“Honouring Our Past, Planning Our Future”

News & Events

“Honouring Our Past, Planning Our Future”

January 28, 2008

Canadian Deaf Women’s Conference 2007
by Leanor Vlug

After five years of planning and a lot of hard work, the dream of having a national Deaf Women’s Conference became a reality during the week of August 13 to 18, 2007.

The CDWC 2007 was held at the University of B.C. Registration started in the afternoon at Gage Towers Residence, where many of the out of town participants and conference committee members and volunteers stayed in shared suites or rooms. The week’s events started with the evening Welcome Reception in the Student Union Building’s ballroom. Chairwoman Janice “JJ” Jickels welcomed everyone on behalf of the CDWC committee, and introduced Evelyne Goutenenzi, the C.A.D. Projects Coordinator and staff liaison. Evelyne brought greetings from the C.A.D. Board and staff. CDWC Secretary Leanor Vlug gave a brief history of how the Conference started and recognized the many contributions of Deaf women, past and present.

The next morning, Marilyn J. Smith, Executive Director of ADWAS (Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Service) gave the Keynote Speech at the SUB ballroom. Marilyn’s topic was “A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far: Wisdom from a Life” where she talked about how one act of violence changed her life forever, leading her to create an organization where Deaf women could find a safe place to escape from violence, and to teach others and their communities how to deal with the subject of domestic violence. Marilyn’s speech made a big impact on every woman present…leading them to become more involved in the two days of workshops and Thursday plenary and group discussions.

There were 24 workshop sessions, including 3 of yoga and two large group and 13 small discussion group sessions from Tuesday to Thursday. The final large group session was very powerful, as the various small groups told their hopes and priorities for the needs of Deaf women of Canada. The information will be distributed to the C.A.D. and other affiliate groups, as well as to all who attended the conference.

The participants had a wealth of activities to choose from after the workshops – as the UBC campus had many places to go shopping, eating and drinking, or just going for a walk. There were evening events as well, Tuesday’s was the Evening of Storytelling with Denise Read and Dawn Stoyanoff, Wednesday’s was An Evening with James Rogers – Fashion Show featuring local women as models, and Thursday’s Evening of Entertainment with Chrissy Steele, ASL poet and Angela Straity – Comedienne. The Tuesday and Thursday events were open to the community, while the Fashion Show was just for the Conference participants.

Friday was a day of “rest” for most of the participants, although some women went shopping or sightseeing by public transit or by car. Others had to leave earlier, but a good number stayed for the Saturday brunch, where C.A.D. President Sheila Carlin shared the C.A.D.’s appreciation and recognition to the CDWC Organizing Committee. The CAD-ASC and other groups and individuals were recognized by the CDWC committee with Certificates of Appreciation and select photographs by local professional photographer (and interpreter) Sheryl R. Smith. All presenters had likewise received certificates and photographs at the end of their workshops.

Many women then travelled from UBC to Richmond for the big social event of the year – the annual Corn Party put on by the Greater Vancouver Association of the Deaf and other groups. It was a truly Westcoast ending to a hectic week.

The Conference would not have been possible without the support of many people and groups – including the members of the interpreting community, service agencies and organizations. Hand-waving “applause” goes to the ASL and LSQ interpreters who worked tirelessly to provide clear communication to all participants, Deaf and hearing, during the week’s events.

The Organizing Committee extends enormous thanks to the Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada and the Deaf Community Foundation of BC (DCF). The CAD-ASC’s support included many hours of their staff time, locating and providing funding for interpreting (ASL & LSQ) and travel/accommodation costs for 12 women from across Canada to attend. The DCF donated funds that enabled over 30 women from BC to attend – including registration and accommodation. These women would not otherwise have been able to afford the Conference.

Added thanks go to:
The Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Westcoast Association of Visual
Deaf-Blind Well Being Program Language Interpreters

The Family Network for Western Institute for the Deaf
Deaf Children and Hard of Hearing and to the dozens of volunteers, donors and family members who lent their time, money and patience!

From the Organizing Committee for CDWC 2007:
Chairwoman – Janice “JJ” Jickels
Registration / Volunteers – Hester Hussey
Workshops / Exhibits – Lois Wood
Secretary – Leanor Vlug
Treasurer – Suzie Giroux
Assistant to the Chair – Marjorie Cameron
CAD-ASC Staff Liaison – Evelyne Goutenenzi
Public Relations – Margie Vlug Fox

The DWC Website will be updated when we get all the evaluations, discussion group notes and photographs properly set up. Watch for more….