When I think about International Women’s Day, I often resort to thinking about well-known international leaders who have overcome the biggest obstacles on the path to changing their communities (both locally and globally). I think of Malala Yousafzai and Rosa Parks, for example. That said, I also feel like the women closer to home deserve similar recognition. This is why I’d like to share with you three women whose contributions make a difference in my community:
LAURETTE LEFOL: This woman is very active in the Fransaskoise community. In addition to the incredible number of hours of volunteering she works, what I appreciate the most about Laurette, is that she takes the time to ask the younger generation for their opinions, ideas and feedback. In fact, I was totally surprised the first time she invited me to a strategic planning meeting for the Fédération des francophones de Saskatoon (the city’s francophone community association). Though I feel my voice is a small one, when she invites me to these meetings and cultural activities, I feel that my point of view and presence are important to her. Her reaching out helped me cultivate a sense of belonging to my community that I hold very close to my heart. Merci Laurette!
ZOÉ FORTIER: She is one of my closest friends, a talented visual artist and activist - a contemporary franco-feminist like none other (in my words!). I admire her boldness - she is never shy to share her opinions and often does so with tongue-in-cheek wit. Her visual arts speaks to her experience as a woman in a minority language situation…and I adore her use of fauvist-inspired colour palette, her play on words and her humour. Thank you for your boldness Zoé!
* About her work seen above: Zoé presented these tote bags as an installation for the Women's World exhibit put on by BAM in Saskatoon in 2016. However, Zoé prefers to see these tote bags used or inserted into a public context. She likes to stimulate conversation about women's roles in society using objects that are functional and attractive. These bags are often considered "Kitch-cheesy-cute". They refer to the traditional links that exist between women and domesticity via elements such as embroidery or feminine clichés. Zoé also likes to contribute to the desexualization of the human anatomy by demonstrating that female physical attributes are part of species. She also uses language playfully to make her point.
In addition to being a talented musician and an exceptional business woman, FARIDEH CEASER is a superb mother! For the longest time, I was under the impression that the only female musicians who could also have a family were ones who have established international careers, like Macie Grey, Lights or Jill Barber. The only other option I saw was for female musicians to wait until later in life before starting their families (llike Céline Dion and Shania Twain, for example). Farideh has shown me that female musicians don’t need to choose between having a family VS a career: her baby has accompanied us on tour since she was born a year and a half ago. Farideh’s example shows me that it’s possible to take over 85 planes, to spend over 100 hours in a car, put on more than 60 shows a year AND to be a great mom. I am very thankful for her example to prove that it is possible for women in the music industry to raise kids without compromising their career ambitions.
And you?? Are there women in your community that inspire you? Let’s celebrate them on International Women’s Day!