Road Maps, Donuts & Dancing: The G Day Experience
I took a friend’s 12 year old daughter to G Day, a daylong rite of passage signaling, celebrating and supporting 10 – 12 year old girls on the cusp of womanhood. I could have really used an event like this when I was a preteen in the mid 70’s. My entry to womanhood was a little like parachuting from a low flying plane into a foreign country without a road map, all the while attempting to navigate in a new body (that seemed to arrive overnight) that I didn’t recognize nor understand. I look back on that phase of my life with regret. I know. Not healthy. But I have scratched below the surface of regret and discovered a gift – 3 gifts in fact. Three dear friends (one of which is Madeleine Shaw, creator of G Day!) all have amazing preteen daughters with whom I love to spend time. Anything I can do to be a fun and supportive mentor during their pending hormonal maelstrom is a gift for me. They are my antidote for any lingering regret. When G Day came along I jumped at the chance to secure tickets, book off my day and treat Elan. Who knew what morsels of joy and wisdom we might discover and share? And a bonus was Elan was super excited to attend G Day and her parents were thrilled for her to attend with me. Mutually positive anticipation is a beautiful thing to share.
Elan and I arrived at the Ismaili Centre, an architecturally stunning oasis in the heart of Burnaby. A perfect venue for G Day. The day began with 120 girls and myself along with the rest of the 80 attending adults (champions) enjoying a heartfelt welcome including Coast Salish speaker Rebecca Duncan describing among other things the hand language for welcome and goodbye: arms outstretched with palms up. The spirit of the day was set: this is your day, have fun, and we are all in this together! The girls and champions cantered through their own programming for the rest of the day with speakers and topics tailored to each group. The champion’s speakers ranged from the director of the Dalai Lama Centre Fiona Douglas Crampton speaking on “Educating the Heart” to Lori Boland of the WYCA Culture Shift Program expertly outlining the tools for media literacy and critical thinking to help us navigate the quagmire of sexualized advertising and social media. A topic that could potentially leave you feeling depressed, discouraged and at a loss for the future of our girls. But in fact I felt the opposite, as the speakers brimmed with hope, inspired stories and coaching strategies encouraging us to spearhead the “teachable” moments when they present themselves.
The G Day finale was a perfect celebratory triptych. The champions sang the girls up a spiral staircase (amazing), there was a dance party (I danced like a 12 year old) and donuts. Elan and I chatted about our day as we headed back to the North Shore with the late afternoon sun striking the mountains framed against blue-black clouds. Inspired and energized by G day, Elan chattered away candidly about her experience. I listened intently, honoured to share the day with her. Reveling in the unexpected late afternoon sun we strolled Ambleside Beach and came upon the Coast Salish Welcoming Totem Pole with arms outstretched to the sea. A totem I’ve passed a thousand times but saw for the first time that afternoon – thanks to Elan. Thanks to G Day. A totem that seemed to be welcoming Elan to the wild and wonderful landscape of womanhood that’s just around the corner. Road maps at the ready when she is.