Archive for the 'Family' Category

Uzma Shakir Quotes

Last week Uzma Shakir, GTA activist, visited Windsor to talk about activism, feminism, Islam, immigration, community, and violence against women, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, Sharia law, and the imperiled Muslim woman. I kept a running list of quotes from the talks I attended.

Here they are:

  1. “Kids don’t drop out of school, they’re pushed out because the knowledge is not meaningful.
  2. Multiculturalism is not just food, music, and dance. I call it Sari and Samosa Syndrome. We’re not talking about power — let’s talk about my right to wear hijab, about power and privilege.
  3. Activism is not about convenience. I cannot be antiracist all day and then go home at 5 o’clock, put my feet up and be a bigot.
  4. As a white person you can walk away when you get tired about talking about white privilege. A person of colour cannot walk away.
  5. Not all rappers are about guns and bitches.
  6. I can speak English. The gift of 200 years of colonialism: you come out of your mother’s womb speaking English.
  7. I had an arranged marriage. I arranged it myself.
  8. My family turns into a nuclear family by virtue of Immigration Canada.
  9. I was liberated in Pakistan, based on my class and family support. In Canada I feel very oppressed, marginalized. Here I had no daycare and all I can get is a shitty job.
  10. Contract work is precarious employment. It is contingent, temporary.
  11. Mothering [as a new immigrant] is about going through hell and having no one to talk to.
  12. I do parenting workshops to deconstruct the other parenting workshops.
  13. Social justice is hard work and messy work.
  14. Language is not neutral. Language is political.
  15. The Sharia Hysteria: if you want it you’re a Neanderthal, if you don’t want it you are a liberal.
  16. Muslims do not have a monopoly on oppressing women.
  17. I don’t get offended anymore. If I’m continually insulted I am frozen into inaction.
  18. If I am the standard and you are different from me then I have the power.
  19. When you get tired of anti-racism and social justice, remember those who cannot walk away. You’ve got to stand with them.
  20. I don’t mind being an immigrant. But my children were born here — their imagination of home begins and end in Canada. I can go home to Pakistan but this is home to my children.
  21. Pakistan has been colonized for 200 years but the colonizers went home. They left behind their cronies to watch over us. But in Canada, the colonizers never went home.
  22. I didn’t know I was being a feminist until I came here a week ago. I thought I was just a woman who liked to fight.
  23. We have to fight together. We have been marginalized and oppressed and if we’re not careful we’re going to marginalize and oppress someone else.
  24. Everyone wants to save the muslim woman. Some want to put the hijab on me and save me; some want to take hijab off me and save me; some want to bomb us and save me. Just give me a break man! I can save myself! I don’t need Western imperialism to save me or Western feminism riding on the coattails of Western imperialism to save me. I can save myself.
  25. Just because we are doing social justice does not mean we are socially just.
  26. We [immigrants and refugees] don’t come here to live in poverty. We don’t come for the weather and we don’t come for the food – we bring the food! We come for the democracy.
  27. To hurt someone is to sin. To watch someone else get hurt and do nothing is a greater sin.
  28. If you are a man you can be a feminist – if you are a man you
  29. must be a feminist because if you’re not you’re part of the problem.

  30. I wish all I had to worry about was [my son's] baggy pants and who he dates. I have to worry if he’s going to get arrested, if he’s playing basketball, out with his Black and Arab friends. This is part of mothering for black mothers, aboriginal mothers, and now it is true for Muslim mothers.
  31. My children keep me grounded and I keep them political.

More about Uzma’s visit here:
Sari and Samosa Syndrome

and here:
Uzma Shakir is Spending this Week in Windsor

Uzma Shakir is Spending this Week in Windsor

This year’s Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies at the University of Windsor is Uzma Shakir, a Pakistan-born community activist making a difference in Scarborough, Ontario. She is the 2003 recipient of the Jane Jacobs Prize and was recently awarded the Atkinson Foundation’s Economic Justice Award in recognition of her work on behalf of immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area. She works on issues related to immigration, social equity, the racialization of poverty, and the future of multiculturalism in Canada.

