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A day in the life of marginalizing "fringe groups" in Canada

Most days, I'm proud to be Canadian. Whether I'm talking about our health care system, our maternity and parental leave programs, feminist leaders, or other topics close to my heart, my country usually makes me proud (even if it isn't perfect). Today, however, my heart sunk. I was hit with bad news and then slapped with some more. I was disgusted by my country.

Association for Research on Mothering: CLOSED

I am a mother. I am a feminist. Despite not currently being enrolled at a university, I consider myself an academic and a researcher. I love the Association for Research on Mothering. I love what it stands for. I love its books. I love its journal. I love the fact that it brings thought leadership to the important role that mothers play in society.

Today, I learned that it is closing next month. York University, where it is located, is continuing to refuse to provide any base funding to the association and no one else is stepping up to provide it a home either. You can read the details in a letter from Dr. Andrea O'Reilly over on the Parentopia blog.

I am so much in shock over this that I can't come up with anything intelligent to say about it, but I am devastated. I own a couple of the books published by Demeter Press and had put the rest of them on my Christmas wish list this past year. They are apparently going to be going on sale at a discount on their website and I plan to buy each and every one that I don't own already.

But I'm disappointed that there will no longer be a place to bring together the important research on mothering and to foster the research and thinking on this topic. I'm heartbroken that I may never get to read some of the forthcoming books, like Mothering Canada (Spring 2010),  Disability and Mothering (Spring 2010), Giving Breast Milk (Spring 2010), The M Word: Real Mothers in Contemporary Art (Fall 2010), You Say You Want a Revolution: The 21st Century Motherhood Movement (Fall 2010), The Palin Factor: Politican Mothers and Public Motherhood in the 21st Century (Fall 2010), Adoption and Mothering (Spring 2011), Latina/Chicana Mothering (Fall 2011), Queering Parenting (Spring 2012), Living Feminism Through Mothering (Spring 2012), and Being a Mother Academic: Theory and Narrative (Spring 2012).

Is there someone out there who can save the Association for Research on Mothering? Please tell me there is. This is too precious to lose.

Mention of Gay Rights in Immigrant's Guide: REMOVED

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969. Gay rights are protected under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005. But shhhhhh.....don't tell the immigrants. Today CBC reported that Jason Kenny, a Conservative Member of Parliament and current Immigration Minister removed all references to gay rights in the study guide for new immigrants who are learning about Canada in preparation for their citizenship exam.

According to the CBC's article Gay rights section nixed for immigrant's guide:
Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005.

But Kenney, who fought same-sex marriage when it was debated in Parliament, ordered those key sections removed when his office sent its comments to the department last June.

Senior department officials duly cut out the material — but made a last-ditch plea with Kenney in early August to have it reinstated....In the end, however, Kenney's view trumped that of the bureaucrats. The 63-page guide, titled Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, was released with fanfare last November and contains no mention of gay and lesbian rights.

While Canada welcomes the diversity that immigrants bring to this country, there are certain core values that we will not compromise on. The rights of all Canadians, especially minorities, are protected under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ensuring that immigrants are aware not only of their own rights but of the rights of everyone they share this country with is key to achieving harmonious diversity. The removal of those sections amounts to silencing or hiding the rights of Canada's gay and lesbian communities. This is yet another example of the Harper government's further attempts to marginalize what it considers to be "fringe groups".

I'm disgusted and I won't shut up

I'm disgusted by the announcement on the Association for Research on Mothering. I'm disgusted by the removal of references to gay rights in the immigration guide. I'm disgusted, disgusted, disgusted. Will you join me in expressing your disgust?


I won't stand by and watch Stephen Harper's Conservatives continue with their plans to marginalize what they consider to be "left-wing fringe groups" (yup, people like women, gays, minorities, people with disabilities, francophones, or basically anyone who isn't an English speaking heterosexual white male).

I'll continue to express my disgust here on this blog and I'll stand up to tell you all more about why I do this and why you should too when I speak about being a Radical Blogging Mom with Joanne Bamberger (Pundit Mom) and Stephanie Roberts (Picture Hope) at BlogHer 10 in New York this summer.
« What should we say instead? | Main | A different kind of baby-led weaning »

Reader Comments (14)

Fantastic post. Apparently anyone who doesn't vote conservative is a "left wing fringe group." Thanks for speaking up and out.

