Thursday, June 26, 2008

Statement by Inés Alberdi, UNIFEM Executive Director

"Wartime sexual violence has been one of history's greatest silences. Yesterday's unanimously-adopted Security Council Resolution 1820 ends - once and for all - the debate on whether systematic sexual violence belongs on the Council agenda. In the words of United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, who chaired the debate, "today we respond to that lingering question with a resounding yes".

Never before has sexual violence been so explicitly linked with the maintenance of international peace and security. Long dismissed as the collateral damage of war, systematic rape has become a means of achieving political and military ends. Now more than ever - with civilians increasingly under attack - action is needed.

The resolution signals to past and would-be perpetrators that the world's foremost security institution is watching. It urges sanctions for violations and calls for the Secretary-General to report on implementation. To recognize sexual violence as a security issue is to justify a security response. Building upon Security Council Resolution 1325 (October 2000) on Women, Peace and Security, Resolution 1820 strengthens the focus on prevention, protection and ending impunity.

UNIFEM has helped to shape this agenda from the outset, drawing new attention to the oldest crime of war. In the lead-up to yesterday's debate, UNIFEM brought a women's rights activist from Eastern DRC to address the Council in an informal session. She painfully described how sexual violence holds entire communities hostage: women cannot access markets or water-points; children cannot safely get to school.

Indeed, the Council recognized that there can be neither peace nor security so long as communities live under the shadow of sexual terror "as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group". The resolution calls for parties to armed conflict to step-up efforts to protect women and girls from targeted attack.

This brings policy into alignment with international law, as reflected in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the evolving jurisprudence of the ad hoc war crimes tribunals. It sends an unequivocal message: there will be no amnesty for sexual violence. This puts the international community squarely on the side of rape survivors, who have long suffered blame and shame in the absence of any formal accountability.

Last month, UNIFEM co-organized a conference at Wilton Park asking what can be done to prevent sexual violence. As background, UNIFEM assembled and distributed an Analytical Inventory of emerging good practice on security strategies that work to protect women and curb sexual violence. Acknowledging that practical gaps have policy roots, participants - military peacekeepers, Security Council members, troop contributors and UN agencies - stressed the need for the Council to recognize the targeted use of sexual violence as a matter of international peace and security. Former Deputy Force Commander Major General Patrick Cammaert said it was now "more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in Eastern DRC". The conference report was issued as an official Security Council document during the June 19th debate (S/2008/404).

UNIFEM recognizes that we cannot stop sexual violence without empowering women. During the Security Council's mission to Africa this month, UNIFEM arranged for women's civil society groups to speak directly with Council members. The impact of these testimonies was echoed in yesterday's debate.

Sexual violence is a defining characteristic of the changing nature of contemporary conflict. Resolution 1820 shows that the Security Council is responding to this new reality. Sexual violence is a tactic of choice for armed groups - cheaper, more destructive, and easier to get away with than other methods of warfare - until now. Yesterday's historic resolution raises the political, economic and military cost of such crimes. The Security Council resoundingly recognized that durable peace can never be built on women's silent suffering."

Wilton Park Conference Report:

Security Council Resolution 1820:


UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women's human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UNIFEM focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war. For more information, visit UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Tel: +1 212 906-6400 . Fax: +1 212 906-6705.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cricket for the Caribbean people is like Hockey for the Canadians - they go wild with the game. Thanks to Kamta Singh and his team, Cricket may become a household name in Winnipeg before long. Here are some recent photos of the game in action.

Resurgified Virgins

Friday, June 20, 2008

Winnipeg - Keep your eyes on Lisa Bell

Lisa Bell, Winnipeg's R & B singer has made it to the top 21 of the Canadian Idol. I watched her on TV this week and she was strong and confident as ever. Go Lisa go! We're hooting for you. Good luck.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Taxi Car drivers battle for turfs
The old hands at this taxi cab game are trying to keep out newcomers. They do not want to play fair. They want to hog the profits for themselves. This is a democracy guys with free enterprise economy and I think everyone deserves a chance to make a living in the way he wants. This business of protecting turfs with legislation is wrong and I believe totally against free enterprise. With more taxicabs competing for business the customer benefits.

