This year, the global theme for International Women’s Day, March 8, is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
It is a day to recognize the achievements of women and girls all over the world, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.
“Unfortunately, women still face cultural, socio-economic and political barriers to accessing leadership,” according to the International Women’s Development Agency.
Women stand on the front lines as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and leaders in their community. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the pandemic.
In 1911, when IWD was established, just eight countries allowed women to vote and equal work for euqal pay was unheard of, if they were allowed to work at all, and reproductive rights were non-existent, according to the IWDA.
Women are now leading countries and running corporations, but there are many places all over the world, where women’s rights are not equal.
A United Nations policy brief noted, “Across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex” and continues to say that even limited gains made over the last decade are at risk.
Throughout the pandemic, more women than men have been diagnosed and died from COVID-19, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, and a reason could be because of the higher number of women who work on the front line or live in nursing homes and senior’s residences.
The risk of gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of caregiving and housework and reduced access to support services were increased for women when it came to isolation measures imposed to prevent the spead of the virus.
In Clearwater, so many women in the community represent us in government, support us in the hospital, medical and dental clinic and head up restaurants and cafes, the drug store, hardware store and so many more small businesses around town. Don’t forget about the young women in school, who will be the future leaders, healers, fixers and innovators of our community, and our world.
More and more, we close the gap in gender disparities in sports, business, education and health care, but there is still much more to be done.
The Times would like to thank Holly Louwerse who took a number of the headshots for the Women in Business/International Women’s Day feature. Another local businesswoman, she heads her own photography business, Holly Louwerse Photography.
District of Clearwater
Lisa Jensen has worked for the District of Clearwater as an ICBC/Motor Vehicle, Finance Clerk for 12 years.
She said the DOC is unique in the services offered to the community as it is one of five one of five municipalities in the province that offer ICBC and motor vehicle services. It’s important to support small businesses, she said, because it isn’t run by a board or committee — it’s local residents, real people, creating local jobs and supporting one another.
Lisa enjoys her role as she likes to help people and is able to interact with the community. She also likes to be the person that people call or visit to have all of their questions answered.
Andrea Lever was born and raised in Clearwater, moving away for a little while after graduating high school, returning in 2013.
She works at the District of Clearwater, the local government office, a fast-moving office where many people go for up-to-date and reliable information. Andrea was the district’s accounts payable clerk for four years before recently starting her new position as administrative assistant.
Seeing familiar faces and knowing her neighbours are her favourite things about living in a small town. She has three school-aged children, whom she adores, but she also enjoys getting out of the house and working. Another aspect she enjoys about her town and her job is seeing the new growth and development in the community, as well as all of the hard work she sees go into every project.
Blinds & More To Your Door
Valerie Morhart moved to Clearwater in 2004 after she was offered a seasonal position. She decided to take a chance and move from the Okanagan back to the Interior that she loves.
As an avid outdoor enthusiast, moving closer to the mountains in Wells Gray Park and the Robson Valley where she grew up was the main attraction to the area. Now, she has owned and run Blinds & More To Your Door for nine years, something she said allows her to use her best attributes, the ability to problem solve, as well as her keen attention to detail.
She also enjoys meeting so many new and interesting people, which makes the business her happy place. Blinds & More To Your Door offers residential and commercial custom blinds and installations, starting with a product design consultation and quote, that is a free in-home service in the North Thompson corridor.
Self-employment has given her the flexibility to take time off when her self-employed husband is off so they can do what they love best, whether it’s trekking their beautiful backyard or in the Nepal Himalayas.
Clearwater Dental Clinic
Dr. Sarika Kishore originally worked in the Clearwater Dental Clinic office in 2013 as a locum dentist. After falling in love with the area, she hoped to return, and did after having her second child.
Dr. Sarika said she was lucky enough to buy-in to the clinic and has been working in the office since July, 2016. After being closed for a short while at the beginning of the pandemic, the team updated and upgraded their facility to ensure the safety of their patients and employees.
The all-woman team of Clearwater Dental Clinic are compassionate and love what they do everyday and Dr. Sarika continues to do what she does, simply because she loves it. They are unique because they are the only ones here, though she wants the community of Clearwater to have all the essential services available to them, which will invite more people to move to the area.
