Dancing with the Octopus has a new mission: to get women into the history books.

Dancing Backwards aims to get Canada’s political women into history

One group of Victoria women are taking their message to a school near you: we need more powerful women in the history books.

Before voters are overwhelmed with election mayhem, one group of exuberant Victoria women are taking their message to a school near you: we need more women in power, and more powerful women in the history books.

Dancing with the Octopus, a non-partisan project that invites creativity and conversation about women and politics, has just unleashed its newest tentacle — “Dancing Backwards: Let’s Get Canada’s Political Women into History.” The pilot program, involving four Victoria schools, aims to pull the contributions of historical Canadian women into the spotlight, and into the social studies curriculum.

“When I go into the classrooms, I’m struck by how oblivious and apathetic most students are about politics, particularly the crucial and challenging role of women in politics,” says Sandy Mayzell, founder and president of Dancing with the Octopus. “It’s amazing to observe how quickly their attitudes flip from apathy to enthusiasm and curiosity, when students see video clips of political women in action.”

The team is aiming to inspire groups of elementary, middle and high school students to research and create the stories of politically influential women from Canada’s past 100 years, then present these stories to their peers through a variety of media: poetry, video, skit, puppet show, graphic story or narrated dance. The short stories will be filmed, and the strongest ones will be posted to the website, dancingbackwards.ca.

The pilot will involve about 150 students in Grades 5, 8 and 11, as well as volunteer interns,  and film, research and communications professionals. In order to cover the costs for filming and to complete the pilot and prepare to expand the program to schools across Canada, last week the group started a national crowd-sourced fundraising campaign (indiegogo.com/projects/dancing-backwards) and are already $2,288 into their $45,000 goal.

“Together, we can be in a world where our children teach each other equality,” says Mayzell. “Imagine that.” M

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