When we first sat down to talk about creating a speaker’s bureau we had a lot of excitement and optimism flowing. The idea of bringing together speakers who speak about equity, ending violence, discrimination and oppression, who also lack representation and exposure was very exciting. What brought us to the table though was trying to figure out ways that we could work together as a team in schools with youth, because we were both about to be unemployed.
We had just done a talk together in Mississauga, and were reflecting on the engagement factor---students had been extremely attentive and engaged in the discussion. The reality is that most youth do not often get the opportunity to see healthy relationships (especially between men and women) modelled. A female-male facilitation team working together is a very unique presentation mode. Respectful or disrespectful interactions and relationships become emblazoned into our memories. When audiences get to see a healthy relationship at work, with mutual respect, and curiosity for what each other has to say, they are witnessing gender equality at work.
In another presentation we did at Algonquin College in Ottawa a year ago we had a really interesting moment. Julie remarked that one in three women experiencing sexual violence doesn’t make one in three men perpetrators (evidence of lack of bias against men). Kevin agreed, but went on to say that we do have a very high proportion of University aged males indicating they would commit sexualized violence if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. In a recent Queen’s University study for example, 32% of students indicated they had been sexually assaulted while at University. If we had switched the relaying of those two statistics, we might have had a very different reaction. So much so that we went on to do a radio show talking about this interchange and its' nuances. The ability to draw this out when working together is what makes us a unique pairing.
All of our speakers at Voices for Equity have this unique potential, whether they are paired or speaking on their own. When we gather a diversity of voices and perspectives, we can learn and unlearn more readily. Julie and I both had many misty eyed moments, as we loaded the speaker profiles on V4E. There is an abundance of talent, inspiration, knowledge, and skill to guide groups whether in workshop or keynote format. We are so grateful to be able to gather speakers across the land, who can speak specifically to a variety of issues and methods of creating social justice and change, gender justice and reconciliation. V4E is about finding the best fit for you. By attracting a diversity of talent we believe we can find the best fit.
So far we are off to a flying start! Two of our speakers, Julie S. Lalonde and Anahita Negarandeh spoke at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Self Care conference last Saturday March 25, a mere five days after the official launch date of V4E! It was indeed a unique pairing!
We look forward to many more positive community engagements. We look forward to working with you! Let us know what you need and we’ll ensure the best pairing!