Divine Awakenings Healing Connection
As the owner of Divine Awakenings Healing Connection, Kym Gallagher finally found what she is meant to do — help others. She uses varying methods, including Reiki and Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique, to help those with chronic pain, an illness or a past trauma, and offers alternative remedies or ease discomfort.
With QHHT, Kym helps others access their subconscious to receive answers they may have to their life questions. This allows them to receive healing in their mind, body and spirit. While performing Reiki, or energy healing, she focuses on the universal energy around us, and transfers it to the client, whether that be a person or animal, to promote healing into the body or mind.
After her partner found a position in the forestry industry in 2017, they moved to Clearwater. Kym started Divine Awakenings just six months ago.As part of the small business community in Clearwater, she feels local is very important and provides a more personal approach and relaxed environment. Having local businesses allows members of the community to not have to travel to receive what they are looking for. They help bolster the feeling of community.
Flo Amundson owns and operates a very unique and quaint little shop called Mystic Dreams, a department store with different rooms and themes of fun and funk. Everything from antiques, jewelry, clothing, books, crystals, kid toys and more. The shop used to be in Kamloops, but Flo moved the business to Clearwater after she met her husband Luc.
Mystic Dreams has been in town now for six years. She fell in love with the community and continues to be grateful to the town and area for allowing her to do what she loves, and to be with who she loves. Running the shop is the most fun Flo has ever done and said it is all she wants to do for the rest of her life. So many different people walk into her store, and she loves to see all of their smiles. Flo believes that without small, local businesses, there is no community.
Michelle Leins is the sole owner and pharmacist of the Clearwater Pharmasave. She originally moved to Clearwater for a temporary position. But she made the move permanent after falling in love with the community and accepting an offer to purchase the business. June 2021 will be her 28th anniversary.
A small business in a rural community has a special role, as they can achieve a better understanding of customer needs and wants, she said. Trusted relationships can be formed and customers become like an extended family. Clearwater Pharmasave is a full-service traditional pharmacy and store with a knowledgeable trained staff. Seventeen strong, intelligent women, each with their own attributes and expertise.
Michelle said they care about the community and their customers and she believes that is what makes them very unique. There is always a smile or hello as you enter the store, making everyone feel a part of the Pharmasave family.
Wild Flour Cafe Bakery
Wild Flour Café Bakery has become one of Clearwater’s go-to places to grab a homemade meal, tasty treats and hand-crafted beverages. The ingredients for their dishes are fresh and made in-house, from the bone broths in the soups to the fresh-milled ancient grain flours in their baked goods.
Owner and baker Kris Olson was born in Clearwater, while chef de cuisine and baker Jess Easson moved to the area with her husband in June of 2019. Jess enjoys her work at Wild Flour because of the creative freedom and the working in an environment that encourages growth and fun.
Kris started selling her baking at the local farmers market after moving home to start a family. Though she enjoyed selling her goods at the market, Kris knew she wanted to open a cafe. After hearing Jess, a new friend, would be moving back to the area, the two searched for the perfect spot — the old location of O’Bryan’s Corner Café. The stars had aligned and Wild Flour Café Bakery opened its doors July 2019.
The female-led business has been running for about a year and a half, and the team aims to create a space for people to gather over magical food and drinks.
Wells Gray Home Hardware
Jennifer Selbee owns and operates the Wells Gray Home Hardware with her husband and business partner, Lorne. The opportunity to own a home and raise her four children spurred the move to Clearwater in 2008.
While she loves her role in the accounting side of things, Jennifer especially enjoys the aspect of her career where she just never stops learning. From learning everything there is to know about paint and expanding her gardening knowledge, embracing what there is to know about home renovation and even plumbing, she said there hasn’t been a day where she hasn’t learned something new.
Not only is the business locally owned, it’s multi-generational. Jennifer learned the ropes from her mother-in-law, who learned from her mother-in-law. Even after 12 years, Jennifer still truly enjoys seeing the new people that come to town, as well as the long-term relationships she’s built with customers. She loves being a part of solving customer problems. Locally-owned businesses add value to the community, said Jennifer.
Wells Gray Home Hardware employs locals, shops locally and supports many local groups in the North Thompson Valley all year long.