Woman protesting bias
Inside The Tampon Book. Photograph: Cedric Soltani/Studio Dropped
There’s No Room for the Old Boys’ Club in Today’s Saskatchewan: Taking a Stand for Progress

I used to feel frustrated with Saskatchewan. My province used to be run by an old boys’ club – outdated and out of touch repeating lots of the same old. Lately, however, I have felt inspired to observe that it seems like Saskatchewan is on the verge of a much-needed shift, progressing into becoming a more growth-oriented, inclusive province.

Saskatchewan leads Canadian provinces in intimate partner violence statistics. It has made the news for lashing out at pro athletes standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. And it can be paralleled to the US when people attempt a similar racist tantrum of mispronouncing the names of our leaders. Just recently, our Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, was mistreated similarly to how Vice President Kamala Harris had her name purposely mispronounced by a Senate colleague of three years. Thankfully, dozens of people in Regina showed support for Dr. Shahab in the face of this mistreatment and the protests held in front of his home.

 

While I used to feel profound concern about how homogenous and outdated our province may be perceived beyond our borders, perhaps unable to catch up with more modern or progressive cities and regions, I do think that we’re finally on the cusp of a significant shift.

Choosing to Be Here

Now, more than ever, the voices of progressive leaders in the province need to be heard. We need to promote and choose a mindset of progress and change instead of defaulting to how things have always been done – the old, outdated ways no longer serve our people.

When Shaq Evans, wide receiver for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, came under fire for tweeting back at fans critical of Black Lives Matter, the outcry from the racists menacing him was appalling. Though Shaq walked back his tweets and re-signed with the team, taking one look at the comments section of the articles on social media amazed me as I realized the strength and compassion he must have to continue to lead here.

He can choose to go elsewhere and give his skills and talents to another team. He can decide to move his life and turn his back on the trolls so clearly in denial of the uprising movements like BLM inspire. But he chose to stay and press on.

Choosing to Take a Stand

Like BLM, #MeToo was another movement that swept the city of Regina this year as allegations against “pillars of the community” started to come out of the woodwork. Rather than rally around the outrage of sexual harassment and assault happening to this city’s young women, many folks missed the point altogether. The deflection that these prominent men pulled off is astonishing, and you should be ashamed if you still support these predators.

The whole point of #MeToo is about creating a space for the victims who have to remain anonymous in the face of powerful, well-resourced violators who belligerently intimidate them into silence. The trials and victim shaming campaigns following Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, or even Canada’s Jian Ghomeshi show that the cards seem perpetually stacked against the victims.

Many of these victims do not have the ability to leave their jobs, homes, or cities. They carry trauma despite the unacceptable, vengeful denial of their pain. One in five victims of sexual assault feels blamed for their victimization, most commonly by friends or family. Will you choose to stand up for the daughters, sisters, and wives victimized by people in power – or will you shame them from the sidelines?

Supporting the Shift to Progress

Supporting these movements and the progressive voices behind them will be how we break the cycles of oppression against minority populations. It’s why I threw my support behind Regina’s first-ever female mayor, Sandra Masters, who unseated a two-term male incumbent with her fresh and progressive voice. It was an honour to help shake up the old boys’ club of my local government, and I acknowledge that the opportunity was made possible because of where I find myself today.

I own the fact that I’m a privileged white woman in Canada. I’m the CEO of a successful business; I’m active in the community and consider myself a progressive voice committed to shaping the province’s future.

As a young, female leader, I can directly empathize with facing sexism (and ageism) in a traditionally male-led industry. It’s often left me feeling out of place and frustrated that change isn’t happening quickly enough. However, I cannot even begin to imagine the exhausting, frustrating battles folks like Dr. Shahab, Evans, or the #MeToo heroines face.

Every game.

Every shift.

Every day.

 

This outrage prompted me to reflect and think about how we could further help support this necessary shift in Saskatchewan. Whether public figure, business leader, or community beacon, we as the province’s young leaders have to commit to standing up for the people and groups being ostracized and overlooked. Speak out, defend, and act (even if it starts by using your wallet). Choose to support our minority populations through words and action – we have to bring more light to the unacceptable, outdated sidebar conversations out there.

If you look through your contact list, you’ll surely know people directly impacted by hateful inequality – whether you acknowledge it and do something about it is your choice.

Further Reading…

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