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Breaking the Silence – 2013

This year marks the 16th annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan, and I am (again) proud to be a member of the board working very hard to bring it to you.  This year we are focusing on the idea of finding justice and equality on and off the playing field.

As we all know, the locker room has long been a place of dread for our youth, and that doesn’t always end with high school graduation.  Join us on March 22nd and 23rd and we attempt to throw open the doors, and let a little light, and some fresh air into those dark spaces.  Our topic this year?  Clearing it Out! Removing Homophobia from the Locker Room and Beyond.

You can learn a little more at our facebook event page or at our website!  Hope to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/453413428064685/?

http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

 

…and yes, for those of you who specifically wrote on your evaluations that you’d have liked to have heard a little more from me during last years conference, this year I’ll be offering two sessions.  I do have to admit, I loved the one comment that was written in that simply stated that next year they’d like to see “More Tobi”.  😉

Sex, Gender, and How the Heck I Fit into it All!

When discussing something, relaying a story, or describing an event the logical place to start is at the beginning.  So, with the fifteenth anniversary of Breaking the Silence that would seem to be with Ivan Coyote’s performance on Friday evening.  I’ve got a couple clips that I know you’ll love.

Ivan Coyote speaking at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon Saskatchewan

…However, that’s not where I’m going to start.  I’m going to start at the end.  Or, well…  almost the end.  The last session of the day, before we all gathered for the conference’s conclusion:

“Sex, Gender, and How the Heck I Fit into it All.”

My session.

I had printed 25 of the handouts I’d created, expecting 15 – 20 youth.  We had 176 (it was 176 or 172, I can’t quite remember) registrants, and five options in each session slot.  And with a title like mine, I didn’t expect a huge turnout.  Not when competing against some of the amazing options that were presented this year.  I figured by printing 25, it would give me a little wiggle room, and also allow me to share a few copies with people who were in other sessions, but were still interested in the topics I addressed.

Walking up the stairs to find the room I was presenting in I passed two people who had veered off into the other upstairs lecture hall – I’d attended a session earlier in the day there (a great one by Jim Drake on personal narrative).  I kept walking…  And that was when I realized, the throng of folks walking up the stairs with me were headed into room 103…  into my session.

The room was already packed when I walked in, and more people kept coming.  I was shocked!  And I’ll admit it, I was suddenly nervous.  My throat swelled, my legs felt weak, my stomach did a little turn.  These are not feelings I was used to, however they weren’t entirely foreign either.  I remember them well from the days I first entered politics when I feared I wouldn’t be good enough, days long past now.

George Georget, a fellow member of the board gave my introduction.  He’d asked if there was anything in particular I wanted him to mention.  There wasn’t really, and I told him as much…  but I didn’t want to leave him lacking for something to say, so told him he could always just tell them I was a Mom and photographer.  I didn’t need to be worried.  He had plenty to say, all of it lovely.  I thank him for that.  🙂

I began by apologizing for my lack of handouts, and asked that they share in groups of two and three…  just so everyone could see what I was referring to.  I began handing them out.  Then realized it would be a lot more efficient to enlist a little help.  I handed some to Chance Briere, an absolutely wonderful young man I met this Summer and am proud to call friend, and some to a woman across the row from him and asked for their assistance.

Still feeling a little shaky, and surprised not only by the amount of attendees by also by their diversity (I was expecting youth only, but there was a brilliant array of ages, it was inspiring to see them all gathered for a session I thought would have such narrow appeal), I began to speak.

It took two or three minutes, but I found my voice…  the same as it always was.  Honest, open, and willing to talk about anything.

I didn’t expect the laughs, loud and openly shared.  I didn’t expect the cheers, unbridled and on point.  I didn’t expect the types of questions, asked with heart and intention.  I didn’t expect to inspire or to move people…  but that seems to be what I did.

Very honestly?  I was presenting a mainly informational session.  I knew I wanted it to be more of a discussion than a lecture – but I came prepared with an activity, just in case questions were slow to come.  I didn’t realize that I would touch lives, or give people hope they didn’t arrive with.

