The Every Body Conference, March 22-24

The Every Body Conference is coming up later this month in Guelph.

header image for the Everybody Conference

Here’s a short list of reasons why I’m excited about this (in no particular order):

The name. I think it’s a pleasing reminder. We’ve all got bodies. And while some of us are made more vulnerable than others, we’re all inherently vulnerable beings.

The tagline: “exploring bodily autonomy and community care”. I love that! I love that it encompasses personal choice while disrupting the idea that care of oneself is an individualistic thing. None of us can completely care for ourselves without any help from others.

Keynote speaker Loretta Ross. Loretta Ross’ work could be the topic of several doctoral theses, so I’ll just briefly touch on it here. She is one of the founding members of SisterSong, a women of colour reproductive justice collective based in the U.S. The reproductive justice framework – the right to have children, to not have children, and to parent in healthy and safe environments – represents a shift from the narrower, mainstream, pro-choice framework that I (a middle-class white feminist) have been more familiar with. Communities of colour experience reproductive oppression in ways that white communities do not (forced sterilization of indigenous women in Canada is only one example). I’ve got stuff to learn!

Keynote speaker Mia Mingus. Again, I’m not going to even try to summarize Mia Mingus’ work here, just highlight some of the reasons I’m looking forward to hearing her speak and attending her workshop. Mia Mingus is the program director at generationFIVE. The mission of generationFIVE is to end the sexual abuse of children within five generations, by integrating child sexual abuse prevention into social movements and community organizing, rather than allowing the isolation of the issue. Gen5 has spent the last decade developing Transformative Justice, which seeks safety and accountability without relying on alienation, punishment, or state or systemic violence, including prisons and policing. I quickly get overwhelmed around the issue of sexual abuse of children. When I began learning about gen5, and reading about this vital, paradigm-shifting work, I felt newly hopeful.

The emphasis on connections between community + justice + health. Oh there’s so much — there will be a panel on prisoners’ health, including pregnant women birthing behind bars; there’s a workshop on migrant health, providing an overview of the cuts to Refugee Healthcare as a case study while also talking about the bigger picture of why and how people move and how this affects their health and access to care – and there are about a dozen other inspiring workshops and talks and I know I won’t make it to all of them! – but I’m so glad this convergence is happening in Guelph.

I know that this this is kind of a gushy post. It’s because I have a strong sense that this conference is tackling some of the hardest, most heart-numbing things we face as humans on this planet right now, from the understanding that (yes, I’m about to make a generalization right now) it is possible to deal with these things as communities. That communities are dealing with this damage. That even though so many of us face barriers to health and care, collective healing is happening. Even amidst the harm done.

Given how nourished and inspired I expect to be at this conference, it feels entirely appropriate to be offering free community acupuncture that weekend. I hope to introduce at least a few people to the deeply supportive environment of group acupuncture. Come by for a treatment on the Saturday or the Sunday.

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