The events are open to the community but some require an rsvp. Details are below.

This is the schedule of events from the Distinguished Visitor website:

Week of Events 2008

Women, Knowledge and Activism, Class Visit
To be truly empowered, Uzma argues, women must do more than consume knowledge; they must use their own understanding of the world as a basis for knowledge. Uzma’s experiences with the feminist movement in Pakistan under a military dictatorship taught her that solidarity among women is built through directly engaging issues of complicity and marginality.
Date: Wednesday 22 October
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Place: Chrysler Hall South, room 162 (University of Windsor)
Course: Women in Protest
Instructor: Prof. Nancy Gobatto

Public Announcement to the Press
Date: Thursday 23 October
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Place: Toldo Health Education Centre, room 203 (University of Windsor)

What Does an Inclusive Feminism Look Like?, Class Visit
Speaking as a woman of colour with a history of feminist activism in Pakistan, Uzma argues that mainstream North American feminism has not served women of colour because it has been slow to question its own complicity with the imperial agenda of the state, inside Canada and outside. Uzma believes that feminist solidarity with white/western women is possible only with those who understand the difference between appropriation and solidarity and who commit to deconstructing white privilege.
Date: Thursday 23 October
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Place: Toldo Health Education Centre, room 203 (University of Windsor)
Course: History of Women’s Movements in North America
Instructor: Dr. Renée Bondy

The Veiled Woman as Social Outsider, Class Visit
Uzma will show how Canadian state and public discourses have pathologized certain communities since 9/11, and how these
discourses frame Islamic women as “oppressed” in contrast to “liberated” white/western women.
Date: Thursday 23 October
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Place: Toldo Health Education Centre, room 203 (University of Windsor)
Course: Women, Race, and Social Justice
Instructors: Dr. Anne Forrest and Dr. Jane Ku

Islam, Women, and Canadian Law, Class Visit
Uzma will discuss the consequences for Islamic and non-Islamic women of the Ontario government’s decision to exclude Shari’a law from the arbitration process for resolving marital conflict, and of Elections Canada’s decision to permit veiled women to vote.
Date: Thursday 23 October
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Place: Vanier Hall, Winclare A (University of Windsor)
Course: Women and the Law
Instructor: Prof. Amanda Burgess
This event is co-sponsored by the Stephen Jarislowsky Chair, Centre for Religion and Culture at Assumption University.

New Canadian Mothers: A Delicate Balancing Act, Class Visit
Uzma will discuss the dilemma of immigrant mothers who are responsible for transmitting the “home” culture to their children while negotiating a new cultural environment on their behalf. She will examine the burdens that racialization and criminalization impose, in order to show how race and marginality complicate the mothering process.
Date: Friday 24 October
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Place: Toldo Health Education Centre, room 203 (University of Windsor)
Course: Mothering and Motherhood
Instructor: Prof. Jacqueline Bobyk-Krumins

What Can Women Do Together?, Community Organization Luncheon
Uzma argues that social agencies must actively connect with other community groups for social change. Otherwise, they will leave unchanged the society that produces the social problems the agencies have been created to solve. Panelists will describe the very real barriers to moving beyond the service delivery model.
Panel Discussion with: Uzma Shakir, Patricia Noonan, and Gisèle Harrison. Rachel Olivero – moderator.
Date: Friday 24 October
Time: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Place: Club Alouette, 2418 Central Ave.
If you or your delegate plan to attend, please R.S.V.P. to wsvisitor@uwindsor.ca or 519-253-3000 ext. 3727.

Take Back the Night March
A Call to Action: Identifying the Pressing Issues for Women
Take Back the Night is a world-wide event protesting male violence against women and children. All are welcome to the rally; however, the march is for women and children only. The march is symbolic of women’s right to reclaim the night without the need for a male escort.
Keynote Speaker: Uzma Shakir
Date: Saturday 25 October
Time: 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Place: Memorial of Hope, University of Windsor (between Essex & Dillon Halls)
Rally begins at 8:00 p.m., march to follow. For more information, please visit www.uwindsor.ca/takebackthenight.

