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Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre presents


a gathering by and for women who have survived sexual violence

Inspired by the creative process and digital storytelling of Honouring Our Stories, our two-year community-engaged arts project that brought survivors and police participants together to make art, we gather to offer dedicated space for survivors to share knowledge and skills, celebrate resilience, strengthen community, and collaborate creatively with one another.

The conference will feature a keynote presentation by Dr. Charlene Senn on Friday evening; a screening of selected digital stories from the Honouring Our Stories project with Community Story Strategies, presentations about trauma and the power of art, and hands-on art workshops on Saturday; and plenty of opportunities for sharing artwork and reflections together on Sunday.


Friday, January 18th – 5:30pm-8:30pm (light refreshments) – Opening ceremony, welcome and introduction, and keynote presentation.

Saturday, January 19th – 8:30am-6pm (breakfast, lunch, dinner) – Digital stories screening, presentation in the morning, and artist-facilitated workshops in the afternoon.

  • Trauma Education with Karen Slomke – An opportunity to understand how traumatic events impact people and to learn some initial strategies to come to a place of greater calm.
  • Art As My Voice (Emerging Young Artists Talk) with Lucille Atlookan, Cynthia Edwards and Mary McPherson – Three young artists reflect on their art-making and practice as active expressions of resistance and empowerment in the face of colonialism. Their inspiring individual and collective work in the community creates space for other young people to connect with culture and identity, and to develop a variety of creative and leadership skills.
  • Wintering Words and Pathways of Resilience with Eleanor Albanese – Participants will be invited to explore a variety of creative writing exercises, each one designed to reflect on personal resilience, pathways of strength, and personal story. Images, as well as words, will be woven into the exploration. The workshop will culminate in a collaborative poem.
  • Asiniiwan: It is of rock or stone with Ivory Tuesday & Barbara Benwell – Connecting through land and each other during a collaborative art making session. Participants will have the chance to explore making with rock, plaster, inner-care and outward-care.
  • Collective Story & Song with Binaeshee-Quae – A multi-arts journey with gentle sharing, listening & creating. Includes working with images, projections, soundscapes, stories, voice and a short telling of “Serpent People.” Using only a handful of ingredients, we will prepare something to help feed the soul and warm the belly.

Sunday, January 20th – 8:30am-2pm (breakfast, lunch) – Sharing, Wen-Do demonstration, and closing ceremony.


