There's a tomorrow, Wendy
The Caribbean Camera, March 10th 2005
Woman was venerated only to the degree that man made himself the slave of
his own fears, a party to his own powerlessness: it was in terror and not
in love that he worshipped her. -Simone de Beauvoir
Tuesday past, March 8, was International Women's Day (IWD). This is an international
celebration that predates World War One and, therefore, Remembrance Day as
well. That's saying something… two things, in fact. One: historically men
have regarded each other as entirely suitable targets for rifle, mortar and
bombardier practice, live ammo or no. (Also, that any collective remorse voiced
for this unfortunate habit is powerless to prevent us from indulging in it.)
And two: on the whole, men have historically treated women even worse than
they treat one other. At least wars end occasionally.
Last week's article concluded with the hope that the dispensation of justice
by the Toronto police force might soon be less arbitrary than it has been
in the past. Last weekend the sort of arbitrary dispensation, the sort we
should all be resisting if we hope to spare future generations (or perhaps
even our own) the prospect of living in a police state, was publicly flouted
as if in direct opposition to this hope. In honour of International Women's
Day, then, yours truly will respond with the following report.
On Saturday, March 5, a downtown rally and march in celebration of International
Women's Day was planned. The march wound its way down from the OISE Auditorium
near the St. George subway station to Ryerson University's Jorgensen Hall,
near Dundas station. The march was energetic and peaceful and an Information
Fair was set up in Ryerson's Jorgensen Hall: several tables were set up for
the dissemination of information and refreshments. CKLN, Ryerson's on-campus
community radio station, helped to organize the event and several of the station's
volunteers were in attendance, including volunteer programmer and activist
Wendy Maxwell. Some of us call her Queen Nzinga. She is well known down at
the station. A volunteer programmer (as we all are), Wendy contributes to
a pair of Sunday morning broadcasts with tenacious regularity: the Spanish-language
Aqui Nuestra America and Radio Active Feminism (10:30 and 11:30 a.m. respectively).
In fact, she is such a devoted contributor to Radio Active Feminism that she
is CKLN's IWD coordinator for 2005.
Unfortunately, positive contributions to the community don't mean what they
once did in this country. Amongst all the literature, pamphlets and subversive
feminists, Wendy was minding her fundraising table when a gaggle of Toronto's
finest sauntered in, arresting and shackling her, eventually depositing her
in Milton's Vanier Centre for Women. Not one of the arresting officers dared
look this "threatening black woman" in the face. She was selling cookies.
As if getting arrested in front of a crowd of people wasn't bad enough, there's
more to this story. The Toronto police don't normally take people into custody
for such things because Immigration has their own people for that, so it must
have been a slow day.
Wendy's Jamaican heritage doesn't help in her country of birth, Costa Rica,
where the police are known for singling out black citizens for special treatment.
She's been sexually assaulted by them and also denied their protection from
a Costa Rican gang (both clearly a refusal to discharge the duties they were
hired to perform). The crime for which Wendy was arrested consists of nothing
more than living in Canada without immigration status. Her deportation could
happen at any time and would put her safety in very serious jeopardy. She
submitted her application for permanent resident status, incidentally, in
February 2004, and has been living peacefully in this country for the last
CKLN is mounting a campaign in support of our sister in her time of (wholly
unnecessary) crisis. Being a community radio station, CKLN needs the help
of the community: so here are some suggestions for the ordinary citizen wanting
to combat this country's inherently racist and misogynistic institutions.
Immigration Minister Joe Volpe can be reached at (416) 781-5583, (613) 992-6361,
or by emailing Minister@cic.gc.ca. Demand Wendy's IMMEDIATE release.
The goal is to legalize Wendy's status in Canada by obtaining a temporary
Resident's Permit until her humanitarian and compassionate leave application
You can sign an on-line petition at: http://users.resist.ca/~gidget/petition.shtml.
The station is also accepting donations to help out with legal expenses.
An IWD event (that Wendy organized) is now being held in her honour. That's
on Thursday, March 10, at B-Sweet Lounge, 1279 Queen St. W. Visit www.ckln.fm
or phone the news office at 416-595-5068 if you need further info.
Dick Gregory once wrote: "We'll bust this thing and cut out this cancer."
And we will. Come hell or high water.
Happy IWD, Nzinga. Peace and Love.
Jean Hodgkinson hosts CKLN's Rude Awakening
every Wednesday from 6-7 a.m. This piece originally appeared in the Caribbean
Camera, you can view it on their site at