36 posts categorized "motherhood"

May 12, 2011

Giving Birth to Your Activist Self: Finding Your Voice as a Mother Activist

Workshop Handout for


Giving Birth to Your Activist Self:

Finding Your Voice as a Mother Activist

International Conference on Motherhood Activism, Advocacy, Agency

May 13-15, 2011 - Toronto, Ontario


Presented by

Sharon Aschaiek and Ann Douglas


  • Awaken. Hear your activist voice.
  • Respond. Know what to do with that call to action.
  • Collaborate. Form meaningful connections with other activists (online and in real life) to reduce isolation and maximize your effectiveness.
  • Communicate. Connect with the public and generate media interest in your cause.
  • Lead. Achieve consensus and inspire your fellow activists to action.
  • Succeed. Learn from successful activists. Discover what takes some movements over the top?
  • Sustain. Avoid activist burnout, which zaps your energy and enthusiasm. Fuel the fire within. Self care, professional development,  and sabbaticals are ways to nurture your activist self.



Ansell, Jeff. When the Headline is You: An Insider’s Guide to Handling the Media. Jossey-Bass, 2010.

May, Elizabeth. How to Save the World in Your Spare Time. Key Porter Books, 2007.

Moyer, Bill et al. Doing Democracy. The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements. New Society Publishers, 2001.

Sussman, Amanda. The Art of the Possible: A Handbook for Political Activism. McCelland and Stewart, 2009.



Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)’s Media Activist Kit

The Citizen’s Handbook: Practical Assistance for Those Who Want to Make a Difference

Campus Activism.org: Movement Action Plan by Bill Moyer

Campus Activism.org: Event Planning Worksheet

Campus Activism.org: Four Core Elements of Strategy

Campus Activism.org: Organizing: Lessons Learned


Useful Social Media Tools and Platforms

Appbistro:  Directory of apps for Facebook Pages.

Bit.ly: URL shortening service (useful for Twitter).

Facebook: Social media platform

Flickr: Photo-sharing community.

Klout: A measure of social media influence.

LinkedIn: Showcase your resume and connect with others.

ManageFlitter: Manage your Twitter followers/following.

Oneforty: A directory of business-oriented apps for Twitter.

Posterous: An easy way to publish to multiple channels.

Storify: Combine content, including chat tweets.

Twitter: Social media platform.

YouTube: Video-sharing.


Sharon Ashchaiek

Sharon Aschaiek is a mother to a five-year-old boy with autism, a professional writer and an autism services activist. Sharon leads Autism Resolution Ontario, a grassroots, non-partisan, parent-run advocacy group protesting against Ontario’s severe autism services gaps, and working to achieve appropriate treatment and social justice for kids with autism.

Ann Douglas

Ann Douglas is active in the democracy movement and the women's movement, She volunteers with Citizens Advocating Political Participation and serves on the Board of Directors of YWCA Peterborough Victoria Haliburton. She is an author and mother of four. www.anndouglas.ca and www.onewomanoneblog.com

April 20, 2011

How Stephen Harper Changed My Life -- And How Ursula Franklin Spoke to My Heart

I never intended to become politically active. But after Stephen Harper was elected in 2006, Canada didn't feel like Canada anymore and I felt compelled to start taking action.

For a long time, I blogged here on a regular basis. During the 2008 election, I blogged many times per day in the rather naive hope that if I blogged often enough -- if I worked hard enough -- I'd be able to help convince my fellow Canadians that we needed a government that was progressive in its thinking (as opposed to the Reform Party of Canada rebranded).

It bothers me that approximately one-third of Canadians are willing to make trade-offs in order to keep Stephen Harper in power, because what they are trading off for lower taxes are rights and freedoms and the checks and balances that make for a healthy democracy.

I had no idea how much my life would change when I started speaking out -- how good it would feel to speak the truth about what I was witnessing and to form alliances with other Canadians who are just as disturbed by what has been happening to our country. At the same time, I also could not have predicted that I would be interrogated in my MP's office as a result of becoming politically aware and politically outspoken.

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During an unforgettable interview on the CBC radio show The Current last May, respected scientist and pacifist Ursula Franklin spoke about her time in a Nazi labour camp and the warning signs of democracy in peril. She sees some of those very same signs in Canada today and she is urging Canadians to be vigilant -- not to sleepwalk as many people do while their freedoms slip away. If you only watch one video (the interview is actually available on video) during this election campaign, I urge you to watch this one. It is powerful and unforgettable. You can find it here. (The interview starts at around the 27:00 minute mark in the video.)

* * *

We need to send a message to Ottawa through whichever candidate is elected in each of our ridings. We want voting reform now. Proportional representation would encourage the parties to work together as opposed to treating one another as combatants.

A Prime Minister who doesn't have respect for the basic rules of government -- who doesn't choose to acknowledge that the Prime Minister is accountable to the people of Canada through the House of Commons (not vice versa) -- should not be entrusted with the privilege of governing this country for one more day, let alone a period of months or years.

This election marks a turning point in the life of our country. We are at a crossroads. One arrow points toward a more progressive future -- the Canada we used to be. The other points to a future with Stephen Harper in control. It doesn't take much to figure out what kind of Canada that would be. I'm hoping enough Canadians will wake up from the nightmare of the past five years to put us back on the path to where we belong.


Note: I am participating in Mom the Vote -- an effort to encourage Canadian moms to think about the issues in this election and to vote. I will be voting in Peterborough Riding.