Recently on CBC SEED Winnipeg announced it is working with a group of taxi drivers who are seeking to launch a worker-owned taxi cooperative in Winnipeg. This cooperative has the potential for improving the working conditions for over one hundred drivers, many of whom are newcomers. In order to assess the viability of the cooperative, we require information regarding taxi usage in Winnipeg. Please take this opportunity to share your experience with taxis in Winnipeg!
Way to go Winnipeg - just get on with the job and let them howl!
Winnipeggers are taking control of their city as Winnipeggers do - Enough is enough and when we take actions it's real. Winnipeggers have successfully launched many causes that are still flourishing here and in other parts of Canada. We love our city and want to make it into a place anyone would want to live and raise a family, so let's get to it - here is the information - see you on the 16th - do not sit at home and complain, do something about it then you can have the right to complain:

Founding meeting for the Winnipeg Citizens' Coalition coming this Monday, June 16th, Carol Shields Room, at the Millennium Library, 7:00 pm! For the last 8 months, members of the community have been coming together to talk about common issues and share their vision of Winnipeg. We are now ready to formalize the organization, and move forward.

Winnipeg is a wonderful city and we believe the people who live and work here need to have a voice in how it is managed.

We ask that you forward this invitation to your networks. We hope to have many people sign for memberships but all those in attendance will be eligible to vote at the election of the coordinating executive committee.

Check out the web site at for more about the WCC. We strive to have this organization be as inclusive and as democratic as possible. A Nominating Committee will be presenting a slate of potential candidates for co-chairs of the various working committees but we there will be an opportunity for nominations from the floor as well.

Our hope is that the "business meeting" portion will be quite short so we can hear from our guest speaker, Shellie Bird, who comes from Ottawa's Citizens' Committee (and has been active with Child Care) which was founded two years ago. The organizing committee members hope that we can learn from their experience.

Thanks to all of you for your interest and support.

Mary Scott
Interim co-chair

Winnipeg Heats up again with the Socca Reggae Festival

The Caribbean ‘SPIRIT’ returns for another exciting Winnipeg Festival at Old Market Square in downtown Winnipeg. The 2008 Soca-Reggae Festival will be a three day weekend of non-stop celebration of Soca, Reggae and Calypso music with performers coming from across Canada and North America to provide live performances on July 11th, 12th and 13th, 2008.

Get ready for three nights of music, dancing, drinks, friends and fun with reggae and soca performers, both local and international.

The air will be filled with the sweet smell of Caribbean and Latin flavors. Foods such as jerk chicken, peas and rice, patties, curry goat, roti and much more will create the Old Market Square into a Caribbean Village.

With all this and more, the 2008 Soca-Reggae Festival in Winnipeg will be a weekend of entertainment, food and culture. This is an all age’s event with a licensed ‘beverage’ garden and merchandise tents.

The 2008 Soca-Reggae Festival is a simple love of this beautiful Caribbean culture that brings people together from all races, classes and creeds in a celebration of Soca, Reggae, Calypso and revelry together with Caribbean flavors in downtown Winnipeg at Old Market Square in the heart of the Exchange District BIZ.
It's gonna be hot, hot, hot

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Canada Apologizes to Aboriginals.

Today Prime Minister Harper Apologizes to the Aboriginal People for the Residential School Debacle

Between the late 19th Century and the late 1970s, about 150,000 aboriginal children in Canada were taken from their home and forcefully sent to boarding schools, known as residential schools.

Originally an extension of the missionary work of various churches, the schools began receiving state funding in 1874, after the government moved away from a policy of fostering aboriginal autonomy and sought instead to assimilate aboriginals into mainstream society.

Many Winnipeggers are emotional about this day. Some welcome it and others think it has come a little too late.

