Voices Carry has been cancelled

Unfortunately the Feb 10th Voices Carry event has been cancelled. One of our musical acts unexpectedly had to withdraw from the performance. Ticket sales have been closed. We will be in touch with ticket holders shortly, and they will receive refunds or can choose instead to donate the funds to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

The Voices Carry organizers hope that the community will continue the conversations about sexual and domestic violence, and we will continue that work as well.

Supporters can still help to raise much needed funds. Many thanks for donations that have already been received.

For anyone who would like to make a donation, please visit the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region website or the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region website. Tax receipts will be issued for all donations.

Luisa D’Amato has also written a great piece (before we announced cancellation) on the importance of supporting these organizations: While Ghomeshi, Cosby trials make headlines, local assault victims need help

If you have any questions, please contact Shirley Lichti at slichti@marketingmagic.ca or Melanie Baker at info@voicescarry.ca.

Bruises and bank accounts

Last week we posted this piece on Twitter: A Story of a Fuck Off Fund. It struck home for a lot of women. It’s particularly important, I think, because it paints a powerful picture for young women, and how decisions and actions early on can have long-term repercussions.

Many people hold misconceptions about domestic violence and abusive relationships. Bruises and broken bones are black and white, so to speak. But physical violence is just one kind, and is often the least insidious, because it’s easiest to detect.

Some people can stretch their understanding somewhat to include mental and psychological abuse. You can’t see it, unless you witness it happening, but everyone knows how bad it feels when someone says mean things to you. (That’s a huge over-simplification, but you get the idea.) But abusive behaviour and control tactics can go far beyond those.

The role of finances in abusive relationships can come from a couple of angles, but the effect is the same: you are trapped.

In many cases, the abused person’s partner controls the purse strings, whether they have vast resources or exist below the poverty line. Could be a stay-at-home mom whose husband is the only one working outside the home at the time and earning an income. Or a wealthy society wife who has minimal education, no work history, and a whole lot of appearances to keep up. Or a family experiencing poverty, where even essentials like food, clothing, and shelter are constant struggles.

In an abusive situation, the partner who has the money asserts control by doling it out (or not) to the other partner. By deciding what purchases are allowed. The one without financial resources has to wait, rely on, and sometimes beg for money to manage things ranging from running the household to purchasing anything for themselves. Withholding money can, and is, also used as a punishment.

It also significantly discourages the abused partner from leaving, since they don’t have money for a place to stay, food to eat, or even gas for the car or a bus ticket. Those in rural areas can be even more isolated when there’s little access to public transportation or shelters, for example. Combined with the abuse tactic of socializing isolating one’s partner from friends, family, and others, helplessness can be nearly insurmountable.

For a woman whose educational background or work history is limited, she has few options for earning an income, and nearly all of them don’t pay very well, except for roles like sex work, which comes with its own issues and dangers.

As in the Fuck Off Fund story, even when a woman has worked hard from school on into her career, it’s really easy to end up in a situation of not having enough, and extremely hard to dig yourself out. In the mean time, due to that precarious state, you become willing to put up with uncomfortable or abusive behaviour you never would have thought you’d accept, whether at home, at work, or elsewhere. Living like this grinds you down over time and make extricating yourself even harder.

The key is to start planning early, but make no mistake, this is not easy. When you barely have enough money, it’s not easy to find money to save. Bits and bobs here and there don’t add up very quickly, which can be disheartening (especially if an emergency comes up to deplete that fund). Plus, when you’re young, especially once you’ve escaped being a poor student, you want to live it up a bit and assert adulthood. You want to have nice things. Plus, you need decent clothes to look appropriate at the office. You want a car that doesn’t break down all the time so you can reliably get to work, etc… It’s a pretty trap.

Even for those of us not in abusive situations, how many actually have the 3-6 months or more of savings to cover living expenses that we’re advised to have? Many don’t. When you’re single you don’t have much choice but to fend for yourself, but when you’re in a relationship and have become accustomed to splitting expenses (and need to to maintain your lifestyle), trying to figure out how to get out and manage on your own can seem insurmountable.

Add children to the mix and the challenge becomes exponentially harder. Especially when the abusive partner has the money and you don’t, that person may also have the money for good lawyers and whatnot, making issues like custody battles and spousal support harder to manage.

