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There are only ten countries in the world that allow women to fight in frontline combat, and Canada is one of them. The mission in Afghanistan marks the first time in Canadian history that women soldiers are fighting in direct ground combat.


Remembrance Doesn’t Have a Gender

Check out, retired servicewoman and writer, Kelly Thompson’s article on the advances of women in the military and the challenges to true gender equality.

http://www.roommagazine.com/blog/guest-post-remembrance-doesn%E2%80%99t-have-gender

Expert:

“I put up with a lot while I was in the military. Some of it was harmless, and thinking back, some of it bordered on harassment. But I also stood up for what I believed in, fought for what I felt was important, and sought to prove that femininity was not a curse but an asset. As a woman, I brought alternative views, differing opinions and a new kind of problem solving. My troops came to respect me as a leader, not because I was a woman or because my rank as an officer demanded inherent respect.”

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2011 IN REVIEW

It was a great year for Sisters in Arms!

In 2011 we had dozens of screenings, national and regional broadcasts, inspiring panel discussions and in total, over 100,000 people have seen the film!

2011 Screening and Broadcast Highlights

March 1   Canada’s Mission to the United Nations, New York
March 6   Women in Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada
March 8   Department of National Defense HQ, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 
          Part of International Women’s Day celebrations
March 10  Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
          Part of International Women’s Day celebrations
March 11  ACCESS television broadcast, Alberta, Canada
March 12  ACCESS television broadcast, Alberta, Canada
March 30  Soeurs d’armes, French broadcast, nationally on RDI/CBC
May 6     Gregg Centre for the Study of War & Society
          University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada
May 26-29 Nominated for a 2011 Golden Sheaf Award
          The Yorkton Film Festival in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada
Sept 5    Prince Edward Island Film Festival Charlottetown, Canada
Sept 25   Broadcast on Saskatchewan Communications Network
Oct 15    Other Venice Film Festival, Venice Beach, California USA
Nov 8     Broadcast on Knowledge Network
Dec 4     Collingwood Cinema Club Film Festival, Ontario, Canada
          Partnership with the <a title="TIFF Film Circuit" href="http://tiff.net/filmcircuit/about" target="_blank">Film Circuit, Toronto Int'l Film Fest

In the News
January 30
Featured in a cover story in the Toronto Star comparing the situation for  women in the Canadian Forces to those in the US.

February 12
Malcolm Perry featured us in his Town Talk in the Vancouver Sun (that’s me between Henrik Sedin and Jennifer Aniston) “One to watch may be writer-director-producer Beth Freeman” ~Malcolm Parry

February 25
Katherine Monk reviewed Sisters in Arms for her column. She wrote: Reconciling the human capacity for love with our unending ability to kill with purpose is a continuing preoccupation for our species, and one that
Sisters in Arms probes with delicate restraint as it shows us women as mothers and life-givers, as well as women as lethal weapons.

March 3
Sisters in Arms was the cover story in the Vancouver Courier

March 6
Global’s Steve Darling interviewed Beth Freeman in the lead up to the Vancouver Women in Film Festival screening.

More Updates

This year saw lots of changes for many of the film subjects:

o   Tamar Freeman received a Chief of Defense Staff commendation for her tour with Operation Medusa in Afghanistan. She also relocated to Canadian Forces Base Borden in Ontario.

o   Katie left the infantry and is now an army photographer also based out of Borden.

o   In November, Kimberley and her husband welcomed a baby boy into the family!

o   Chris Whitecross was promoted from Brigadier-General to Major-General, only 2 other women have ever achieved this rank in the Canadian Forces.  A big congratulations goes out to her!

We partnered with Moving Images Distribution for the Canadian educational rights and have an excellent response.

We are in discussions with a number of organisations regarding 2012 screenings and look forward to keeping the dialogue going!

Thank you all making this such a great year.

Happy New Year!

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A fantastic few weeks!

What a fantastic few weeks for Sisters in Arms!

