Local Peterborough Woman Thanks Leading Women’s Organizations on Women’s Rights

Lynn Gehl, Ph.D, Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe

I was happy to learn that CEDAW’s concluding observations about Canada’s violations against women and girls addressed the matter of unknown and unstated paternity and the Indian Act. As many know this has been an issue that I have taken on for over 30 years now. Through a freedom of information request, I learned Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has wasted more than $750,000 defending a practice that denies Indigenous children Indian status and subsequently their treaty rights when a father’s signature is not on their birth certificate. This INAC policy and practice applies in situations of sexual abuse such as rape, and also in situations where a man refuses to acknowledge his child.

Left to right: Gwen Broadsky, Sharon McIvor, Shelagh Day, 2010

Follow the Turtle Through Eight Steps of Analysis

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Human Trafficking on Peterborough Highways

No easy out for victims

By Melodie McCullough

Glancing recently through Peterborough’s backpages.com (an online site for advertising sex), Carly Kalish, in the space of five minutes, found numerous and obvious signs of human trafficking of women in the city.

“It’s incredibly lucrative, and incredibly hard to prove,” said Kalish, a social worker and trauma counsellor innovator at East-Metro Youth Services in Scarborough, and advocate for survivors of gender-based violence.

womans-tied-wristsAs guest speaker at the recent annual general meeting of the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre in Peterborough, Ontario, she told the audience that the city is part of the Toronto trafficking circuit because of its proximity and highway connection to the bigger city, with easy access to hotels and the promise of new clients. Yet, it is distant enough to reduce the chances of being caught. Continue reading

Understanding Intersectionality

By Lynn Gehl, PhD

Introducing Intersectionality

When creating a more liberating world inclusive of all people, an intersectionality lens, or an intersectionality methodology, is required.

Intersectionality theory was first articulated by Black women who were dissatisfied with the efforts and knowledge emerging from White feminism as it fails to speak to their experience. In my limited understanding I have read that people credit the Combahee River Collective, Patricia Hill Collins, and Kimberlé Crenshaw, the latter who first coined the term in 1989.

. . . summing up structural oppressions does not capture the complete understanding . . .rather a new oppressive monster is created that is bigger than the sum of three parts.

At its essence intersectionality speaks to the reality that more than one structural oppression – sexism and racism for example – can exist within the bodies and daily lives of people, and as such impinges on their lives in ways that create more and different barriers when navigating societal structures. In offering an example, the intersectional discrimination of being Indigenous and a woman cannot be pulled apart as separate categories of understanding because the two structural oppressions intersect in close relationship. An Indigenous woman is never just Indigenous nor is she never just a woman; she is both at the same time. Intersectionality tells us that the lived oppression is more complicated.

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    . . . And Other Things Your Kids Should Hear as They Leave Home for School

Second in a Series in a Partnership between JOURNEY Magazine and Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre

By Melodie McCullough

Are you sending your child off to a post-secondary school?

Do you know that it is during the first eight weeks of classes in September and October that the majority of sexual assaults occur on post-secondary campuses?

 Does your child know this?

Thousands of young people will head to universities and colleges this September looking forward to a fresh start, new friends, great adventures, and new-found academic knowledge.

And thousands of young people will face sexual violence starting from the first day they set foot on campus.

“Campuses are an ideal space for perpetrators to victimize people sexually,” said Lisa Clarke, community engagement and project manager at Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC) in Peterborough, Ontario, in a recent interview. “There are people who are far away from home, living in close quarters, socializing in places where they know people only as acquaintances or friends of friends.  Yet many young people going into university or college say the first time they hear about consent and sexual violence is during orientation week.”

 Parents have an important role in addressing campus sexual assault with their children, regardless of gender and sexual identity, she said.

“We tell our kids ‘don’t drink and drive’ and ‘don’t smoke’. Why aren’t we telling them, ‘don’t rape?’,” she asks.

But how do parents say this? Where do they start?

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 Rooting Out Racism —

                      A Family Affair

As an activist in Toronto, Daniel Braithwaite made sure the book Little Black Sambo was banned in Toronto schools in the 1950s ; his daughter, Jane, continues to spread his social justice legacy in Peterborough area schools.

By Melodie McCullough

jane braithwaite
Jane Braithwaite

Jane Braithwaite is lucky.

By the time she was old enough to start kindergarten in Toronto in 1956, the children’s story book Little Black Sambo  — considered to be racist by the Black community and many others  — had been banned from all public schools in the city.  She did not have to endure the taunts, racial slurs, insults and humiliation that so many other African Canadian children, including her father and older brother, had suffered, prompted by the story.

That’s because her father, Daniel Braithwaite, was responsible for seeing the book banned. Social justice was his passion. He ate, slept and breathed fairness.