Money is one of the most common sources of stress even in generally healthy relationships. In addition to enabling people to live and thrive, it is inextricably linked to issues of gender and power. Time passes and more women are remaining single longer, getting educated and building careers, and managing their own lives. Unlike in the days when women were expected to remain at home, raising families, we can hope there are fewer women who end up in dire straits when suddenly alone, like after a spouse dies or they’re divorced, or after fleeing an abusive relationship.

But as noted, abusive relationships and using finances as a manipulative tool or weapon can happen to anyone, at any socioeconomic level. No one ever wants to dwell on the idea of a rainy day, let alone the first time your partner backhands you. But we have a responsibility to ourselves (and our kids, for some) to be smart about our lives.

Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and financially doesn’t mean you don’t love or trust your partner, and that you’re not dedicated to your relationship. On the contrary. It means you love and value yourself, and know how to be dedicated and disciplined, which makes you a better partner, too.

Voices Carry Artist Profile: Safe As Houses

Safe as Houses is an alt-folk band from Kitchener-Waterloo recognized for their poetic lyrics, tight musical performances, and haunting five-part harmonies. Their first full length album, The Fall of a Sparrow, was released December 2014 at a sold-out show in Waterloo. Their single We’ll Be Dancin’ placed in the top 24 nationally in the 2014 CBC Searchlight competition, and their song The Sun and the Storm was #13 on CBC Sonica’s most played tracks of 2015.

Elliot Anton (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Bensen Carter (bass, cello, vocals), and brothers Andrew (guitar, vocals) and Thomas Laughton (drums, vocals), have been writing songs together since early 2011. Lauren Taylor (violin, vocals) joined the band during the summer of 2014. Their influences include a variety of artists from genres spanning folk, rock, and classical. They’ve been likened to Simon and Garfunkel, Jeremy Fisher, and Dan Mangan.

Voices Carry Artist Profile: Johanna Pavia & SoulDrive

Johanna Pavia and SoulDrive have been playing separately for years. In 2013, they discovered each other, and the rest is history! You’ve been entertained by them not only at clubs in the region, but also on the stages of the Kitchener Blues Fest, and the Grand River Blues Society.

In January 2015, they showed the people of Memphis, TN how it’s done at the International Blues Challenge’s Youth Showcase and released their debut, SoulDrive. They also had an impressive showing in CBC Music’s Searchlight competition. Big year!

Creating and performing music with shades of soul, blues, funk, roots rock and jazz, there’s no doubt that the songs they create will get you moving, mind, body and soul. With everything they do, it’s the idea of soulful movement that fuels it all. “If there was one word to describe us it’d be ‘soul'”, Pavia reveals, “We put our all into everything we write, everything we do.”

For Pavia, the act of writing and performing are a release for thoughts and feelings that are sometimes difficult to talk about. “Music has also been helpful in getting out some emotions I have trouble communicating, through song writing.”

Supporting Voices Carry was a natural decision for Johanna Pavia and SoulDrive. The group is dedicated to supporting the community that supports them, from local businesses to community organizations. For Pavia, in particular, Voices Carry’s mission to support the survivors of sexual assault comes with a much more personal connection.

“A good deal of my lyrics stem from personal sexual abuse I have gone through. It’s really important to me that I help others who have gone through the same. It’s important that I give back.”

Voices Carry Artist Profile: Juneyt Yetkiner

He didn’t even pick up a guitar until the age of 18 – but it seems that Juneyt was destined from birth to be a musician. His name means “Soldier of Music” in his native tongue, and has proven to be a true foreshadowing of his life path.

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Juneyt is self-taught and has been playing Flamenco guitar for 13 years. Drawn to the passion and raw emotion of the music, Juneyt plays mostly in the Nuevo Flamenco style popularized by Jesse Cook while staying true to the techniques of the more traditional flamenco guitarists. He has been especially influenced by Paco de Lucia, Tomatito and Vincente Amigo.

Juneyt got his start playing alongside many well-known musicians in Europe and performing as a studio guitarist on more than 15 albums. Since moving to Canada in 1999, Juneyt has composed music for two television documentaries, and has built his career as a professional musician playing in and around his hometown of Kitchener-Waterloo and the GTA. He is very active in the community, regularly donating his time and talent to worthwhile organizations like the United Way, Parkinson Society and Make a Wish Foundation.

An impressive guitarist, held in high esteem by his peers, Juneyt possesses a rare talent and an energy that electrifies the audience making him an exceptional performer to watch. His charismatic style and incredible finger work have earned him an enthusiastic following throughout Southwestern Ontario.

