CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2022
What does it mean to be a woman?
We are slowly rising out of the COVID ashes, dusting ourselves off and preparing to move forward. There are new struggles locally, nationally and globally, but women persevere. It is what we have been taught, observed and embraced. We are ready for change and what lies ahead knowing if we support one another we are never alone.
My Ol’ Blues has chosen this “International Women’s Day 2022”, to celebrate the accomplishments of a few women who are a part of our MOB family. They are customers, mentors, and family. Thank you for sharing your story, vision, passion, and advice with us! You are are all truly an inspiration to us all.
Ann Elizabeth Carson Toronto ON
Poet, writer, sculptor, feminist, retired psychotherapist and one of ‘Toronto’s Mille Femmes’ (2008 Luminato Festival) which paid tribute to women who have made a contribution to the arts.
Ann has devoted her career to understanding the silenced voices in our society and to attempting to give them voices through her work. Ann published her first book at the age of 73.
A longtime summer resident on Manitoulin Island, Ann Elizabeth continues to write, sculpt and read from her work in Toronto and when on Manitoulin Island. Manitoulin is an inspiration to her, she claims the Island is a source of creativity and spirituality.
Ann is not only a published writer, she is a retired psychotherapist and consultant in private practice. She has worked with individuals, couples and families with a particular interest in life stage transitions, memory, brain plasticity and expressive therapies. Being an older person allows Ann to bring both personal experience and professional expertise to assisting older people and their families with being elderly. Her own experience with several debilitating chronic illnesses has made her sensitive to the needs of individuals, families and work related areas of concern that many are challenged with.
Ann has lived a very rewarding life both personally and professionally. She balanced life as a single parent (Ann found it quite fascinating to raise her children) and found fulfillment through helping others find their voice throughout the years as a psychotherapist and using her own life experience to empower women.
Although a strong, independent woman, Ann draws strength from the love of her family and cites many inspirational women such as Emily Dickenson, Mary Oliver, Margaret Atwood and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson who she considers to be role models, each one with admiral qualities.
Why is it important to celebrate International Women's Day?
Ann believes that while it is important to recognize International Women's Day, it is important to carry it throughout our lives, not just celebrate women on one particular day. It is important to celebrate where we came from, where we are now and where we need to be. Celebrate the strength of women, we have the ability to keep on opening doors.
Lois Roque, Espanola ON
Retired School Teacher
Lois is a retired school teacher who spent 35 years shaping the minds of young children at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Espanola.
She is fondly remembered as a kind, nurturing woman who would always go above and beyond for her family and students, always making sure they had the tools and resources they needed to be successful and above all else, the guidance and love they needed to flourish into confident young adults.
Lois is very humble when given the praise of being an inspiration to so many people and contributes her ability to juggle her career and raise a family to having the support of the community, her close friends and own family to rely on for proper childcare and having the children involved in as many activities as possible to expand their possibilities. It was important to Lois that her children believed they could do anything. She is a very proud mother and will gladly tell you so!
Lois fondly reflects on her own upbringing and the pillar of strength her mother was to her and her siblings. She was a great role model and set a positive example as she was always schooling herself to get ahead. She was independent and overcame the many struggles she faced during those times. Lois stresses the importance of family support and to this day are her children's biggest fans.
What does international Women's Day mean to you?
"This is a day to encourage women who lack the courage to step out of their environment"." Lois wants women to know that you don't have to stay in a bad environment or situation. "With kindness and support, we stand up for each other"
Jean Brown, Sharbot Lake, ON
Retired Minister, United Church
Jean began her career working in early childhood education as well as working for the Ministry of Health (OHIP).
Jean always felt the calling to enter the ministry, beginning at an early age but was once told, "You can be the Minister’s wife, but not the Minister”. At the time, Jean thought that was a strange thing to say but shrugged it off as it was common to hear such things during that time. After the sudden death of her parents, Jean knew that the time had come to pursue her dreams and become a leader in faith.
