Living Courage Tour: Building alliances between generations and across border
Montreal, 27 October 2011
Four women of courage spoke of their experiences in defending for women’s rights at the Trinity Memorial Church in Montreal last October 27. Two of these women were part of the Living Courage Tour which is part of KAIROS’ Women of Courage program.
Chantal Bilulu works to restore dignity and livelihoods to women who have endured such indescribable agony in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In her country, women’s daily challenges of poverty and hunger are multiplied by an epidemic of rape – a common weapon in the ongoing resource war. Chantal has worked with Héritiers de la Justice in the DRC for eight years as Program Coordinator for Women and Children, focusing on the defense, protection and promotion of human rights.
Vernie Yocogan-Diano from the Philippines is Chair of the Indigenous women’s collective, Innabuyog, the Indigenous word for the practice of helping one another through collective action. Vernie is a human rights and community activist from the Cordillera region of the Philippines. She works with women whose daily challenges are not only hunger, but the pervasive violence that occurs in the Philippines when anyone confronts the powers that impose this economic hardship.
In their respective countries, these two women defend human rights and build hope in the face of multiple crises: militarization, climate change, unethical mining practices and war.
Vernie and Chantal visited the cities of Penelakut, Victoria, Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal to share their wisdom with Canadian women – including migrant and indigenous women who have their own stories of persistence in the face of hardship and violence. Each stop on the tour offered a unique opportunity to strengthen alliances across borders and between generations.
The Living Courage tour aimed to make connections between gender-based violence in areas of conflict, whether the result of civil wars in Sudan or the Congo, or the mistreatment of Indigenous people in the Cordillera region of the Philippines or on the ancestral lands of Canada’s First Nations.
In Montreal, two other women rights advocates shared their experiences. Rita Acosta talked about the Mouvement contre le viol et l’inceste (MCVI), a support center for victims of sexual assault (i.e. rape, sexual abuse, incest, organized violence and sexual harassment), most of whom are women, adolescents and children.
Marie Boti spoke about the Women of Diverse Origins which is an alliance of grassroots women’s organisations representing the diversity of cultural communities in Montreal. Their organisation also seeks to share experiences and broaden women’s solidarity both locally and globally. Marie also represented the International Women’s Alliance which is a global alliance of anti-imperialist grassroots-based women’s organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and individuals committed to advancing national and social liberation.
The Montreal leg of the tour was organized by the Anglican Diocese of Montréal, PINAY, Réseau ecuménique Justice et Paix (ROJeP), Trinity Memorial Church, Women of Diverse Origins, International Women’s Alliance, Movement Against Rape and Incest, Immigrant Workers Centre (CTI-IWC) and the Philippine Cordillera Cultural Group in Montreal.
For more information about the Living Courage tour, visit: http://www.kairoscanada.org/dignity-rights/women-of-courage-2/
report by Joyce Valbuena