Today I was speaking on a panel “Women in Leadership: A Fireside Chat”. It was part of International Women’s Day Peterborough celebrations where hundreds of women of all ages gathered for workshops, to celebrate sisterhood and build networks.

I was speaking with three outstanding women:

IWDPtbo Speakers Phyllis Williams, Rosemary Ganley, Heather Watson and Kemi Akapo

Chief Phyllis Williams

Phyllis Williams is the 2nd woman chief of Curve Lake First Nation. She is in her 7th year in this role. She also served on Council for 16yrs with portfolios in Health, Social Services, Self-government, Finance, and Economic Development. Chief Williams has had many years of work experience throughout Ontario. Guest speaking in Madrid Spain, Parliamentary Senators, Ottawa, and Harvard University, Boston were exciting experiences for her.

Phyllis prides herself for her belief and persistence to advocate for First Nations and its citizens; to embrace learning and be connected with helping agencies and influential people in order to do what she loves to do professionally.

Her work life is supported by her husband of 48 years, 2 daughters, 4 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren. She loves nature and the beauty of the Kawartha Lakes and ensures that she messages publically, the need for preservation and conservation for future generations to enjoy.

Rosemary Ganley

Rosemary Ganley is a lifelong feminist activist and writer. In 2018, she was invited by Prime Minister Trudeau to serve on the 19-person Gender Equality Advisory Council to the G7 meeting in Quebec in June. Rosemary gave the Margaret Laurence Lecture at Trent on feminist theologies in 2011. She attended the Fourth UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

In 2018, Rosemary was the recipient of a YMCA Peace Medal and she has been inducted in to the Peterborough Pathway of Fame.

Having lived in Jamaica and Tanzania, Rosemary and her husband John founded the development agency “Jamaican Self Help” in 1980. She has published a book on this experience: “Jamaica Journal: the Story of a Grassroots Canadian Aid Organization”.

Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto STAR, the Green Teacher and Conscience magazine, and she currently writes a weekly column for the Peterborough Examiner. Her newest book “Positive Community” is a collection of 104 of these columns.

Kemi Akapo

Kemi Akapo is the Settlement Services Coordinator at the New Canadians Centre. She is also a city councillor representing Town Ward, the first woman of colour on Peterborough City Council. Kemi is originally from Nigeria, moved to Canada to study at Trent University and chose to make Peterborough her home. She identifies as an aspiring intersectional feminist, loves cycling, spending time outdoors and at a dinner table surrounded by friends and family.

So I stay soft, but that doesn’t make me a pushover.

Rebecca Thomas
Me and Liv at IWD Peterborough

As a speaker, I had the opportunity to bring a guest with me. I was delighed to share this experience with Warsaw resident, and grade 10 St. Peter’s student Olivia Keough. Although it was a school day, her family agreed that the opportunity to meet women leaders from our community, hear stories and celebrate the importance of elevating women’s rights justified a day off school.

Together we heard a number of fantastic speakers including Halifax Poet Laureate, Rebecca Thomas and particpated in a workshop on the importance of cultivating friendships.

The event was a sold out event and it was truly a blessing to celebrate International Women’s Day with amazing positive energy. When we stretch and grow together, nothing can stop us. Thank you to organizer Louise Racine of Thirteen Moons Wellness and the many volunteers who worked so hard to make this event happen.