By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Seeing women portrayed as empowered left a lasting impression on Stacy Lee and her eight-year-old daughter Mackenzie.
The Winchester residents travelled to Cornwall on Oct. 11 to mark the third International Day of the Girl – an annual day established by the United Nations to recognize girls’ rights globally and address discrimination and other barriers young girls face.
Over 150 female youth aged eight to 16 participated in a series of 18 mini-workshops hosted inside the classrooms of Ecole secondaire catholique La Citadelle.
Mackenzie watched intently with two dozen other girls as Mocktails Cornwall owner Paul St-Onge, assisted by his daughter Ashley, demonstrated how to make a healthy snack.
“Making smoothies is so much fun,” said Mackenzie.
Lee first heard of the event from her daughter’s school newsletter.
“I wish they had something like this when I was younger,” she said. “ I want her to know that she can be anything she wants, and that it’s OK to be a girl. If she wants to play soccer with the boys, she can.”
The Cornwall edition of the event receives no government funding.
“We’ve done it within our agencies,” said organizing committee member Amanda Brisson, the executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Cornwall & District.
The event was hosted by a partnership of local agencies including, the Boys and Girls Club, Maison Interlude House, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Partir d’un Bon Pas, Sexual Assault and Support Services (SASS) for Women, Counselling and Support Services, BBBS, and Maison Baldwin House.
This year, TVCogeco Cornwall stepped up as the major sponsor. And workshop facilitators donated their time, services, and products from The Rhythm Room, AOB Beads, Beat Central Dance Company (BCDC), Seaway Valley Community Health Centre, Giroux Sewing Cente, Fang Shen Do Kung Fu.
“We’re trying to empower girls to be stronger and build up their confidence so they know they’re the leaders of the future,” said Brisson.
As Makayla Bergeron, 11, waited for her manicure to dry, workshop leader Kari-Anne McKellar, leader with the 1st Cornwall French Girl Guides, delivered a crash course on nail aesthetics.
“I’ve been here every year and each time was amazing,” said Bergeron. “We’re lucky to have an event like this because in a lot of countries girls aren’t respected like they are in Canada. And we get to do things we didn’t realize we could.”