Manuela La Papayuela
(Photo by Jennifer Sparrowhawk, Intro by Savhanna Wilson)
This is Manuela, and she is a lot of things. She is a teacher, a musician, a friend, an activist, an advocate, a mother, and a community minded and generally kick-ass, powerful woman.
She grew up in Santiago, Chile, in a leftist family under the extremely right-wing Pinochet dictatorship. Spending her formative years in counter-cultural positionality shaped her social and political attitudes, and motivated the development of her activist spirit. Finding an outlet for her musical passion in metal, punk, and grunge further spawned her capacity to make noise – both in her art and in her community.
Manuela moved to Saskatoon without knowing a soul because she thought it looked like a cool city. Some people might edge into a community warily and gradually. Not Manuela. She is the kind of woman that decides what she wants to do and then dives into it headfirst. Depth is not an issue for Manuela.
She found an organization that is close to her heart in Girls Rock Camp, and dove right into making her new community a better place. That’s my favourite thing about Manuela – her presence in her community and her fervour for making positive changes. With a PhD in Gender Studies, Manuela’s active and passionate involvement in empowering women and girls goes not without a hell of a strong and impressively knowledgeable background.
This is Manuela, and she is a lot of things, but mostly a force to be reckoned with.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
As soon as I moved to Saskatoon, I reached out to Girls Rock Camp SK and started volunteering with them. Through (Melissa) Gan and Savhanna (Wilson) from GRCS I recently got involved in the Laundry List, which is a feminist show at CFCR, Saskatoon community radio. I also play guitar and sing in a grrl band called Baby Fat with another fellow GRCS volunteer, Kyra MacFarlane A.K.A. Baby Arms.
KC: What is your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
I absolutely have the best job in the world right now teaching women’s and gender studies and political studies at the U of S. I love teaching more than anything else because I learn a lot, and I’m a sucker for learning.
What’s most challenging is the job insecurity, as women’s studies programs across Canada are in a rather precarious situation in terms of funding. The progressive and insidious installation of the neoliberal logic into the Universities is making survival harder and harder for the disciplines and programs that are precisely challenging neoliberalism.
KC: What is important to you?
Caring for my daughters Ramona and Guadalupe, being part of/creating communities, trying to practice social justice and feminism, unlearning oppressive ideas and behaviors, playing and listening to music, food, self-care, and self-love.
KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?
I love Saskatoon’s size and the fact that you can walk, bike, or take short bus rides to get anywhere. I love the Indigenous activism in the city, and the amazing Indigenous scholars we have at the University. I find most people very open, warm, friendly, and interesting. I love the Saskatchewan river. I love the fact that there is a vibrant cultural scene and that you could go see a show/play/spoken word/independent film/community gathering everyday, if you wanted to. This is the ideal community for me to grow my kids and grow old myself.
I dislike the excessive presence and influence of certain extractive companies, and the legacies of colonialism and racism specific to this city, for example the fact that the city is divided east/west, and that wealth has historically been divided across this racialized line.
KC: What is your impression of Regina?
Unfortunately I have no impression of Regina, as I haven’t had the chance to visit yet.
KC: How do you survive the winters?
I actually love the winters here (compared to Vancouver) because the amount of sunshine we get, and because there is something completely exotic and romantic about the snow for me. Moving here and experiencing extreme cold weather has really taught me to respect the winter though. It is a force of nature that can literally kill you. Like the ocean or earthquakes, which I grew up with. So I respect the winter and dress for it. I also will refuse to go out beyond -25. I think that at that temperature the winter is telling me to stay home, and I listen.
From the Proust Questionnaire:
What is your current state of mind?
Focused, creative, and self-accepting.