Her Worship Maja Tait, Mayor of Sooke, delivered a moving speech to the women gathered at the Sooke Harbour House in recognition of International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, 2015. The event was organized by Sooke’s Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Tait’s presentation is as follows:
Good afternoon and welcome.
Let us begin by formally recognizing the Traditional Territory of the T’souke Nation.
Many thanks to our gracious host, Frederique Phillip of the Sooke Harbour House.
Thank you to the Sooke Region Chamber for organizing today’s event, to recognize this day and for both the invitation and opportunity to speak.
Welcome women of Sooke!
On March 8th, 1914 A German poster read:
“Give us Women’s Suffrage, Women’s Day. Until now, prejudice and reactionary attitudes have denied full civic rights to women, who as workers, mothers and citizens wholly fulfill their duty, who must pay their taxes to the state as well as the municipality. Fighting for this natural human right must be the firm, unwavering intention of every woman, every female worker. In this, no pause for rest, no respite is allowed. Come all, you women and girls, to the 9th public women’s assembly on Sunday, March 8th, 1914 at 3 pm.”
Since then, there has been no pause for rest, and while advances have been made in the 101 years that have passed:
- Girls continue to be denied access to education, leading to opportunity, hope.
- Women continue to be forced into arranged marriages future determined by a man they have never met.
- In developed countries, such as Canada, women may earn only 77% of what men earn, and only few have senior management roles.
Why does this matter? Why is this Day so important?
When women have equal opportunities, it means that barriers will be eliminated for others, (First Nations, visible minorities, those with disabilities or varying sexual orientation). The UN 2015 theme as stated by the Secretary General read, “2015: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity. Picture it! To be truly transformative, the post-2015 development agenda must prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment. The world will never realize 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realize their full potential.”
With equality, studies show a more inclusive, supportive workplace with greater opportunities. Women thrive and succeed when priorities are built around self-care, family and virtues.
Sooke is a unique place, where women have always come together, rolled up their sleeves and created beautiful experiences for the betterment of the community. Visible, in the pages of Sooke history books, exhibits at the museum, writings from our historian, and word of mouth from our “men folk” who kindly share tales of the women that “bossed them about” to get things done. Legendary women like Owechemis or “Kitty” the Nitnat Princess that arrived in Sooke as a peace offering to stop a war; and whose marriage to an early pioneer resulted in generations of Sooke folk that have contributed and built our community.
Other Sooke women have taken remarkable strides.
Creating destinations that welcome international guests, in places that celebrate local art, flavours and viewscapes. Others create gathering places for friends, where the flowers from another shop grace the tables, and makers of yet other beautiful products and items are displayed on the walls and shelves for all to enjoy. Such truly showcases the creative energy that thrives here.
Other women provide professional services in travel, finance, and/or services for the home, garden and children. Many mentor and provide employment opportunities for the next generation that is starting out and finding their way.
In local governance, Sooke women have held seats over the norm. Our community has been served by female mayor, councilors and prior to incorporation – regional directors. Those who have served have shaped the way forward to our current Council that has five women serving of varying ages and backgrounds.
In the March edition of Boulevard Magazine, the five women mayors of Greater Victoria will be featured. I was fortunate to share how grateful I am to be in a community where so many strong women have already blazed trails.
This is a vibrant time for Sooke, as the Town Centre improvements come to life after a decade of planning. Priorities unfold that will recognize Sooke’s culture and community spirit.
Going forward, while 101 years ago the poster read, “No pause for rest,” I believe that it is necessary to “pause for applause,” to take a moment to align one’s heart and mind – to be true to one’s self. In doing so, have those experiences that may be difficult and painful at times, as such will result in greater self awareness, strength and esteem. Gain confidence in one’s abilities, skills and talents. And with the wisdom that follows, empower each other, share and mentor one another as such will continue to build a more resilient community where all may thrive and realize their potential.
In honour of the 2015 theme for today, “Celebrate Women’s Achievements, Call for Greater Equality.