In Conversation with…Uzma Shakir
Please join Friends of Women’s Studies for an afternoon of friendship and conversation with Uzma Shakir.
Date: Sunday 26 October
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Place: Betty Wilkinson Room, Art Gallery of Windsor, 401 Riverside Dr. W.
Tickets: $250 (this event is free for members of 250 for $250 and major donors)
R.S.V.P. by telephone at 519-253-3000 ext. 3727 or by e-mail at wsvisitor@uwindsor.ca by October 17.

“We are here because you were there!”, Class Visit
Uzma will examine connections between local and global conditions for women, in particular, how the growing disparity in wealth worldwide makes women in Canada more and more reliant on the undervalued labour of women in the global south.
Date: Monday 27 October
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Place: Odette Building, room 104 (University of Windsor)
Course: Women in Canadian Society
Instructors: Prof. Nancy Gobatto and Prof. Daniella Beaulieu

Re-scripting the National Narrative: A Woman’s Perspective, Class Visit
Uzma will illustrate how certain commonplace words and phrases obfuscate gender, race, sexuality and economic inequalities. She will deconstruct terms such as liberal democracy, multiculturalism, reasonable accommodation, diversity and tolerance.
Date: Monday 27 October
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Place: Dillon Hall, room 361 (University of Windsor)
Course: Language and Women’s Place
Instructor: Prof. Nancy Gobatto

Beyond Sisterhood: Race, Immigration and Solidarity, Community Dinner
Keynote Speaker: Uzma Shakir
Date: Tuesday 28 October
Time: 5:30 p.m. Reception, 6:30 p.m. Dinner
Place: G. Caboto Club, 2175 Parent Ave. at Tecumseh Rd. E.
Tickets: Individual: $60
Students: $15
Table of 10: $600
Sponsor a table: $600 ($600 charitable tax receipt)
Sponsor a student: $60 ($60 charitable tax receipt)

R.S.V.P. by telephone at 519-253-3000 ext. 3727 or by e-mail at wsvisitor@uwindsor.ca or you may register online.

Please note that the office will close at 12:00 p.m. on October 28, 2008. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

For more information, e-mail wsvisitor@uwindsor.ca or call 519-253-3000 ext. 3727.

It’s Coming Together

There’s nothing quite like the week after a semester finishes. I’ve been so productive the last few days. Rob and I have put doors up on two kids’ bedrooms so that leaves only one more. I just finished installing the doorknob on the second one and sawing off the shims. My taxes are done and filed (just in the nick of time). Wood for the fence was delivered on Monday and I’m planning to order dirt for the garden later today. Hopefully this weekend will be warm and I’ll get lots done in the yard (including having my family over for my daughter’s (gasp!) fourteenth birthday! Of course by next week all of this energy will be gone and I’ll be wondering what the heck I got myself into…

And the week after that I’ll be whining that my next paper is due at the end of May and I’ve got nothing to say or the research doesn’t connect with my topic or something like that…and then that paper will get handed in after a week and a half of much coffee and little sleep.

Ahh the seasons of a student.

Another Reason Divorce Sucks for Kids

Every time my kids go to their dad’s they ask me to take care of their Webkinz gardens. At xmas time they ask me to loot the NeoPets advent calendar for them. I do my best but times three kids it can add up to a considerable amount of time.

I try hard to get my kids comfortable on the computer, whether it’s through gaming, making their own levels on kGoldrunner, designing title pages and drawing pictures, writing stories, blogging, accessing the home network, troubleshooting, researching, and programming. I know how lucky they will be if they can understand and maintain their own computers and how important technology mastery will be as they grow up.

webkinz garden under snow title=

It doesn’t help the developing computer-love if they come home from their dad’s and their Neopets are dead and their Webkinz gardens have all withered and the food is rotten before it can be harvested. In this case the computer is just another thing that makes them sad. They see their investment as wasted time. They don’t have Internet access at their dad’s and we won’t get into what hardware he must have but there was this project my daughter brought home on a floppy disk. She’s saving for her own laptop but it’s going to be awhile still and that won’t help with the dying frogs and ponies.

