Edwina Nearhood: Women continue long tradition of shaping life in the Peace


March 8 is International Women’s Day. I would like to spend some time in reflection and express gratitude for the amazing, strong, visionary women that have been instrumental in shaping the Peace River region.

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The past several years have seen the Me Too movement and the reclamation of the female voice. We witnessed history in the making as Jody Wilson-Raybould made a solid stand asserting First Nations principles as her guidepost in a pivotal moment of national Indegenious relations. I stand behind this British Columbian woman.

Personally, my preference of leadership is to meet people where they are at and empower them to challenge any limitations that stop them from moving forward. Women have strengths in areas such as leadership, attention to detail, organization, and work ethic. Women are not one size fits all.

Vulnerable women are forced to navigate their own daily needs and needs of her family due to any number of circumstances. This woman’s day is rooted in fighting for the necessities of life that are a basic human right. Why is there such a challenge supporting affordable housing for families? Why do we not build inclusive housing that considers safe housing for people of all needs and demographics? At what point did we turn our backs as communities to those most in need? A healthy community is an inclusive community.

In Fort St. John, we have a host of women who grew up in rural areas of the North Peace. These women built their foundation driving combines, ranching, logging, trucking, being partners in multi-million dollar companies building the economy of our region. Some of these women have navigated racism, poverty, and abuse fed by generational dysfunction. These women have gone on to have very successful careers with national and international recognition for their skills and leadership.

Women have constructed strong, successful not for profit organizations, been the supportive backbone of schools and sports teams all the while juggling the busy timetables of fully engaged families. Women are often the loudest voice supporting families as they understand the foundational strengths required by a healthy early start – rooted in strong resilient mothers, healthy households, and food and shelter security. We live in a community where no child is left behind in sports. Often an observant mother will ensure every child wanting to be involved in sports has the opportunity.

To the amazing women of Fort St. John, I applaud all that you do. I admire your ability to meet people where they are at. I appreciate the self control to refrain from stepping on others for professional gain, instead choosing the best form of leadership that involves working with others to achieve the desired outcome. Those are the women that are seen along the sidelines running the race with their people cheering them on to succeed and so happy when they do. I appreciate the compassion and understanding you have with the ability to show up in solidarity. The community has a 100 Woman Who Care not for profit hosted by women for women to show up and support the community.

I invite everyone to take a moment on International Women’s Day to stop, look around, acknowledge and appreciate the power of the woman. Say thank you, well done, I appreciate you. Take pause and reflect on the richness our grandmothers have planted in the Peace.

Stand behind those strong women standing up to a nation to say they will no longer follow this path. As a nation, let us explore the indigenous principles rooted in a strong healthy matriarchal society. It is time. 

Edwina Nearhood is a lifelong resident of Fort St. John.

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