Melissa BakerStudent Melissa Baker (right) describes her experiences as a deaf person during Tuesday's event on the theme of "Voices and Silences."

Distinguished Visitor Program goes in new direction

The Friends of Women’s Studies didn’t let a little rain dampen their enthusiasm Tuesday evening as they met in Ambassador Auditorium for a sneak preview event to announce the 2013 Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies.

The group, which had originally been scheduled to meet and mingle in the backyard of UWindsor president and women's studies supporter Alan Wildeman and his wife Debra Henderson, carried on in spite of the weather to announce this year’s theme, “Voices and Silences,” and its roster of six visitors.

This year, which is the program’s 13th, follows the new format and features six distinguished and diverse women.

The Friends of Women’s Studies decided to expand the program from honouring just one woman to broaden the discussion and appeal to a wider group of supporters, said event organizer and women’s studies professor Anne Forrest.

“This change was driven by our wish to connect younger women to feminism in a practical way,” she said. “We have re-invented the program to focus on a theme. This year we have invited women whose various ways of working in the creative arts illustrate how women use voice and silence to inspire, encourage, rally and liberate themselves and others.”

Distinguished Visitors for 2013 are:

  • Taborah “Tabby” Johnson, co-chair of the Toronto Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) Women’s Committee, who also services on ACTRA’s Diversity Committee and as a child advocate. She is a leader in the Get Women Working campaign.
  • Nicole St. Martin, co-chair of the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee and a facilitator of anti-harassment training for the Directors’ Guild of Canada and ACTRA Toronto members. She is a leader in the Get Women Working campaign.
  • Jennifer B. Lord is a Metis woman, Indiginous feminist and Strategic Policy Liaison for the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She has travelled across Canada promoting the Faceless Dolls art activism project.
  • Amai Kuda is a singer/songwriter and community activist who weaves music into her activist work and infuses her songs with a call for justice. She recently released her debut album, Sand from the Sea.
  • Sonia Nizzer, a UWindsor Social Work and Women’s Studies alumna who was heavily involved in the local punk scene in Windsor in the mid-2000s and was influenced by the Riot Grrrl movement. She is currently a Toronto social worker who provides services and support to women with postpartum depression.
  • Jill Andrew, self-defined “fierce and fabulous fat Black feminist,” and founder of BITE ME! Toronto International Body Image Film & Arts Festival. She is co-founder of, a “fatshion” blog. She is currently a PhD candidate at York University.

For a full list DVWS 2013 events, including the Meet, Greet & Eat Keynote address on October 22, visit