HARBOUR GRACE, NL — The SPLASH Centre in Harbour Grace was filled to the brim with proud women on International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day is a worldwide celebration of women – how far they have come in society, and how much further they’ll continue to grow as a group. The day celebrates the victories and lives of women across the globe, even in small-town Newfoundland, like Harbour Grace.
The SPLASH Centre hosted an International Women’s Day event Thursday afternoon, Mar. 8, where the gymnasium filled with people joining together for a luncheon. They also enjoyed some live entertainment and friendly words from women and men alike.
“Basically, this event was formed by a bunch of local organizations, many of them led mainly by women, after realizing there was a bit of a lack of celebration for International Women’s Day in the area,” explained Maggie Snow, one of the organizers of Thursday’s event. “So we wanted to spearhead something that would bring that celebration back to the region. There are a group of us now that all got together and set it all up, and so far, the turnout is wonderful.”
Organizations involved in setting up the event included the Mariner Resource Opportunities Network, the Community Business Development Corporation, Communities Against Violence, and the O’Shaughnessy House in Carbonear.
Several guest speakers were present at the SPLASH Centre on Thursday, such as Betty Parsley and Pam Parsons, MHAs for the Harbour Main and Port de Grave-Harbour Grace regions respectively, and Ken McDonald, Member of Parliament for Avalon.
“These kinds of events are becoming more and more common, and I think that’s a reflection of the times that we’re living in. We’ve come so far as women – trailblazers such as Nellie McClung come to mind when I think about it," Parsons said, referencing the Canadian feminist and politician who fought for women's rights in the early 20th century. "There was a time when we as women were hardly looked at as people, and we’ve just come so far since then. But even now, there’s still a lot of progress we can make. It’d be great to see more women in industry roles, we’d like to engage them in politics on all levels as well. Events and days like this are what are really going to push that message, I think.
“Take a look at, for example, the City of St. John’s. There’s a record number of women there who ran and were elected to the city council, and we need to see even more of that in the future. I’m actually the first female MHA for our district, so this subject is important to me. There’s lots of barriers and obstacles to overcome as women, but if we work together, we can achieve that.”
Parsons went on to note recent events such as the #MeToo movement, which was used across social media as a means of demonstrating the prevalence of sexual violence, are helping spread an important message and giving women a voice on a global scale to stand together against violence and sexual harassment.
“It’s all about equality, really. For everyone. There’s no tolerance for violence, or abuse, or harassment of any kind in this day and age, and that’s a part of all of this as well,” she said.
North River Mayor Joanne Morrissey, another organizer of Thursday’s event, reiterated many of Parsons’ points during her speech to the crowd, where she recounted a brief history of the progress women have made both nationally and internationally. She hopes to see that progress continue for women in the future.
“This is a celebration of women, and the things they’ve accomplished and will accomplish in the future. That’s what today is all about,” she told The Compass.