From the UN in NYC to another great screening in Vancouver (Women in Film Festival) on to the International Women’s Day celebrations at the Department of National Defense in Ottawa and wrapping up at the Royal Military College in Kingston.

We were so fortunate to have both Tamar and Katie attend in Kingston.  Its the first time 2 of the main subjects have been on the panel and the audience couldn’t get enough of them.  Theory trumps  first hand experience and their reflections as women in combat resonated in a special and very real way the with the young cadets in the audience.

It was inspiring to be surrounded by people who connect with the Sisters in Arms stories because of their own experiences  in combat; sending a loved off to fight;  struggling for respect; or suffering form loss, that made these events exceptionally rewarding.

To quote Acting Sub-Lieutenant Mary Dahl :

“As a military spouse and a female Officer in the CF, I also thank you for your courage in taking on a subject that can invoke emotions at both extremes. I thank you for presenting a perspective that tries to reconcile the soldier with the female and introduces a dialogue that empowers the two rather than seek to sacrifice one for the other.”

Once again, a lively discussion ensued after the screening and continues…..

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International Women’s Day @ the DND

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the Department of National Defense in Ottawa hosted two screenings of Sisters in Arms.  I was honored to be invited to share the film with this audience.  At the same time, I was quite nervous about how it would be received, by the Canadian Forces women, in particular.

I was up early, filled with the excitement (and trepidation) for the day.  I stepped into the frigid winter morning and had a short walk over to the looming DND building.  As I walked in the door I was greeted by my smiling and enthusiastic hosts and the day was off to a good start that never stopped.

Over 200 women and men came out to see Sisters in Arms.  The screenings were followed by lively Q & A discussions with a panel including myself, Retired Lt Col Shirley Robinson – co founder of the Association for Women’s Equity in the Canadian Forces who played a key roll in getting all military trades open to women, and Lt Col Anne Reiffenstein – the first to woman to graduate as an artillery officer in the Canadian Military.  The audience was so engaged and their questions and responses so enthusiastic, I sensed that the film struck a cord.

We talked about the changes since the momentous decision by the Human Rights Tribunal in 1989 to open all trades to women;  mentorship and gender integration;  the current challenges facing women soldiers; and even the taboo subject of sexual harassment;  all from very personal perspectives.   It seemed anything was open to discussion. And, for a while, we were in that comforting and inspired place that women go when they connect.

I hope this film and the discussions it generates will support and encourage the people it profiles and continues to inspire dialogue both inside and outside of military circles.

Keep talking.

Special thanks to my hosts Cpt. Kristy Mathisen, Lt. Carol Desrosiers and the fabulous MC MWO Roberge for making this such a great event

Comments: 4 Comments

“a soldier is a soldier”?

Brigadier General (Retired) Sheila A. Hellstrom posts her comments on Sisters in Arms.  In 1987, Hellstrom became the first woman to be promoted to Brigadier General in the Canadian Forces (both Regular and Reserve):

I thought the DVD was very good although it almost got me off on the wrong foot when the male officer said “a soldier is a soldier” and didn’t know how many women were in the infantry. That took me back to my days in DWP when we had difficulty tracking the # of women in Mobile Command because the army was reluctant to break down the stats by gender. But then I thought of when I was inToronto and a reporter asked me how many women were working for me  – I didn’t know either although I could have given him the mil/civ total numbers.

The three women whose stories were told in the film were great. In interviews they were honest and forthright about their feelings/fears/concerns. The combat engineer looked familiar – I may have met her somewhere, perhaps  Bosnia… and I would love to see more of the videos the medic took in Afghanistan. I also liked the juxtaposition of archival CWAC material with modern footage.

Initially I thought the coverage of family reaction to the deployment of the daughter/wife, both going and returning, was a bit excessive but in retrospect I believe it was necessary to complete the picture. The comparison between Kim changing occupations and the BGen’s husband getting out, both for family reasons, was a nice touch.

I hope lots of people get a chance to view the film, perhaps on TVO or CBC Doc Zone. Best regards – and happy 100th IWD!

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