Nicole Peel

What Education have you Taken?

I graduated from Birtle Collegiate Institute in 2009 and have attended Brandon University ever since. I am currently in my fifth and final year of an Arts degree in Gender and Women’s Studies, with minors in Sociology and Painting.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

My greatest accomplishment has been being a part of so many wonderful groups of people throughout my degree at BU, and allowing myself to be open minded and constantly learn from the many different perspectives they have presented me.  I worked with the Brandon Latina Women’s Association and got to experience firsthand what wonderful things this group of Latina immigrant women was doing.  I’ve spent four years with the Women’s Collective and have went through all of our feminist trials and errors, successes and backlashes, anger, swearing on posters and superb friendships.  In my exchange to India last year, I met amazing people who taught me about world religions, philosophies, culture, books, yoga and life views.  I’ve also been blessed to be a part of a small yet absolutely wonderful department, where I have gotten to know and learn from many remarkable professors and peers.  Those are my greatest accomplishments, because I was always in a state of learning from others and challenging myself through real life experience.

Tell me about yourself/your background/ your history

I grew up on a PMU farm and was able to enjoy rural Manitoba for most of my life.  Growing up surrounded by nature and animals gave me a more peaceful outlook on life than I probably would have had, had I grown up in a city.  Though I’ve always lived within the borders of Manitoba, I have travelled quite a bit.  Last year I spent a semester in Bangalore, India, where my world view was cracked open and new knowledge poured in.  I now desire a life pursuing the understanding of intersectionality within human cultures, and how we are all so different and yet simultaneously all the same.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

I entered university with the intent of obtaining a degree in Mathematics, but fell in love with my Gender and Women’s Studies course the first semester and switched majors immediately (sorry, Math).  I find Gender and Women’s Studies so thrilling because there is such a practical application for it in the world.  Although we are fed the belief that there is no longer any need for feminism, we really do need it.  Issues such as domestic violence, pay inequality, forced sterilization, lack of access to proper healthcare and education, exploitation of racialized bodies, reproductive justice, perpetuation of harmful masculinity, sexualisation and objectification in media – to name a few – are still all too common in societies around the globe.  I am excited to work toward improving life for all genders in any which way or form.

What is your philosophy in life?

I believe in ultimate optimism, because cynicism leaves no room for progression.  I also believe we as humans should: live intuitively, respect and connect with the earth, have fun, release ourselves and others from the confines of societal structures, value relationships, face fears, challenge ourselves, fine-tune talents, and learn how to do what we actually want to do.  We’re each a piece of this dot in the universe, so we might as well make it better for all.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I plan to spend the next few years learning Spanish and French, and hope to go into International Development after that. I am most interested in exploring the ways in which my privileged position in the world can be used to help others, without succumbing to the easy but detrimental colonial habits that many privileged Westerners unwittingly fall into when traveling abroad and when living at home. I want to work toward finding the most ethical and beneficial position that I can fill during my lifetime, and hopefully enjoy myself while doing so.

Nominator’s Comments                      

Nicole is a Gender and Women’s Studies major who is an excellent student and is dedicated to women’s issues on campus. Nicole is a leading member of the Women’s Collective and has been at the forefront of mobilizing around issues of violence against women, women’s reproductive health, and is working to ensure that all books taught in Women’s and Gender Studies classes are available in the Women’s Collective office in order to make education more accessible to our students across socio-economic lines. Nicole is an active and thoughtful feminist blogger and is pushing at the edges of Third Wave feminism on our campus.