The Conestoga community celebrated International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 with virtual activities, including keynote speakers, panel discussions and workshops.
Recognized globally, IWD celebrates women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements and marks a call-to-action for accelerating gender parity. Conversations this year focused on breaking biases by challenging stereotypes and discrimination to create a world where difference is valued and celebrated.
A student-led committee with support from Student Engagement and Security Services hosted a keynote and interactive panel exploring themes of matriarchal and community knowledge sharing. In her opening keynote address, Lois Thomas, Elder-in-Residence at Conestoga, spoke to participants about teachers, oral traditions, and ways of understanding.
The keynote was followed by a panel discussion featuring Alice Penny from Bring on the Sunshine, Cait Glasson of Aging with Pride, and Christina Restoule from Conestoga's Indigenous Services. During the discussion, panelists spoke about the role intergenerational relationships played in their learning and growth, and the steps they take to pass on knowledge to younger generations.
"I was lucky I was raised around aunties and grandmothers that weren't necessarily my own, but these were women that played a very important role in my life as an adolescent growing into an Indigenous woman and trying to find culture and language," said Restoule. "There were many Indigenous women that played a role in my growth, and one of the things that are very important to me to pass on to my own daughter now is the celebration of who we are as a people."
In addition to the keynote and panel discussion, the committee also held a video contest calling on the Conestoga community to share stories on social media that highlighted important women in their lives.
Other events through the college included a conversation with Nadya Okamoto on women empowerment hosted by Conestoga Students Inc. in collaboration with other post-secondary institutions across Ontario, as well as a workshop focused on bystander intervention hosted by the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.
Conestoga's Student Engagement team meets the needs of students through innovative programming designed to achieve goals with learning outcomes-based initiatives, including the Co-Curricular Record, Orientation, the Respect Campaign, the Connect Leadership Workshop Series, and various student volunteer and committee opportunities.