This story is featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Showcase: The Champions of Change Issue. » View the complete publication
Melissa Baldwin’s passion for activism was born on a day, several years ago, when she participated in a march on Parliament Hill.
“I saw a group of Raging Grannies storming Wellington Street in feather boas, elaborate hats, and brightly-coloured aprons, singing – If I Remember Correctly – a song about ousting Harper,” she recalls. “I was captivated and inspired by their activist vigor!”
Now as a master’s student at Trent, she is taking that inspiration further and informing her own academic research.
“Older women’s activists – like the Raging Grannies, but also groups like the Grandmothers Advocacy Network and others – are important because they resist the idea that activism is the domain of youth, while challenging assumptions of what activism is, how it should be practiced, and what is should look like.”
Finding an audience for Aging Radically
Most Wednesday mornings, you can hear Ms. Baldwin on Trent Radio (92.7 FM) as co-host, of Aging Radically, a half-hour show that promises listeners “stories, insights, calls to action, jokes, confessions, and more, from older women who are passionate, engaged, and making things happen in the Peterborough community today.”
She says the show is about amplifying the voices of older women working for change. “We know that many of the women we interview share the show with their own networks,” she explains. Currently, the recorded shows are hosted on the Trent Centre for Aging & Society website.
“What I think is exciting about the show, which is slightly different from the research I’m doing, is that the women’s own voices are broadcast telling their own stories. Also, their voices are being archived and shared through diverse networks. There is something very powerful about women in their 50s through to their 90s having their voices and their resistance broadcast to the ether.”
Ms. Baldwin is in her first year of an M.A. in Canadian and Indigenous Studies, studying at downtown campus, Traill College, but this is her third year at Trent. She came to the University to work as a research assistant with Dr. May Chazan, Canada research chair in Gender and Feminist Studies and faculty member in Gender and Women’s Studies at Trent, and also enrolled in part-time studies in Gender and Women’s Studies.
A community of critical feminist scholars
Ms. Baldwin says her experiences at Trent have had a great influence on her personal development. “The community of critical feminist scholars at the University across various disciplines is incredible. Being a part of this community significantly enriches my experience as a graduate student here at Trent: I wouldn’t be here if not for this strong feminist community of scholars.”