Celebrating International Women’s Day at MRU
Julie Patton, Staff Writer
March 8 marks this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD). In honour of the monumental day, the faculty, students and community surrounding Mount Royal University (MRU) celebrate IWD in a number of ways.
Two speaker events took place on campus and many more are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks of March.
To celebrate the day, the faculty of Business and Communications Studies organized the IWD Speaker Series.
Their first event of the series was held the afternoon of March 8. Calgary’s chapter of Young Women in Business (YWiB) led a panel at MRU’s Riddell Library where five inspiring women enlightened MRU students, staff and alumni on the power of embracing risk taking.
One of the event organizers, Rachael Pettigrew, says the event’s topic of embracing risk taking is an important one for all women to consider.
“Research shows that women are less likely to apply for the job if they don’t fulfill all of the requirements of the role. But men will do the same if they qualify for 60 per cent. It’s the little things we’re trying to encourage like stepping outside of the box and stepping into our full selves. Sometimes we get stuck and need to take risks,” said Pettigrew.
The two moderators of the panel were Sierra Nunno, president of YWiB, and Katherine Martens, accounting director at YWiB. The three panelists were April Hicke, co-founder and chief growth officer of Toast, a job placement company for women in tech, Shenneille Henry, a financial business consultant and Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal, a large-scale installation artist and community activist.
The women left the group with thoughtful anecdotes from times in their lives and careers where they took a risk. This included decisions like starting a business, taking a mental health break and going back to school.
They left all attendees in the room with valuable pieces of advice. All preached on the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive women who encourage you to take risks and who you can lean on for advice. They added that risks don’t always work out but to not let failure make you back down. They encouraged all attendees to continue taking risks and learning from each one. The event ended with allotted time to network with the panel and other attendees.
Later in the evening, the MRU Justice Advocates club hosted an event called Women in Criminal Justice. Two of the club’s executives, Molly Clare and Shuada Ahmed, hosted a panel of two courageous women in criminal justice. The first speaker was Tracey Lowey, a crime analyst at Calgary Police Service as well as an MRU professor in the criminal justice department. The second speaker was Winifred (Win) Storm, a restorative justice and integration caseworker at the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary.
The two women shared their personal stories and experiences as women in criminal justice. Lowey said she has seen major improvements at the Calgary Police Service in her 25 years working as a crime analyst, however she always remembers the days where she was looked down upon for being “one of the girls.”
Storm shared with the room her emotional journey into criminal justice. As a survivor of the sixties scoop, she had undergone tremendous trauma and a long healing journey. She says she has played every role in the court system. She was a juror, a criminal, a witness and now she is an agent of the court. She also shared with the many in person and online attendees a short film she participated in, Healing Our Hearts.
Ahmed said her biggest takeaway from Storm’s talk was the importance of finding purpose.
“It’s such a weird time for us right now. For everyone who is graduating, we’re kind of stuck in that phase of not knowing what you want to do with life, but I think if you have that general idea of what you want to do, that really helps you,” said Ahmed.
For Carla Welsh, another club executive, she said Lowey’s encouragement to follow your passion stuck with her.
“If you have something in mind, go for it. You don’t have to have everything figured out, you can figure it out along the way and find yourself through your experiences,” said Welsh.
They were impressed with the turnout of the event and encouraged the discussion around women to never stop.
“It should be reiterated through classroom discussions, especially in a field like criminal justice. I think it should be an ongoing conversation,” said Ahmed.
Upcoming events from the Speaker Series to continue celebrating IWD include: Working-From-Home: Risks and Rewards on March 22 and High Low: Women, wellness and fun! on March 29.