The Active 8 is a campaign that highlights eight youth from across the Atlantic provinces who are active and engaged in work for positive social change in their communities. This is the 3rd year that the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation has launched this contest. The spirit of the Active 8 campaign is that individual actions can inspire others to take action to make positive change. As such, everyone is encouraged to “vote” for each candidate. The winner receives $1,000.
This year’s female candidate from PEI is Kandace Hagen.
Kandace burst into the local and national media in November by breaking the long-standing silence on abortion. She shared her story of getting misleading information from her doctor. PEI is currently the only province in Canada that does not provide abortion – and Hagen plans to change that. Kandace’s campaign was going extremely well, putting her in second place.
Hagen’s efforts caught the attention of Ann Marie Tomlins, the spokesperson for the PEI Right to Life Association. In response to the work of Hagen and PRRO, the PEI Right to Life Association declared that they would be running a “Truth Campaign” in 2012.
This campaign took a hit this week when an email Tomlins sent to a national mailing list was leaked to the media. In this email, Tomlins urged anti-choice groups across Canada to “vote against” Hagen, by voting for the youth ambassador in the lead – Tara Brinston. Brinston’s campaign is focused on the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, also a worthy cause.
In a statement to the CBC, Brinston said she did not welcome the support of those voting against Hagen’s campaign: “If persons would like to pledge because they are inspired by the work I do within the disability movement then of course I would welcome their pledges, I would not welcome pledges that are not in the spirit of that campaign.”
Tomlin’s efforts to sabotage Hagen’s campaign have backfired. After breaking in the local PEI media it has gone viral in social media, even earning the attention of the American feminist media site, Jezebel. This attention has resulted in a groundswell of support for Hagen’s campaign, and she currently has a strong lead. The voting ends on February 29th.
Josie Baker is a feminist community organizer in Charlottetown, PEI. She works on issues of food sovereignty, labour justice, anti-racism, reproductive rights, and queer visibility in the smallest province in Canada. Her educational background is in community development, and religious studies/women’s studies. In her spare time she is an avid vegetable gardener.