Given that after school time is busy with homework and chores these online games should have an option for kids who only really have access to them every-other-weekend. (And that goes for games that offer a paid membership like Runescape). Neopets does have hotels and such where you can park your animals when you’ll be away but the cost adds up. As more and more kids face a double life with often a discrepancy in access to technology how will the technology adapt?

flickr photo by polar bots member mascott girl

Always a Decision to Make

I hate limbo. I like to have a general idea of where I’m headed, what’s next, where the groceries will come from next week. So I’m getting anxious because I haven’t heard yet if I’ll receive the funding I applied for to finish my master’s. I had planned to do this degree in one year but when all hell broke loose last fall I had to rethink that timeline. Now I’m sitting here, in need of two more courses and a major research project but funding for only one more semester. There are no courses offered in the summer so if I really and truly don’t receive funding I need an alternate plan. I’m considering taking a leave of absence, gearing up, and finishing everything in the fall somehow (umm, just as my daughter begins high school. Sounds like fun). It would be nuts — more work than I’ve probably ever attempted to tackle. School at this level just doesn’t mix with family. Or at least it hasn’t for me yet. Generally I feel like I’m barely keeping up so the thought of adding more school responsibilities on top of what I had these past two semesters really worries me.

The challenge then becomes how to support my family this summer — oh right, while finishing up my incompletes from last fall. Aarrgh… This degree has certainly not worked out like I thought it would. I dream of a simple life where during the day I go to class, go to the library, think about Big Ideas and write with clarity and grace. Nights are filled with deep films and philosophy and sangria. I go to the gym and eat salad with blueberries. On the weekends I code amazing and tidy projects that combine all of my diverse interests so that when school is all over I have a career path to pursue. A few months like that and everything is caught up, my soul is richer than it’s ever been, and the degree is complete. Sweee-eeet.

Of course, maybe a letter will come today saying I’ve got the funding and I can just keep on going as I’d planned. Then there’s no decision to make.

Some Keys to Blended Family Happiness

These may be obvious to others but I’ve recently discovered a few things that are making life a lot easier. Rob and I blended families last fall and it hasn’t all been a picnic. Some of it’s because of the craziness of our own particular situations but some of it is just because it’s hard when one family moves in with another.

Here’s what’s working right now:

  • I signed my kids up for swimming lessons on Wednesday nights. Every Wednesday we go out and Rob’s got the house to himself. I hadn’t realized how rare an occurrence this was until we started a few weeks ago. I have time here alone during the day because I mostly work from home but when he’s home usually I’m home and/or there’s some combination of our kids here. Given that it’s his house we live in it’s been a big change from it being usually quiet to now, usually loud. I also went away to Toronto for a long weekend while my kids were at their dad’s and it gave Rob some time alone here with his daughter. For years it was just the two of them on the weekends and I think it’s been hard on both of them having me around all the time. They need their space and the chance to be together without a third wheel hanging about.
  • Video game time for chore time. For the past month, every Tuesday night Rob and I go out for coffee/chai at a local independent coffee shop. We play World of Warcraft for a few hours and it’s lots of fun. I make time for this with him and on Saturday mornings we do housework together (specifically cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the stairs). These are the two biggest things that get me down when they’re dirty. If the bathrooms and stairs are clean I can mostly keep up (or overlook) the rest of the house. It’s become a great routine and the date night is wonderful. We’re actually having fun together. ;) Having fun is important for making a blended family work. If we’re not happy, then what was the point?
  • A grocery list on the side of the fridge. There are way too many people here for me to keep track of who is out of what favourite food. Each kid is responsible for adding to the list if they finish off a food. If it’s not on the list it doesn’t come home from the grocery store. This goes for the grownups too.
  • Rules that apply to everyone. This is something we’re still working on and will probably continue to struggle with. One of these rules is that school bags and other gear needs to go into bedrooms and cannot be left in the entranceway. For the size of the house I’ve always been frustrated with how tiny the entrance area is. Bags that get abandoned become tripping hazards and it looks awful. Unfortunately we’re all guilty of coming in and getting distracted. One reason is that the kitchen and computers are upstairs and the kids bedrooms are downstairs. Usually the habit is to come in, come upstairs. Later, when they’re ready to go down, they walk right on past the bags. My excuse is that usually I’m carrying in more than one load so it takes me a couple of trips to get everything where I’m going and I get distracted before I’m done putting everything away. Hopefully now that winter is over I can put the boots away and that will clear up a bit of space.

