In honour of Women’s History Month, my office has been featuring women from our community on my Facebook page; we have heard countless stories about women from Thunder Bay—Rainy River who have done amazing things for our community. For example, on International Day of the Girl we featured an article about Summer Wabasse, who was born and raised in Thunder Bay and is a proud band member of Webequie First Nation. Summer recently graduated from St. Ignatius High School with an outstanding overall average of 95%! Her passion for academics, particularly math and science, earned her a full scholarship to Lakehead University, where she is currently studying Civil Engineering with hopes of becoming a civil engineer and working in Northwestern Ontario.
Another notable woman we featured is the Honourable Lyn McLeod, Member of Provincial Parliament for Thunder Bay-Atikokan, the First Female Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, and current Chancellor of Lakehead University. Ms. McLeod has lived a life devoted to breaking down barriers and serving the citizens of Ontario, and we are very lucky to have her involved in such an important institution in Northwestern Ontario.
Our Government recognizes that Canada will only reach its full potential when everyone has the opportunity to thrive and we are working harder than ever to ensure that diverse groups of women, men, and gender-diverse people are supported by our policies and programs. That’s why we’re committed to recruiting decision-makers who reflect the diversity of the people we serve by introducing Bill C-25 to help boost the number of women on corporate boards, and included Canada’s first-ever Gender Statement in Budget 2017.
We have appointed more women, visible minorities, and Indigenous people to Canada’s Senate than the previous government, and we are committed to empowering Indigenous women and girls and breaking the cycle of violence and discrimination that they disproportionately face.
Our Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence will fill important gaps to support women and girls, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2, and gender non-conforming people in communities across Canada.
We are also committed to championing the rights of women and girls internationally. Through our Feminist International Assistance Policy, we are empowering millions of women and girls across the globe.
In 1987, she decided to enter politics by running as a member of the Ontario Liberal Party for the Fort William riding, winning the election by nearly 1,500 votes over the seat’s incumbent MPP. Following this victory, McLeod was appointed Minister of Colleges and Universities, followed shortly after by her appointment as Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Energy in 1989.
Following the Liberal Party’s loss in the 1990 election, McLeod ran for and won the party’s leadership race, becoming its first female leader and the first woman to lead a major political party in Ontario. She served in this position until 1995, after which she remained an MPP for two more terms, holding the positions of Education Critic and Health Critic.
Following her retirement from politics in 2003, McLeod continued to devote her time towards serving the public, including sitting on the Health Council of Canada, holding the position of Chair of the Board of Governors of Confederation College, and serving as the Chancellor of Lakehead University; a position she holds to this day.
To paraphrase the Government of Ontario statement on the former Ontario Liberal leader’s appointment to the Order of Ontario in 2014, Lynn McLeod has clearly lived an inspiring life devoted to public service.
During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the real progress we have made for women and girls in Canada, but remain keenly aware of the important work that still needs to be done to achieve true gender equality.