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Little Shop of Licorice

By Syllona Kanu
May 19, 2018

What does licorice have to do with the fight against male violence against women? In the neighbourhood of Commercial Drive on the eastside of Vancouver sits a quaint and beloved candy store called The Licorice Parlour. It’s owner, Mary Jean, known by many as “Watermelon”, is a well-known public figure in Vancouver’s cannabis activism scene. Last week, Mary Jean put up a poster in her store window promoting our annual community fundraiser* that takes place in Stanley Park.

In response to this, a few people who fancy themselves as activists, targeted The Licorice Parlour and Mary Jean for her support of Rape Relief. They took the fight to Facebook, posting 1-star reviews on her page, demanding she take down the poster from her store window. The next day Mary Jean put a statement on Facebook again highlighting her support of Vancouver Rape Relief, and connecting her support to the recent #MeToo movement, by disclosing her own experiences with sexual assault. Again, comments poured in, however this time from an abundance of grateful community members in awe of Mary Jean’s courage to stand up for Canada’s oldest rape crisis center, and in turn stand up against male violence against women.

Who would have thought that licorice – the sweet and salty treat that some people love and others love to hate – could have played a role in starting a conversation about rape, feminist organizing and women-only space.

So, if you’re looking for somewhere to buy some tasty treats while supporting a local entrepreneur and the local fight against rape culture and violence against women, head to The Licorice Parlour on Commercial Drive. You won’t be disappointed!

*Each year since 1979 we’ve held a community fundraising event, the Walk for Rape Relief, where we raise much needed funds to keep our rape crisis centre open, for which we receive no operational funding; and our transition house stocked with abundant nutritious food.

Read about The Licorice Parlour in the Vancouver Sun and in the Georgia Straight

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