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My Heartbreak Over the Ghomeshi Verdict

Thursday, March 24, 2016 8:41 AM

I am heartbroken over the Jian Ghomeshi verdict.  There are countless pioneers, trailblazers, advocates, and allies of the violence against women movement that can explain the socio-political and legal implications far better than I can, but I feel its impact deeply.  For all of us that work with One Spark to ensure that women achieve financial independence, we do this work because there is no question that when women lack access or face barriers to resources, their vulnerability to violence is increased exponentially.  Likewise, when a legal system reacts with impunity to punching, choking, and otherwise abusing a woman, that system makes all women vulnerable.  When we treat victims of violence like they have only experienced a crime if they did and said the right thing before, during, and after it happened, that makes all women vulnerable.  When we send the message to survivors of physical and sexual violence that we will employ every legal means and loophole to tear you down before you may or may not see justice, that makes all women vulnerable.

Jian Ghomeshi did not say that he did not hurt women, nor that he did not enjoy it.  But, that wasn’t the issue.  The issue was the role of the women: did they collude, did they reveal all the details, did they lie, did they contact him after the fact…did they…did they…did they…

But, nobody denied he hit them and he choked them.  And nobody denied he held the balance of power while he was hitting and choking them.  Now, he’ll see another day to hit and choke again, as will others that know that the Ghomeshi defence can be their defence and that the complainants’ shame and humiliation can be their victim’s shame and humiliation.

As much as I love the “I believe you”/ "We believe you” hashtags, those of us that work in the violence against women field – and make it our daily mission to broadcast that message to survivors - tend to inherently start from a place of belief, compassion, and trust, so these campaigns and messages reiterate existing systems of support.  The fundamental challenge is to effectively address the flaws in our systems and power structures that critically exacerbate the vulnerability of women.  In time, I know the heartbreak of “not guilty” will translate into a strengthened resolve to make change: it will fuel the work of so many that understand that violence against women and the risk of violence against women are woven into our socio-economic and legal systems and the processes that support them.  And so our work marches on in the hope of a day when #webelieveyou is a systemic starting point and no longer a necessary rally cry for women impacted by violence and re-victimized by the very systems that are supposed to protect them.

With peace and hope,

Corrie Schneider

Executive Director, One Spark

An Amazing Meeting of the Minds: The One Spark Professional Advisory Committee

Saturday, March 5, 2016 11:13 AM

It’s been an incredible thing to watch One Spark, as a new organization, get its footing and become part of the fabric of the charitable sector.  One of the things I know for sure is that bringing the work of an organization to life can only happen if people are willing to put their hand up and say, “I will help you”.  We all know the adage that it takes a village to raise a child: it’s no less true about raising a non-profit organization.   We need a spectrum of skills, expertise, perspectives, viewpoints, and experiences to ensure our programs and services are on point and that we are serving women according to the highest possible standards.

To ensure we are providing exceptional programs to assist women to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship, last year we asked community members to bring forward their unique skill sets and expertise to form the One Spark Professional Advisory Committee.  The role of the committee is twofold: 1) to assess programming and service delivery on an ongoing basis to ensure we are evaluating outcomes, addressing challenges, and dismantling barriers as much as possible; and 2) to serve as direct mentors, advisers, and support systems to women entrepreneurs who may benefit from individual members’ expertise.

What we could not have foretold was the amazing meeting of minds that emerged.  Serendipitously, a fantastically passionate and skilled group of individuals stepped forward to offer their expertise in areas such as legal compliance, new business development, communications, instructional design, and charitable programming and community development.  The most amazing thing about this group is not just that they lend their expertise to One Spark but that they enthusiastically ask the question, “What else can we do?” and before we can answer them, they offer, “Here’s what else I could do…”.  Our small but mighty group is a true micro example of what happens when people roll up their sleeves and commit to bringing their skills to the table.  I’m convinced that what will ultimately and always change things is the generous act of people saying, “Here’s what I can do: how can that be a useful resource for your mission?”.  Indeed, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens changing the world.

On behalf of One Spark, I want to thank the Professional Advisory Committee from the bottom of my heart.  The work of the committee is young and emerging, but the impact is already being felt in profound ways.  You are change-makers and we are so grateful to have you on the journey.

Corrie Schneider,
Executive Director