For years I had a dream to bring a festival called Bitchfest to Ottawa. It was a festival only in my mind, but it was as clear as day. I wanted to bring women from all walks of life, the rich, the poor the young and old, all the waves of feminism together to celebrate where we have come and where we need to go. This event would have music, art, comedy, talks and would be an amazing success.

Then I remembered that this is Ottawa, and could only imagine how controversial a the festival name would be! I shelved the idea for a couple of years while I carried on with ensuring my mortgage was paid, and in the interim focused on my comedy, writing a book and raising three teenagers, none of which who have been to jail (yet).

Fast forward to 2016 when I was invited to attend Coady’s Global Change Leaders seven week course. It was a life changing experience that changed me as a person. Having been a feminist from birth (my first words were “screw the patriarchy”), I had never really understood the global perspective. Even as an Indigenous woman in Canada, while it is not perfect and we have a LONG way to go, the global impact and how we are all interconnected was not lost on me. When I finished at CoadyI had ideas and I needed to start 100 projects as soon as I got back to Ottawa!

Alas, I instead again focussed on that pesky mortgage. The bank is rather insistent that they get paid EVERY month. Oohh!  With mortgage paid, business growing and comedy going well, it was time to begin a project!  A real project inspired by my time with 20 plus amazing women from all over the globe. See, for years my life and experience was with my community, either policy or fundraising, but I was done with that for now. I truly felt and feel that a gift I have is telling the stories of others, of connecting women and others.  So I created “She’s the Change” a one day experience that aims to get people together to truly look at HOW we can change, WHAT we need to change and to inspire others to DO, DO, DO.  How can we truly make changes in ourselves and others?

So that’s why I started this event. Grandiose? Yep, but I have never done anything small.  While the above was all about me, this conference is all about YOU.  It is about EVERY woman, every person who wants gender equity, equality and harmony.  I curated three special speakers to feature at this event.  Two are my friends, colleagues and sisters from my time at Coady.  One is a comedy colleague who has talked and educated all who follow her on being transgendered.  I then ensured a plethora of local change makers who are showing us all how it is done. They are speakers on different topics.  Some focus on internal change, some on best and emerging practices in helping others and all are kick ass women with a perspective that is unique and will challenge how we view the world.

Oh and we picked the keynote as Bif Naked because I could not think of a Canadian celebrity and speaker who encompassed more of what I wanted this event to be.  Her message will resonate with all of us and you and we are honoured to have her.

I started as a dream to have women come together and truly learn from each other.  Not fight. Not debate the “right” way to be a feminist, but to learn, grown and to DO, DO, DO!  We can talk all we want, but until our talk is turned into action change will not occur.

We have the exciting Change Village, where local non-profit organizations will have tables that the conference attendees can learn more about their work. Ottawa is doing some great work, and we welcome these organizations and thank them for being leaders in the community.

Where you fit in is that anyone who wants to be part of the change in this world, to help learn more about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, about Social Enterprises, about Decluttering and Setting Boundaries, about helping women who are Aging, about helping Girls about helping, and about DOING good for our society!!  You will leave conference renewed and excited for work to be done.  This is why I created the event. No easy feat, but I truly believe we have everything in place for this to occur.  Now all you have to ask yourself is if you want to be part of the Change?  

If you do, get your tickets here.  If you want to start out creating change for others, please consider paying forward a few tickets for women who cannot afford their own.  I am personally donating 50 to local charities and other local businesses are helping others attend for in order for us all to make change, we must all be part of the change!  If you would like to purchase tickets for yourself, or some pay it forward tickets, you can do so here.

Keep smiling, keep working on and I hope to see you at this event!

Also floss

Jenn Hayward