Today, as an occasional teacher with the local separate school board in Peterborough, Ontario and area, Jane teaches new generations of children about social justice and carries on her father’s legacy.  Continue reading

Forty-Three Years Sheltering Women:

Lynn Zimmer Still Leads the Way 


By Melodie McCullough

Do you know Lynn Zimmer?

Maybe you have met her through the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough, or perhaps through her volunteer work with the United Way of Peterborough and District, or the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, or as chair of the local police board for four years.

Then again, maybe you are one of the thousands of women she has helped over the more than 40 years she has acted on behalf of women fleeing violence and abuse.

Zimmer, as a founding member of the first women’s shelter in Canada in Toronto in 1973, has led the way. She’s been executive director of the YWCA Peterborough Haliburton for 33 years now, and she isn’t ready to stop any time soon.

She oversees a staff of 76 at four locations: the administrative, counselling and advocacy site on Simcoe Street, the Crossroads Women’s Shelter, and a 40-unit housing complex for women who have escaped violence, all in Peterborough; and the HERS women’s shelter and counselling centre in Minden in Haliburton County.

The shelters are two of over 600 shelters in Canada, with over 12,000 beds serving around 60,000 women and children a year – providing emergency shelter, transition housing, and safe home networks in private homes in remote rural areas, funded by all levels of government, and recognised as a vital service to women everywhere.

But, of course, it wasn’t always that way.

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Music to Soothe the Soul

Hospice Peterborough’s Bedside Singers Reach Out to Palliative Patients  

By Melodie McCullough 


beside 1
Singers left to right: Martha Comfort, Anne Campbell, Julie Stoneberg, Judy Foster

It is a gift for both the ones receiving and the ones giving. 

For the past seven years, a group of Hospice Peterborough, Ontario, volunteers have been singing at bedsides in the palliative care unit at Peterborough Regional Health Centre or in people’s homes to bring comfort and solace to the dying. 

“It’s not something everyone can do, and it’s not always easy,” said volunteer Kate Jarrett, who has been with the Bedside Singers since the program began. “But it is an honour for us to go in and be present and surround that bedside.” 

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Peterborough woman’s effort now supported by LEAF

The Ontario Court of Appeal has granted the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) leave to intervene in Lynn Gehl’s  case challenging sex discrimination in the Indian Act, after LEAF filed a factum Sept. 23 in Gehl v Attorney General of Canada

Dr. Lynn Gehl

Gehl, PhD, who lives in Peterborough, Ontario, has been fighting for First Nation Indian status for 30 years, and, although she lost a major court decision 18 months ago, she and her lawyers are still pursuing the case. The appeal court date is set for December 20, 2016.  

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Heartful Knowing: a Teaching and a Fundraiser 

Re: Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe Vs Canada; Unknown / Unstated Paternity and the Indian Act. 

By Lynn Gehl, PhD

In the Anishinaabeg tradition the heart is an important repository of knowledge. Actually, in many ways the heart is a stronger and more intuitive repository of knowledge than the mind is. After all, in terms of our intrauterine development we are a heart first and it is what we hear first. 

The heart holds the capacity to challenge how we think and understand time. It is able to collapse time, even intergenerationally passed time, into one single moment. Sometimes when we think back to a past time we feel the same as we felt back then. In this way the heart evaporates and transcends time. This is the intellectual stamina of heart knowledge we need to respect. lynn's necklace

I have encountered people who are spiritually disenfranchised because of the politics of Indigenous identity, the sex-discrimination in the Indian Act, and the residential school system. Many are also experiencing the harm of drug and alcohol addiction in their families, issues of homelessness, the awful matter of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and then there is the contemporary land claims and self-government process ─ a process designed to continue the colonial agenda that sets up Indigenous people to fight for mere crumbs amongst ourselves. 

 When I listen to Indigenous people talk about the heart knowledge that they hold from their experiences, and reflect about what they are saying, I have come to realize that people have their own relationship with their heart knowledge. I have learned that within a group of people there are different relationships with heart knowledge. While some people rely on the explanation “I walked through the pain”; others say “I put it behind me”; and further other people offer “I walk with my heart knowledge every day”, in this way it remains with them in all they do. This is why I like to encourage people to mindfully reflect on their relationship with their heart knowledge as this will lead the way to mino-pimadiziwin. 

Thus far Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada has squander $750,000 defending their position on the matter of unknown / unstated paternity and the Indian Act that denies children Indian status registration when their father’s signature is not on their birth certificate. This practice/policy applies in situations of sexual violence such as rape, incest, and sexual slavery. 

 Purchase your heart necklace and support Lynn Gehl’s work.  $20.00 

 Visit www.lynngehl.com or email lynngehl@gmail.com to learn more