School teacher by day, social activist by nature, Carolina Miranda was also one of the main organizers of the first Waterloo Region Women's March. She says she created Feminine Harbor (FH) for women – but also for the men who value the women in their lives.
Miranda says the idea was something she dreamed of at the age of 10. “Feminine Harbor fosters female leadership through storytelling, the arts, and education,” she explains. The term, 'harbor' was used to signify a safe space – “a world where women's journeys matter, and they can find safety within a feminine harbor, a place where their stories are safe.”
Growing up in Brazil, she recalls her first visit to Canada as a 16-year-old exchange student. “It didn't take very long for me to have an intense cultural shock.” Just two weeks into her experience she says she witnessed racism and segregation.
“It's a story that still gives me goosebumps.” A mix-up put her on the wrong school bus, “I was horrified to see how Indigenous children were treated,” she recalls, “this was back in 1996 - the same year in which the last residential school was closed. When I inquired about my suspicions, back then, people said I was seeing things.”
She remembers coming to Canada in search of meaning and beauty, but instead finding disappointment and growth of consciousness. “I felt the pain of becoming an immigrant, I came to understand my own family's pain and intergenerational trauma, through the Indigenous literature and circles I have found here.”
Miranda would later find out that she too was a part of generations of Indigenous people.
When asked of her defining moment, she says, “my divorce was, without a doubt, the moment when everything changed. I found myself in a country where I had no family, no structure, and my entire life, as I had envisioned and dreamed of, had fallen apart.”
Feminine Harbor was born.
She says it’s always been about "supporting other women who were hurting and showing them that, although not easy, the journey in itself is spectacular – that no matter what, there is hope."
Women come to find healing and common ground.
LIGHT stories provide a podium to women like Lorrie Gallant, who shares a narrative on her parent who survived Residential Schools, to reflections of the Women’s March in D.C., to Sara Bingham’s story about finding her birthparents.
When asked how she would define her own success she says she works towards a legacy that builds more beauty in this world while managing to stay whole. “I am certain this is the only way to build a safer world around my daughters and to leave a better world for them to walk on. In a sense it’s purely selfish,” she says, “and so I try to foster healthy, loving interactions between females.”
Femanine Harbor is run by volunteers. “It's a compilation of what people can afford to donate, in terms of time and commitment - myself included,” says Miranda. “I am a full-time educator, and this project fuels all of my passions.”
The motivation behind her passion project is driven by the ideology that once we share our stories we become less afraid of our possibilities. The goal is to create empathy, fostered by human connection and compassion.