2013 : Year in Review

It's the time of year for reflection and 2013, you were one helluva ride.

Both personally and professionally, 2013 was intense. That's really the best way to describe this past year. It was both intensely amazing and intensely awful. 

This year, I made an effort to document every amazing thing that happened, so that I would have fun on New Year's Eve looking back on every amazing memory of the year.

First and foremost, I launched this very site! Launching Yellow Manteau was a lengthy process that included lots of hesitation. Is it a vanity project or a much needed space? Both? Probably both. But I've had no regrets. It's been a great way to share what I'm doing, connect with new allies and of course, an excellent way of getting lots of hate mail. Ugh.

2013 was also Hollaback! Ottawa's biggest year yet. In February, I naively assumed that meeting with my city councillor about safety for women on public transit would be helpful at best and worse case, an hour of my life I wouldn't get back. I assumed it would be a lot of head patting and 'That's a great idea, but we don't have time right now. Let's talk in six months' and then I'd never hear from them again.

Au contraire, mon frère!

Hollaback! Ottawa blew the fuck up in the media on this issue from the very moment that OC Transpo and City Hall underestimated us and our capacity. The sheer number of media interviews I did this year is proof of how much of an amazing year it was for us. We went from an initial meeting where they were incredibly hostile and dismissive to OC Transpo having to publicly demonstrate they cared about safety.

 

It's minor and far from perfect, but the fact that OC Transpo has to actually advertise their safety measures is a huge victory. Not to mention the existence of their Aretha Franklin-esque R.E.S.P.E.C.T campaign. Yay Hollaback! Ottawa


And because the universe believes very strongly in keeping me humble, moments after an amazing live TV interview about Hollaback! Ottawa's work, some a-hole in a giant SUV slammed into my poor Beetle. I spent weeks in limbo, assuming my baby would be written off but alas, my amazing mechanic came through and not only got her back into tip-top shape, but made sure that her insurance company paid for it! Victory!

Calling out street harassment and blissfully unaware that moments after this interview, some douchecanoe would ruin my day... and my car.

2013 also had me expanding my work horizons. Not only did I do a ton of media, I also got my first published Op/Ed, which of course, brought all the trolls to the yard. I also wrote a piece about my experience of being sexually assaulted by young boys, which brought me the most vile hate mail I've ever received.  I also had the honour of MCing an event for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and a few guest lectures in university classes, which are always great opportunities to reach new audiences.

I got to finally meet the Hollaback! International crew that I've been working with for years via the HOLLA :: Revolution, the first ever anti-street harassment conference. I also had the honour of speaking at it, where I called out the toxicity of feminist movements because I'm always so much fun at parties.

 

Bringing Debbie Downer to NYU in July.

My activist career was able to close a chapter after my years long battle for a sexual assault centre at Carleton University came to fruition. Damn.

But the biggest career pay-off for me in 2013 came this fall with some major accolades.

I won Volunteer Ottawa's Best Volunteer in a Leading Role, which was a major surprise. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless!

I was also named one of 16 role models fighting to end violence against women in their communities. It was a total surprise and a major honour to be listed alongside such badass womyn!

The biggest shock of all came from the news that I was a recipient of the 2013 Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. The highest honour a Canadian feminist can receive, I never in a million years thought that work like mine would be recognized in such a way. But alas, it was!

Accepting the (really freakin' heavy) Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.

It was an intense and chaotic 3 days where I got to rub shoulders with some really fancy people and party alongside my amazing family. It gave me a platform to talk about my work and my impressive family. The Citizen wrote up a lovely profile about me and even old Carleton University had to give me some props! I did an interview on CBC with my Nanna where she spoke frankly about her experiences of violence. I've done lots of media in my day, but I've received more feedback on that piece than any other. My Nanna is all kinds of amazing and I'm totally lucky to have her.

I'm grateful of the timing of the GG award ceremony because shortly thereafter, I almost lost my dad. It was and continues to be really scary and stressful but all signs point to him making a full recovery. I'm grateful for the Governor General award for many reasons, one of which is the fact that I was able to bring my family together for something positive. I'll always cherish that amazing night of partying hard with all my favourite people.

2013 had one more trick up its sleeve. (I told you it was a roller coaster!) After way too many years and way too many hurdles, some of which I documented here, I finished my MA thesis! I have a thesis defense date of early January 2014 and I couldn't be happier.

Considering I began my MA career the same year I began an incredibly long journey of getting a sexual assault centre at Carleton and considering both those things are coming to a close at the same time, I can't help but feel a major sense of closure. Regardless of how others choose to write that herstory, I am 100% confident that I am leaving Carleton University better than when I found it.

And of course, the bitter part of me wants them to name a building after me since I gave them so much goddamn tuition. BUT I'LL GET OVER IT.


2013: You were exciting and exhausting in equal amounts. You kept me on my toes, pushed me to new places and tested my limits. Thanks for the memories!