Kevin Flynn, MPP Oakville, has been hosting the Leading Women, Leading Girls, Building Communities event to honour women in Oakville for years. The event, held on May 4th, 2018 at the Oakville Museum on the Erchless Estate, was a success with a crowd of family, friends, and supporters of the winners as well as representatives of local women’s organizations in Oakville.
MPP Flynn took the time to mention some of the main feats our government has made in the past year to advance women’s empowerment across the province including Then, Now, Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment, It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, as well as strategies to end human trafficking and violence against indigenous women. He also highlighted the fact the leadership of women in our government, with women holding eight key positions in the current Executive Council of Ontario (Cabinet).
This year, MPP Flynn honoured five women and girls from our community who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and achieved impressive accomplishments in diverse means. Carole Holmes and Dr.Zeba Ansari were awarded the Leading Women certificates while Aiza Abid, Leanne Bishop, and Janvi Pathak won the title of Leading Girls.
Carole Holmes first started her advocacy work in 1981 when she became one of the founders of the Women of Halton Action Movement (WHAM). Since then, she has worked tirelessly in a variety of capacities to spearhead women’s rights in our community. In 2005, Carole founded Oomama, an organization which acts locally in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign, seeking to raise awareness and mobilize support for African grandmothers struggling to secure a future for their grandchildren orphaned or made vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS. Carole also spearheaded Terra Firma Halton, a private sponsorship group in support of Syrian newcomer families. She has also worked with the Grandmothers Advocacy Group of Oakville (GRAN), has dedicated herself to the Red Dress campaign which brings awareness to indigenous women’s issues, and countless other initiatives.
Dr. Ansari has been an advocate, mentor and leader of women in our community for over 22 years. Shortly after completing her paediatric and intensive care training at Queens University in Kingston, she joined the Department of Paediatrics at Halton Healthcare Services (HHS). Since that time, she has worked tirelessly as a Consulting Paediatrician. Since 2009, Dr. Ansari has been the Chief of Paediatrics at HHS and has championed increasing access to medical services. She has been successful in decreasing wait times and advancing the care provided to patients locally, as well as recruiting sub-speciality services from paediatric neurology, nephrology, neonatology and gastroenterology to HHS.
Aiza Abid has proven an extremely deserving recipient of this award. She acted as the primary executive of Garth Webb Secondary School’s Me to We club, for four years and regularly volunteered at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Aiza’s most outstanding accomplishment was the establishment of her own non-profit organization, Aiza’s Teddybear Foundation, which sends stuffed toys to children at homeless shelters and children’s hospitals in Ontario. Since 2013, the zero-waste organization has provided approximately 15,000 stuffed toys, tens of thousands of school supplies, clothing donations and many smiles to children across the province.
Leanne Bishop is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Commerce from the University of Guelph. Leanne volunteers through both the Girl Guides of Canada and the Duke of Edinburgh programs whenever possible and received the Citizenship Award and the Canada Cord Award from the Girl Guides. She was an active volunteer in municipal elections and achieved an impressive 1,300 volunteer hours when she attended Iroquois Ridge High School.
Janvi Pathak is known among friends and peers as a friendly face and an exceptional leader. She acts as the court clerk with the Mock Trial Team at Abbey Park High School and has demonstrated a deep interest in current events and legal discussions. Janvi is an outstanding supporter of her peers and has led her team to win the bronze medal at the Halton District School Finals championship. She has also become an incredibly successful communications director of her school’s Legal Eagle group, expanding membership and hosting large events. Janvi also volunteers at Ten Thousand Villages where she is able to share the organization’s mission to support fair trade.
MPP Flynn emphasized that the annual Leading Women, Leading Girls, Building Communities event is always one that he looks forward to hosting and learning of the exceptional efforts of local women. This event serves as not only a means to honour the winners, but an opportunity for advocates of our community to come together and establish partnerships with other activists.
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