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Luz Maria

Following the #MeToo panel at the second annual Bruce County Women’s Show, Organizer Luz Maria Alvarez-Wilson (right) stood with panel participants, from left, Bernice Connell, Manager of Sexual Assault and Outreach Programs at Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey; Moderator Stephanie Wilson-Chapin, Senior Director Digital Products, News, Sports and Entertainment for Bell Media; Sabrina Sutherland, Writer and Poet originally from Attawapiskat First Nation; Judy Lowry, Multi-Media Artist and Poet; and Kiera Merriam, Saugeen Shores Hub.

Hub Staff

Two panel discussions at the second annual Bruce County Women’s Show held at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre addressed the needs for continued representation for women in a variety of fields as well as the importance of listening to and supporting women who have and have yet to come forward in the era of #MeToo.

It was a call to action for the women involved in the first panel, “The Power of Women Transforming our Communities” which featured local politicians Saugeen Shores Councillor Cheryl Grace, Kincardine Mayor Anne Eadie, Avalon Maitland District School Board Trustee Colleen Schenk, and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, and was moderated by Jessica Carter of Saugeen Shores.

The panelists, three of whom come from a background in the education field, (Grace, Eadie and Schenk) knew of workplace equality because women are the majority in their chosen profession. Mayor Eadie remarked that progress for the lives of women has happened since her early days as a teacher admitting that when she went on maternity leave she had to take an unpaid leave of absence to care for her child, as parental leave wasn't what it was like today, and certain authoritative roles usually went to her male counterparts.

When Carter asked the panel if any of them had encountered a glass ceiling, a barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women and members of minority groups, the majority of panelists professed that such a “ceiling” had never stopped them but that they would like to see more women active in rural politics. Eadie said she hoped that women and people of a variety of ethnicities would get involved. Councillor Grace boasted that many managerial roles at the Town of Saugeen Shores are held by women but currently there are only two women out of nine on Saugeen Shores Council, and said she would like to see more female representation.

Lisa Thompson knows how a “glass ceiling” has set women back in the past but through ongoing progress said that women need to make sure “that the glass ceiling never comes back.”

The second panel, moderated by Stephanie Wilson-Chapin, Senior Director Digital Products, News, Sports and Entertainment for Bell Media, saw a variety of women with diverse lived experiences come together to address "#MeToo Movement - How did we get Here? Where do we Go from Here?"

The panelists included Bernice Connell, Manager of Sexual Assault and Outreach Programs at Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey; Judy Lowry, Multi-Media Artist and Poet; Kiera Merriam, Editor, Saugeen Shores Hub; and Sabrina Sutherland, Attawapiskat First Nation Writer and Poet.

Sutherland addressed her poignant lived experiences on the subject and said abuse and abuse of power does not discriminate and that “we all have a me too story.”

For poet Judy Lowry, who lived through the revolution in the ’60s, was astonished with how many people came forward in voicing their pain and their experience and never thought there would ever be another revolution of this magnitude.

For Merriam the conversation centered around the evolution of consent, bringing up headlines from the widely publicized stories of Jian Ghomeshi to Aziz Ansari, and how people need to take action and educate themselves on proper behaviour.

It was staggering statistics that came from panelist Connell. “We all know why women don't report,” she said, adding that out of 1,000 who are assaulted only 33 will come forward and out of those 33, only three perpetrators will be convicted.

Connell reminded those in attendance that women are afraid of the implications of coming forward including the effect on one’s social circle and their families as well as not being believed with Merriam stating that there is no such thing as a “perfect victim.”

Moderator Wilson-Chapin who is a mother of boys asked the women how change can be made. Many of the women agreed that educating children from a young age about consent and having ongoing conversations was important. Merriam noted the victims who are often women are conditioned to “be polite” and “not rock the boat” with Sutherland adding, “trust your instincts, don't be afraid to say ‘no.’”

The Bruce County Women’s Show was the brain child of the Huron Group’s Luz Maria Alvarez-Wilson of Southampton. The show featured a variety of local female vendors and community groups. Beyond the panels there was Zumba, door prizes, musical entertainment, and a session with Ayse Hogan of the Chakra House of Healing.

Jaylynn Wolfe

Public speaker and Jingle dress dancer Jaylynn Wolfe spoke briefly at the second annual Bruce County Women’s Show, May 5.

Cheryl Grace

Saugeen Shores Councillor Cheryl Grace was of of the panelists during the “The Power of Women Transforming our Communities” Panel, at the second annual Bruce County Women’s Show, May 5.

Lisa Thompson

Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson spoke as a panelist during the “The Power of Women Transforming our Communities” discussion at the second annual Bruce County Women’s Show, May 5.

Steph Carr

Steph Carr of Saugeen Shores Family Eye Care was one of the many vendors at the Bruce County Women’s Show, May 5.

Raylene Brian

Musical entertainment by Raylene & Brian at the second annual Bruce County Women’s Show, May 5.

Stephanie Wilson Chapin

Stephanie Wilson-Chapin, Senior Director Digital Products, News, Sports and Entertainment for Bell Media (left) moderated an hour long discussion on consent and the #MeToo movement.

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