During the last weekend of August 2016, the Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace (NSVOW) held its 4th annual PeacemakeHers Leadership Camp for Young Women at the Thinkers Lodge National Historic Site in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. The charming house and beautiful landscape were the perfect backdrop for the peace camp, as it was the birthplace for the Canadian Peace and International Nuclear Disarmament Movement in the year 1957. One can feel the legacy of peace that hums inside the house’s interiors, as well as see the beauty of the adjoining ocean from atop a spacious and comfortable home deck.
Camp facilitator Shakira Weatherdon was crucial in the success of the 2016 camp; her knowledge and work in inclusivity helped make the diverse group of young women feel at home during their stay. The experiences campers had facilitated much inter-generational dialogue and relationship building amongst the young women who attended, each falling into the 18 to 30 year category.
The camp was opened and closed by Mi’kmaw elder Catherine Martin, who provided insight and knowledge about the responsibilities of the descendants of colonizers with regard to the “Treaty of 1752” and un-ceded Mi’kmaq territories. She also led the revered Blanket Exercise, which was found to be a deep and moving experience to all who participated.
The PeacemakeHers camp prides itself on being accessible and inclusive. As such, every aspect of the camp is free of charge to participants. Transportation subsidies are available to ensure total accessibility.
What do the 2016 camp participants have to say about their experience at the PeacemakeHers camp?
“I deeply enjoyed the PeacemakeHers Camp last summer,” Wrote an anonymous attendee. “It was great as it helped me connect with other young women who share the same values and hold some of the same passions as me.”
This feedback is echoed in another participants’ review. “My experience with attending the 2016 PeacemakeHers was one that opened an incredibly deep well of empowerment for me,” she writes. “I struggle with a lack of confidence and often hold [myself] back. My time at the camp reaffirmed that my path to become a Leader will be accomplished if I persevere… Thank you, NSVOW, for teaching me that I am a powerful woman too!”
Perhaps one camper had summarized the entirety of the experience: “It meant I had the space and distance from my everyday life to think deeply and critically,” she writes.
Where are the 2016 campers now?
Five of the camp participants had the experience of being part of the VOW delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women’s 61st session. Two campers undertook an education project for high school students. Two other campers joined the 2017 PeacemakeHers Camp Planning Committee, and will be mentors at the 2017 PeacemakeHers Camp. The doors that were opened for campers Laura Fisher and Candace Tattrie by attending the 2016 camp are highlighted below.
“PeacemakeHers was a transformational leadership opportunity for me.” Laura Fisher wrote. “Experiences like the Blanket Exercise became templates for events I then created in my community and on my campus to spread awareness about the violence of colonization and the potential for reconciliation. I am still in touch with most of the participants, almost a year later, and we continue to support, inspire, and plan together for future peace work.”
Candace Tattrie also had the ability to create change after attending the camp. “I had the opportunity to connect with other individuals who were working to make the world a better place,” wrote Candace. “These connections allowed me to continue to work for peace in my community, and I am working with another individual I met at the Camp to plan an event at Nocturne (a community art event in Halifax, NS) this year. The Camp also gave me the skills and opportunity to attend the United Nations as a Canadian Voice of Women for Peace delegate at the Commission on the Status of Women 2016, which has been one of the most fundamentally amazing opportunities that I have ever taken part in. I am really glad that I had the opportunity to attend the Camp and make these great connections which are allowing me to continue being a change-maker within my community.”
Are you excited about the prospect of attending a camp of young feminists exploring hard issues facing the women of today, on the beautiful shores of Pugwash Nova Scotia? It’s not too late to sign up! Click on the link below, and fill in your application before July 25th for a chance to attend the 2017 PeacemakeHers Leadership Camp for Young Women!