Nelson cultural ambassador Amy Bohigian believes this may be a watershed moment for women. With high profile cases of rape and sexual assault involving Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby making international headlines recently, she believes society is ready to start addressing some of the systemic violence in our communities.
And closer to home here in the Kootenays, she believes there’s plenty of people ready to stand in solidarity with women who are enduring poverty, domestic abuse and violence.
“Given the recent outings of major celebrities, and with more people acknowledging violence against women, we’ve seen women are getting more support than ever,” she said.
“It shouldn’t be so radical to say ‘I believe you’, but it is. We can finally come together and believe women and support them.”
Bohigian said there are more Kootenay women in need of support than most realize. That’s why she’s hosting Womaginarium, a carnival-themed fundraiser on Friday, November 28. This is the third annual event for the Nelson and District Women’s Centre.
“I think if you asked most people, most of them will personally know at least one women who is struggling with domestic abuse, with affordable housing, with poverty. We all know somebody. And the women’s centre is a huge resource for those people.”
Over the course of the evening she will introducing performances by Oxygen Orchestar, Erin Thomson and the Showcats, Sadie Spins, Slava Doval, Krista Lynch, Lisel Forst, Soniko and others.
“Expect a little bit of everything. It will be a total festival of talent and a feast of random-ness. I look at the lineup and a lot of those names are people you would make a point to go out and see individually, but they’ve brought them all together in one night for these mini-performances under the big top,” said Bohigian.
“It will be a lot of circus mayhem.”
Karoline Kemp, executive director of the women’s centre, said this fundraiser will go towards offering assistance and social programs to a broad swath of the community. They also have education initiatives.
Their mission statement: “Creating healthy community through providing support for women and advancing gender equality”.
And what does that mean from day to day?
“On any given day we have women coming through our doors who have faced violence from home, who don’t have enough to eat and can’t make ends meet. There are women who come through our space that just want a place to be with other women in a supportive environment,” she said.
She said ideally they would tackle larger scale initiatives, and offer more assistance and support, but currently their budget is restrictive. That’s why their annual fundraiser is so crucial to keeping their doors open long-term.
Bohigian said the work the women’s centre does often goes unnoticed, and she hopes the event will bring them plentiful attention.
And though the evening will be plenty of fun, Kemp said the primary focus needs to be on the women in need of the support they offer.
“When you talk to people outside the women’s centre, often they’re surprised to hear about all the cases we’re dealing with. The transition house is almost always full. It’s hard to get a bed in there. That’s a surprise to people,” she said. She hopes it won’t be any longer.
Doors at at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 28 at the Prestige Lakeside Resort. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
Tickets are available at Mountain Baby, Otter Books and the Nelson and District Women’s Centre.