Womb Boom’s drums beat on International Women’s Day

Womb Boom, a group of female hip-hop drummers, performed at the Bus Stop Theatre to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Driven by the steady beat of a drum, women of all ages and backgrounds danced, tapped, sang and jammed at the Bus Stop Theatre on Sunday to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Womb Boom, a group of female hip-hop drummers, showed off what they had learned in the past months as they led the jam.

The group is a pilot project of the Music Liberatory School which is “aimed at dramatically increasing the number of female instrumentalists by providing free music education, with emphasis on developing and maintaining the cultural leadership of women of colour,” according to the online Kijiji ad for the drumming group.

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Tamar Dina, founder of the school, began the afternoon leading a kitchen table discussion about women and their experiences in music.

Shari Clarke played the violin and flute during Womb Boom’s jam session.

“It’s about the focus on women and creativity,” said Clarke. “It’s a fabulous gathering place for us to meet and share our creativity and celebrate who we are.”

Dina talked about her inspiration for the project and the school, and why women’s presence in music is so important.

“When I was thinking about what could change the world,” said Dina, “I settled on the idea that I want to do the thing now that I wish will still be happening in a transformed society.

“That’s true about music.”

Dina’s vision

Dina’s experience working in crisis centres dealing with issues of violence against women shaped her vision for the Music Liberatory School.

“A lot of women don’t have a means to deal with violence immediately,” said Dina. “So the way they usually deal with it is self destruction.”

The steady beat of the drum, and the easy, accessible way to be a part of that sound, became the foundation of the pilot project.

They began with percussion and drums “because that’s your fundamentals in music,” said Dina.

“When women are first coming together on the drum, we’re not using words yet,” she said. “We’re just expressing our experiences through rhythm.

“Then, as we get more comfortable and we’re willing to trust each other more … Then those stories can start turning into songs.”

The core group of five to eight people, with more than 20 women loosely connected, meet weekly at the George Dixon Centre.

Childcare provided on-site

Childcare is provided, which enables women, especially single mothers, who would have usually stayed home to come out and drum. This is one thing that separates them from other music programs, along with Womb Boom’s emphasis on a high standard of music.

“With a lot of music programs the emphasis is on progress,” said Dina.

“This is a feminist art project,” she said. “We are constantly trying to improve our music intellectually and musically so that it can be effective.”

The International Women’s Day event at The Bus Stop Theatre showed off that high standard of music, while the simple beat of the drum kept the music accessible to all women in the room.

Alexis Smith is a talented bass player and musician. She brought that fusion of quality and effectiveness with passion and meaning to Womb Boom’s jam.

“For me, it’s all creative for the mind,” said Smith. “And it’s just good for the spirit.”

Woman says she was excluded from Halifax’s International Women’s Day rally

Amy Moonshadow says she’s upset Halifax’s International Women’s Day rally didn’t include anyone speaking on behalf of women with disabilities.

A crowd gathered in Halifax’s Grand Parade to celebrate International Women’s Day on Sunday afternoon. Drums were played, flags waved, and women spoke; however, just as the rally was ending a woman who wasn’t on the agenda stood up in front of the crowd to express her frustration.

Moonshadow, paralyzed on her left side after being hit by a drunk driver in 1975, said she’s upset the event didn’t include anyone speaking on behalf of women with disabilities.

“Before you people leave I want to say something. I am embarrassed that this group does not recognize that the highest percentage of women with disabilities live in Nova Scotia. One in five of us, it might be the person next to you, will experience some sort of mental health crisis in their lifetime. I’m sorry, but I find it very difficult to be in solidarity with these women here who do not recognize us! It’s nice the cameras are gone cause you know people with disabilities do not count in Nova Scotia,” said Amy Moonshadow.

Crowd members responded to Moonshadow’s speech agreeing with her and thanking her for bringing up the issue.

LGBTQ activist, Madison Foster, who spoke earlier during the event, responded to Moonshadow’s comments amongst the crowd.

“We need to be better at being in solidarity with you, it looks like we let you down by not bringing this up,” said Foster.

Madison Foster speaks at Halifax's International Women's Day rally. (Photo: Delaney MacKay)
Madison Foster speaks at Halifax’s International Women’s Day rally. (Photo: Delaney MacKay)

The Halifax Dartmouth and District Labour council sponsored the rally. A number of women including Christine Saulnier, Anika Roberts-Stahlbrand and Michaela Sam spoke at the rally with a performance by SolidariGLEE.

Moonshadow said she wanted to be included in the rally but didn’t know how to contact the planning committee. She says she went to a meeting one year ago and made posters.

Dawn Ferris, vice-president of women’s issues for the Halifax Dartmouth labour council, said Moonshadow attended last year’s event but didn’t say she wanted to be on this year’s agenda.

“Amy brings up a really good point in that I didn’t include her in the capacity of a disabled female. We were trying to get guest speakers as we always do every year from labour, from policy, from that perspective,” said Ferris.

Ferris said this year’s theme “for our bodies, our territories” came from a national effort of labour councils across Canada.

“With all the things going on with the missing and murdered sisters in the aboriginal community, and all of the misogynistic stories that are in the news lately, so it seemed like a really relevant important topic,” said Ferris.

A crowd gathers in Halifax's Grand Parade to celebrate International Women's Day. (Photo: Delaney MacKay)
A crowd gathers in Halifax’s Grand Parade to celebrate International Women’s Day. (Photo: Delaney MacKay)

Those who took to the steps in front of the City Hall during the event addressed the struggles of women in Nova Scotia. They proposed an end to sexism and gender-based violence and demanded action for equal pay, reproductive health care, and an inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.