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  • Hridya Chaudhary

#HumansofCapeBretonUniversity – Marlene Powell 

Unlock your phone. If you have that tiny little app called Instagram on there, chances are, you’ve heard of Humans of New York. Humans of New York is a photo series started by Brandon Stanton. Right from the streets of New York to the grids in your hand. We, at Caper Times, are highly inspired by it. So, there you have it, our very own Humans of Cape Breton University. Student of the Year directed by Karan Johar, more like Student of the month by Caper Times. 

Treaty Day, October 1st, marks the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month. So, for the month of October 2020, our #HumansofCapeBretonUniversity is Marlene Powell, a 3rd year CBU student majoring in Psychology. She is from Labrador, and of Métis Decent. She’s a big advocate of gender equality and justice for Indigenous discrimination. 

She passed on a statement to us:  

“Gender Equality is something not to be celebrated just today, but everyday. Women sacrificed so much and persistently fought for the rights we have today.  Recognizing these hardships, battles and things that still need to be advocated for, is important, we cannot stop now.  

My name is Marlene Powell and I am a 3rd year university student studying Psychology, I am from Labrador and of Métis Decent. I have thought about what has brought me to where I am today, and it wasn’t an easy journey.  Being a woman takes strength, but sometimes it’s not enough, I am a survivor of domestic violence. It takes a lot to say that, I am not the same person I was before that, I had to learn that no matter how bad it was, I survived, and I am no longer a victim. I passed that strength on to other women who had experienced similar violence in their lives. I am a strong advocate for MMIW, me and another student named Starla Brown organized an Art awareness showcase at the CBU Library that featured artists all over Canada, pieces not only poured in from northern communities but people’s hearts, the stories and learning I took from that experience was nothing like I have ever done. The amount of people who asked questions, took moose hide campaign pins, volunteers such as Nina Kent, Morgan Toney and Karen Bernard made the event possible. It’s because of the conversations I do have that are opportunities for myself and others to focus on the way we can improve our communities, and advocate for change.  It was when a woman from Labrador fell victim to violence when it really hit home, everyone felt it. 

Loretta Saunders' picture sits in the showcase at CBU library, and it honours the change she was advocating for, she was Inuk women from Labrador attending St. Mary’s university writing her thesis on MMIW, she sadly never got to finish it because her life was taken by a senseless act of violence. This day we can celebrate our success, but we still have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, Indigenous women and children are more at risk for violence than any other population in Canada. We must advocate and never stop talking about violence against women, learn how to be an advocate, reach out to someone if you think they may be experiencing violence, if everyone took steps for change, we could go far!

Let’s make 2020 count for women and girls everywhere.” 

We hope this reaches you in time. 

PS., As a special mention, our last year's Editor in Chief, Dipanshu Grover, helped us cover Marlene's story.

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