Every city leaves some sort of impression on a person. For Leah Girardo it was Wenches With Wrenches, a Toronto-based collective that offered bike maintenance and repair courses for women/identified folks. She’s brought her experience to Halifax and started the Women/Identified Bike Maintenance and Repair. The local version meets every Tuesday evening between 6:00 and 8:00 at the Bloomfield Centre (2786 Agricola).
“When I first started to pursue being a ‘mechanic’ I knew I would need a supportive learning environment since so many shops were places of intimidation for me,” says Girardo. “Wenches gave me a place to validate the skills I had learned taking my bikes apart and fixing them myself, and also gave me a place where I could meet other women who were skilled bike mechanics.”
Girardo believes bike nights are integral in the history of women only spaces. Even after years of being a mechanic she finds it’s a largely male dominated field and her gender and intelligence is constantly questioned.
“When you make a mistake when you're a man, you make a mistake. When you make a mistake when you're a woman, it's because you don't know what you're talking about,” she says. “Having a women's only night is a step towards respecting the fact that male dominated spaces are not ideal for lots of folks to learn in, and are a one way to attempt to give people space to learn and hang out without the feeling of having to prove themselves all the time.”
Since their first night on May 27 regulars and newbies have been showing up at the Bloomfield Centre every. Future aspirations for the project include courses on bike building, skill building and more.
“Most importantly, I’d like to have a clear trans inclusive approach because I want to make sure that folks who might not identify as women are also feel welcome and have a space to work on bikes. I think it's possible to do that with the Tuesday nights.”
For further information call 494-6479.