6 noteworthy feminists battling gender bias in Vancouver
It’s difficult to recall a time in history when feminism, and the exact duties that identifying as a feminist entails, have received as much media attention as today.
Though the movement has increasingly come to be wrangled and contextualized in public realms of celebrity and politics, feminism is, at its most basic core, the belief in and advocacy for equality for women.
Here in Vancouver, we’re lucky to have a group of feminist women who have been leading the charge for years—including these six who exemplify the term women helping women.
As the interim executive director at West Coast LEAF, a feminist organization that promotes women’s rights through law, Brewin works to ensure the equality of women’s social, political, and economic status. She has played a pivotal role in the group’s development, spearheading numerous projects that benefit and protect women from all walks of life by championing rights related to gender-specific matters like reproduction and sexual harassment. Outside of LEAF, Brewin also makes a point of applying her skills in law and nonprofit management to gender-justice groups.
A long-time advocate for indigenous women in Vancouver, Blaney has played an instrumental role in ensuring that feminism is addressed in provincial and national inquiries into missing and murdered indigenous girls and women. Her acknowledgment of the precarious position in which many aboriginal women find themselves, due to the unique intersection of race, place, and gender, drives her tenacious work at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and the Warriors Organizing Women group, and as part of the Women’s Memorial March committee.
Angela Marie MacDougall
Recognized as a “remarkable woman” in 2014 by the City of Vancouver, and with good reason, MacDougall is a board member of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and an executive director at Battered Women’s Support Services. The fierce feminist has spent the past 20-some years supporting women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence. Her collaborative efforts with a number of diverse alliances highlight the underlying issue of violence against women in various community events, including the Women’s Memorial March.
Self-described artist-activist Sung’s status as a queer, Taiwanese-Canadian woman allows her to connect with LGBTQ youth from a unique and exceptionally nuanced perspective. A speaker and coordinator for the Out in Schools program, she has aided in creating a safer and more positive space for many LGBTQ adolescents, including lesbian or bisexual girls who may feel isolated at school. Sung has also previously worked with Women Against Violence Against Women and the now-defunct Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS.
Downtown Eastside nurse Forrester is the Vancouver coordinator for Hollaback!, an international group that aims to end street harassment of women. Since joining the organization in 2015, she has led a number of local campaigns that give harassed women a voice while bringing attention to the sexism and prejudice facing women in public spaces. Forrester is also the cofounder of Good Night Out Vancouver, a grassroots campaign that targets harassment in pubs, bars, and clubs in order to make Vancouver’s nightlife scene safer for everyone.
Though now retired from her role as a collective member at the Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Centre—a title that she held for more than 30 years—Lakeman continues to offer a vital voice in Vancouver’s feminist community. Her work on the front lines has helped thousands of women escape and recover from sexual and domestic abuse, and her untiring advocacy for women’s rights and social-justice issues forms the foundation of much feminist thought globally that forwards the importance of women’s equality in the fight against gender-based violence.