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The 15 Most Badass Feminist Moments In Canada In 2015

From overpriced tampons to "seduction artists," women in Canada weren't having any of it this year.

1. When Dalhousie University suspended 13 dentistry students over a sexist Facebook page.

After Dalhousie discovered a Facebook page operated by dentistry students that contained comments about drugging and raping fellow female students, as well as other misogynistic and hateful posts, the university announced the suspension of 13 fourth-year dentistry students from clinic. In the wake of the allegations, faculty members called for the school to launch an independent inquiry into sexualized violence on campus, acknowledging that it’s a problem at universities across the country.

2. When Canadian Menstruators made a kick-ass video explaining why tampons should not be taxed.

View this video on YouTube

In a cheeky, in-your-face video, YouTubers Canadian Menstruators easily explained how ludicrous the taxation on essential items like tampons and pads was, while wedding cakes and maraschino cherries were somehow exempt. Point made, ladies. Point made.

3. And when the tax on tampons was finally abolished.

Proud to announce that our Gov't will support the motion to remove the GST from feminine hygiene products. #cdnpoli #notaxontampons

After years of campaigning, and after an online petition went viral last year, female MPs in the House of Commons, in an excellent show of solidarity and cross-party support, unanimously voted in favour of passing a new law permanently removing the gender-based tax. Oh, and calling it a "luxury" item.

4. When our Prime Minister proudly declared himself a feminist.

I am a feminist. I’m proud to be a feminist. #upfordebate

The man behind the promise to bring "sunny ways" to Canadian politics left absolutely no room for doubt as to how he felt when it came to women's rights and gender equality.

5. When Trudeau promised, and then carried out, a plan to have a 50/50 gender-balanced cabinet.

BuzzFeed Canada

A gender-balanced cabinet was one of Justin Trudeau's campaign promises, and our newly elected Prime Minister promptly delivered , giving us the first in the country's history. When asked why this was so important to him, Trudeau gave the kind of YOLO-tinged succinct response that immediately became a social media sensation: "Because it's 2015."

6. And feminist and world-renowned muggle Emma Watson gave her approval.

Why a gender balanced/50:50 government?"Because it's 2015!"Coolest thing I've seen in a while.❤️ U Canada. #Heforshe

Watson expressed her love for Canada and our proudly feminist Prime Minister by tweeting about it. Watson was recently appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate gender equality.

7. When Zunera Ishaq stood up for herself and the niqab, and kicked some ass in the process.

The high school teacher from Pakistan challenged the Harper government's niqab policy (introduced in 2011 and forcing niqab-wearing Muslim women to remove it during the swearing-in ceremony), arguing that it violated her freedom of religion. Zunera was willing to remove the veil for purposes of identification, but refused to do the same during the public ceremony. Despite the court case becoming a heated electoral issue during the federal campaign, Zunera remained steadfast and committed to fighting this. She insisted the government had no place in the private decisions of individual citizens. After a long legal fight, the Federal Court of Appeal agreed with her. In October, the soft-spoken, yet defiant and determined Zunera was sworn in as a Canadian citizen with tears of joy in her eyes.

8. When people raised questions over Zunera Ishaq's victory in court, and whether it was a "win" for feminism, she set the record straight.


Zunera reminded everyone that a feminist is any woman who stands up for herself and defends the right to her own choices.

Her reminder is a reminder that feminism isn’t about enabling women to make the choices you deem acceptable; it’s about expanding women’s options and allowing women to decide for themselves. Zunera proved that kickass Canadian feminists come in all sizes, shapes, colours, ethnicities, and religions.

9. When FEMEN defended reproductive freedoms and protested anti-terrorism bills that limit these freedoms.

2015 proved that not everyone is a fan of FEMEN's unorthodox methods and over-the-top proclivity for camera-friendly topless protests, but any woman who can storm a government press conference shouting "My uterus, my priority" in defense of reproductive freedom is brave in more ways than one.

The feminist group (which calls itself "sextremist" and uses female nudity as a form of empowerment and way to gain media attention for women's issues) was there protesting Bill 20, a legislation aimed at reforming the province's healthcare system. Quebec women's rights groups feared that these changes could limit or impede access to abortion services.

A few months later, the topless FEMEN member depicted above, Neda Topaloski, managed to once again circumvent security and storm the House of Commons to protest C-51, an anti-terror bill.

10. When our Mrs. Universe claimed her crown, and immediately got to work on the issues burdening her Indigenous community.

Mark Blinch / Reuters

After Ashley Callingbull, from Alberta's Enoch Cree Nation, took home the title of Mrs. Universe, she wasted no time using her platform to call out the government on its treatment of First Nations issues and the lack of a MMIW inquiry.

11. And then proceeded to show Canada and the world that pretty and politics can mix just fine.

Facebook: permalink.php / Via Facebook

The 25-year-old has not been afraid to be public about her opinions ever since.

12. When pick-up artist Roosh (The Douche, as he's been dubbed) tried to share his misogynistic message with Canadians, but promptly crashed and burned.

Roosh V / Via

Controversial pick-up artist and blogger Daryush Valizadeh, better known as Roosh V, came to Montreal and Toronto this year in a sad attempt to spread his messages to men — things like "rape should be legal if done on private property" — and believed they would help them pick up women.

When he got to Montreal, he spent most of his time holed up in random hotel rooms and cafes, issuing cheesy threats to local feminists online. He eventually spoke to a gaggle of followers in the back room of some unnamed restaurant, and wore a wig to go out that night because he was afraid he'd be recognized. WELL, he promptly got recognized by a woman who threw her beer in his face (we all owe you a libation, brilliant freedom fighter).

Following the incident, Roosh V declared his Montreal visit a "resounding victory," prompting everyone to question whether English is his first language, and then headed off to Toronto, where the reception was every bit as unwelcoming as the first time.

13. When the much-pressed-about inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women was finally underway.

Chris Wattie / Reuters

After years of demands for an official and public MMIW inquiry, the new Liberal government finally made good on its promise and has started the first phase of consultations with Indigenous leaders, family members, front-line workers and women's organizations. According to a 2014 RCMP report, there are more than 1,200 cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women spanning the past three decades, and with this inquiry there is finally some sort of resolution and hope for family members waiting for their loss to be acknowledged.

14. When it was decided that Federal Court Justice Robin Why Couldn't You Just Keep Your Knees Together Camp wouldn't be sitting in on any new legal cases until further notice.

CBC / Via

Robin Camp, a Federal Court judge under fire for asking a 19-year-old rape victim, "Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?" during a Calgary sexual assault trial in 2014, has been barred from trying any new cases for the time being. The reason Camp's insensitive and dangerously misogynistic words were even brought to anyone's attention were the complaints of four female law professors — two from the University of Calgary and two from Dalhousie University. The professors said, "Nope... Not gonna happen. Judge Jerk's going down."

15. When our Canadian military made it easier for its members to confidentially report sexual assault.

Cpl Pierre Habib / Via

Following in the path of Australian and American military who already have this type of confidential reporting in place, this year, the Canadian military decided to also make it easier for our soldiers to do the same. According to reports, allowing soldiers to report a sexual assault without their superiors or Military Police present increased the number of people who came forward. Statistics Canada states that 1 in 13 full-time female members of the Canadian Forces have been sexually assaulted in connection with their service in the military, so anything that can facilitate the process of reporting sexual assault is welcome news.

Here's to hoping 2016 has many more moments where women stand up for equal rights.

And many more where she won't need to. A girl can dream, can't she?

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