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women of distinctionThe Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey hosted their annual International Women’s Day celebration March 3 at Lakeshore Recreation where Jaylynn Wolfe was named Young Woman of Distinction and Dianne Pennington was named Woman of Distinction.

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With the theme of #PressForProgress surrounding the upcoming International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations March 8, two women who are making strides for women and girls in their own way were honoured at the Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey (WHSBG) IWD event March 3 at Lakeshore Recreation. The event which named Dianne Pennington Woman of Distinction (WOD) and Jaylynn Wolfe, age 10, Young Woman of Distinction (YWOD) brought many people together to listen to what these two women had to say as well as Keynote Speaker Kendra Fisher, an advocate for local mental health initiatives. The annual celebration is a fundraising event for WHSBG that over the past year assisted nearly 600 women.

Nominated by her daughter, WOD Dianne Pennington, a now retired teacher for Bluewater District School Board, as well as a coach and community volunteer, illustrated the qualities that coincided with the award from her many years of empowering girls in sport. Pennington, who is also a volunteer at PRANCE, said she has no intention of stopping and during her speech reminded everyone that “we’re all role models for someone”. She told the crowd to encourage actions and share stories, and to never use the word “can’t”.

“Our young people need to believe that today they can pretty much do anything... gone are the days when woman were restricted by gender... our young women are entering all professions and doing wonderful things,” said Pennington later adding, “this is progress.”

YWOD Jaylynn Wolfe is no stranger to speaking to crowds in Saugeen Shores and previously spoke at a 2016 vigil at Coulter Parkette.

Then just 8 years old, Wolfe’s thoughts and words regarding being a Indigenous girl were shared across Canada. “I was scared. I started to cry. I wished I wasn't native. I wished I was a boy. No one should be scared to be an Indigenous girl or woman,” said Wolfe in 2016.

Before she spoke to the crowed at the Women’s Day celebration Wolfe said she had a different perspective. “I personally feel a lot better because I have help and my mom and we just talk through it,” she said wearing her Jingle Dress. “Sharing my culture for Jingle Dress dancing has allowed me to become the person I am today and has helped me on my journey in raising awareness for the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.”

Wolfe then said that she was “proud to be First Nation” and that it was “awesome” to be named Young Woman of Distinction.

Keynote and mental health advocate Kendra Fisher of Kincardine is living up to the #pressforprogress hashtag by advocating for change in mental health in rural communities. Through her organization mentallyfit, Fischer is on her way to facilitating change, or as she puts it, “I’m not stopping until we make it work.”

“There’s a lot happening in the communities around here in terms of response and my story as one dealing with mental illness and it’s a journey that has led me back home with some ideas of how we can hopefully start helping one another a bit and getting stronger as a community in offering support that [currently] doesn’t exist in rural communities.” Fisher is also having an impact through her Facebook page where some of her videos have gone viral reaching nearly 10,000 people.

“I’ve spent a lot of years now working in mental health and I’ve spent a lot of years working to live healthy in recovery as I do. I’ve created a community action plan of sorts that I’m hoping to introduce in Grey, Bruce, Huron and Perth simultaneously.” For anyone wanting to lend a hand, they can reach Fisher through her website or social media.

Jaylynn Wolfe Kendra FisherYoung Woman of Distinction Jaylynn Wolfe with Keynote Speaker Kendra Fischer at the International Women’s Day celebrating hosted by the Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey March 3.

Dianne PenningtonWomen of Distinction Dianne Pennington during her speech to the crowded banquet hall at Lakeshore Recreation March 3.


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