS program.

“Gender and Women’s Studies has a strong record of putting its curriculum into action through the teaching and research of its members, and through student initiatives. The Margaret Laurence grants help us to bring that activity into the community as well,” said Prof. Rosanne Gasse, coordinator of the G&WS program. “We are grateful for an endowment that allows us wide latitude in choosing programs that can make best use of these funds.”

This year’s grants were:

  • $5,000 — Women’s Resource Centre — Support Group Series for Spanish-Speaking Women
  • $3,925 — YWCA Women’s Shelter —High School Outreach Initiative
  • $1,150 — Hispanic Association of Manitoba — ESL Conversational English Classes
  • $4,600 — Supporting and Honouring Indigenous Families Together (SHIFT) Manitoba — Indigenous Doula Initiative
  • $1,000 — Pride Brandon — “Fire Song” screening

“These are some of the very dedicated groups doing very important work in our community, and we are always impressed by the impact they can have on peoples’ lives” Gasse said. “We are extremely pleased to support these organizations and the wonderful programs and initiatives that they provide.”

This year’s largest grant, for $5,000, was provided to the Women’s Resource Centre in Brandon for their Support Group Series for Spanish-Speaking Women. The daylong programs, held every other month, target the self-identified female, Spanish-speaking population in Brandon and area, including newcomers to Brandon – visitors, students, immigrants, and permanent residents – as well as Canadian citizens.

The second-largest grant, for $4,600, was to help fund the Indigenous Doula Initiative through SHIFT. An Indigenous doula, who does not perform any clinical procedures, is a specially trained and culturally grounded birth companion who provides emotional, physical and spiritual support for women and families during pregnancy, labour, and after birth.

Another large grant was $3,925 to the YWCA Women’s Shelter, to support their High School Outreach Initiative. The YWCA will coordinate two-hour presentations to junior high and high school students in the Brandon and Westman area and they hope to reach approximately 20 schools and 400 students aged 12–18, both male and female.

The final two grants included $1,000 for the Pride Brandon film screening as well as $1,150 to the Hispanic Association of Manitoba for ESL Conversational English Classes, targeting Spanish-speaking women in Brandon who want to improve their English speaking ability, largely to gain employment.

Gender & Women’s Studies invites students to challenge prevailing notions of gender and sexualities, and to learn about gender relations as they have been constructed culturally, globally, historically, and institutionally. G&WS students develop the critical knowledge and skills to explore the intersections of gender, sex, race, class, religion, sexuality, (dis)ability, colonialism, imperialism, citizenship, and transnational identity while paying attention to power, oppression, and resistance within a historical context. Students engage in dialogue about such topics as feminist and queer activisms, transnational poverty and marginalization, diverse masculinities, popular culture and media, reproductive justice, racial politics across borders, and war and violence.


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