Did you know a box of tampons in remote northern communities in Canada can cost as much as $40 a box? It's why we offer free shipping anywhere in Canada in our mission for period equity. And why we're so humbled to work with Moon Time Sisters BC.
Founded in Saskatchewan by Nicole White, the Moon Time Sisters chapter in BC was initiated by Carly Pistawka and Neha Menon. The two came together to leverage their outreach in the Greater Vancouver Area to support people who menstruate in remote northern communities in Canada. Pads, tampons, liners, and reusable period products are all collected and shipped to areas where they are often inaccessible and very expensive.
Read more about Moon Time Sisters' mission and journey to support northern, remote communities, in particular by promoting the power and solidarity of those living in Indigenous communities in this Q&A with its founders.
What is Moon Time Sisters’ mission and how did you get started?
Our mission at Moon Time Sisters BC is to support Indigenous peoples living in remote communities in northern BC by helping fight against menstrual inequity in Canada. The original Moon Time Sisters chapter was founded in Saskatchewan by Nicole White, a Métis woman who heard about menstrual inequity in her province. Since then, three other chapters have formed, including us in September 2020! Moon Time Sisters BC was started by Carly Pistawka and Neha Menon with a goal to address menstrual inequity in BC.
What do you do to bring your mission to life?
Our primary way of action is to collect and send menstrual products from the Greater Vancouver Area to send to partnered communities in remote and northern BC. We send only the products that are requested by the community and keep in constant contact to ensure a supply of products is always available. We also work to advocate for Indigenous Peoples and menstrual equity in Canada.
To date, how many period products have you been able to provide toward achieving period equity in your community? How many periods does Moon Time Sisters support each month?
So far, in BC, we have sent over 30,000 menstrual products—including pads, tampons, liners, reusable pads, and cups! These have been sent across to 12 communities so far. These communities range in sizes, but we have supported over 1,000 menstruators—and we hope to grow this number!
What does period equity mean to you?
Period equity means equal access to menstrual products and education. While this may not necessarily involve free menstrual products for everyone, this would involve having affordable, and accessible products for everyone, not just the majority. Period equity would also involve a reduced stigma around periods, as it is not equity if menstruators are unable to talk freely about it.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to Canada reaching period equity?
One of the largest barriers to reaching period equity that is not necessarily thought of is clean water access. Whether this is for homeless individuals or Indigenous communities with boil water advisories, this can prevent the use of reusable period products. When we are not being considerate of all populations and their barriers, reaching period equity in Canada is nearly impossible—otherwise, we are mainly addressing metropolitan areas.
What kind of positive impact has Moon Time Sisters had?
At Moon Time Sisters BC, we have had positive feedback from communities after receiving products. These messages primarily are in gratitude and explaining the difficulties of expensive products. We have also had individuals that are not from these communities reach out to tell us about a time that they have struggled with period inequity or lack of access. Hearing these stories, and having the support of so many individuals, has been such a prideful moment in bringing people together to fight for what should be a basic right. We have even been impacted as co-founders by becoming extremely comfortable talking about menstruation, menstrual products, and advocating for menstrual equity.
How important to Moon Time Sisters are partnerships with social enterprises like joni?
Partnerships are extremely important. While we do collect period products year-round, and have large drives once or twice a year to collect financial and product donations, the amount is never definite. When we connect with communities, we want to ensure that they are continuously supported, and do not have to worry about whether or not they will be receiving products each month. With the support of joni and other companies, we are able to make sure these individuals are supported, no matter the amount of donations we may receive. Shipping to these communities is also very expensive, resulting in us having to spend our funding on shipping - so having products supplied or more accessible financially is extremely important.
What can people do in their own communities to fight for period equity?
No matter where you are located, there is always a way to fight period equity. Projects like ours often collect menstrual products or donations financially to send menstrual products to those that face the most barriers when it comes to period equity. Even if it's very small—like starting a conversation about a time you didn’t have access to a pad/tampon, or telling someone about menstrual inequity in Canada. Education is extremely important, and so is breaking the stigma.
If you're able to help Moon Time Sisters with donations or organizing your own mini funding drive, please get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org.