What a year it has been at antidote! Despite the very real challenges of operating a grassroots non-profit network in the midst of an economic downturn, nothing seems to deter the amazing girls and women of antidote, and we have achieved a great deal over the past year.
Several successes are worth highlighting. We welcomed the arrival of Manjeet Birk, our new Executive Director, under whose skilled leadership antidote has undergone a process of restructuring and transformation. We continue to be sought-after presenters, fielding invitations for workshops and keynotes from schools, conferences, and various organizations. This year, our members presented in South Africa, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, and diverse locations in and around Victoria. Our presentations highlight the impact of social exclusion on Indigenous and racialized minority girls and women, who in Canada face the highest risk of gendered and sexualized violence, poverty, lack of access to services, and social, political, and economic isolation. Despite these gaps, antidote maintains a vision for positive social change. Our initiatives bridge community development, engaged research, arts-based methods, and a growing social support network, all developed by and for girls and women. As usual when we present, antidote’s gifted girl presenters tend to steal the show and blow everyone way with their insightful and deeply personal stories.
This year, we also held our most successful Unlabel event to date, launched a fabulous new logo and website, and were nominated for several awards. Our network and Board membership continued to expand. Our unique inter-generational Board structure ensures that girls, young women and women have equal representation in the governance of antidote. To support our growing network, we now hold monthly inter-generational socials where we share skills and knowledge, eat, laugh, celebrate, cry, and bond together. Every month, a team of one girl, one sistah and one auntie plan a special event such as dance, spoken word, and art workshops. These events are integral to the fabric of antidote –it is difficult for activists to sustain their work without the replenishing energy offered by social and relational ties.
Finally, I would like to warmly thank Jin-Sun Yoon (past president), Rosalyn Cua (incoming president) and Manjeet Birk (ED) for their boundless dedication and support. My complete gratitude also goes out to our extremely capable facilitators, Melanie and Letitia, as well as to our board members and countless volunteers, who are the heart and soul of this network. None of this would be possible without their willingness to work within and across multiple sites of difference. Solidarity in action requires constant evaluation, patience, advocacy, social action, and of course, the nurturing power of relationship. Like most grassroots networks, antidote is a work in progress. We continuously evaluate our approach to address gaps. We are innovating engaged methods and funding sources through social enterprising, and seeking strategies for partnering with an increasingly diverse community network. Whether through our always inspiring We’re Just Sayin’ Gurlz Club, our skilled and dedicated sistahs, or the administrative and visioning support of our aunties, antidote continues to provide a much-needed space for the voices of racialized girls, young women, and women. My year as antidote president has been humbling, inspiring, and rejuvenating. I am truly in awe of the amazing girls and women I work with, and am thankful for their continued energy and support!
As always, we welcome new members to our network. Do not hesitate to drop by antidote events, or contact us for further information about our initiatives.
In good spiritSandrina de Finney Antidote President