International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day of celebration in recognition of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. The 2021 campaign theme is  #ChooseToChallenge. With challenge, comes change! We’re encouraging women in Almaguin to #ChooseToChallenge and pave the way for future generations.

We want to see examples of how women in Almaguin are creating ripple effects that promote gender equality in the region. If you know of someone who has made contributions to advance change, please nominate them to win a memento of gratitude in recognition of their efforts. You can nominate women and see the list of amazing local prizes available by visiting our Influential Women in Almaguin – International Women’s Day webpage. You can also check out other local initiatives by checking out The Women’s Own Resource Centre Facebook page.

Here, at the Almaguin Community Economic Development (ACED) department, the team has been supporting economic and social achievements throughout the community, including women in business. Meet the women of ACED who you may have been in touch with for marketing, grants, expansions, online upgrades or other economic development opportunities. 

Ciara Stead: Our Communications and Marketing Officer graduated from Humber College Advanced Program for Graphic Design. Afterward, she worked for several Muskoka marketing agencies, including a social enterprise run by influential women.  All while running her own freelance graphic design business and visual art business selling her own work; acrylic painting, watercolor paintings, macrame, cross-stitch, lino prints, and more. She works to be a part of the community and uses her knowledge to help others, standing as a director on many local volunteer organizations such as the Algonquin West ATV club and Huntsville Art Society, supporting with marketing, design, and more. When possible she also lends support to other organizations such as Madill Church Restoration Society. Recognized as Huntsville’s Gold Winner in their Readers Choice Awards for Best Graphic/Web Designer in 2020 and she has been nominated again for 2021. Currently, in her role with ACED she works directly with business owners to train and support all things digital marketing; from photography, websites, social media and more, all free for Almaguin businesses.

Jeanette Smith: We know her as the Administrative Assistant at ACED, but did you know she is also an entrepreneur? Jeanette owns and operates a health equity consulting business. This work involves collaborating with teams (mostly Indigenous women), to implement policy changes and program development. She completes research, proposals, reports, and applies for grants and funding transfers that are needed to remove barriers in our social and political systems, allowing for equal access to child care, food security, education, health care, employment and other stepping stones to improve overall well-being. Prior to starting her own business, Jeanette completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at UBC and Masters degree in Public Health with a specialization in Indigenous and Northern Healthcare while solely raising her son, with unconditional support of her friends and family. Through this experience, she has been able to support other single mothers navigate education and funding applications to achieve their own post-secondary accomplishments and further their careers. Through ACED, Jeanette is supporting economic equity for businesses and the Almaguin community. 

Courtney Metcalf: The local economic development officer for ACED, is currently off on maternity leave raising her son and new baby daughter. Courtney moved to Burk’s Falls when she was 13 years old when her parents invested in a campground business. After attending the University of Waterloo and receiving her Bachelor Degree in Environmental Studies, she was determined to move back to the place she always considered home. She has been working as an economic development officer in the region since January 2016, and is passionate about helping businesses grow in the community. Since choosing to buy a home and start her family here, she believes that Almaguin is the perfect place for young families, and wants to help show others what an amazing area it is to raise children. She is excited to work on future projects for youth retention and re-attraction and can’t wait to continue in her position with ACED.

Whether change is seen in challenging gender roles, or generating funds to support equality, every purposeful action we take to improve conditions for women will make a difference. We hope our contributions will make a positive difference in our community. The ACED team and our partners are proud supporters of all the businesses and organizations who are taking steps to create gender equality in Almaguin. Keep up the great work everyone!