International Women’s Day Brunch, 2016

On March 5, 2016 at Capitol Banquet Hall in Mississauga, guests from various unions and labour committees gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day. Attendees were treated to a light brunch and a lineup of influential speakers.

“There’s over 600 women gathered today, we’re going to get a chance to network, meet each other and hear each others stories,” said Jennifer Evans, Chief of Police for the Region of Peel. “We’re going to hear inspirational and motivational speaking.”

The event was put together to celebrate women, and acknowledge the genders as equals. It aimed to inspire and encourage women to continue to succeed.

“Today is a celebratory day for all women. It recognizes how far we’ve come, it celebrates our achievements, our struggles,” said Lavinia De Mello, Director of Communications from the Teamsters Ontario Women’s Caucus.

Many unions were present at the International Women’s Day brunch, including Unifor, CUPE and Teamsters.

Some honourable guests were in attendance to deliver speeches. Among them were the Mayor of Brampton, the Mayor of Mississauga, Samra Zafar from Interim Place, Peel Chief of Police, and Barb Byers, Secretary Treasurer from the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Mayor of Brampton, Linda Jeffery, was happy to be in attendance among so many strong, amazing females.

“I’m here to support the women,” said Jeffery.

During her career, she often faced obstacles because of her gender. Jeffery had to learn to develop, “tougher skin” – although, she shouldn’t have had to.

Hearing stories from women who have overcome obstacles, whether in their career or in their life, gives hope to women everywhere.

“It’s nice to hear someone who’s been able to be successful to give you hope, to know that you can be successful and that there are people out there that want you to be successful,” said Jeffery.

Even Jennifer Evans, Peel’s Chief of Police, had to overcome the unfortunate challenges of being a powerful woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry.

“[I] never looked at that as a challenge, however an opportunity. An opportunity to demonstrate that women are equal, at everything we do,” said Evans.

Many individuals from the Teamsters Ontario Women’s Caucus were there to help with the event.

Denise Thompson, a shop steward from Teamsters Local 647, was part of the day’s action, running the raffle and the 50/50 draw.

“Today is recognition for all women worldwide. I think it’s about time we got recognized as an important part of not just the workforce, but as part of our community,” said Thompson.

Organizers were overwhelmed to see how many men were in attendance to support the women in their lives.

Cliff Booth, attended the event with his wife Michelle.

“[There is] far too much oppression in the world still today [for women.] Things like, pay equity, access to fair treatment in jobs,” Booth said.

When asked who at the event inspired him, he said, “My wife is my constant inspiration. She is courageous, she is fearless, she puts herself out there all the time. She’s an inspiration to me everyday.”

Most would agree that the fight for women’s equality doesn’t end after International Women’s Day. Teamsters Local 647 encourages the positive strides made daily by those passionate about creating an equal world for both genders.

Lenna Phenix, President of the Teamsters Ontario Women’s Caucus, passionately discussed her visions for the future of equality and women’s rights.

“I want to see equality for both men and women and not be discriminated against regardless on the career choice that they make. So if a man wants to be a nurse and a woman wants to be a welder, so be it. They should all be good paying professions.”