SHIFT discussions: An interview with Simka Marshall
Douglas College will be facilitating discussions on sexual violence, intimate-partner violence, masculinity and more with SHIFT: Let’s talk gender violence Sept. 24-28 at the New Westminster Campus.
The event will engage attendees through film, dialogue and interaction with community stakeholders in a safe and inclusive space. Each night will feature a documentary that addresses themes related to gender violence and will conclude with a discussion facilitated by the filmmaker or a faculty member.
Simka Marshall, a member of the Ahousaht First Nations and Douglas College Geography student, will be participating in in the event and providing her insight on a number of topics. The former chairperson of the B.C. Federation of Students will be facilitating discussions following the Sept. 27 screening of Luk’Luk’l, a complex portrait of five Vancouverites living on the fringes of society during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
See below for Marshall’s insight on how the conversation surrounding gender violence has shifted and what needs to be done moving forward.
Tell us about the work you do in gender violence. What brought you to this sort of work?
For the past three years, I’ve been the chairperson of the BC Federation of Students, which is a provincial student union that represents more than 130,000 students. The bulk of my work has been fighting for accessible education for students, which is important for marginalized groups. We recognize in our work that when are fighting for more affordable and accessible education and trying to make space for marginalized communities, like Indigenous people, or working towards having more women in these spaces, that we are doing work to combat gender-based violence and promote consent culture. Some of the work that we do that goes hand-in-hand with the accessible education portion is creating educational-awareness campaigns to talk about building consent culture on campus.
What are the key points that you think we need to talk about to move forward?
I definitely think that we need to recognize that everyone is at a different level of education, and that’s something that you really see regionally around British Columbia, with the amount of services that are available to folks. And I think that sometimes that could be something that we forget or that we miss. We just assume that everyone is on the same level and everyone has access to the same amount of information, but we are all really starting at different places, and I think that the best way to end gender-based violence is to take that into account.
How has the conversation changed in the last year?
I think that we are able to have a more open conversation and include more complexities, because there are so many different layers and levels to take into consideration. For example, Indigenous women are affected very differently with gender-based violence and you can link to things such as residential schools and colonialism, overall. It’s important for us to be able to explore those different layers, so people can feel like they’re being represented in this movement. And I think we are starting to see that happen a lot more now than we were a few years ago.
Are there things that make you hopeful?
Yes, absolutely. I do think we are seeing more of inclusion. And as a result, we are able to critically look at the issue of gender-based violence from the perspective of different marginalized groups and different socioeconomic classes as well. That makes me hopeful for moving forward when we are trying to develop action items.