  • Eleanor Albanese is an award winning artist who has spent her life immersed in the arts, weaving story through theatre, writing, film-making, and visual arts. Her novel “If Tenderness Be Gold”, published by Latitude 46 Publishing, will be in print in October of 2019. Eleanor is a strong leader and voice in the field of arts education and community-engaged arts, speaking and presenting at both national and international conferences. Over the years, Eleanor has designed and led a plethora of projects in tandem with researchers, health care providers, educators and community agencies. Recent arts-engaged programs led by Eleanor include The Alzheimer’s Society, Workman Arts, and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.
  • Lucille Atlookan is an Anishnaabe emerging artist from Eabametoong First Nation (Fort Hope, ON), a remote community 360 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. Atlookan is completing an HBFA/BEd double degree program at Lakehead University. Her goal is to pursue in Visuals and Education. She explores her cultural identity through drawing and sculpture. A multi-disciplinary artist who creates in a variety of media, including beadwork, sculpture, and illustration, she was recognized by Native Women In The Arts as a recipient of the third annual Barbara Laronde Award. Atlookan is a co-founder and Youth Program Coordinator of Neechee Studio, and a member of DefSup’s Die Active Art Collective.
  • Barbara Benwell is an artist and educator from Thunder Bay which is seated on the traditional lands of Fort William First Nation, Signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty. She is grateful to live, work, go to school and raise a family on this land. Barbara has an Honours Bachelor of Fine Art, a Bachelor of Education and is currently working toward a Masters in Social Justice with a specialization in Women’s Studies. She has been working as a community-based activist artist for over 10 years and finds art to be a great tool for connection, healing and reflection.
  • Binaeshee-Quae (Loon Clan) is a singer, story/song writer, actor & community arts enthusiast from Biigtigong First Nation. Exploring multiple ways of expression and connection pumps their “Art-Heart.” Binaeshee-Quae has been singing since she can remember, but her mother claims since birth; “My Mom says that when I was a baby, she would hold me & sing one steady note and I would sing back. She swears we harmonized…mothers don’t exaggerate, right?” Binaeshee-Quae’s music is often described as haunting; the sound swaying between root and bud with onomatopoeically crafted lyrics. There are plans to release new works in the coming year but their first album “Ooof” can be found at & on iTunes. Passionate about community arts; Binaeshee-Quae has been involved as an artist, presenter, mentor, workshop facilitator and volunteer since 2009, where she assists and leads in music, theatre, movement and visual arts activities. Binaeshee-Quae is brown as a berry, free as a bird.
  • Cynthia Edwards is an artist from Animkee Wazhing (was known as Northwest Angle #37 Lake Of The Woods Windigo Island) living in Thunder Bay, ON. She finished her Bachelor of Arts at Lakehead University and is interested in learning and speaking Anishinaabemowin and working in community art projects in the city. Recently, she was Associate Northern Tour Coordinator of Sexual Assault: The Roadshow and currently works at Beendigen.
  • Jennifer LaFontaine (Community Story Strategies) has extensive experience facilitating creative arts programs with community groups. Beginning in 1998, Jennifer created a community media program at a Toronto-based non-profit organization. For ten years, she taught black and white photography and digital storytelling in a women’s program, where women could share about their communities, highlight important social issues, and celebrate their strengths. The peer leadership programs Jennifer designed and facilitated enabled women to come together across diverse language and cultural differences.
  • Mary McPherson is mixed Ojibwa/Irish and a member of Couchiching First Nation, practicing in Thunder Bay. I use visual language in order to further understand the implications that colonialism has on me and my communities. My art, consisting of pencil drawings and multidisciplinary sculptures, allows me to understand the social parameters and Ojibwa values that define me as a mixed-Ojibwa woman. Currently, I am in my final year of my HBA in Visual Arts at Lakehead University. In 2015, I was awarded 1stplace by Aboriginal Arts and Stories for my drawing Cross Assimilation. As a result of having won the junior Aboriginal Arts and Stories award, I was awarded a Governor General History Award at Rideau Hall. In 2017, I was awarded a REVEAL Indigenous Art Award from the Hnatyshyn Foundation, presented at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg. Recently, I designed one side of a new coin for the Royal Canadian Mint, honouring Tecumseh, a legendary Shawnee war leader.
  • Emmanuelle Pantin (Community Story Strategies) began designing and delivering community media workshops for youth and adults in the late 1990’s. Leading workshops about community radio, super 8 filmmaking and zine-writing, she worked with groups to explore individual and collective representation through personal storytelling. She developed community organizing skills as a tenant organizer, working with private and social housing tenants to improve their living conditions. After years of grassroots radio production, she went back to school and holds a post-graduate certificate in radio broadcasting.
  • Charlene Senn is a feminist social psychologist. She holds a Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded Canada Research Chair in Sexual Violence and is a Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Windsor. She has been an activist and advocate on issues related to men’s violence against women and women’s health for many years. Her research focuses on effectivesexual violence interventions, particularly those developing women’s capacity to resist sexual assault. She developed the feminist EAAA (aka Flip the Script) program which was recently proven to substantially reduce the sexual violence women university students experienced (30 – 64%) for at least two years. The program simultaneously increased women’s confidence and reduced their self-blame if they were sexually assaulted. EAAA is now being used in universities and colleges in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. It is also being adapted for younger girls and for use in other countries (e.g., eSwatini). Charlene has also worked with colleagues since 2010 on another critical piece of the sexual violence intervention puzzle to institutionalize effective bystander education and to study its short and longer term impact on campus culture.
  • Karen Slomke, MSW, RSW is a social worker with many years experience working with survivors of traumatic events. She works in a small private counselling practice called Soothe Counselling, as well as for the St. Joseph Health Centre Mental Health Outpatient Program.
  • Ivory Tuesday Saagegaabowe ‘Woman who waits by the water’ from the Lynx Clan. I am from the Treaty #3 Area Couchiching First Nation. I am a team leader with the Bear Clan Patrol Thunder Bay and enjoy community work. I am currently a Masters of Social Justice Student and Graduate Assistant in the Indigenous Learning Department at Lakehead University. I also work as a counsellor at Talk4Healing and I am an Oji-Cree Artisan and knowledge holder.


Is this conference for women only?

This conference is intended for survivors of gender based sexual violence. We acknowledge that those who identify as non-binary, cis or trans women, and two spirited people are also impacted by gender based sexual violence and welcome their participation.

What do you mean by ‘sexual violence’?

Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into having or seeing unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Sexual violence includes sexual assault (rape, unwanted sexual touching – including intimate partners), coercive sex, sexual exploitation, childhood sexual assault/incest, indecent/sexualized exposure, voyeurism, and sexual harassment.

Why do you use the term ‘Survivor’?

We acknowledge that not everyone who has experience sexual violence uses this term or feels comfortable being identified in this way. We use the term “Survivor” because it implies empowerment, choice and an expectation of acknowledgement or accountability for harm done. It also speaks to fact that sexual violence is a social problem, not an individual crime. The legal system centres it’s work around the identifier “victim,” which describes a state of helplessness, passivity and isolation. It is also a legal construct which focuses on responding to the criminality of individuals, instead of addressing issues of power and control in society.

Is there a fee to attend?

There is no fee to attend the conference at the Victoria Inn thanks to funding from the Ontario Arts Council. Registration is required to ensure we have enough space, seating, food and materials for everyone.

Are travel subsidies and hotel rooms available for out of town participants?

If you are traveling from the Region and need help to offset your travel and accommodation costs, please contact us before December 21st. We have limited funds to subsidize mileage and public ground transportation for approximately 30 participants, and a limited number of hotel rooms available for two nights (Friday & Saturday) at no charge.

Will childcare be available?

Childcare will not be available at the conference, however, we have subsidies available to help cover your childcare costs.

Is the conference accessible?

The Victoria Inn is wheelchair accessible. If you have other accessibility needs, please contact us to let us know how we might best support your participation.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Email us at [email protected] or call the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre at (807) 345-7802.



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