May 10, 2010

Mom's The Word

Maybe this will be the week that Stephen Harper will surprise me with the items on my Mother's Day wish list. (It wasn't really fair of me to spring this list on him on last Friday afternoon. I mean, does anything actually get done in Ottawa on a Friday afternoon?)

April 25, 2010

Sex Ed Curriculum Changes: Three-Part Series

I've been blogging up a storm about the sex ed controversy in Ontario over at one of my other blogs.

I've posted the first two parts of a three-part series:

Part I: No Need to Get Hot and Bothered About the New Sex Ed Curriculum

Part II: Why Sex Education Matters: Interview with the Founder of Scarleteen

More to come....

[Added 5/10]

Part III: The Sex Ed Files - Part III of III in a Series About Sex Education

Sex Education Obsessed: It's All Parents Are Talking About

March 19, 2010

The Invisible Woman

I haven't been blogging here a lot in recent months, but my political roots have been showing over here and over here. Just thought I'd let you know I haven't gone totally AWOL. Hope to be back to posting here more regularly soon. I just need to wrap up a big project first. See you on Twitter.

November 18, 2009

A Novel Solution for Dealing With Broken Promises to World's Children

Promise to world's children remains unkept after 20 years - thestar.com.
"If [governments] are not ready to stand up proudly and give voice to the rights of children, then they should put into place reforms that magnify the voices that already exist. The most important would be reforming an electoral system that disenfranchises all those younger than 18 by allowing their parents to cast additional votes for each of their children. Maybe only then when they have to actually look their electorate in the eyes will there be sufficient resolve to make child rights the priority that a commitment made 20 years ago stated it should be."
- Miles Corak, former research coordinator and lead researcher of the 2005 UNICEF Report called Child Poverty in Rich Countries.

April 01, 2009

That's What You Wanted -- a Consultation on Maternity and Parental Benefits for Self-Employed Workers, Right?

Carol Goar has an excellent article in Today's Toronto Star, commenting on the current state of the country's EI system. "Something that's worth whining about."

As part of her analysis of what needs to be done, she catalogs what the government has delivered to the 1.4 million Canadians who have lost their jobs:

  • Five weeks of additional EI benefits to workers who already qualify.
  • An extension in work-sharing agreements, allowing employees who split a job to use EI to supplement their wages for 14 additional weeks.
  • An extra $500 million for retraining.
  • Consultations on maternity and parental benefits for self-employed workers.

What caught my eye was the final point: "Consultations on maternity and parental benefits for self-employed workers."

It seems to me that parents were promised more than a consultation back in the glory days of early fall. When did that campaign promise get watered down to something so completely uninspired - and where do the self-employed parents who were convinced to vote for Harper as a result of this key promise go to get a refund on their vote?


Maybe the red tape was part of the Harper master plan all along. Check out the fine print beneath below the sweeping promises:

From http://www.conservative.ca/EN/1091/105194

“We will lift this barrier and give equal opportunity to the nearly one million Canadian women who are self-employed,” Harper said after meeting with the self-employed owners of a Ottawa salon and day spa.  “To help provide security for all those who are self-employed – and particularly women – a re-elected Conservative Government will permit self-employed Canadians to access maternity and parental Employment Insurance benefits.”

"....Exact premium amounts and required payments post-claim will be set upon implementation, following a review by the newly created Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board."

Unfortunately for Canadian parents, that last little bit didn't make it into much (any?) of the media coverage of the big promise. And I certainly don't remember reading it in any of the campaign literature. Do you?

December 06, 2008

Don't Forget to Send a Rose to Your MP Today

The YWCA is asking us all to send a virtual rose to our MPs in order to lobby for a national action plan to address violence against women.Rosecampaign

If you wish to support the excellent work that the YWCA does throughout the year --in Peterborough and/or in your community -- you might be interested in knowing that this is the organization's tag day (an annual fundraiser).

If you didn't bump into a canvasser in person while you were out running errands this morning, no worries! You can donate to this very worthy charity in all kinds of different ways, either in Peterborough or elsewhere. (Note: I think very highly of this particular charity -- so much so that I serve on the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Peterborough, Victoria, and Haliburton.)

My MP may be quite surprised to get a rose from me -- but that's okay. Violence against women is an issue that crosses party lines. In fact, it's an issue that crosses all lines. And it can't be allowed to languish any more than it's been allowed to languish over the past three years.


If you're looking for a gift for that impossible-to-buy for friend, why not make a donation to the YWCA in her name? It's the gift that keeps on giving -- and saving lives -- year round.

October 25, 2008

And May the Best Mother of Five Win

This article from The Nation is a few weeks old (it came out on October 10th, in that prehistoric era before we Canadians went to the polls, but it's still as relevant as ever -- at least south of the border). After all, Americans are still living in the land of electoral opportunity -- at least officially -- for another 10 days:

Why I'd Be a Better VP Than Sarah Palin by Rosanne Cash.

Here's one of Cash's arguments ("Focus on the Family"):

I am the mother of five children, just like Governor Palin. I have known the demands of managing a full-time career and motherhood at the same time. I have juggled a breast pump and a BlackBerry, and I know when to put the BlackBerry down. (To be perfectly honest, I did once send a text to the baby and tried to nurse my bass player. You learn from your mistakes.)

October 19, 2008

Personal Meets Political on Election Day


This post from my blog over at ParentCentral.ca describes my experiences helping out
on a school field trip on Election Day

Grand Theft Acorn

It isn't easy being a kid with a powerful sense of injustice. And if you're a kid like my 11-year-old son, a kid who carries an entire world worth of injustices on his shoulders, a simple field trip activity can become an impossibly painful and complicated exercise in big-stakes moral choices.