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Equality Day 2014: CAFE’s Remarks, Highlights, Video and Photos

To skip to photos and video from Equality Day click here
Read the Equality Day Media Advisory

It’s been a week since we hosted what turned out to be an engaging and productive first annual Equality Day on Sunday, June 1st. In that period we have reflected a great deal on the events leading up to and culminating in E-Day.

We know many of you were frustrated. The venue for our original Equality Day, Artscape Gibralter-Point on Toronto Island, had for months been in productive planning with us and was well aware of the nature of our program, choosing to cancel the use of their venue 3 days before the event. But we can understand that when suddenly facing threats and harassment – even from just a few misinformed trouble makers – it is often easier to bow to the pressure and do what is easy instead of what is right.

We know many of you were disappointed. It is unfortunate that an educational charity working with social service agencies, health programs and a range of medical professionals to setup services to support boys, men and families, should be routinely subject to law-breaking and dangerous protests and campaigns to damage and discredit our critical programs.

Those feelings of frustration and disappointment are entirely reasonable and we share them. But CAFE chose not to let those feelings undermine our primary goal. Our mandate is public education centred on men’s and boy’s issues. That is the reason for which we were recently granted charitable status. Our opponents aim to warp our message or to prevent you from hearing it for yourself. They fear that if our message is judged on its own merits, unfiltered, it might actually make sense and be seen for the positive agenda which it is.

In response, CAFE decided to postpone the music festival, details for which will be circulated when they are available, and to focus instead on engaging directly with you so you could learn firsthand about CAFE and our issues. We chose to do this at Yonge and Dundas, across from Yonge/Dundas Square, the symbolic heart of the metaphorical public square.

And within 24 hours Equality Day was back on track. On June 1st CAFE brought out over 30 volunteers, roughly half male and half female, to pass out educational material and to engage with hundreds of people. Several individuals expressed their shock with the lack of equal parenting in Canada and the abuses in the family court system. One young man volunteered his concern with the lack of space for male victims of domestic abuse. Several came out to meet us in response to the news articles they had read and were shocked by the disconnect between those reports and what they witnessed. Most surprising were the spontaneous donations we received, including an older woman who shook my hand and handed me $10, as well as the the helpful advice, such as a young woman suggesting we apply for a grant from the Ontario government’s Trillium Foundation where she works. There was no organized protest whatsoever. It was a beautiful and peaceful day (actually, there was a peace parade that walked by us at the beginning).

Check out our Equality Day flyer: Is there room for a conversation on the health and well-being of boys and men in Canada?

A special thank you to our volunteers: Denise, Gabrielle, Geoff, Dusko, Nick, Agathe, Mark, Paulette, Richard, Roni, Mansoor, Paul, Eleanor, Jim, Damoon, Kevin, Michael, Ashkan, Steve, Robert, Adam, Andrew, Malcolm, Edward, Iain, and great to see Silvia and her two sons Patricio and Frederico.

As the Canadian Association for Equality grows as an organization, we use these challenging situations as an opportunity to learn important lessons. While we are proud of turning a challenge into an opportunity, we are also reflecting on this experience. We could have communicated our message better surrounding this event, and we should have done more to respond to criticism when it first emerged. We are a grassroots all-volunteer operation and our resources are very limited. Our growth and the overwhelming support we are receiving is testament to the hard work and discipline of our members. But it also reminds us that with more at stake we must continue to improve our management and our public image, so that we can be a force for good in the lives of men, boys and families.

To this end we encourage you to click here to support our important work.

Video and Photos

CAFE Volunteers Tell You Why They Support Equality Day
Featuring Gabrielle Bouchard, Damoon Azarpazhooh, Paulette MacDonald, Ashkan Yousefi and Silvia Medrano telling you why they support CAFE at Equality Day 2014 at Yonge and Dundas.

A picture is worth a thousand words

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  • Veronica Abbass
    Jun 04, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Re: “I support boys, men and families; ask me why.”

    I see this slogan has lumped girls and women into families, which means the slogan has eliminated girls and women as separate and autonomous. How egalitarian of CAFE to do this!

    According to Patrick Lee “Human Beings Are Animals” (http://www2.franciscan.edu/plee/human_beings_are_animals.htm); however, it seems that CAFE subscribes to the idea that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

    • Adam McPhee
      Jun 04, 2014 at 03:03 pm

      What does that say about organizations that don’t mention women’s families, men and boys, at all? Are you saying women and girls aren’t separate from men and boys? Are you saying women and girls aren’t autonomous?

      • Veronica Abbass
        Jun 04, 2014 at 06:26 pm

        “Are you saying women and girls aren’t autonomous?”

        No, I’m not saying that; you are by leaving them off your signs.

        • Adam McPhee
          Jun 04, 2014 at 06:45 pm

          Do you mean the signs being held up by autonomous women as well as men…?

          So by your rationale, are you saying these men are denying men’s autonomy and being erased as separate beings to women?

          White Ribbon

  • Veronica Abbass
    Jun 04, 2014 at 07:04 pm

    Please try to focus on the topic. The topic is my objection to girls and women being lumped into families.

    • Adam McPhee
      Jun 04, 2014 at 09:45 pm

      I’m sorry you object to women being in families.

      Glad to see you don’t see a concern when organizations focus solely on women and lump men into families, but see a concern when people focus on the issues that men and boys face, as well as how they affect the women and girls in their lives, particularly in their families.

  • The exodus from E-Day » Butterflies and Wheels
    Jun 07, 2014 at 03:25 pm

    […] scaled down E-Day celebration of sorts did go ahead last weekend. It consisted of some CAFE volunteers standing on a corner handing out […]

  • Gertrude
    Jun 12, 2014 at 04:22 am

    Seems to me you are highjacking the very concept of equality, including the signs for male and female. It would be a pity if men took the path of more separateness that second wave feminists took earlier. Funded/inspired by most likely the CIA, just like currently syrian rebels were funded by the USA, Gloria Steinem a paid CIA agent, the division has neither served women nor socieities, nor families and possibly also not men. With groups like this we are being divided, weakened, instead of strengthening our cohesion/cooperation in dires times for our human species and planet against the brutal force of corporations, and an elite who own most of the wealth and the land. Question is who started this movement? That feels to begrudge women their equality, that is far from being accomplished. Tokenwomen totally maleadapted in governments do simply not count. That said i am interested in the viewpoints, complaints of men. As i had a son in the beginning of my joining the second wave feminism in 1977, i never took that anti men point of view, then again i would not curse policemen as being pigs, as i saw some protesting women do. I also never saw women as being guiltfree or being a victim perse because they were female. I am very aware women are/can be also perpetrators. But if we are to get through this, we need to learn to talk with eachother and not condemn eachother.

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