PEI

The “Microphone” Project: Using Music to Turn a Violent Sexual Assault into Education on Consent in PEI Schools

Written by Jenene Wolldridge, (WeavEast Fellow PEI)

Kinley Dowling grew up with parents as musicians. They were always listening to music and going to see concerts and playing concerts. She was playing violin in a rock band called Hey Rosetta!, for 10 years when a couple of years ago they decided to take a hiatus. She had been recording violin on other artists’ albums for years and decided (with the encouragement of a couple of friends) that she should write her own songs. She released a duo album with my cousin Liam Corcoran, and later recorded an album of my own songs. She had written a few and really enjoyed the experience. Her album was almost ready to start recording and she wrote this final song called ‘Microphone’. It was the fastest song she had ever written. It just poured out of her and through her pen. It didn’t take her long to write down all the feelings she had about this experience in her life, she had been thinking about it for 15 years.

She was raped at her high school prom party in a field. It really changed her. She had so many things she wanted to say but kept silent for years because she didn’t want to face the reality of what happened, even though dealing with it on her own...and it was slowly boiling up inside of her. One day she was so angry she sat down with pen and paper and this song which conveys what happened that night of the prom party, how she felt, and how she feels now just flowed right out of her. Since releasing the song into the world she has had close friends that have confided that a similar thing happened to them, and they really loved the way the song made them feel stronger. She felt very unsure of how people were going to react but now is so happy that the response has been so positive.

“I am so lucky to be friends with Jenna MacMillan, a film maker from PEI. She recorded me telling her exactly what happened in detail of the night of my prom. She loved the song I wrote and we decided to make a music video to go along with the song. She attached my 5 minute testimonial to the beginning of the music video. We, with our friend Maria Campbell, approached some people to see if it would be possible to get this music video available for schools to watch.”

What happened next was a miracle. After a lot of hard work from so many people on the task team from the Premier's Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention Youth Engagement Working Group and the PEI Board of Education, the music video is now the basis for four new modules on Consent, Sexual Assault, Gender Norms, and Bystander Roles. It is available for grade 9 Health classrooms across PEI.

https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/sites/default/files/publications/microphone_project_module_1_consent_web.pdf (download Consent Module 1 of 4).

This is the best news that could have come from such a horrible incident. Kinley’s work is part of something that is going to change the future in a positive way.

“I have always been a feminist and since releasing this song my will to make the world safer and better for women and LGBTQ has only gotten stronger. I have learned that if you are honest with yourself, life is easier to live. Speaking out about what happened to me was the hardest but also the best thing I ever did in my life. I am so proud of PEI for adding these important new modules to the grade 9 curriculum. I hope in the future that other provinces across Canada will use them as well.”

Recently there was a story on CBC’s The National (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1FEgfzye8U&fbclid=IwAR2aMKSdyAN7L4wdMpMwbatTKmnN8RQSPXy7toHqihTrzIh7NBC2A75zc2k) about the song being in schools and the students seem to really appreciate what they’re learning, and they know that learning about consent is a very important life skill.

Kinley’s Inspiration:

  • Attiya Khan (whose incredible film “A Better Man” changed my life)

  • Rona Ambrose (lobbying to mandate sexual assault training in the Supreme Court of Canada)

“I was in the legislature on the day Rona Ambrose visited to help Jamie Fox promote a similar bill in PEI. It was passed in PEI. A first for Canada!” — Kinley Dowling, Singer/Songwriter

What is Reset:Breathe ?

Written by Jenene Wooldridge, (WeavEast Fellow PEI)

reset:breathe is an online wellness community that streams live or on demand fitness classes to subscribers. Our community includes various fitness options like HIIT, pilates, Yoga and weight workouts as well as nutrition sessions & challenges, cooking classes and other wellness specialists as special guests. Beyond that, reset:breathe is a positive vibes only community on a mission to empower women and men to take time for themselves, value their health and make it a priority meanwhile helping to build self-esteem and confidence. We want to cheer people on their path to being a happier, healthier and more confident version of themselves.

How did you come to this work? / What drives your interest in this work?

