Monday, August 20

The Great Granny Revolution.

In the 1970s, American feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem predicted that one day an army of grey-haired women would quietly take over the earth.

Today they call it the Great Granny Revolution.

There are currently 150 granny groups in North America, working on the front lines to make the rest of the world a little bit more like their kitchens.

In the village of Wakefield, Ont., documentary filmmaker Brenda Rooney and her husband Robert decided to record the phenomenon from their tiny town’s perspective.

Also a granny with the local group, Brenda is now proudly touring the film across the country.

Filmed both in Ontario and the Alexandra Township in South Africa, the aptly named The Great Granny Revolution details a movement of grey-haired women across continents and oceans “wherein one small group of women start off by responding in a personal way to the AIDS pandemic.”

These granny groups are centred around supporting their counterparts in South Africa, where many older women are left raising their grandchildren in wake of the fatal disease.

“Women are funny and women are collegial and we are so supportive of each other that it isn’t surprising that we would reach half-way around the world in empathy with women who we felt were having to take on an enormous burden,” said Brenda, adding that comes across in the film.
“It’s a story about empowerment.”

“And, although this is a personal story of women making a difference, really it is about a demographic.

“This generation of women, the baby-boom generation, who had careers like no other generation before them and are now facing retirement in large numbers, have their health and sense of well-being and community — well, we are taking on activities that will see a change in our society.”

Aside from making a difference on the home-front, these women have raised millions of dollars across the country to help ease the pain of HIV/AIDS at the grassroots level.

Their friendships have also supported African grannies in their struggles, giving them the courage to go on and the ambition to become more active in their own communities.

“We all benefit from the friendship and collegiality of being on a team and that’s something that as we get older becomes less available to people,” said Brenda.

A scrapbook of their struggles and joys over years, regardless of their distance and differences, The Great Granny Revolution is a meaningful and uplifting story.

“These women are not defeated. They sing and dance. I mean, they have pain, too, and they cry, but that doesn’t mean that overrides their entire life,” said Brenda.

“Hopefully, it will inspire [Canadians] to do things and respond to things, not to feel that they’re overwhelmed by history or overwhelmed by issues or by problems, but that we can actually do something. We just have to start.”

The Great Granny Revolution will be shown Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Thompson Rivers University Clocktower Theater and will be followed by a question and answer period with Brenda and members of the CanGo Grannies of Kamloops.

For more information, visit or call Joan at 374-4996.

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