Whitehorse artist battling period poverty through his art

·2 min read

A Whitehorse artist is working to address period poverty by raising funds to give out menstrual products across town.

The issue was brought up to Blake Lepine by his 16-year-old daughter over dinner one night, and he realized how pervasive of an issue it was.

"I was just kind of heartbroken … I couldn't imagine if I didn't have the financial means to be able to afford menstrual products for my own daughter."

One in three Canadian women under the age of 25 struggle to afford period products, according to a 2018 report from Plan International Canada.

Lepine decided to create a special print to address the issue, selling it for $100 with all money leftover after shipping going toward helping supply menstrual products to people who can not afford or access them.

The 52 prints sold out in about four days, something he had not anticipated whatsoever.

"I was actually really surprised, it was actually kind of shocking … I didn't expect it to explode the way it did," he said.

Lepine said he assumed it would be a local fundraiser as all of the money is being raised to support local schools and organizations, but was amazed to see the support from across Canada. He also had many people reach out to him to thank him for bringing attention to such an important topic.

"For me it just was a lot of heartbreaking stories and heartbreaking awareness of how real this issue actually is … it was eye opening."

In the end, he ended up raising $5,395 which was used to buy different types of menstrual products that different organizations are in need of, both disposable and reusable.

He dropped off supplies to local schools this week, and over the weekend he will be picking up an eight-foot-tall package packed with products to distribute to local organizations such as the Food Bank, the Women's Transition Home and Blood Ties Four Directions Centre.

Lepine said he also hopes that raising awareness about period poverty will help take away some of the shame associated with periods.

Though there is a lot of stigma surrounding periods in modern society, menstruation is something that has been revered as a very powerful and honoured time in Tlingit culture.

"Bringing awareness back to that as well as part of the period poverty acknowledgement, is that it really is a sacred time."

He said as long as the print is available, all proceeds will go toward the cause.