Tracy Porteous, Recipient, 2014, Governor General Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case
I'm profoundly grateful to be part of a vibrant feminist
movement that has been intensely focused on the epidemic
of violence against women.
Grateful -and I hope this doesn't sound morbid- but
there's been many times I've gone home at the end of the day,
and I've thought, I could die today because I've done my job.
I've had the opportunity to make a difference.
I've had the privilege of sharing sacred time with family
members who've been dealing with senseless murders of
their mothers, or their sisters or their daughters.
I've had the opportunity to work with women who have experienced
violence and survived.
I've had the privilege of working with cabinet ministers
and Indigenous women and immigrant women,
policy makers, academics, police chiefs, coroners,
legal analysts and community activists
all across the country.
I was invited to speak to the UN a few years ago and participate
in a global session on violence against women.
I've been involved in developing cross-sector networks which
are providing huge results in our province,
where we're seeing better informed risk assessments and
more effective safety planning.
And even more than that, we're seeing workers develop empathy
and understanding of each other by bringing people
together across culture, across gender and across community.
This may surprise many people who,
when they hear the word "feminist,"
it conjures up images of bra-burning
and placard-carrying march organizers.
But times have changed.
My own placard is currently in storage.
My bra is firmly in place.
I honour the need for those demonstrations and the doors
that they opened, and even though we are still demanding
change all across our country, our feminists who lead
with compassion and empathy and respect and love.
We know that talking about sexual assault and domestic
violence is really difficult.
We know that people need to be given the time that it
takes to learn to understand to find the words
to have these conversations.
And we also know that regardless of who we are engaging,
that we have more in common than we have differences.
I'd like to end by giving a quick shout-out to the
BC Lions football team.
Five years ago, I approached them with an idea that we would
have men-icons, celebrity sports stars-bring forward a message
to engage boys and other men about violence against women.
That instead of staying silent in the face of disrespectful
attitudes and behaviours, they would ask, on our behalf,
other men and boys to speak up and be more than bystanders.
Now four years later, this multi-award winning campaign has
reached 45,000 students in
B.C. high schools in person.
And our "speak up and be more than a bystander" message
has been viewed well over 116 million times.
So similar to drinking and driving,
we want to make violence against women socially unacceptable.
Since we began, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto
Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton
Eskimos have now followed.
Enough about football though.
Thank you to His Excellencies Governors General David Johnston
and Mrs. Johnston, the amazing Minister Kellie Leitch,
for this great honour.
It's truly, truly profound.
And I want to thank many friends and family
and colleagues as well.
And especially my life partner Becky Ross for continuing to
listen to me go on and on about what still needs to be done in
Canada, for sometimes holding me up and really making
the theory of love real.
Thank you very much.