I can remember the first time I went to …And Still We Rise. Imagine, if you will, a room filled with women who are working to empower each other, further their learning, tell their stories, and be mentors for others. I was in awe! I attended workshops and sat in amazement of the educators and the guest speakers. Listening to their experiences and views of the world, I was so inspired to think differently about women and our places as part of society as educators, co-conspirators, and disruptors. Whose voices should we uplift and whose stories should we amplify?

As every year, this one was filled with amazing women at the podium, including Funke Alexandra, who shared her research focussing on the history of Black Canadian women in education. There was Deb St Amant, the Elder-in-Residence at Queen’s University, and whom I remember being a strong advocate and leader in her time with ETFO. ETFO President Karen Brown, whose voice and presence was empowering and inspiring. We also got a chance to hear the story of the Toronto Women’s Bookstore through the eyes of Anjula Gogia. Though I was only in attendance for part of the conference, there were beautiful sentiments of solidarity and wonderful opportunities for learning. It was incredibly empowering to be part of it all.

What I love about …And Still We Rise is the space for women to come together. In life, I wear many different hats and it is hard to carve out time and space in my day to think about myself. I am busy with work, with parenting, with family and at times it feels like every spare moment is allocated to something. A women’s conference like … And Still We Rise is a place where coming together with other women who have similar experiences where we can learn from one another provides a few moments of breath.

There is time to think and connect with one another. There’s actually time to sit and eat a meal together, sharing ideas and conversation with new friends and in community with those who are already a part of our lives.

When I first started my journey with ETFO, everyone told me that going to …And Still We Rise was a must-do experience. I wholeheartedly agree! It’s the space for all women to be heard on issues that they think are important. It’s a place where women can tell women’s history and experiences that are often erased or unvoiced in history books. It’s a time to consider how women can advance social justice, build solidarity between struggles, and contribute to the broader women’s movement. If you have the opportunity to attend …And Still We Rise, I encourage you to take the time to learn, connect, and grow!

… And Still We Rise is ETFO’s signature women’s conference that runs annually in February each year.


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