Changing the World, One Step at a Time


| 2/22/2011 3:16:49 PM


Tags: activism, gender equality, making a difference, Cam Mather,

Sometimes living off the grid, in the bush, miles from humanity, it’s easy to fade into the background and not get involved. But after 30 years of activism old habits are hard to break. Today, as always, there is no shortage of causes to be pursued. I continue to write letters and sit down regularly with my elected representatives, and appear before my township council. I always liked the quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead that goes something like this;

Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." 

I like to take this to its lowest common denominator and remind myself it’s pretty amazing what an individual can accomplish too.

When our daughters were young, Michelle found a great book for me to read called “How To Father Successful Daughters” by Nicky Marone that suggested some strategies for fathers with daughters. It had many great ideas, one of which was that it is important to choose female professionals in your life so that your daughters see women in a wide range of roles. So it was no accident that our accountant, our lawyer, our real estate agent, our dentist and our family doctor were all women. When Nicole and Katie hear the word “Doctor” they envision a female. Right now I’m looking for a forester to help me with some woodlot management and as always I am trying to find a female forester, even though my daughters have grown up and left home. Old habits die hard.

When we lived in the city and our daughters were young, we often headed up to my grandmother’s cottage in Muskoka, a vacation area north of Toronto. I’ve been enjoying this cottage since I was a toddler and so it was wonderful to be able to share it with my own children. When I was a teenager there was a water ski show at the local park put on by group training for competitions. It was a fun Tuesday night with males and females doing all sorts of wonderful tricks on water-skis. After the show the water-skiers wandered throughout the crowd collecting money to fund their training. It was simple, unadulterated fun.

I hadn’t been to the ski show for a number of years when I took our daughters for their very first time. The show was now all fancy and corporate. It was sponsored by a company promoting their audio gear. The show now had a professional commentator on a sound system. Right away I noticed that the males were doing almost all of the skiing. They slalomed, they went over the jumps, they bare-foot skied, and they did the tricks. The women were allowed out when they got to climb on to the men’s shoulders. I was pissed. Poor Michelle. I ranted and I raved. The icing on the cake was when just the women went out into the crowd to collect money. Previously it had been the whole team, men and women, but this time, it was only the women. I was fit to be tied. I asked one of the young women why the guys were doing most of the performing and I remember her saying, “Well, the guys are better at slalom and trick skiing.” Whether they were or not was not the point. This was a fun family night and apparently the corporate culture wasn’t into that.




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