Voices Carry Artist Profile: Rebecca Binnendyk

Some Fun Out Of Life. That isn’t just the title of Rebecca Binnendyk‘s upcoming debut album, it is also her personal motto. The Canadian jazz/pop singer/songwriter is one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet, and she possesses a dynamic personality chock full of energy, humour and style.

Those character traits help make her a charismatic and engaging performer, and they are now showcased on her vibrant new album. Produced by John “Beetle” Bailey, Some Fun Out Of Life is set for release on independent label ALMA/Universal Records in early 2016.

Based in Waterloo, Ontario, Rebecca has honed her vocal chops by singing in choirs, playing lead roles in musical theatre productions, as well as, performing jazz in combos ranging from duos up to big bands.

Her classical music training began in Port Elgin with lessons with noted tutor Jeanette Steeves from age 10 to age 18. She continued her music education at Wilfrid Laurier University from 2000 to 2004, graduating with a degree in Music Therapy.

In addition to being an exceptional songstress, Rebecca also plays trumpet, guitar and piano, loves to cook, and has traveled to more than 30 countries. Her natural talent and love of the stage has led to performances in both Australia and New Zealand and all over Southwestern Ontario.

Rebecca gained invaluable recording experience in 2011 when, thanks to a FACTOR award, she recorded with famed producer Rick Hutt at Cedartree Studios in Kitchener.

She regularly sells out shows at Waterloo’s The Jazz Room and has performed at Toronto jazz venues including Gate 403 and 120 Diner. Her official CD launch is booked for March 11-12 at The Jazz Bistro in Toronto.

There is already international interest in the imminent arrival of Some Fun Out Of Life, so Rebecca Binnendyk’s musical career is poised to surge forward. She can’t wait to share her music with you.

Bill Cosby has been charged

As you’ll recall from last year’s event, the catalyst was the Cosby performance at the Centre in the Square, in light of accusations by over a dozen women at the time (which has since expanded to several dozen).

While Voices Carry has always been more about supporting people in our own community, specifically through Women’s Crisis Services and the Sexual Assault Support Centre, the Cosby case is high profile, has sparked a lot of conversations, and challenged a lot of assumptions, prejudices, and stigmas.

I know that over the last year, I’ve learned a great deal about sexual assault, domestic violence, consent, gender issues, LGBT issues, intersectional feminism, poverty, addiction, mental health, and so many other related issues. We’ve done our best to help spread that information.

It’s heartening to see these conversations starting to take place more. And for people to gain the courage to speak out, either about their own trauma, or to help prevent it happening to others.

Like the Jian Ghomeshi case and others, the Cosby case is not a story that’s going to be finished any time soon.

In late December, Cosby was charged in Pennsylvania with multiple counts of indecent assault. It’s not a final answer, by any means, but it is a step forward, and a validation.

Andrea Constand, the accuser in that case, drove up from Toronto to join us for Voices Carry last year. We wish her all the best with the challenges ahead.

Even more recently, the LA County District Attorney’s office has said they won’t be charging Cosby in two sexual assault cases.

We’re live!

We’re in full-steam organizing mode for the event, and tickets are now available.

Get your tickets now!

The ticket setup is the same as last year:

  • $20 per individual ticket
  • $100 for a package of 6 tickets
  • $200 for a package of 12 tickets

If you’re unable to join us on February 10th, you can still donate on the ticketing page as well. We will be able to issue tax receipts for all donations after the event. (Just donations, unfortunately we can’t offer them for ticket purchases.)

Same as last year, 100% of proceeds will be going to Women’s Crisis Services and the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region. We’ve had a couple inquiries about larger sponsorships, and those can be directed to info@voicescarry.ca. We’ll be sure you get connected to the right person.

We’re still looking for a few volunteers to help out at the event, so if you’re interested, let us know!

We’re at Dallas Nightclub again, in downtown Kitchener. (We’re sorting out accessibility issues for this year’s event.) Doors will open at 6pm, and we’ll get rocking at 7pm, finishing up around 10pm. Eric Drozd of 570 News has graciously agreed to emcee, and it’s cool to have a professional out front.

We’re just finishing up the musical lineup, so will keep that mostly as a surprise, but we are thrilled that Johanna Pavia and SoulDrive will be back with us. Going on last last year they didn’t get as much exposure as they really deserved, and we love their sound. For the rest… stay tuned!

