Cowichan Rises in support of V-Day movement

The women behing Cowichan Rises, from left to right in the back Theresa Gerritsen, Tina Schoen, Patricia Greenwell and Kirsten Schrader. In the front Nika Stafford, Jen Holden, Kate Koyote and Selina Boily. - Kurt Knock
The women behing Cowichan Rises, from left to right in the back Theresa Gerritsen, Tina Schoen, Patricia Greenwell and Kirsten Schrader. In the front Nika Stafford, Jen Holden, Kate Koyote and Selina Boily.
— image credit: Kurt Knock

In the beginning, one could argue V-Day was something that had to be brought to Cowichan.

Three years later, however, it is crystal clear Cowichan has risen to the occasion.

Instead of one group leading the charge promoting this global activist movement to end violence against women and girls — the V stands for victory, valentine and vagina — many groups are creating their own celebrations, all being staged under the umbrella label Cowichan Rises.

“When we sat down to talk about this year’s V-Day celebration, we found out there were already actions being planned, so we decided our role was to support the community’s actions,” said Cowichan Women Against Violence spokeswomen Tina Schoen.

“The actions that are happening on (Feb.) 14 have a real grassroots community feel.”

CWAV will be the main beneficiary of funds raised through a smorgasbord of events including Cowichan Theatre’s production of Vagina Monologues, an art show, a silent auction and a celebration in Duncan’s city square.

Schoen said the keen enthusiasm from Nika Stafford, co-owner of the Matraea Centre and its hair salon and Lynn Weaver of Shawnigan’s MoonDance Dynamic Arts School is firing the city square event Feb. 14.

Folks are being encouraged to meet at Matraea at noon for the reading of an Eve Ensler poem, before marching to city square for speakers, singing and dancing, Stafford explained.

“And it would be great if people could make signs to tell us why they’re here and why they’re rising,” Stafford said.

Stafford hopes folks will bring the entire family. Her decision to step up to the plate this year was mostly because violence against women is dear to her heart.

“”It’s a touching thing for me,” she said. “I suffered abuse as a child, so did my mother, grandmother, and most likely my great-grandmother too.”

She’d also set a goal for herself to help more with community events.

“”I’m sort of building a plane while it’s flying in the air,” she said. “But I’m meeting a lot of people who are interested and I’ve very much been interested for awhile in helping.”

The community collective in organizing this year’s series of events is a true testament to people’s passion agreed Cowichan Theatre arts and culture boss Kirsten Schrader.

Schrader is involved in the production of Ensler’s Vagina Monologues which hits the stage Feb. 16. She has also partnered with CWAV in their events, including The Art of Healing and Healing of Art exhibit, a photo contest, and silent auction.

And Schrader couldn’t also be more thrilled with the local cast signed on to recite Ensler’s script.

So far it includes, Duncan councillor Michelle Staples, Cowichan Valley MP Jean Crowder, Julia McLeod, Kendra Thomas, Della James, Bobbi Rowntree, Sarah Lane, Mary Jean Vangenne, Jessie Johnson, Corrina Hipfner, Valerie Warder, Jo-Anne Sutherland, Dayana Victoria Clements, and Genevieve Charbonneau.

“I think it was a stellar, record-breaking cast last year,” Schrader said, noting about half of this year’s lineup is comprised from last time’s speakers. “And I expect just as much from this year’s new speakers.”

The script changes a little bit each year, Schrader explained, but is loosely built on the same pieces from Ensler’s play.

Ensler’s the force behind the enthusiasm of V-Day, which came into being 14 years ago.

“When we started V-Day, we had the outrageous idea that we could end violence against women,” the playwright said in a press release. “Now, we are both stunned and thrilled to see that this global action is truly escalating and gaining force.”

V-Day’s current theme “One Billion Rising” is based on the staggering statistic that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime.

The movement has raised more than $90 million for programs that work to end violence against women and girls. Ten per cent of the funds raised locally will be funneled to the One Billion Rising tally.

Other items on sale with 100 per cent profits going to CWAV’s purse include chocolate vaginas (multi-racial, white, milk and dark) as well as lingerie cookies and breast cupcakes, Schrader added.

The Vagina Monologues will be staged Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Seats are $22.50 with tickets to a limited-entry pre-show reception at $10. Call the Cowichan Theatre box office at 25-748-7529 for more information.

For more on Cowichan Rises events, visit the facebook page OneBillionRisingCowichan:


The Art of Healing and Healing of Art exhibit

Organizers are pumped about this year's V-Day art exhibit, which can be viewed during the pre-show reception at Island Savings Centre's PORTALS before Vagina Monologues hits the stage.

Among many local artists display work is a Thetis Island collaborative of 13 women. They will be showcasing an installation of sculpture, text, photographs, and an artists' book, which unfolds 21 feet long deemed Codex Thetis Kora..

Thetis Island's Suzanne Sarioglu gathered interest for the project aimed at creating a piece of art which would embody concerns about the current erosion of environmental and social policies and their passion for this planet and life.

“In discussions with family, friends and community  it was generally agreed  that most of us feel at a loss about where to go and what to do given the rapidity with which things are changing environmentally, socially and economically," Sarioglu explained.

"It is my belief that it is in connecting with others and sharing our passion for the planet, in sharing our fear and our hope that empowerment can be fostered and making a difference can become a reality."







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