Better Than A Harlequin Romance: Young Women and the Future and It's My Life! Young Women and Control were organized to appeal to young participants. Many young women were also delighted to see Sylvia Hamilton's film Black Mother, Black Daughter and discuss aspects of the mother-daughter relationship with her. Guysborough Learning Opportunities for Women member Nancy Wright brought to the conference a group of young women from a rural high school, and some local high schools responded to our invitation by sending delegates. Margaret Robinson, a young woman who attended the conference with her mother, afterwards wrote "[At the end] we had come full circle, but with a more complete understanding of ourselves, what we want, and how to get it." (1) Recently I spoke with a local teacher who had attended the conference with six of her students and she says they are still discussing it with great excitement and animation.
Literacy, global feminism, and confidence building were also among the long list of topics covered in workshops. On the whole the feedback was very favorable. Of course, one woman's favorite workshop is not necessarily another's and views sometimes conflicted. Suggestions for improvements included: having a government representative available to explain/ defend programs at workshops detailing government programs; keeping workshops closer to their descriptions, having them more focused and less "rambling," more "hands on" and perhaps a little longer.
The single most popular event of the conference was the Friday night Gala when 150 women crammed into the Student Cafeteria and sang, swayed and laughed to the antics and music of talented Nova Scotia women. During the evening, a surprised and delighted Mairi St. John MacDonald gave a very moving response to the news that CCLOW has founded a scholarship in her name.
The words "Excellent" and "Great" were the most frequent descriptions given for another event, the theatre workshop given by the Guys borough Learning Opportunities For Women. The GLOW women described their performance, which they created collectively, as "songs and scenes depicting our own experiences as rural women." Women from all parts of Nova Scotia were able to identify with many of the scenes depicted.
The conference also provided the opportunity for Nova Scotia CCLOW members to meet the Board. A number of women attended the CCLOW Annual General Meeting which was held over Saturday breakfast. Board members also mingled with Conference participants at lunchtime when provincial directors gave a brief introduction to the activities of their local CCLOW group. A number of women told us they thoroughly enjoyed meeting board members and hearing about CCLOW activities across the country, and some felt they would have liked to hear more.
The 1989 CCLOW-NS Conference may not have been a fairy tale, but it certainly had a happy ending. After two days packed with learning and sharing, we were all ready to end the conference with some light- hearted fun. What better than a game of Feminist Charades which, as promised, were unlike any charades we'd ever played before! Diann Graham led this "non- competitive sisterly activity" in which we played Bridge the Wage Gap and Dump the Budget as we acted out feminist slogans, book titles, and acronyms. In the playing we reaffirmed our commitment to work together to break down the barriers to women's learning.
Barbara Cottrell is a member of CCLOW. She is a researcher, writer, adult educator, and mother living in Halifax.
1. Pandora, October 1989, p.13.