March 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIronic Mom

Ironic Mom:

Ironically, even if you vote conservative, are a member of the conservative party or even a conservative member of parliament, you could be a member of one of those "left wing fringe groups". They need diversity, but yet also seek to suppress it.

March 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I'm disgusted right along with you. I hadn't heard about the closing of the Association for Research on Mothering (though that makes me doubly sad and frustrated today), but the newest antics by this Conservative Immigration Ministry are making me grit my teeth.

I'm not biting my tongue, however. I'll be speaking up, online and off.

March 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Thank you for bringing this to light for everyone Annie. That *is* disgusting, but at the same time I am so not surprised by it since Harper is our PM.
On another note - I wish I was going to BlogHer 10! That's one talk I would love to hear! Go Annie!

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelodie

Go! Go! Go! I so hope ARM finds a new home, or York Univ feels the pressure to provide base funding to save the Association so it may continue to survive. One would think a "break even" program would at least be sustainable. Last year I had the priviledge of attending the ARM/Mamapalooza conference in New York and finally got to meet the women behind The ARM and it was fantastic! I was so looking forward to another conference in NYC this summer, but with ARM closing, the conference has been cancelled. Low down dirty shame.

If you're on twitter, we've been hashtagging posts about this with #SaveARM. And I urge anyone to write letters to the University on ARM's behalf. It is quite possible many more mothers, fathers, professionals, academics, educators, etc have supported ARM and the university doesn't realize how far reaching these numbers may be. It's time they learned!

Thanks for writing this up Annie!

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterParentopiaDevra

Maybe the ARM could be hosted at Simon Fraser University, they host the FREDA group: http://www.harbour.sfu.ca/freda/ ? It would really be a shame if they disappeared! But if you look at the cuts that are being made to the SSHRC then it's not that surprising... The current government does not seem to have much liking for academics...

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElo

Well, wouldn't ya know it ... we actually have 2 things in common, now! ;)

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercoffeewithjulie

Re: gay rights - shocking... though sadly, I'm not that surprised. Are any references made to the rights of people with disabilities or are they marginalized too?

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca


The rights of people with disabilities (like the rights of gays) are protected. I'm not sure if they are mentioned in the immigration booklet or not...I'll have to check.

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I am pissed off about this too. Once again mothering is deemed insignificant and not worth anyone's time or money. Save the ARM!!

March 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoble Savage

Hey there,

A bunch of us on twitter and email have been starting to discuss how we can strategize to help ARM resurrect somewhere. Specifically, we're thinking of a some sort of fundraiser to raise initial funds for ARM to exist post York. We're putting together a list of names of people who want to be involved in those fundraising efforts - if you are interested you can email me at ksanagan@gmail.com or see me on twitter @crabbykate.


March 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate Sanagan

Wow, I had no idea that this Research on Mothering even existed... and now I am shocked and sad at it disappearing. I so hope someone steps up to save it, especially given that list of incredible books to come out.

And I am shocked and "shouldn't be surprised"' but am, re the removal of mentions of gay rights from immigrant guides... given that parts of the world hang, stone and imprison lgbt citizens, one would think that we would be VERY SPECIFIC to point out that not only do we NOT do that here, but we celebrate their relationships in legal marriages, protect their rights to home and employment, and they adopt and raise children... LGBT people are definitely not marginal members of society that can be discriminated against freely and to hide this from immigrants coming from elsewhere (like the USA! lol!) is just asking for trouble as newcomers come up against their lgbt neighbors, coworkers and bosses. Sigh. Yet more signs of Harperism.

BTW I am soooo curious as to where you hail from in Canada, that has French and English school boards (I am in Montreal)... I am so thrilled to discover you are not in Singapore or New York!

March 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWenjonggal

Wenjonggal: I live in the Ottawa area, but in Quebec.

March 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

By the way, I picked up a book with information for immigrants and it stated as well that school attendance is compulsory for children in Canada. I suppose they don't want certain groups of immigrants latching on to homeschooling as a way to keep their daughters at home.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRina

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