G Day’s origins

G Day started as an unarticulated wish that I (Madeleine Shaw, G Day Founder) had as an adolescent tween girl growing up in Vancouver in the 70s. Even though it was outside of my family’s cultural tradition, I secretly hoped that there would be some sort of celebration or recognition of the fact that I was beginning to transition into becoming an adult. I read Judy Blume’s classic novel Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret, and like its hero, I too was fascinated and excited about this immanent transformation and all that it entailed.

More than anything, I wanted the sense of specialness that I felt inside me, to be reflected back to me by the world and people around me: a sense of affirmation, of being seen, recognized and brought into a new social fold. I imagined a room full of wise, kind Elders (in my imagination, my Mom’s friends, my Grandmother, Aunts and cousins) sharing their ways and secrets: more than the imagined “secrets”, I just wanted to be brought into that room and be among them, knowing that the time had come, that I belonged and would be equipped with whatever I needed to learn.

However, as the shift started taking place, I felt a sense of deep disappointment: even if I had had the courage to ask my Mom to organize something for me, I don’t think that I would have had the words to describe what I wanted. To her credit, she made sure that I had all of the information that I needed; what was missing for me was a sense of magic.

It wasn’t until many years later that the idea of creating an actual event came back to me, when I was invited to speak on the unlikely topic of “transforming cities”. I had read Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent and was inspired by the idea of a “place that we could bring our daughters, and put flowers in their hair” to honour them. It’s my belief that speaking those words aloud to 1,200 people in February 2013 is what started the ball rolling for G Day to come into being just over one year later.

I now know that the word for what I was looking for was “Rite of Passage”: a special type of event that acknowledges the “passage” from one social status to another: common rites of passage include baby showers, weddings and funerals. It is clear to me today that there is an almost primal yearning for these types of events, and that we can benefit immensely by having more of them.

Finally, I am the proud parent of a 10 year-old daughter. G Day at its deepest level is a gift to her and her generation of girls.