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International Women's Day celebrated in Barrie

More than 100 people at city hall for flag raising, march

Speeches, a flag raising, a song and a march in downtown Barrie.

More than 100 people - women, men, children - braved a strong, chilly wind outside city hall to celebrate International Women's Day.

Among several speakers who addressed the crowd was the first female police chief in Barrie - Chief Kimberley Greenwood.

"This is a day that we're provided the opportunity to reflect and take stock of the progress that women have made in society and to honour the contributions that these women have made," Greenwood said, adding that gender stereotypes still do exist. 

After the ceremony the Chief was asked about her role as a trailblazer and what her accomplishment means to her. 

"I look at what it means to me for all women, it's not just me as the Chief of the Barrie Police Service. I look to all the women and men that work for the city of Barrie, work for the Barrie Police Service," Greenwood said.

"Those that have come before me that have provided me with opportunities as I built on my career through the many many years.  And I feel very fortunate that I live in a country that provides opportunities and there is equality. There's always room for improvement and I challenge everybody that are in positions to make change, to make that change."

Representatives attended on behalf of MP John Brassard, MP Alex Nuttall and MPP Ann Hoggarth.

Naomi Mueller spoke on behalf of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MP Nuttall.

"It still shocks me to realize that there is a fairly strong misbelief that we have already achieved gender equality in Canada," she said. "While it is so important to recognize the many achievements of women we also need to acknowledge that some hurdles still remain in every day lives of girls and women."

Jeanne Harris of Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth’s office noted the theme of International Women's Day this year is Be Bold for Change. 

Harris said that on Saturday, MP Hoggarth is honouring 13 leading women and 13 leading girls from Barrie 'representing exactly what this theme is about' - female leaders in multiple sectors.

"They're avid volunteers, educators and business leaders. They're entrepreneurs, advocates and artists. But most of all they're role models. Role models who demonstrate to future generations the power of being bold and brave to achieve their goals and to achieve equality," Harris said. 

Mayor Jeff Lehman named many of Barrie's leaders including Janice Skot, CEO of Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, CEO of Georgian College, Chief of Police Kimberley Greenwood and Carla Ladd, CAO of Barrie.

"We have a lot to celebrate in terms of the accomplishments of women in our community achieving and leading themselves. But there is still so much more to do.  The gender wage gap is real.  it must be closed. Violence against women remains far, far too prominent and we must take on that as a community," Lehman said.

The Mayor's wife Jennifer and daughter Cassie were in the crowd. 

He thanked Jennifer for 'being inspiring' which prompted cheers and applause from spectators.

"We're committed as a couple to try and work together and Jenn inspires me and pushes me to do more to help female candidates and female participation in politics."

The Mayor read the official proclamation for International Women's Day in Barrie, a flag was raised and then there was a march in the downtown. 

The event was hosted by the Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie.

Executive Director Teresa McLennan was pleased with the turnout and touched by a 'special moment' when young Cassie Lehman helped raise the flag.

"I think that really shows the transition that happens for young women to step up and be leaders for the future so it was very poignant. It was wonderful to have her lift up the flag today," McLennan said. 




Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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