Northern Manitoba will be represented at Ontario feminist conference

Twenty-five-year-old Harlie Pruder will be taking a plane to Ontario to take part in ‘Think Big! Lead Now!’ at the end of the month. The young women’s national summit takes place Jan. 29-Feb. 1, in Muskoka, Ontario.

Pruder says she learned about the convention through an email. “I got an email a few months ago from a lady that I’ve been previously connected with because of my feminist movement. She emailed me about the conference, and said it would be great to have some Northern Manitoba representation at this conference.”

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The summit is put on through the YWCA. Young women, 18-25, from all over Canada come together for networking, workshops and brainstorming different ideas on how to include grassroots movements throughout the country.

Pruder is excited for the guest speakers. “I’m really excited because there’s going to be presenters, who are going to be talking about intersectional feminism and how race affects aspects of feminism. That is an area I’m really interested in, but also lacking in. I know that it’s an issue that we face in Thompson, like classism, sexism, racism, it’s all intertwined.”

Someone that Pruder looked up to for advice told her years ago that conferences are one of the best ways to get out of your shell and grow. Through Pruder’s involvement with PRIDE North of 55, she had the chance to attend different conventions, and that’s where her love for travelling and gaining knowledge through conferences blossomed.

“I applied for a full bursary for the expenses, and I received it. They are paying for everything, which is really exciting, because this is something I wouldn’t be able to afford by myself this year. What I’m excited for is going through this whole process, and being that starter contact for others. I want a whole group of Thompsonites going. I want to spread out and help the outlying communities, too. I want everyone to know they have these opportunities,” Pruder explained. The bursary is available to all participants through an application form. Canadian Heritage provides the funds.

Feminism is something Pruder holds close to her, and she began to understand her meaning of feminism through PRIDE. “Once I realized that gender is only just a concept and that there are so many different kinds of gender identities, it’s really not about your biology; it’s not about how you identify, and who you choose to love. It’s about balancing the masculine and the feminine side of yourself and honouring that.”

Pruder went on to say she understands not everyone will agree with what she says, but to her that’s what it means, accepting you for you.

By agreeing to attend the conference and accepting the bursary, Pruder committed herself to take part in the Day of Big Change on March 1. Each summit attendee must come up with their own campaign within their community to involve people and create a better community. Pruder plans to focus on two main areas.

“I want to do education, and I want to combine that with service because I feel like a lot of people that hold the power, like me and you, we have the means to do things, and we have privilege to do things. When you are able to recognize your privilege, I think you have the responsibility to do something with it.”

This will include knitting hats, mittens and scarves for the less fortunate and creating safe places for people to speak their minds in Thompson. “Homelessness is such a complex issue, that I am just starting to understand. I want to put energy towards helping those people that can’t help themselves. Every time it gets really cold, all I’m thinking about are those people.”

Pruder created the Thompson feminist organization, she is on the crisis centre board, and was involved with kickstarting PRIDE North of 55. Her hope is to get more people involved in Thompson. “I feel Thompson often gets so many awesome people, but they always leave. There are a few that have stayed and committed. I think I’ve taken for granted those people. There are some that you always see involved in local politics and organizations. We forget those people are volunteering their time to better the community.”

Pruder is starting a psychology course online through the University of Manitoba this month. With this conference soon under her belt, she wants to continue with feminism, focusing on men. “I want to go to school, and I want to pursue physiology and feminism. I want to work with men in feminism. I want to work with sexual assault survivors, rape victims, from the male perspective. I want to study long-term generational sexual abuse. I want to make sure the north is taken care of.”

Whatever happens, Pruder says she will always be an activist. “Being a true activist is being a true ally for all people and all living beings on this planet.”

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