Women’s Day breakfast goes virtual

·3 min read

While COVID-19 has changed the way the world celebrated International Women’s Day this year, it did not stop it from being acknowledged and celebrated in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG). On Sat., March 6, the Cornwall and District Labour Council kicked off Women’s Day Weekend with a virtual breakfast. Sixteen people participated in the online event, including Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement. The event was set to feature the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC)’s Natalie Mehra, who was to speak about the pandemic and what is needed to preserve and improve the province’s public healthcare system. The meeting opened with Labour Council president Louise Lanctot providing a brief background on International Women’s Day, noting that the theme for this year is “Choose to Challenge.” In reference to the pandemic, Lanctot said there is “no recovery without the elevation of women.” She said her group continues to advocate for publicly funded day care for children, as well as Pharmacare and 10 paid sick days for all workers. “I think its important to talk about how difficult this past year has been for so many people in our community,” Clement said in her opening remarks. “I have to tell you that this year has been particularly difficult for women; they are in more precarious situations; more vulnerable from a housing perspective; they are more vulnerable from a workplace perspective.” Following Clement’s remarks, a recorded video message from provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath was played. While women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, Horwath said it is also women who are leading the fight against COVID-19. “Sadly, Doug Ford keeps putting money and politics ahead of public health, putting us at risk of once again repeating the cycle of sickness and lockdowns, which has disproportionately left women in communities across the province to pick up the pieces,” Horwath said. “That’s why right now, in this moment, the work of our movement is more important than it ever has been and it’s why we’re not going to give up.” Cornwall Coun. Elaine MacDonald introduced the keynote speaker, who, due to an unknown complication, did not appear. MacDonald referred to Mehra as a warrior woman at the forefront of the struggle for protecting healthcare in Canada. She mentioned two reports created by Mehra: the 2012 “Falling Behind”, and the more recent “Situation Critical”, a report on the state of long-term care a year before the onset of COVID-19. United Way of SDG executive director Juliette Labossiere announced that Tampon Tuesday would officially kickoff on March 8, whereby donations of women’s feminine products would be collected and then distributed to area women’s shelters and other non-profits. She also noted that donors could order through Amazon Wish List. “Throughout our communities we have stories of women opening or expanding businesses, providing hope and inspiration to us all, and leading a COVID-19 economic ‘shecovery,’” Clement said. “We’re going to be okay, but we have to remember that women continue to need support.” In lieu of an attendance fee, attendees were invited to donate feminine hygiene products to Cornwall’s Agape Centre.

Sandy Casselman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chesterville Record