I hope I keep finding more things that I can add to this list.

Breastmilk is Awesome

jars of expressed breastmilk

I’ve known for years (almost 14 — the age of my oldest child) that breastmilk is the absolute best thing in the world. Now there’s one more reason why it’s awesome:

Breastmilk contains stem cells. Seriously. Check out that article.

flickr photo by Hoover Family Photos

Happy Family Day

Today is Family Day in Ontario. It’s a government initiative to help families with the crazy pace of life by giving everyone the day off so they can spend time together.

Except Family Day isn’t retrospectively applied to court orders signed before today. If your kids go to their dad’s on Mondays you are out of luck. Unless you want to go back to court…(Hah!)

And for the many people living in border towns and working in Michigan and other states, Family Day doesn’t apply to you. Get the kids to the sitter and get yourself to work already!

And if you work in retail, hospital, or at the university library you and some of your co-workers will be at work today.

And if you work for the school board and your contract was negotiated before Family Day was announced, you cannot go to work today but you will not get paid. You’re not entitled to any more days off this year. Sorry!

And if you’re a student, you’re busy preparing for mid-terms and writing major papers so keep in mind, if you take the day off today, you will probably FAIL!

But I’m not bitter.

My Sons Learned to Dive

We went to the pool last weekend. My daughter has always been a fish. She’s been swimming since she was an infant and has always loved it. I don’t think I ever taught her to go underwater, she just always could. She wowed the lifeguards with her butterfly stroke and I just wondered where she ever learned that and when did she get so strong?

My youngest decided he was going to learn to dive. He’s a decent swimmer — but better underwater than above. He’s so skinny that he doesn’t float very well. He set himself up on the side of the pool and tipped forward — a lovely beginner’s dive. He then walked around the pool and after just a little bit of encouragement jumped off the diving board. He was so proud (so was I) — and his older brother was jealous!

Moments later the middle one was on the edge of the pool, trying to convince himself to dive in. He was scared but didn’t want his little brother to be able to do something he couldn’t! Watching his brother going into the water head first just a few more times was all it took. Within fifteen minutes they looked like they’d been doing it all their lives.

As tough as life is, I have to remember that these are amazing kids. They are strong and healthy and can do incredible things. That makes me pretty lucky.

Not Really Helping

Many years ago I shared a house with 4-6 other adults (people came, people went). We shared a fridge, dishes, and kitchen appliances and the deal was that we’d each contribute to the common expenses (like toilet paper) and took turns on the chores like cleaning the bathroom, sweeping the floors, vacuuming, and doing the dishes.

There was one roommate who seemed to stretch her contribution as thin as was tolerable. Her turn to buy toilet paper usually meant she stole some from public bathrooms. Sometimes rolls of sandpaper-y stuff, sometimes a stack of those little individual squares. When it was her turn for dish duty she would wash some dishes, but never all. When she was done, the counter top would be unusable because of the dishes drying on it, and the sink would be unusable because there’d still be dishes in it. I never understood the logic of it, I just knew that whenever she was done there was still work for someone else to finish.

very big pile of dirty dishes photo by Squonk11

She might have been using the strategy known as “if I do a really lousy job they won’t want me to do it next time.” Or maybe she thought hers was a legitimate contribution. It drove the rest of us crazy. There’s something about false helping. When you’ve done something, no matter how small, no one can criticize you for not helping. My roommate did in fact do some dishes. It’s just that her helping required the rest of us to do extra work. At her turn to clean the kitchen, we knew that who ever went in there next would get stuck finishing the job.

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