Lisa McGeady speaks to a crowd during the West Kootenay Women’s Association’s annual general meeting last week. Photo: Tyler Harper

Nelson Women’s Centre elects new board at tense annual general meeting

The three-hour meeting was dictated by a recent settlement

Fallout from a lawsuit settlement, questions about gender inclusion and uncertainty over the future of the Nelson and District Women’s Centre lingered over an extraordinary annual general meeting last week.

Whereas most local AGMs begin with an already elected board sitting in front of perhaps 10 to 20 people, the West Kootenay Women’s Association’s AGM started Dec. 4 with a row of empty chairs where directors would have sat and a standing-room only crowd that packed a room at the Adventure Hotel.

The evening’s agenda was dictated by the terms of a court order filed in Nelson Supreme Court in November after a lawsuit in August brought by members Donna Macdonald and Lisa McGeady, who alleged they had been ousted from the centre following a contentious 2018 AGM.

Macdonald and McGeady’s lawsuit said the former board was contravening the Societies Act and not acting according to the association’s constitution.

The ensuing settlement required Macdonald and McGeady to be reinstated as members and allowed to attend the centre; an interim board to be elected prior to the AGM; consideration for two bylaw amendments and four member proposals; and for the meeting to be run by Robert’s Rules of Order and feature typical aspects of an AGM including presentation of financial statements and the election of a new board.

That led to a very unusual AGM.

Before the proceedings began, a long lineup of people were waiting to sign up as members. Groups could be seen discussing how they would vote, and a pamphlet was handed out promoting the names of nine people for election “who care about the inclusion of our marginalized community members — including Indigenous women and people of all marginalized genders.”

When the meeting began it was run by Alison Sayers, who was designated chair for the evening by the court order, as well as volunteer and program co-ordinator Axel McGown.

Despite the clear tension in the room, the three-hour meeting was mostly civil. Sayers set the tone early by noting the importance of completing the meeting’s agenda in order to secure necessary funding for the centre.

Only twice was there any vocal opposition from the crowd.

One member protested when an employee of Wharfhouse Green Financial Solutions presented the financial statements and pointed out a $7,500 drop in funding from the B.C. Gaming Commission, which she attributed to lack of management from the previous board.

That board, she added, failed to register its charity information with the Canada Revenue Agency prior to the March deadline, which put the society’s charitable tax status at risk. Still, the centre ended the year in the black with $9,260 excess revenue over expenses.

Boos also erupted during candidate speeches when Nancy Rosenblum expressed her support for women-born women. That term is considered offensive by transgender advocates, and Rosenblum’s use of it touched on one of the underlying tensions of the meeting over who should have access to the centre.

Rosenblum, however, was among the candidates later elected to the board.

Seventeen candidates ran for the board. Elected directors include: Amanda Phoenix, Avery Alder, Devon Brown, Mary Whitlock, Sarah Albertson, Yvette Janzen, founding member Vita Luthmers, Shamim Pourfarshomi, Shonna Hayes, Sawah Danniels and Rosenblum.

The three-hour meeting ended with a final motion that the new board investigate the causes of the since-rescinded member bans and privately relay them to the people involved. That motion passed.

The 46-year-old women’s centre had 1,483 visits from people in need of its services last year, 207 of whom were children. The centre received and redistributed 4,650 pounds of food as well as 6,767 pounds of clothes.

— With files from Bill Metcalfe

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Alison Sayers chaired the meeting after being designated to the role by a court order. Photo: Tyler Harper

Most local AGMs feature 10 to 20 people. This was not a typical AGM. Photo: Tyler Harper

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

CHECK THIS OUT: Library offers Summer Reading Club with a twist

There won’t be in-library drop-ins, but there will still be many opportunities to connect with books

New dugouts, netting among renos underway at Queen Elizabeth Park

The Nelson Baseball Association is in the middle of a three-year park revitalization

LETTER: Lockdowns are effective

From reader Brenda D. Cooper

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Most Read