LEE LAKEMAN, ANGELA MILES AND LINDA CHRISTIANSEN–RUFFMAN
Every issue of Canadian Woman Studies / Les cahiers de la femme involves gathering women from various locations to meet and read together and discuss the potential contents. Always that is a useful educational opportunity for those on the editorial board, for students, for the profession of women’s studies, for activists, and for the women’s movement as a whole.
But in these times of great and increasing pressure on women and their activism, more is necessary. Editorial board members, potential authors, and readers are all feeling under attack. Women’s places in the academy, centres, projects, and wings of the movement as well as women’s livelihood, dignity, and autonomy are financially threatened in new ways. To write and to think creatively with political ingenuity and wisdom is difficult but essential in these circumstances.
The editorial board responded to the challenge. Some of us were able to meet in person to discuss articles. Others contributed long distance using new technology. We recalled reliable women, encouraged discouraged women, suggested new names and new ideas from our various contacts to seek out points of view that might be helpful to the whole. We sought the work of academics and activists, of women workers, and recipients of social programs and benefit programs. As usual, we have drawn out the connections among them.
For this issue we also had a rare opportunity to bring activism, research, and theory together in a specifically feminist process of knowledge creation. Two members of the Canadian Woman’s Studies Executive Board and two members of the Guest Editorial Board for this issue were able to meet in Pictou, Nova Scotia with feminists from across the country for two days of intense dialogue around the themes of this issue. The mix of significant numbers of national groups with a substantial regional grassroots presence proved inspired).
As a movement we are in need of much more contact with each other. We need a fuller discussion amongst ourselves that can renew our understanding of our shared feminist agendas for action. We need to restate the relevance of each of our demands to each other’s campaigns. It is in that coming together of our demands and actions that our hope emerges and is sustained. We had that opportunity in Pictou and we rediscovered there that feminism is alive and fighting in Canada and demands her share of a better world.
For our initial discussions in Pictou we divided into two groups. Using the time-honoured feminist process of starting from women’s experiences, the groups tackled the question of women’s economic security and autonomy from different but related angles. In one group, participants shared information about the many economic security campaigns they had been involved in and reflected on how the varied issues are connected and might be advanced from a feminist point of view. Starting from sharing information about women’s lives and experiences, including our increasing economic insecurity, the other group identified/imagined what changes would be needed to ensure the security and autonomy of all women. Both groups were asked to prioritize the implications for the poorest women, Indigenenous women, and immigrant women, and to include attention to international contexts. Information about the growing interest in an annual general income was provided in participants’ package of materials and both groups were also invited to consider this in their discussions. Later dialogue as a whole group, informed by the themes of both groups, contributed to the articulation of a feminist position on a guaranteed livable income. This is captured in the “Pictou Statement” presented here. This statement has not been endorsed by individual participants at Pictou and they have not yet had the time to take it to their respective groups for endorsement. However, it is an exciting outcome of a rare and generative feminist dialogue. We feel it represents an important advance in feminist thinking on these issues and are pleased to be able to present it here.