Life From A Feminist's Perspective

Truth Talks – with The Truth Movement NB

I am honoured to collaborate with such incredible women
Saly Mo Eid DavisBold and Outspoken

Saly was born in Moncton as a first generation Canadian. Balancing Egyptian and Canadian culture was difficult. As a very young child, Saly faced racism on a regular basis by both fellow schoolmates and their parents. Due to her father’s career, Saly also had the opportunity to live in Egypt as a child and chose to move back as a young adult to spend some time learning about the culture and her heritage. Being a gender minority in Egypt helped her develop a strong personality and voice. Saly made her debut as a public speaker during her university years where she was often featured as a guest on CBC where she discussed Middle-Eastern affairs. She was often featured on CBC during the riots and revolutions in the Middle-East to discuss affairs and current events as well as to give first hand accounts and internal analysis and forecasting of the events to come. In 2013, following the death of her father, Saly and her husband dove head first into entrepreneurship. A witnessing first hand failures and corruption within the independent and small business sectors, the provincial, municipal and federal leaders and our medical and public systems, Saly became quite vocal about her experiences and protested the systems, demanding accountability. Labeled a ‘trouble maker’ by many local business owners and professionals in her community, Saly is absolutely not afraid to say it as it is, call out corruption as she sees it and is absolutely proud of disrupting the status quo.Saly is a professional in the beauty industry and specializes in hair nutrition. Her passions include politics, music, current events, humanitarian issues and women’s health. She is a humanitarian and environmentalist.During Covid, Saly has kept busy with her online business, developing and improving her current business, and is working on a not for profit advocating for women’s health as well as on building a farm in her backyard.

Courtney L Smith – A scientist with a big heart

Courtney was born in New Brunswick and was raised in Geary. She graduated from Oromocto High School and went on to pursue a BSc. in medicinal chemistry from UNB. She completed a biophysical chemistry internship at Cornell University. Her journey led her to where she is now, currently a 3rd year PhD candidate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics at McGill University in Montreal. Courtney’s passions are sciences and helping other women find success in science fields. Courtney’s drive to help other women, including areas of mental health, inspired her to help Co-found The Truth Movement NB.

Marylee MacLaggan A kind and gentle soul

I grew up in Moncton, NB and have lived most of my life in this area. I now live in the beautiful little community of Saint Paul, on a 25 acre hobby farm. I am grateful to be here as nature has always been my healing place and helps keep me grounded. I live here with my partner, our two young kids, 2 dogs, and 4 goats. We have a lot of fun raising various animals and continue to learn as we grow. If nothing else, farming can make some pretty hilarious memories. I am first and foremost a mom and I am fortunate to spend most of my time with our kids. I also work with at-risk youth, and have been doing so for a little over a decade. I graduated from Mount Allison University with a BSc. My areas of study were psychology and biology, with particular interest in how biological and brain processes and mechanisms influence human behaviour and cognition. My other big passion is people; listening, understanding, and helping people, especially in the area of mental health. Mental illness has touched my life in a big way. I lost my mom to suicide in 2009, though she fought long and hard to overcome her depression. Living out my desire to help people is my way of honouring her because that is the kind of person she was, always helping others. My own experiences with mental health, along with a deep desire to break out of my own box to be able to do something different to help other women, is what inspired me to join my cousin, Jen Smith, and co-found The Truth Movement NB.

Jen Smith – Independent Candidate for New Maryland/Sunbury Riding

Hi everyone! I’m Jen Smith and I’m one of the co-founders of The Truth Movement NB. I was born in Oromocto and have lived just on the outskirts of the Military Town for most of my life. I’m a Geary girl. I did things backwards and had my kids in my early 20’s, then pursued my education when I was in my 30’s. My passions are derived from sociological perspective and include issues of mental health, women’s rights, and politics; particularly truth, accountability, and transparency in our party nomination processes, and within government itself. It was my long time, very heavy involvement with a NB political party, and the undertones of racism and deceitful, dishonest actions displayed by party officials, and the predominantly male party elite, that spawned my idea to create the Truth Movement NB. The rest is history. What started out as an idea in a small hut between 4 women, exploded into a movement supported by many. We have tackled many issues, often controversial; but we do so with respect and a willingness to be open-minded. I am truly honoured to be surround by, and supported by such incredibly successful, caring women. When the next provincial election is called, I am running as an independent candidate in the New Maryland/Sunbury Riding. Thank you to all that have supported us and we look forward to engaging with you more in our live FB series. This is the point where I have to give a shout out to one of our original co-founders, Trina Collins Toole, who had to leave us for personal reasons. We have big love for Trina and we hope she will join us as a guest at some point in our live series.

