What Happens When You Take 130 Women From Across the Nation and Inspire Them?
They learn, educate and support. They share, cry and bare their souls. They inspire, empower and hope. They sing, dance and trust.
Women, representing every province and territory in the nation, arrived at the YWCA Young Women’s National Leadership Summit as individual delegates and they left as a group.
130 women from across Canada, five of those from the Bow Valley, attended the Summit in Rama, Ontario this past January. The YWCA and affiliates generously sponsored the women’s accommodation and transportation to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to attend the conference, regardless of the distance. The delegates were hosted at the YMCA Muskoka Geneva Park grounds for four nights as they attended seminars, workshops and panels.
— YWCA Canada (@YWCA_Canada) January 30, 2015
The women also participated in activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and team building exercises. This all led up to a wonderful talent show where delegates shared their spoken word, throat singing and hoola hooping, amongst other talents, with the rest of the Summit. After a weekend of education, a dance party was necessary and every woman let loose on the floor.
From a screening of the film Gender Matters, to the wonderful Kim Katrin Milan’s keynote presentation, to workshops on anti-oppression / anti-racism, stress relief, networking, and more, the weekend was filled with extraordinary experiences.
The inspiring presenters and speakers were diverse in their experiences. They were made up of CEOs, lawyers, accountants, comedians, and filmmakers. However, while they all came from different backgrounds and had different lessons to pass on to the delegates, a theme ran strong. They spoke of their struggles, mentors and values. They stood in front of 130 young women and allowed them into the inner depths of their stories, in the name of education. Poignantly so, each powerful woman who took the stage had passion, perseverance and hope. The delegates were not only able to learn from these inspiring women but they were also encouraged to educate and learn from one another.
Every young delegate brought a different story, a different perspective and a different voice to the table. They shared knowledge, stories and themes. They also allowed others to understand their cultures, struggles and experiences. Through this, an understanding and appreciation of the differences and commonalities that exist in the lives of young women in this country bloomed. The knowledge that was shared horizontally between participants is a testament to the strength and resilience held by young women across Canada. It reflected how powerful and important it is to have spaces, such as the summit, to share with one another. The delegates ranged in age from 18 – 25, their educations varied and their cultures differed. Some quiet, some loud. Some of the women were running their own non-profits and others figuring out what to do after they graduate high school. However, at the summit, they all sat at the same table. Every woman, every delegate had a voice. And those voices were heard.
As the delegates who represented the Bow Valley, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Young Women’s National Leadership Summit. We would like to thank the YWCA Banff and YWCA Canada for supporting and sponsoring us. We can’t wait to continue building on the knowledge and inspiration acquired at the conference, and to further develop the connections and friendships that started there.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is tied up with mine, then let us work together” – Lilla Watson