Stem the tide: Waves of Resistance in Montreal

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With the U.S. presidential race verging on the homestretch, and the Canadian federal election looming just a few days away, many Canadians are watching anxiously as the ballasts of conservative/Conservative power rear their collective head (to use a bit of Palinesque parlance).

It would be a shame, then, if the other big news story of this coming weekend were to be eclipsed: the Waves of Resistance/Toujours RebELLES Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Conference taking place from October 11-13 in Montreal. For those three days, some 500 young women from across Canada are expected to descend upon the city, lighting up la belle ville with their energy and righteous rage.

My fellow Montrealers should expect to hear the rebELLE-ious declaration, "No to injustice, no to violence, no to oppression, no to inequality!" echoing through the streets, well into the night. With any luck, this message will reverberate throughout the country in the weeks and months to follow.

Elsa Beaulieu is one of the many dedicated organizers extending a warm invitation to participants to join in the strategizing, mobilizing, and general ruckus to be had at Waves of Resistance.

This will be an historic chance for young women from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences to "come and meet each other, see that they are not alone, that feminism is alive and fun, and that it is not only pertinent, but vital, to our generation," saysBeaulieu.

The goal is to share and acknowledge these different positions and histories and to come together in solidarity around common issues and causes. The gathering will culminate in the creation and dissemination of a manifesto elaborating participants' visions for gender-equity in Canada and globally.

The conference is addressed specifically to young women, a group both particularly affected by rising conservative influences and full of potential to undermine that trend. Contrary to general belief âe" popularized by the catty/depoliticized 'Gossip Girl' image of my generation âe" many young women feel strongly about contemporary issues, but feel disconnected from mainstream anti-oppression groups and networks.

Though we are told to lie back and enjoy the liberties of 'post-feminist' life, it is impossible to ignore the numerous forms of gender-based oppression that surround and affect us daily âe" the recent surreptitious legislative attacks on reproductive rights being just one of many examples. The mood now is outrage lined with urgency.

"The need for this gathering is greater than ever," asserts Beaulieu. "There are many misconceptions and outright lies circulating about feminism and women's condition in this society. Women, as a group, experience a disproportionate share of poverty and violence. The situation is particularly harsh for non-white or non-heterosexual women. This is no coincidence: oppression in our society is systemic. We must organize and fight back."

History may regard the next few days as the election that bore Stephen Harper's Conservatives a second go at government, or perhaps even handing him a majority. In the longer run, though, the movement to end gender-based oppression that was strengthened and fostered by the Waves of Resistance conference may prove the greater catalyst.

It's worth coming down to find out.

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