Sunday, 12 June 2011


"Doing is a quantum leap from imagining."  Barbara Sher

The goal of the “Celebrating…” blog entries is to celebrate social/political involvement, and to present a range of people and groups.  The views expressed may or may not be representative of your opinions, or of mine, but the goal here is to illustrate the many ways people get involved, and to encourage others to become more active. 

As always, if pressed for time skip ahead to the WHAT YOU CAN DO section.

Daniel Bonin’s earliest memories of social and political involvement consist of raising money for different charities, and of church involvement. 
Elders, whether they be my mother, my godparents, my father, or various member of the community often encouraged me to help others and  to make the world a better place, even if it was through simple or little acts.  One of the lessons I remember the most from when I was a child is that I should never ‘hide my light under a bushel’, and I’ve always had a strong need for social justice.

Over the last decade, this need has been shaped by personal loss.  In 2003, Daniel lost a long battle for custody of his daughter.  He has not heard from her since.
His long struggle with the court system focused his interest in social activism and social justice on gender bias within the family court system.  Constitutionally, laws must be applied equally to all, regardless of gender.  In Daniel’s case (and in many other custody cases), the laws are applied with a clear bias towards women, and with the apparent assumption that women are better parents.  The loss of his daughter galvanized Daniel, and over the last ten years or so, he has worked to raise awareness of this bias, as well as sexism in general. 

Dealing with the emotional fall out of his loss, Daniel sought support.  “Not much was available for fathers in 2003.  Most social services revolved around women and their needs.” After much searching, he found a small group of men who met to talk of their loss, but  Daniel felt a need for action on the matter, not just emotional support.  Through contacts with the first group, he was lead to another, action-oriented group of fathers. 
The Quebec chapter of Fathers 4 Justice (F4J) was small, but vocal.  In May 2005, they took part in a North American-wide series of protests.  The Montreal chapter ‘pirated’ billboards overlooking the TransCanada Highway, hanging banners where passing motorists could see them.  Additionally, thousands of live crickets were released into court houses within Quebec, and across the Canada (see here and here) in protest of unfair treatment in the family court system.

Daniel even climbed the cross on Mount Royal, disguised as Spiderman in order to draw attention to the plight of fathers.  

(A long tradition of using Superhero disguises exists within the Fathers 4 Justice movement see here  and here).

This resulted in others climbing various structures in and around the city, to draw the same attention to the problem, creating a snowball effect.

Within two months, the Montreal chapter received between 1,600 and 2,000 calls from people asking for help in dealing with the family court system.  This small group was not capable of dealing with all these requests; it was simply more than they could handle. 
Along with these requests, the publicity generated by their public protests resulted in pressure from groups (some of whom were quite powerful) – groups who saw F4J as being anti-woman and sexist, rather than pro-family and anti-sexist. These groups:
…branded us as the opposite of feminists, which I personally believe was contrary to what I believe our movement was – a movement which would liberate women from their pedestal of being the perfect mother who can work and take care of the children.  The only thing F4J wanted was to have men be seen as equals in their parenting skills and abilities, in accordance with Quebec’s Legal System.

The years of “…breaking our heads against a pretty solid wall of ignorance, misandry, propaganda and legal bigotry…” took its toll on many members of F4J, including Daniel. He cut back on activism and protesting for a few years, choosing instead to recharge his batteries and rebuild his emotional reserves.   
Now, having suffered eight years without any contact from my child, I realize that while attitudes might be slowly trickling forward, there is still a lot that needs to be done, and a lack of leadership.  The groups that presently exit for fathers, or male victims of domestic violence, are under the financial boot of the Ministre de Famille and the Condition Feminine, government organisations that seem to have excluded the idea of having masculine or paternal representation within their organisations, leaving the small and very few men’s groups and support systems to be constantly on guard not to offend…

Daniel is now beginning to become active in the movement once more, choosing to focus his attention on a new group: Fathers and the Family Action Collective (FATFAC). The seed for FATFAC was planted by former members of F4J who felt that their work was important and necessary in order to maintain some sort of presence in the public eye, and to sustain momentum in public education regarding this issue. (F4J Montreal is presently without real organisation or form, and FATFAC is interested in a different form of protest – more subdued, more inclusive.) While he still considers himself a “…T-shirt wearing member of F4J…” (referring to the F4J T-shirt he wears often, and intentionally, to public protests in order to draw attention to the plight of fathers), Daniel is branching out, and ready to begin to learn the skills necessary to lead FATFAC.

Their first event is a Candle Light Vigil to be held in honour of Fathers Who Care, and for fathers and extended family members who wish to take part in memory of lost children.  This event will take place Saturday, June 18, 2011 from 20h00-22h30, in Phillips Square, Montreal (McGill Metro, St. Catherine’s St. across from The Bay.)  All are welcome. Bring your own candle. 

  1. If you are in the area, drop in and take part in the Candle Light Vigil in honour of Fathers Who Care
  2. Think about personal experiences that have left you feeling as though an injustice has been done
  3. Find like-minded groups that try to correct this type of injustice
  4. If you find them, donate money or time to the cause
  5. If you don't find groups that deal with this issue, do some research and start your own group.

All are

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