• Carmen Marie Fabio

Go Granny, go!

Summer is sandal season, also known as the time I make fun of my coworkers for the amount of time they spend painting their toenails, one even taking the time to coordinate the polish with the colours of her footwear.

While they continually threaten me with a girls’ night out complete with mojitos, cosmopolitans, and promises to “paint my piggies” (groups of women scare the crap out of me), I’ve managed to avoid them so far and have told my kids that if I ever use the word mani-pedi in a serious sentence, they’re to take me out back and shoot me.

I have staunchly and stubbornly adhered to this mindset for years but this past weekend as I was covering the tar sands protest at Jack Layton Park in Hudson, I was reminded of a group of unconventional women with whom I could easily picture myself getting into trouble and though I tell myself I’m not yet old enough, hey, time is passing us all by.

I first met the local Raging Grannies activist group three years ago at a media event promoting their fundraising efforts to help finance a documentary of their activities by filmmaker Magnus Isacsson. The project had stalled and in creative Granny style, they decided to pose nude for a calendar to help finance the film’s completion. They said they didn’t mind being nude but didn’t want to wear high heels - girls after my own heart.

The Grannies take any misconceptions of aging and completely destroy them, showing us we don’t stop caring about our children, our communities, our environment, in fact, our world simply because we age. In a snippet from the film, one Granny says, “It’s good to be an activist. That’s the secret of eternal youth.” The Grannies are not afraid to embrace and exploit the preconception of how older women are supposed to look and act, and purposely dress up in the most outrageous outfits including big floppy hats, long skirts, lots of fake flowers and gaudy plastic jewellery.

Their causes include tar sands, military conflicts, global poverty and the disparity of wealth, just to name a few. In an era with a proliferation of online protests, also referred to as ‘slacktivism,’ the Grannies are on the front lines, out in rowboats, marching in protests, even being arrested and loaded into police vehicles, walkers and canes in tow.

Originating in Victoria, British Columbia, by a group of grandmothers who accompanied Greenpeace on their Rainbow Warrior ship to protest American ships with nuclear capabilities in Canadian water, the group now has ‘gaggles’ in a number of American cities and a French group in Quebec named Les mémés déchaînées.

I haven’t yet seriously considered retirement. Besides, journalists don’t really retire, they just stop getting paid. But I now have a plan and it involves a big floppy hat, fake flowers, possibly a shawl, and a whole lot of attitude.

I might even paint my toenails.

For more information on the Raging Grannies, consult http://raginggranniesmontreal.ca/