Depressed about Trump's victory? Don't feel hopeless. Do something.

Advice from Canadian women — community leaders, activists and authors — on how to combat feelings of despair.
A woman holds a placard as she gives a television interview during an anti-racism protest against President-elect Donald Trump winning the American election, outside the U.S. embassy in London, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton conceded her defeat to Republican Donald Trump after the hard-fought presidential election. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Photo, Matt Dunham/AP.

The contentious U.S. election exposed fractures not just in America, but here in Canada, leaving many people feeling hopeless. So Chatelaine asked inspiring Canadian women — community leaders, activists, authors — for advice about what we can do in our own backyard, moving forward. Here's what they said:

Donate to worthy causes

"If you’re feeling hopeless, afraid, or isolated, one thing you can do is reach out and connect with like-minded people. There are many organizations and groups, working for change. Finding that sense of community is important. Another direct way to get involved is by donating to an organization that works for change. We need to make change by putting our money where our mouth is." —Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, which funds over 1,400 community organizations, helping to move women and girls out of violence and poverty, and into confidence and leadership 


Break your silence

"I think it’s important to separate the unimaginable from the unacceptable. The election result was not unimaginable, but here is what is unacceptable: using our hard won rights to trample the rights of others. And here is what is within our power: the citizens who, by race or birth or wealth, have long been granted greater security and privileges in our societies, now have the responsibility to stand up for their fellow citizens. You no longer have the luxury of silence." Madeleine Thien, novelist, winner of the 2016 Governor-General Literary Award and Scotiabank Giller Prize

Stand up for First Nations children

"The antidote to racism and intolerance is you. Every time you speak up to ensure fair treatment of others you uplift the human spirit. That is what reconciliation is all about — and you can help. In January, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Ottawa’s under-funding of child welfare services was racially discriminatory against 163,000 First Nations children and ordered the federal government to immediately cease the discrimination. While the government drags its feet, children are experiencing harm. Contact your Member of Parliament and let her/him know you expect the federal government to immediately comply with the legal rulings and the Parliamentary motion and then go to the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada website to find seven more free ways you can make a difference." —Cindy Blackstock, executive director, First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada, and professor of social work at McGill University

Pay attention to Canadian politics


"Canada is not the U.S. It is too soon to know how things may go in the U.S., where Canadians don't have much influence anyway. Main thing is: Resist efforts such as those of Kellie Leitch to invite a foreign government into Canada to meddle with Canadian politics."-Margaret Atwood, Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, essayist 

Understand the needs of people with disabilities


"Community organizations are always looking for people to volunteer their time, to address quality of life issues for people who are underserved. But also, it’s important to reach out — to educate yourself about people in your community who’re on the autism spectrum, who’ve had a stroke or lost a loved one and try to understand what their needs are. There are so many people with disabilities who are lonely. And sometimes all they're looking for is a friend." —Leo Plue, executive director, Abilities Centre

Recognize the issues in STEM fields

"While there are a lot of advocates for gender diversity in STEM, very few programs address the hurdles created by the intersection of being a person of colour and being a woman/queer or trans person. The first step is starting to question what barriers are preventing this inclusion in our classrooms, our workplaces, and in our dialogue with our families. And the right way to engage meaningfully is to listen and learn from those racialized and queer voices." —Saadia Muzaffar, Founder, TechGirls Canada

Get out of your echo chamber

"Widening your circle of conversation and learning to include those people who hold diverse opinions, no matter how uncomfortable, is really important. Get out of your echo chamber — and make sure your voice is heard by people who will challenge you. We need to work at both understanding and standing up for what we believe in. Let's have the real debates before election night, because by then it's too late." —Kirstine Stewart, Chief Strategy Officer, Diply


Support pro-choice organizations

"Help someone else lift themselves up. Call out sexist or racist behaviour when you see it. Meet your MP to discuss action on missing and murdered indigenous women. Talk to your kids about bullying. And donate to Planned Parenthood. . . . We cannot allow any more well-funded anti-choice groups to spread into Canada. We all have the capacity to make this world better, and we owe it to others less privileged than ourselves to never give up." —Lauren Dobson-Hughes, past president of Planned Parenthood Ottawa


Fight for equity for all

"Continue striving for progressive democracy, compassionate leadership and put people first (especially indigenous people and in particular indigenous women). We must keep our own unique brand of democracy which includes a culture of social welfare and empathy, and we must continue to advance human rights and equity for women and all groups protected under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsEveryone should also gain knowledge about a community or culture that they are unfamiliar with by spending time with people in diverse communities." —Wendy Komiotis, Executive Director, METRAC


Close the gender gap in politics

"To close the gender gap in politics, we must galvanize future generations of women leaders in Canada to seek, in far greater numbers, elected office so that they can contribute to stronger public policy decision-making for their communities. The time is now." —Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, which is behind Daughters of the Vote, a national initiative aimed at encouring young women leaders. 

Remind each other we are not alone

"Today we check in with black, indigenous, Muslim, Latinx, trans, newcomer, queer folks. We make make a commitment to intervene to address hate, be it individual acts or policies that harm. We ask how can I support you to survivors of sexual violence. Say how can I help to people who have been organizing for justice in our communities, who work at rape crisis centres, at reproductive rights organizations and migrant rights groups. We remind each other we are not alone and we are going to keep fighting.” —Farrah Khan, sexual violence education and support coordinator at Ryerson University




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