Quick Hits: Mother’s Day Musings, Toronto Pride Defunding and The Girl Effect

I. Changes and Goals

I am a content consumer. Possibly to the excess. Being a producer is rather hard for me, but it’s been a consistent goal of mine over the past while to alter this behaviour. I tend to write long, critical essays, but I think I need to start mixing it up if I ever hope to update more than every several months. Consequently, this post starts a series of “Quick Hits” which will feature news articles and short musings on whatever I happen to think needs attention in a given week. Hopefully this new format will help me achieve my goal of weekly updates.

See below the cut for information and thoughts on Mother’s Day for non-traditional families, the recent defunding of Toronto Pride by the Conservative government, and a link to The Girl Effect, an amazing organisation dedicated to changing the world!

II. Mother’s Day Musings

Last week I went to Chapters (Canada’s largest mainstream bookstore). It was Mother’s Day and I was looking for a gift. Upon walking into the store, I was greeted by a swath of holiday merchandise specially picked out by Chapters staff to help easily fulfill the commercial portion of Mother’s Day. I looked and looked and looked but nothing seemed to fit. An associate saw me wandering around looking puzzled and inquired if I needed help. I asked her what she might have for an aunt on Mother’s Day and she paused. It was not an “I need a moment to pick out the best options”, pause but an “Oh crap… I have no options to offer” silence. She told me that they didn’t carry anything for aunts in particular, but I could pick out a generic woman-themed book of fiction!

Story of my life when it comes to these holidays. My family is made up of a mom, an uncle and an aunt. Consequently, I have two people to think about on Mother’s Day, but I challenge everyone to go and find Mother’s Day items that focus on people other than mothers and grandmothers. You won’t find much.

This year I was lucky at the card store. There was a total of five different cards to choose from. This was a significant improvement in comparison to Father’s Day last year when I had one uncle card as my sole option. When I was a child, there often wasn’t anything at all for people like me.

In a world wherein traditional families are no longer necessarily the majority, why are there no options for people who don’t have a traditional mother and father? Why can’t a child (or an adult for that matter) be able to go into a store like any other person and find something to celebrate their special persons? Yes, people like me could just make something for the people we want to honour. I tend to do that for most holidays, but I just wish that sometimes I could be like everyone else in this one little way and not be reminded that somehow my family is abnormal and unwanted.

III. The Defunding of Toronto Pride

For background on this issue, read this and this.

Much could be said about this decision by supporters and critics of Toronto Pride alike. However, I would like simply to point out that regardless of whatever excuses have been made, there are several facts about the defunding of Pride that need to be considered first.

To begin, this sudden announcement needs to be taken in context of the recent culling of funding for other socially progressive groups, particularly women’s agencies. Toronto Pride seems to fit in with these other “undesirable special interests”. It is also interesting to note that the Calgary Stampede is still receiving funding, a group as equally capable of sustaining itself as Pride and also a group which has received government support multiple times in the past. It seems that cowboys are worthy of funding only if they happen to be wearing jeans under their chaps and are riding bulls of the bovine variety.

Secondly, the controversy surrounding Toronto Pride in 2009 makes it very hard to believe that Pride 2010 was denied funding for any other reason than socially conservative principles. Last year Diane Ablonczy, the former tourism minister, allotted Toronto Pride $400,000 from a special tourism fund. She also attended the event and had photos taken of herself and parade participants. Shortly after, as the Toronto Star article details, she was removed as minister from the tourism ministry and MP Brad Trost was quoted on an anti-abortion site saying that she was being “punished” (See here). Although the Conservative Party tried to deny that this opinion was held by the party as a whole, rumors of Pride’s “anti-family, anti-life” messages were tossed around social conservative spheres (See here). Furthermore, shortly after the Toronto Pride scandal began, Montreal’s Divers/Cité had its application for federal funding denied five days before the festival was to start resulting in significant programme cuts (here and here).

This recent but consistent trend of locking out socially progressive groups from being heard and being supported by the government is frightening, particularly since there has been little outrage or much in the way of prolonged repercussions against the CPC. Canadians need to start getting angry and start acting now. Complacency is making actions like this possible and repairing the damage will not be easy.

Edit: For a list of all funded tourism events, see this page. Also note how “safe” most of these events are and of the existence of several other large and profitable festivals.

IV. The Girl Effect

And to end on a positive note, please enjoy this video and consider helping out this incredible organization.

The Girl Effect

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