Faith Nolan doesn’t give a fig for awards, but that hasn’t stopped the hardware from rolling in.
Nolan’s latest accolade comes from Egale Canada, which announced at the beginning of the month that she will be the face of Queering Black History 2011.
Nolan is a singer/songwriter with a deep history of queer, women’s and anti-poverty activism. Her musical output is often overtly political, such as organizing choirs for unusual demographics, from elementary school teachers to female prisoners.
Last year, Nolan was on the frontlines during the Pride Toronto censorship controversy, first giving back her honoured dyke award from 2009 (after being nominated by Egale’s executive director, Helen Kennedy), then lending her voice to Take Back the Dyke.
“I’m not a big awards person,” says Nolan, adding that she’s pleased “that we even have queer awards, instead of getting our asses kicked outside the Manatee in the '70s.”
Still, she points out that many awards are presented in order to shore up donations and sponsorship.
“The big question is, does the end justify the means?”
When asked about Egale’s leadership award — given to Conservative strategist Jaime Watt in 2009 and TD Bank president Ed Clark in 2010 — Nolan says she’s a little embarrassed that she didn’t know more about it before agreeing to be part of the Queering Black History Project.
Still, she doesn’t mince words.
“There I am, right on the edge of the corporate asshole, sucking on the corporate titty,” she says with a laugh.
“That’s really unconscionable. I can see the strategy, because then they’re going to give them shitloads of money,” she says. “But it’s problematic, because it takes away from the struggle of people on the frontlines.”
It’s part of a troubling trend, Nolan says, because corporate relationships tend to come with strings attached.
She points to Canadian women’s shelters, which were vocal politically throughout the '70s and '80s. Increasingly, staff and clients are keeping quiet, for fear of disrupting fragile government and corporate funding, Nolan says.
But that’s not going to stop her — “Even though we might be trembling, we still have to tell the truth,” she says. Nolan is touring BC and will be at the Women’s Memorial March on Feb 14.
Fraser Valley Jail
With Native Sistahood
Fundraiser for the Women's Memorial March
Rhizome Café, 317 E Broadway
Women’s Memorial March
Noon in Carnegie Theatre, 1pm march at Main and Hastings