Local small business owner Kaitlynne-Rae Landry hosted the online initiative Pride, Not Prejudice for the second year recently, providing feminist, and other progressive creators and advocacy groups a space to share their work.
Landry started her business, Ifs, Ands, or Buttons, five years ago. “It all started when I was working for a charity that had a button maker that we used for stuff around the office,” she recalled.
After playing around with a few designs, Landry realized that she could start making unique buttons for other nonprofit organizations, as well.
Landry soon became involved with making buttons and stickers for various local causes, ranging from the Ottawa Slut Walk to Adopt Me Cat Rescue.
“The whole idea of it was to create buttons and stickers that aren’t just for show, but also express passion, express opinion, spark conversations, and allow people to express themselves by wearing them,” said Landry.
The first Pride, Not Prejudice market was held in 2020, after Landry learned that the region’s annual Feminist Fair would be cancelled because of the pandemic.
After participating in the Feminist Fair for three years, Landry said she was extremely upset when she found out it would not be happening.
“It was one of the craft shows where I could go and I didn’t have to explain myself, and where people weren’t giving me weird looks because my buttons were extremely feminist,” said Landry.
She thought to herself: “There needs to be something to fill the void.”
She had applied to and participated in a few different craft shows around Ottawa. “Even if I had already pre-censored my buttons and had not given them anything particularly scandalous, a lot of my buttons were not allowed to be in the show.”
“I had asked them why my button that said, ‘End Rape Culture’ was not allowed in, and their excuse was that it was too political for their audience,” said Landry.
“I mean I have political buttons, but ‘End Rape Culture’ is like training-wheels political.”
Landry said that after experiencing this reaction, along with the Feminist Fair cancellation, “it really cemented in my mind that there was a true need for a place where political or marginalized makers can unapologetically show and sell their products and speak their truth.”
After a successful first year, “everyone was pretty vocal … that they wanted for this event to continue happening. So we did another one in the spring and a third one.”
The most recent event was online Nov. 4-7 and included dozens of vendors and several Ottawa-based charities that advocate for progressive causes — a combination craft market and community resource fair.
In comparison to the 2020 edition, “we have seen huge growth because more and more people are getting to know what we are doing” said Landry. “We now have a much larger social media following, so now we have some momentum.”
She added: “We had 75 vendors participating this past weekend. I think that even for future events this will be our number cap because I think that is a good limit for how many people we can reasonably manage.”
One participant was Kind Space, the Ottawa non-profit, formerly known as Pink Triangle Services, which provides advocacy, resources and programming for “people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.”
Kind Space provided an open workshop on Nov. 6. it was called “Oppression 101” and was hosted by Kind Space executive director Carling Miller.
The workshop focused on anti-oppression experiences and opened up the floor to anyone who wanted to share their story.
“We aren’t here to counsel each other, just to listen and share”, says Miller. “Our ability to be connected to people is so important because colonialism and capitalism sets society up to be as separated and isolated from each other as possible”.
Miller said workshop opportunities are so important because “it creates a place where people are given the chance to be connected, to be curious, and to be accountable to other people.”
Vendors at the event were selling items that varied from artwork to bath bombs to unique African home décor.
Landry said Pride, Not Prejudice will continue with the next event set for April 2022.