SlutWalk Co-Founder / Organizer
Heather Jarvis is a queer feminist activist. With experience in gender studies, social work and community activism she has spent several years supporting and initiating projects around sexuality, gender, education and health, anti-violence efforts and creating safer spaces for support.
As a survivor of sexual assaults, this past year Heather was infuriated upon hearing a slut-shaming and victim-blaming comment made by a representative of the Toronto Police force when discussing safety. Having had enough, she co-founded SlutWalk in early 2011 – a small idea that began in Toronto to fight sexual violence and has since spread across the world.
Identifying with sex- and body-positive politics, Heather Jarvis constantly aims to shed shame around sex and sexuality. She has a fascination with language and identities, striving to utilize language to interrogate ideas and blend important conversations across oppression, desire and expression. Described as an eternal optimist by some who know her, Heather refuses to believe things cannot change. She is determined to continuously work on improving this world through increased respect, consent, understanding and acceptance. Through her politics and her work she has become a speaker, advocate and educator.
Communications Coordinator / Organizer
When Colleen Westendorf saw SlutWalk’s ‘Because We’ve Had Enough’ banner on their website- she was on board faster than you can say ‘Slut’. Colleen joined the SlutWalk Toronto team shortly after participating in the inaugural Toronto SlutWalk. Though she believes that he meant well, to her Michael Sanguinetti’s now-infamous comment was our rape-condoning culture in a single sound bite. Colleen is certain that so long as we live in a world where victims are exhaustively held to standard for their actions in relation to rape, an act that is by definition a complete override of their will and personal agency, she doesn’t live in a world where she or anyone else is safe from sexual violence.
Colleen works in Communications in the Not-for-Profit sector, and is by trade a writer. She also volunteers for a pro-choice, LGBTQ-positive sexual health clinic as a sex educator and is committed to sex-positivity and sexual and reproductive health rights as fundamental human rights. As a newcomer to activism and community organizing, she’s learning as she goes – and so grateful for everything she’s getting out of the process.
To borrow a phrase from Eve Ensler, a personal hero of hers, Colleen believes the mission of SlutWalk and anti-violence movements everywhere will continue to have relevance ‘Until the Violence Stops’- and until we truly reach a point of zero tolerance for sexual violence. She’s in a mad rush for us to get there.
You can follow her on twitter here.
Raisa Bhuiyan is an enthusiast, particularly of gritty grassroots activism and events that bring people together to mobilize against painstakingly dangerous social norms. She’s also harbouring a pathological fear of biographies, especially the type that has to be typed out in a box.
But if you really wanna know, do know that she squirted out the 2% milk she was drinking right through her nose when she heard about the don’t-dress-like-a-slut-suggestion that a Toronto Police officer made on her campus.
At the moment, Raisa is ridiculously excited about how communities of people have become energized enough to open up a space for a much needed conversation on how the integration of different strategies and different hystories can help SlutWalk better engage with the new paradigms of feminist organizing.
Laura McLean is a feminist who is passionate about equality in our society. She’s interested in breaking down stereotypical social norms that create and sustain numerous inequalities within our society.
Laura was outraged but not surprised by the comment made to York students about not dressing like a slut in order to avoid getting raped. These views within rape culture are normalized and assumed far too often and this needs to stop.
Currently Laura is a recent post graduate seeking a career with a non profit organization that focuses on gender and/or sexuality equality. She is very excited about joining SlutWalk Toronto and can’t wait to see the changes that have happened and will continue to happen.
Former Members of the SWTO Team:
Fed up with current media reports on the attack on women’s sexual health around Canada and the US, the incident at York University was the last straw that prompted Barnett into action. Though having little experience in demonstrations or political campaigning, she has always been vocal when coming to women’s sexual rights and freedoms. Already working with assertive people and expressing their sexuality through art, Barnett felt her experience in social media and community events could help spread the word that archaic attitudes toward sexuality need to be changed. Having stepped down from organizing at SWTO in late May, she will be concentrating further activism and advocacy against victim-blaming, slut-shaming and sexual profiling. You can follow her on twitter here.
SlutWalk Researcher & Satellite Liaison
Jeanette Janzen is currently in school for Event Planning. She’s pretty good at making things happen.
SlutWalk Organizer & YorkU Liaison
Bleedin’, sweatin’, laughing and crying, Alyssa Teekah tries to talk the talk and walk the walk. Formally she is in her last year at York University (humanities and sexuality studies). She is a coordinator and co-founder of the group Feminist Action @ YU. She could choose to align with descriptors like queer, feminist, post-colonial activist – and sometimes does. But she’s also interested in the spaces in between – the yet unnamed and misunderstood which still manage to make their way into our everyday life. The unsettling, provoking ways of living and existing that often cause tensions within the institutions that profit from keeping these expressions stifled. Perhaps with rose-coloured glasses, she’s thinking of a utopian future, and trying to lay the groundwork to make it a reality.
Erika Jane Scholz
Erika is a sex-positive feminist who enjoys wearing make up, tight clothes, and socializing with guys. Does this mean that she is more likely and deserving to get sexually assaulted? Absolutely NOT, but according to the views expressed by the police at York University this past January, she is. This form of victim-blaming and slut-bashing is both false and extremely dangerous. Erika, who is passionate about women’s rights and spends a large part of her time working with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre among other feminist organizations, has had enough and believes it is time to make some noise and get active surrounding the issue. Erika is very happy to reclaim the word ’slut’ by challenging these harmful myths and stereotypes that are so widely accepted by our sexist culture.
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