I have been a personal trainer, pilates instructor and coach for over 15 years but have been active my whole life. As a little girl I remember watching running races my parents were in and just feeling so inspired. I didn't know that I would do this for a living, I went to university and got a business degree but started teaching fitness classes on the side. It was my side hustle but what I loved way more than may day job.

After having my 4th child 3 years ago, I felt very overwhelmed and knew that I needed to change something. I wanted to create a business that would allow me to work from home yet keep still doing what I'm passionate about. I knew there were many other people out there, like me, who needed things to be easier so I decided to try it. Exercise for me, has always been important, but it wasn't until I became a parent that I truly understood how important it is for our mental health. If I'm stressed, if I feel overwhelmed or even if I feel tired, taking those few minutes to sweat always completely shifts my mood. My family feels that benefit and so does everyone around me. Everyone is a better version of themselves after they exercise and the positive ripple effect it has on their community often gets overlooked. It's huge. When we better ourselves, we better everyone. I love to be a small part of that driving force for people.

Who are other key partners in this work?

I have an incredible team of very positive, high vibe people. We all believe in the message that life is as good as we make it and it's up to each individual to make it the best we can. Our team all shares the same values that our health is our greatest asset and we all work to share that message with others. "If you have your health you have 1000 dreams. If you don't, you have one." Our motto.

How can other people support/get involved in this work?

I believe that there is a busyness epidemic that exists in our society today. Too many people are burning themselves out trying to be everything for everyone. I think the more we share the message to slow down, breathe, exercise, remove things from our calendar we don't need etc, the more it gives permission for others to do the same. Life is beautiful and life is meant to be enjoyed. Take a walk, have a nap, call an old friend. Create time for hygiene for the soul and encourage those around you to do the same. It's incredibly liberating.

What do you think the city, province, network or policymakers could do to better support this work?

To expand on the last answer, I would love to see more workplaces, policymakers etc, share this message. We can work hard at the really important things, but at the end of the day, that list should be small. We all have things that are really important to us and that are our absolute priorities and that is where our energy should go. The rest can go.

I would also love to see workplaces taking part in more walking meetings, or encouraging their employees to get up and move around throughout the day. The research overwhelmingly shows the positive effects even short bursts of exercise has on our brain and it automatically improves our workplace performance. Not only that, it makes us happier. A happier, more efficient workplace is an absolute win win.

How do you share stories about the progress and the work?

Social media is a vehicle I use daily. I share about my life, my family and my commitment to being healthy. My hope is that by showing I have struggles and obstacles but still make sure to commit to my health, I will inspire others to do the same. I also encourage my community members to do the same. I know not everyone likes to share on social media, and they don't have to, but I think the more living, breathing examples we have of people valuing their health, the more inspired we can make others to do the same.

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What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?

In 10 years I would love to live in a society where people feel more peace with themselves. To dig deeper into that- I hope we live in a society where people can stop comparing themselves to others. I hope people can find inner peace by focusing on what lights them up, what gives them joy and what makes them the best version of themselves. I want people, especially our young girls, to grow up to be confident women. I want us to stop teaching our young girls that they have to be everything for everyone and that looking after your own health and well being is the key to a better community all around. Just imagine if every individual did that? The happier our people, the happier our community and the more contentment and peace is felt all around. I feel like we are currently in a society where people are living their lives at full speed and it's time to change that.

Recharge Atlantic: Promoting Health, Wellbeing and Personal Development for Women and Girls

Written by Jenene Wooldridge, (WeavEast Fellow PEI)

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Lynn Anne Hogan established Recharge Atlantic to encourage, empower and inspire primarily girls and women to live consciously and to the fullest. With a focus on health, wellbeing and personal development, Recharge Atlantic aims to promote living life intentionally with full potential.

Lynn Anne focuses on delivering events and public speaking focused primarily on girls and women. Her message - Today’s women have to juggle what seems like an infinite number of responsibilities: career, family, money, health, friends, and the list goes on. At some point, we have to take a step back – evaluate what is really important to us and start to create a life that is designed to help you reach your full potential. Regardless of your age or circumstance, it is never too late to make a change.