Natasha M Akhtar – Wise and worldly

One of our panelists in our Truth Talks Sat at 8:00 pm on fb live.

I was born in Pakistan and got my early childhood education in the US where my parents had moved to get their medical training . My mother passed away when I was in middle school, upon which it was decided that I would move back home with my grandparents. Growing up there gave me a strong sense of family and I experienced the value of togetherness in healing and receiving support. All of the girls I grew up with had so many serious issues to deal with – rampant unapologetic misogyny, the lack of legal protections for females, cultural traditions that were constantly used to keep them disenfranchised – in addition to all the problems the general population had . But even with all those challenges that we had to navigate on a daily basis, we somehow managed to stay functional and be supportive to our families and each other. I received a medical education but found it very difficult to practice in what I found to be a deeply misogynistic environment where women had little freedom of movement and were constantly discouraged from speaking on any issues at all. So I moved to the U.S. to start my graduate research program in Biomedical Sciences and was deciding whether to finish with a master’s degree or continue on to get my doctorate when my marriage was arranged to my husband who was getting his training as a specialist in a neighbouring state. I was anxious by this time to start a family and had never really considered not marrying someone from the culture so I agreed to the marriage . Shortly afterwards he informed me that he would be moving to Canada where I could complete my degree. However after we moved I realized due to the restrictions of my dependent visa, I was neither allowed to work or study in a degree program for 3 years. That I could have volunteered in any number of organizations was not something I was aware of as volunteering was limited in my home country, and no-one here advised me of this opportunity. My only contacts at the time were other women from my community of origin as those were the only people my husband – and his family who he brought along – were willing for us to socialize with. Other than two couples from Ontario who lived next door, no one else from our neighbourhood made an effort to get to know us. We had a strong tradition of hospitality in our culture and this lack of outreach by the host community was very surprising to me. When I asked what the reason was for this was, I heard that locals did not really want to get to know ” people from outside”. Having only lived in large cities and never having limited my interactions with people based on culture or race, I had not anticipated that people from small towns would be so different but living in a joint family did not allow for freedom of movement or dissent so I focused on housework which everyone wanted me to do and took all my time. We had two children and when they both entered preschool I thought I would be able to finish qualificaiton so I could restart my professional life . However I encountered some serious resistance from my spouse’s family when I mentioned this . Feeling I had no other option in order to secure the safety of my children so I could get my qualifications in order to go back to work, I tried to complain but was met with no success . When I tried to inquire why I hadn’t received help when I had asked for it , It was communicated that I was being “difficult” and maybe I should ask my community for help as it was a cultural problem . My community of origin had concerns about getting involved in what they perceived as someone else’s dispute and the standard approach was to expect the woman to accept whatever the man/ his family wanted : in our case : don’t talk to anyone and stay home . They expected I could utilize the supports available to women here . I had expected them to have that approach as that was how most of the community lived, but not that the town’s local community would also be apparently unconcerned when I asked them for support . At this point there were just three women I was in contact with, and the isolation was compounding the power imbalance in the family . Finally one of them put me in touch with some service providers who started to help me after she got involved . This helped with the power imbalance in the household however my husband exerted his parental rights by not allowing me to travel with my children to visit my family who lived not far away, on the east coast of the United States . Further compounding the isolation and lack of support.
At this point I started attending educational forums and workshops so I could learn skills as well as communicate with people, but the most significant empowering event that happened was when I attended an event launching a provincial research project on domestic violence in immigrant women and spoke to the project leaders . In contrast to most others I had met in town they neither seemed uninterested or advised me to keep my perspectives to myself so I wouldn’t make people uncomfortable. I was referred to join the New Brunswick Advisory Forum for immigrant women that they were setting up to inform the project . Here I met other women from different immigrant backgrounds many of whom were equally passionate about uplifting immigrant women who were not benefitting in an equal way form being a citizen even when they became naturalized . I had realized by this time that this was often because of unspoken discrimination against minorities, but I felt If the knowledge gap that immigrants had was filled we would be better equipped to help ourselves if we needed to . As the project was time limited I joined with some of the other women to found an immigrant women’s association as no such group existed in the province at the time. I found this very rewarding work.
However being a new organization, we were mostly involved in speaking on and providing referrals and support for immigration related issues and domestic abuse . I knew from experiences that the perceived drawbacks of being immigrants as well as ethnocultural minorities created problems for women in other spheres and more over did not appreciate being put in a ” immigrant / minority ” box so I started joining other feminist organizations to connect with other like minded individuals. This is how I came across the Truth movement as their frank and honest messages stood out to me .

Join us on FB live at 8:00pm @thetruthmovement.nb

Love ya’ll – Jen xo

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