Bread and Roses is a progressive campaign school for women and non-binary folks interested in engaging in political action. The brainchild of Jenn Prosser and Reakash Walters, it was put together to empower people with the tools to engage in politics.
Held on Nov. 5 at the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, the event drew over 70 participants and was a humbling success for both Walters and Prosser. While they weren’t sure how the event would go, they believed it was very necessary.
“It came from a vacuum of events like this,” says Prosser. “We didn’t feel like there were very many spaces for young women, for non-affiliated, non-partisan progressive activists.”
Traditionally, Prosser says, these types of campaign schools are organized through unions, political parties or organizations with very specific goals. “But these particular ‘how to organize’ schools don’t really exist for people who want to be involved in political change.”
Walters, who ran for the recent federal NDP nomination in Edmonton Centre, says that her experiences during that time led her to helping create this event.
“There was a lot of knowledge that I gained from making mistakes,” she says. She adds that there were a lot of people she met during her campaign that didn’t know a lot about the tools needed, but there were also a lot who did.
“I was motivated by the fact that I knew the knowledge was in our community but we weren’t sharing it very well,” she says. “We wanted to create a space to share that knowledge.”
The topics of discussion were diverse, with an agenda that was filled with panels on how to set up an anti-racist and anti-oppressive campaign office, social media for political feminists, and “fucked up things that have happened to good people.” Panel participants were equally diverse. MLA Stephanie McLean, the minister responsible for the status of women, spoke as well as Erica Bullwinkle (constituency assistant to Linda Duncan), activist Parker Leflar, journalist Mariam Ibrahim, MLA for Calgary-Bow Deborah Drever and advocate Janis Irwin amongst others.
With the event now over, Walters and Prosser have time to reflect. That was until they started getting emails asking about when the next school will be held.
“That is the million dollar question,” says Walters, laughing.