Women’s Network P.E.I. executive director works to include men in feminist support
Jillian Kilfoil was born a feminist.
From a young age she knew she needed to stand up against prejudices.
She spent five years travelling to work at feminist retreats across Canada before moving back to her home in O’Leary for a six-month position as executive director of the Women’s Network P.E.I.
She took the job permanently and since then, she has been working towards gender equality on the Island.
She hasn’t stopped working with Gender Equality Network Canada, though, Kilfoil said.
“That is my way of staying with the national collective.”
Kilfoil represented Canada when she was invited to speak at the New York UN Conference on March 12 as part of a Canadian delegation on the Status of Women.
While there, they talked about the effect rurality has on feminism. Since returning Kilfoil is making male involvement in feminist issues her top priority, she said.
“They call feminism the F-word and believe it means to hate men, but we all experience gender.”
There’s an interlocking oppression of society, she said. Feminism covers more than just gender, people are discriminated against for race, age and more, said Kilfoil.
“We don’t live single issue lives.”
With so much inequality in our society for both men and women, both genders need to take action, she said.
“A lot of feminists are women but feminism isn’t just based on gender.”
The Women’s Network P.E.I. isn’t the only group looking for equality here.
Joshua Borges, or Demona Deville when in drag, is an Island drag queen who works closely with Pride P.E.I. and the LGBTQ+ Youth Group to create an accepting culture.
Borges teamed up with the organizations to support both the drag and gay communities but said he’s working to encourage equality for everyone.
“Feminism and gay equality as just being basic human rights.”
Borges volunteers with the LGBTQ+ youth group. Drag is inclusive and can be a different thing to everyone, he said.
“Working with the youth group has given me a lot of perspective into being my most authentic self in order to help support and cultivate an environment where they can be their most authentic selves and be OK with it.”
He has helped create numerous events aiming to improve acceptance including an upcoming all ages drag cabaret show at The Guild.
Judgment isn’t the issue, misperception is, said Borges.
“There are more people to be convinced on P.E.I. that this is something that is necessary and OK. Nobody has come from a place of negativity, just a place of not understanding.”
Borges is a feminist as well as gender fluid and is proud that he is able to emulate powerful women while in drag but knows there are many others who don’t think the same way, he said.
“I’m just in a little bubble where I believe that women are excellent.”
He said he thinks gay and female oppression are very similar.
“We’re fighting for the same thing.”