‘Inspiring change’ was the theme of this year’s Women’s Day

MINDEMOYA—Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR), a non-profit agency seeking to enhance the lives of individuals and families, partnered up with the Seeds of Joy organization to celebrate International Women’s Day at the Mindemoya Missionary church on March 8. A good number of women attended the session which marked the seventh annual event for Seeds of Joy and the sixth for MFR.

The Seeds of Joy group was started in 1999 by Ciann Strickland of Little Current. “There was a time in my life when I couldn’t afford to go to retreats,” Ms. Strickland explained, “so when I had money I put some in to get it started for women for healing renewal and personal growth.” As the literature explains, the association is a not-for-profit community organization that supports women in various community events and activities, is non-denominational and believes strongly in the concept of women helping women. The Mission Statement talks of supporting women both spiritually and financially, offering them opportunities for renewal, healing and personal growth and enabling them to nurture their bodies, minds and spirits.

Ms. Strickland welcomed everyone to the celebration and spoke of the official declaration of International Women’s Day on March 8, 1913. “We are inspired today to light up women’s worlds,” Ms. Strickland continued as she introduced women who light up her life and thanked Marion Knopp, Linda Willson, Holly Burnett, Joan Bell, Mary Ellen Bailey, Chris McCartney, Lucy Halla, Kerri Lattimer, Dagmar Werkmeister and Jane Hubbard. “This is my team,” she said, “and they are responsible for this event today. And I also thank Brenda Clark. We probably could not do this without Manitoulin Family Resources.”

Ms. Clark, the violence against women prevention (VAWP) program director for MFR, offered a welcome to those in attendance on behalf of the agency. “It is nice to see so many women here today,” Ms. Clark said, “and with all the activities going on, it is almost International Women’s Week.”

The special guest speaker was Barb Tate, who said, “The theme this year is inspiring change and women do that. We have to be able to go inside and see our flame and acknowledge our flame and know our self. Women light themselves when they gather together. We emanate. We share our light. We empower each other’s light when we gather in a circle because the circle is strong. We all have a beautiful flame inside and it is important to emphasize that flame and to share that flame always. We may never know how we light someone’s life up.”

The Seeds of Joy organization also holds day workshops and two weekend retreats scheduled for March and October. The day events include mask making, mandalas, journaling, labyrinths, collage, circle dancing and drum making and are held by request. The retreats are held at the Anishinaabe Centre on the outskirts of Espanola. Holly Burnett, who lives in Little Current, has been to a retreat. “It is a very relaxing weekend and very informative,” she explained. “Women are getting together and are able to bond and work on their personal growth.” The cost of the retreat is $240 and begins Friday after supper and ends Sunday after lunch and includes meals, accommodation and all supplies. Or two women could share a room and pay $195 each. For more information, call Ms. Strickland at 705-368-3030.

International Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8 with over 100 countries participating in celebrations for gains made and demonstrations to further empower women whose rights are less than those of males. Here in Canada, it was a blow to all women when, just days before Women’s Day, the federal government, through the Special Committee on Violence against Indigenous Women tabled a report that says there should be no inquiry. It is believed that there are over 800 cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women in this country.

Betty Bardswich