Nelson’s women’s centre is the oldest in rural Canada — it’s been going strong for 42 years — and you can help contribute to that legacy by attending the annual Womaginarium fundraiser at the Prestige on Friday evening. The night will feature carnival-style fun, enthusiastic performers and plenty of feminine energy. And it’s all for a good cause.
“I am getting really excited about the performances, with stellar local talent including acrobatics, hoop dancers, music and burlesque,” co-ordinator Jennifer Gawne told the Star. “We have even managed to the get the Circus Act Insomniacs to perform!”
She said they’ve decided to stick with the carnival theme to “honour all the freaky cool performers and artisans we have in this area.” Those will include, among others, dance troupes The Showcats and The Martinis.
“We have a lot of dance this year, but we’ve been very careful to honour all perspectives,” said Gawne. “Online there was a bit of a conversation started around this, and whether burlesque and cabaret were appropriate for this event, but we’re coming from a place of supporting women’s power.”
She said their intent is to “let their freak flag fly,” a freedom they might not have had in the past.
“I think this is an exciting and empowering time to be alive,” said Gawne. “With the gender-equal cabinet that was recently introduced, and the way things have been going in Canada over the last month, it really feels we’ve had a voice for women and for men. This night is going to highlight that movement and that energy.”
When she was first sat down to interview for the women’s centre position, Gwane was asked what feminism means to her. She believes her generation has been uniquely positioned to demand the respect and opportunities they deserve.
“We’ve grown up in a time where we can access what we want, and ask for it. Any thing boys can do, girls can do.”
Eighty per cent of the local performers are women, said Gwane, something that speaks more to the overabundance of talent in the area and less to their selection process. One of them will be hoola-hooper Amy Farrish, also known as “Her Royal Purpleness.”
“There will be a cool art installation and a whole variety of things to feast your eyes on.”
If you’re interested in having your body live-painted, Kootenay artist Alexis Stafford will be offering her services by donation. Meanwhile Lotus Thai Massage will be offering foot massages all evening. Tarot reader Shonna Hayes will have a mystic tent open for her third year in a row.
Gwane said some in the community think of the women’s centre exclusively as a place for those in crisis, but their mandate is larger than that.
“It’s more like a community centre, with this beautiful remodelled kitchen where any woman can come to bake cookies. There’s art and cooking classes, and a garden any woman can come work on. Then there’s the people who just drop in, have tea, chat.”
There will also be a silent auction that includes tickets to the 2016 Shambhala Music Festival, day passes to Whitewater Ski Resort, body work services and holiday gifts.
All proceeds from the night will go towards maintaining the operation of the Nelson Women’s Centre. According to their website, their “objectives have not changed from 1972 to today.”
The women’s centre aims to work towards the “creation of a world free of oppression”, provides support and resources for women and girls to advance their gender equality, and provides a safe place where women can organize around their needs and access a feminist library. It is located at 420 Mill St.
Womaginarium begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Prestige Hotel.