To everyone who came up to me afterwards, to shake my hand, to get a hug (or two or three), to share a story, to ask for help…  THANK YOU!  I appreciate each one of you.  You are truly amazing people.  You have touched my life.  You have inspired ME.  And to all of you who wanted to do the same, but for whatever reason felt you couldn’t.  Thank you for being there, for listening, for asking questions, for returning my smiles when I met your eyes during my talk.  I know I won’t change the world, but I believe that you can.

Now, for anyone who would like to see it, here is my handout.  Please feel free to share it wherever and with whomever you like.  I only ask that you refrain from editing it or claiming it as your own.  😛  If there is interest in a printable version (do let me know if that’s something you’d like to see) I’ll find the best way to make that available.

The Gingerbread Person - on Assigned Sex, Sexual Desire, Affection, Expression, Gender, and Orientation.

The Gingerbread Person on Assigned Sex, Sexual Desire, Affection, Expression, Gender, and Orientation.

Breaking the silence, one more year has past.

20120317-193213.jpg

Breaking the Silence. Wow. It was truly an outstanding year, the fifteenth anniversary of this barrier shattering conference. To be honest, I am far too exhausted and overwhelmed to share much just now. However I promise to post videos, photos, and stories in the days to come. For now? I wish you all joy and acceptance through all your journeys. This grrrl needs some down time.

BtS – hurry and register

Just a quick reminder before I’m off to work on my presentation for Breaking the Silence.  The conference is THIS WEEKEND!  Ivan Coyote will be performing on Friday night at 7:00 at the Broadway Theatre.  Tickets will be available at the door for $21, or you can get them for $15 by registering online.  There will also be $6 tickets at the door for Tomboy at 7:00 on Saturday night at the Roxy Theatre.  To attend the conference on the Saturday (which includes admittance to Ivan Coyote) you do need to register online at http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/online-registration.htm   Regular conference enrollment is only $52.50 with a special price of $21 for post-secondary students and the under-employed.  High school students can register for free (but do still need to register online).

More information is available at http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.htm

Breaking the Silence

The last several months I’ve served on (and last month and this month have chaired) the board for Breaking the Silence.  It’s the fifteenth year for this annual conference that focuses on breaking down walls and barriers in education for Sexual Minorities and Gender Queer individuals here in Saskatchewan.

When Don Cochrane (the founder and force behind Breaking the Silence) asked me to join the board this year I couldn’t say no.  The youth of our province deserve the very best we can give them, and helping to bring this conference together is just one way I can help provide that.  And not only am I working behind the scenes, I’ll actually be presenting at the conference as well.  I’ll be leading a session I’ve nicknamed “Gender, Sex, and How the Heck I Fit into it All.”

There will be several “streams” of information presented at Breaking the Silence this year.  My session can be found in the youth stream, but there are also sessions on health, education, and research.  We’ve also got Ivan Coyote presenting the keynote the night leading into the conference.  If you’ve never heard her, I’d say it’s time you did.  She is absolutely fantastic, and has created a new performance piece specifically for this years conference entitled “As Good as We Can Make it:  On bullying, collective responsibility, and actually making it better.”  It should be amazing.

So yeah!  Check it out!  You can find all the details at:  http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.htm  And this year there is even online registration (with different price schedules to fit most any budget – including students and the under-employed).  Want to know more?  Feel free to ask.  Otherwise, I’ll plan to see you there!

Breaking the Silence Poster 2012-1

breaking the silence logo

During the Roadmap Saskatoon Conference

Loved the composition here…  just the way a teacher happened to place her things while listening to a speaker, and loved the way the shadow is playing and interacting with said subject matter.  🙂

glasses, a pen, and a clipboard

Teaching/Learning

At “The Egg Plant”

Today was the first day of Road Map Saskatoon’s sixth annual conference.  This year the topic is sustainability in business.  I’m working as the official photographer for the event, which is much different than my usual photography gigs.  But it’s a good opportunity to broaden my skills, and to take in a fabulous event at the same time.

This shot was taken at the OADBT building.  In it’s former life, the building was the old egg producers plant.  Though the only thing remaining from those days is a beautifully old, stained, concrete floor.

oadbt, the egg plant...  meeting room.

at The Egg Plant.

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