And yes, we do plan to have food again at the venue. Don’t know yet if we’ll be buried under mountains of it like last year, but it’s probably a safe bet to say DON’T EAT DINNER BEFOREHAND. 🙂

We’ll have lots more information to come, so watch this space! Our Twitter account @voicescarrywr is also a great source of info.

We hope you can join us to rock out on Feb. 10th, and as always, if you have any questions, comments, media inquiries, or whatnot, drop us a line at info@voicescarry.ca.

Voices Carry II now in the works!

Hello! Things have been fairly quiet here as we enjoyed the arrival of much more pleasant seasons than we had for the last event. However, the organizing committee has had its first meeting (and welcomed a new face – thrilled to have you on board, Jasmine!)

We’ve started throwing around ideas and making plans, and are getting jazzed for a new event this coming February. We’ll be confirming date and venue soon, so keep an eye out here or on Twitter to be kept abreast of all developments.

We were so blown away by all your support for Women’s Crisis Services and the Sexual Assault Support Centre last time, and can’t wait to party with you again.

In case you missed it, the thoroughly wonderful Sara Casselman has been appointed as Executive Director of SASC. SO well deserved!

The Sexual Assault Support Centre’s No-Gala is coming up November 13th, and you’re invited — to NOT go. That’s right. Stay home, relax in your PJs, and you can still support SASC. Click on that link above to RSVP to NOT attend, and to donate.

Also coming up for November 13th is Colin’s Toy Drive for Women’s Crisis Services. Learn more here and find out how you can help brighten up someone’s Christmas.

If you needed a reminder that all of these efforts are SO needed, and that these thing DO happen in our community, please read “The Sun Will Raise Tomorrow“. Together, we can make sure there are more of these positive stories.

In our backyard

One of the messages we repeated often with the media around the Voices Carry event was that we were focused on our own community, because sexual assault and domestic violence did, does, and will happen here. The Cosby story went away for a few months, but unfortunately, sexual assault and domestic violence didn’t go with it.

The Cosby story has come back to the forefront recently, in good part due to this New York magazine story and photo spread. Locally, the stories aren’t so high profile, but they’re just as awful and as important for people to know about.

A couple of days ago a woman was assaulted by an intruder in her home in Kitchener. It’s the kind of dark-of-night stranger danger story we all fear, and proof that it can and does happen, even though we’re far more likely to be assaulted by a friend, family member, or intimate partner.

Unfortunately, the odds of the perpetrator ever being caught and sent to prison aren’t great. Even when sexual assault is committed by someone the survivor knows, and there’s material evidence, convictions are rare, hard-fought, and utterly horrific experiences for the survivors to go through to get them.

A week ago The Cord released an open letter from a local student, a survivor of sexual assault. It’s an important read, from a very strong and articulate woman who is doing her best to help others from her experience. And as she notes, she’s far from an isolated case.

However, hopefully the university, and all the schools here, take note and take action to improve how they deal with these cases. Ideally, we’d manage to eradicate such cases, but as endless news stories (frequently from south of the border) have shown us, it’s not going away any time soon.

In June there was a murder-suicide at another Kitchener house. The woman was killed by a former partner, who then shot himself. It’s a quiet neighbourhood near Victoria Park, and gunshots aren’t the kind of thing neighbours are used to hearing on a Sunday morning.

It took a few days for much detail in the story to be released. There was an uncomfortable balance to be struck between respecting the family’s privacy and wishes, and ensuring the public and neighbours knew that there was no lingering danger, and generally assuaging curiosity.

As Chief Larkin stated, it was a family violence incident, and family violence needs to be talked about. At the same time, real people are dead. Real people who had a real relationship and real problems. What all happened between them, we’ll never know. The same is true for any couple, the background of any other domestic violence incident, any sexual assault.

But there are things that do need to be said. We do need to know and be reminded that it happens here. Every day. We do need to be reminded that, whether the case involves a high profile celebrity or someone you’ve never heard of, all victims and survivors deserve to be heard and seen and respected.

The Cosby case isn’t ending any time soon. Those women still need to be heard, seen, and respected. In a few weeks the Voices Carry organizers will be meeting to start planning the next event next February. Because our local organizations like SASC and WCS continue to need our help.

Ground has been broken on the expansion of Haven House in Cambridge, but they still need several million dollars to meet their funding needs. It’s just one of the ways we can help. Because it keeps happening, and it keeps happening here.