Kitimat’s female business leaders came together for a panel discussion March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day and discuss what it means to hold their role in today’s world.
Hosted by the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce, the virtual conference heard from business owners, entrepreneurs, managers and self-described optimists of the Kitimat area.
“I feel like we’ve come a long way from what the culture was like, but there’s certainly room for improvement especially in Kitimat since it’s still a very male-centric community,” Michelle Martins, executive director of Tamtik Status of Women said.
“No social movement can be successful if it’s just that group advocating for themselves, but rather those groups need support from other demographics, to lend their privileges and their platforms to amplify those voices.”
The panel discussed several topics important to them, including, what empowers them, what are some of their biggest triumphs and troubles, what characteristics brought them success, experiences of working with men in the workplace, systemic challenges where men can help, and advice they would give their younger self.
The women shared their personal experiences and went in-depth about their struggles and difficulties of balancing work and personal life.
“Being a mom, I wanted to take that time off and spend it raising my son. That also meant stepping away from my career,” Bree-Ann Galbavy, a Rio Tinto superintendent said.
“In certain male-dominated industries, women need to work harder to advance. It’s reason like this we need to take our struggles, build off of them and turn them into triumphs … becoming a mom made me more confident, comfortable and sure of what I wanted.”
The discussion dovetailed into fathers’ responsibilities to empower their daughters from an early age. Many felt the pressures of being a woman in the business world, and hoped men will learn from their experiences.
“When raising your daughters, notice it’s a lot harder for women to make it in their career. That’s why it’s important to build your daughter’s self-worth,” Ceara Abreu, a realtor and co-owner of Saffron & Twig said.
The event was moderated by Kitimat Chamber of Commerce president Daniel Chimko, and sponsored by Rio Tinto.
Other panellists included Heather Masch, owner-operator of Pyramid Supplies; Candice Wilson, environmental manager for the Haisla Nation; Vanessa Cuoto, general manager of MSTAR Hotel; and Marlie Penner, director of human resources and labour relations of the District of Kitimat.