Ripples of Impact

A white daisy against a bright blue sky strewn with wispy white clouds.

"[Working to end violence against women] can sometimes feel like walking against the wind, just not getting anywhere, but there are a lot of bright spots in that, too."

As Victoria points out in the smallest steps, progress in the work to end violence against women isn’t always readily apparent. Violence against women is not a subject people willingly talk about, and change toward a world without violence can be “incremental as hell”, as Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of DAWN Canada puts it.

But our actions DO have impacts, and today, we have a story to share about how our actions can ripple outwards in unexpected ways.

So, back in September 2022, we held the world premiere of the smallest steps in Ottawa, ON. That evening, there was a local composer in the audience named Jack Hui Litster.

At the time, Jack was at the beginning stages of writing a new musical composition for OperOttawa. Titled Gates of Heaven, the composition was a requiem that Jack wanted to dedicate to three women activists from past generations.

He had ideas about the types of activists that would inspire the requiem, but he wasn’t quite sure where to start his research. So after seeing the smallest steps, he contacted us to ask if we might help.

One meeting (and a couple library books about incredible Canadian women) later, and Jack was off to the research races, gathering inspiration from the stories of women leaders from across Canada. His research led him to dedicating his requiem to not three, but 14 different women — the same number of activists featured in the smallest steps (totally a coincidence! We swear!).

After working on this composition for almost two years, Jack is now finished! On March 10, 2024, he will premiere this magnificent work at the First Baptist Church here in Ottawa!

Sung by an all-female choir, and accompanied by chamber orchestra, Gates of Heaven: Requiem for a Life of Peace will include three pauses during which a commemoration will be read honouring these Canadian women leaders: Allie Vibert Douglas, Viola Desmond, Madeleine Parent, Keiko Margaret Lyons, Rosemary Brown, Ethel Stark, Portia White, Kathleen Livingstone, Kenojuak Ashevak, Mary Ann Shadd, Hide Hyodo Shimizu, Lotta Hitschmanova, Violet King Henry, and Shirley Greenberg.

The show will not only debut a moving musical composition, including a section inspired by activist leaders that Jack worked with during his decade spent in human rights and social justice organizations, but it will also share the ways in which these 14 women changed Canada through their own small (and not so small) steps for justice and equality.

While our single meeting with Jack wasn’t, by any means, the reason he wrote a requiem dedicated to activists, our willingness to share our knowledge helped to lead him to these women’s stories.

So even when you think your anti-violence work isn’t getting anywhere, trust that you are having an impact. You might not see the ripples your actions are making, but someone, somewhere is taking their own unique steps for change because of you!

Learn more about the story behind Jack’s requiem, and get your tickets to attend!