“I’ve always had a love for helping people and I’m slightly obsessed (ok, totally obsessed) with planning events which is the reason I created Recharge Atlantic. I realized that so many of the women that I meet are living their lives in “fast-forward” mode and just “trying to get through” each day. And I totally get it. I know that as women, we tend to put others first and we try to fit ourselves in if (and I mean if) we have time and energy left at the end of the day. Ladies, it’s time to Recharge.”

While establishing Recharge Atlantic, Lynn Anne has worked in careers in the field of sport, recreation and health care, working with people on a daily basis to help them live more active and healthier lives.

Lynn Anne strives to deliver an intimate, and honest presentation tailored to encourage, empower and inspire women to focus on “being your all” rather than “having and doing it all”. Through these events, she works with women to deliver the content. Surrounded by so many talented, strong and inspiring women, she uses her events to help share their information and network.

“I don’t want any women to tell me that she’s just trying to get through every day. I want women to be excited about their lives and I want us ALL OF US to realize that taking time for yourself is not selfish – it’s necessary. We all need to find a way to Recharge every single day.”

Recharge retreats were held in PEI in 2016 and 2017. Her next retreat will take place in Wellington, Prince Edward Island on October 4-5, 2019. More information can be found on Facebook or on the Recharge Atlantic website.

- Jenene Wooldridge, WeavEast Fellow (PEI)

An example of Indigenous Social Enterprise: Epekwitk Lanyards

Written by Jenene Wooldridge (WeavEast Fellow, Prince Edward Island)

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Epekwitk Lanyards is an Indigenous social enterprise that is driven to create long-term sustainable business and employment opportunities through the production of hand beaded lanyards by Abegweit First Nation. The funding for Epekwitk Lanyards is made available through the Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) with The Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island’s Employment Services.

The SPF Project was established in 2017 with a group of beaders from Abegweit First Nation. In the initial days of the program beaders would pick up a kit that would allow them to bead at home 25 lan yards and return them for quality control and payment. This has evolved over the years into a social enterprise that allows beaders the opportunity to work in a team environment to complete lan yards orders for conferences across Canada. The project is accommodating to employees assisting with barriers that they have experienced to employment. Through mentorship, training and workplace essential skills each employee works on individual action plans to meet employment criteria.

What was the inspiration for your business?

The inspiration behind the business was a way to teach the Mi’kmaq culture through hand crafted beaded lanyards. The lanyard is a direct representation of the connection between each bead and each colour of man working together to create something beautiful and meaningful. All lanyards are unique and can be ordered in custom colours or the traditional four scared colours. Each lanyard is smudged before packaged for sale.

How does this contribute to social innovation?

All employees are hired on a piece work contract for upcoming lan yards wholesale orders. Employees that complete piece work contracts are unemployed receiving Employment Insurance or Social Assistance. The piece work offers them an opportunity to receive extra earnings while working in a supportive environment gaining soft skills that will advance them in their employment journey and the business development of Epekwitk Lanyards.

What challenges are you facing?

Human Resources - Resistance and delay in bringing about change

Social Entrepreneurs sometimes need to change people’s thinking and behaviors to make a social impact. Changing how people think and behave in society is very challenging and the benefits can take time to materialize. Epekwitk Lan Yards has taken a few steps back over the past couple of months in order to properly plan and move the program forward. There has been high expectations placed on the program and its participants because of the value for Epekwitk Lanyards Social Enterprise and Abegweit First Nation.

Infrastructure – Where do we go from here

Epekwitk Lan yards started small with a big vision. The program up until this year was housed in the Abegweit First Nation Band Office. This was suffice for the production team of beaders but with growth and the vision Epekwitk Lan Yards needed a space of their own that could offer more opportunity for retail sales and exposure. Unfortunately, the community in Scotchfort does not have a building at this time to house the project. Epekwitk Lan Yards has moved to the Echo Tourism Centre in Mount Stewart (3 kms) from Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort, PE. While moving the project forward in the new space, efforts continue for funding opportunities for infrastructure to get the project back into the community!

For more information on Epekwitk Lanyards please contact Partnership & Business Developer, Chelsey Andrews at candrews@mcpei.ca