Schools are participating in the event by having their students watch the event on TV. It's a great first step, let's see what policies follow to put this apology into concrete action.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Sun Was Out for Gay Pride Parade

After that frightening rain on Friday and Saturday the sun shone brightly over Winnipeg for another successful year of Gay Pride in the city. The numbers are not out as yet but I am sure it would be another record setting year. There are more young people than ever and the diversity is growing in terms of Black men and women, Asian, Africans and other bi-racial groups. Many straight people also participate to show support for family and friends who may be gay.
This year's theme was "we are stronger together". The headliner was the Weird Sisters. Somehow they were not as good as they were. The harmony was great but I was expecting more from this group.
On the other hand the Rainbow Choir was fantastic. They were just fabulous. I enjoyed them at the food of the Legislature before the parade.
That's all for now. I'll see if I find some pictures for the next instalment.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Women's Division Established - Fusion of Women's Directorate and Manitoba Women's Advisory CouncilWe are pleased to announce that the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council is moving to 409-401 York Avenue (the Norquay Building). On June 12, 2008, the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council will be joining the Women’s Directorate to form the new Status of Women Division.

We are also pleased to inform you that all services we provided in the past will be available. In fact, we have a larger space available for our community partners, including a photocopier and eventually a computer. We also hope to be able to provide additional support to our community partners. All staff telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and the FAX number will remain the same. The Council will continue to be an important component of the Status of Women Division. Currently the Council consists of a Chairperson and 12 council members appointed by the provincial government. The council continues to reflect the diversity of Manitoba Women. Members come from rural, urban and northern communities.

The goal of the Division is to identify the needs and concerns of Manitoba women, raise awareness of women’s issues and provide strategic advice to the Government of Manitoba to ensure these needs and concerns are integrated into public policy, legislation and programs. The Division will work towards achieving its goal, in part, by fostering partnerships with community organizations and other government programs.

We hope to host an Open House sometime in the near future.
Winnipeg Free Press

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Apology with a splash
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) will be hosting not only a televised viewing of the Prime Minister's apology to the Aboriginal people with respect to their Residential school experience but will also be giving away free lunch to those who have survived this injustice along with their grandchildren, children and others. This will take place on June 11 at the Radisson Hotel, downtown Winnipeg. Gathering and lunch will be in the Provincial Ballroom at noon followed by speeches.
"Finally the Government of Canada is officially acknowledging the horrific abuses its policies inflicted upon our people" says AMC Grad Chief Ron Evans "Let us all come together to support one another at this historic and emotional time".
Check out this historic moment and while you're at it have a free lunch. It's a celebration of justice and change.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New Political Party in Winnipeg?

Winnipeg Citizen Coalition founding meeting will be held on June 16, 2008. Guest speaker Shelly Bird of People for a Better Ottawa Coalition will share her experiences.

I guess it is not a party in the traditional sense but a party that will represent the citizens with the municipal government. A by-law will be passed at this meeting and so the show will be on the road.

This Coalition will look at transportation, crime, innercity revitalization, planned economic growth, youth issues, Aboriginal issues, water issues - say this will be a shadow municipal government.

Good luck and I urge citizens to empower themselves and participate fully. Don't leave the city in the hands of a few. We all have a stake in it.
The event will be June 16th at the Millennium Library, Carol Shields Room.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sars Doctor Dies at only 51 years old

Dr. Sheela Basrur, was an unknown physician until Sars hit Canada in 2003 when her voice became the voice of authority on Sars as the medical officer of health for the City of Toronto.

According to CBC news, Dr. Basrur resigned her position in December 2006 after being diagnosed with a rare soft-tissue and blood vessel cancer — hemangiopericytoma.

In April, Basrur was awarded the Order of Ontario for public service for her leadership during the deadly SARS outbreak.

This is pretty sad for all of us especially when she had so much more to contribute. One wonders whether exposure to SARs in any way shape or form contributed to this rare form of cancer or the stress of that period just was too much for her immune system.

Royal Watch

The Earl of Wessex, 44 year old Prince Edward, the Queen and Prince Philip' youngest child is in Winnipeg tonight to do what the Royals do best, present fitting awards to deserving people for things they have done that benefit the community. He visited families of soldiers who are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and said he has close connection to the Canada's military. He met with Premier Gary Doer briefly as a kick off to his three-day-visit to the Province. He will visit the Children's Hospital, Royal Winnipeg Ballet

The visit to Manitoba is being organized by the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which promotes volunteerism and personal growth among youth aged 14 to 25. Edward is the international chair of the award program, which has been operating in Canada since 1963.

The prince will host a reception at the Hotel Fort Garry later in his three-day visit to recognize 100 young Manitobans honoured by the award, as well as recipients of the premier's volunteer service awards and other awards for bravery and heroism.