At the age of 37, Jean braved a new frontier and became an Ordained Minister with the United Church at the age of 40. Jean fondly reflects on her years in the ministry and happily recalls that many men and women supported her throughout the years. She was inspired especially by Rev. Mary-Jo Eckhert-Tracy who was the first woman minister to come to Mindemoya, ON. She was a pioneer of the day and modelled strong women and leadership. She was both kind and wise, lending help and support to those who needed it.
Jean offers advice to women of all ages: "Be true to who you are. Don't be sidetracked by others to be someone or something you are not. Collaborate and share your stories and your thoughts, don't be a lone wolf. Have faith and find support in each other. Remember that leadership is participatory, work together to achieve the greater good."
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
"This is a day to be recognized for who you are. It is a day to celebrate ourselves and see ourselves as valuable people. You can do anything you set your mind too- the sky is the limit"
Meggie Cywink, Manitoulin Island, ON
For over 30 years, Meggie has been a passionate and relentless advocate for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Trans, and 2-Spirit (MMIWGT2S+) persons. After the loss of four loved ones, she brings an authentic perspective, with the unyielding knowledge that the work of families is complex. She believes there will always be a need to seek truth and justice and understands the significance of trust- building with families. Meggie believes in the resiliency of community, the arduous work of supporting Families and Survivors from a family-led and community-driven continuum through land-based ceremony and is dedicated to the families in honoring the spirits of their loved ones.
Meggie worked for the Ontario, Ministry of Attorney General (MAG) as Special Advisor for the Ontario Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls - Joint Inquiry team from 2016 – 2019. She liaised with Ontario families, and the provincial and federal governments in her role. She brought experience and perspective that served to inform the level of trauma and emphasized the need to continue to help families heal.
She has turned her attention to the healing of families and finding a way to help them move beyond the grief and traumatic loss. She is a grassroots MMIWGT2S+ Family Member who is the owner of an independent First Nations business, Seven Directions Consulting. Meggie has been involved in various MMIWGT2S+ initiatives and projects including We Dance for Life , spearheading numerous provincial healing gatherings, Shades of Our Sisters digital story and installation, and the Circle of Aunties educational toolkit.
She has also been engaged on a health advisory council to work with families in a therapeutic model designed to help families process traumatic experiences. She has spoken internationally on the MMIWGT2S+ platform.
Meggie has a passion for genealogy and is currently researching and authoring a book, First Nations and All Our Relations. The book traces the collective ancestry of the Anishnaabe people back to 1673, including the exodus from Michigan into Manitoulin Island. In addition to honoring this collective remembrance, the proceeds of the book will support the placement of permanent grave markers and the continued upkeep of First Nations cemeteries on Manitoulin Island.
“I believe in the empowerment of youth to change the course of Indigenous rights and history. By giving them the tools to make informed decisions about their choices we are walking together to help our children, our future leaders.”
Shelley Tamura, Birch Lake ON
Principal, Central Manitoulin Public School
Shelley always knew she wanted to be in education and working with children but never dreamed that she would become a Principal! After doing some soul searching, Shelley continued her schooling and attended teacher's college in her 30's.
Shelley worked in the classroom as an elementary school teacher for 15 years and later as a consultant where she had the opportunity to work with many different people. She later decided that she wanted to work in administration but missed the interaction and daily involvement with all of her students, knowing she could be a positive influence in their lives.
She credits both of her parents as being her role models, especially her mother. She was inspired by her mother as she watched her return to school as an adult to complete her high school education in order to further her studies as a nursing student. At the same time, she remained dedicated to raising her young family. Shelley was in elementary school at the time and felt that her mother was very brave. It was uncommon at the time to see adult women return to school. Her mother is still a nurse working at the Manitoulin Health Centre in Little Current, Ontario. She still enjoys what she does and Shelley can't help but admire that, why not? To Shelley, her mom is the perfect example of breaking the bias when it comes to age being a barrier.
Shelley also expresses that Lois Roque was very inspirational to her as a young woman and helped shape who she is today. “She was so kind and dedicated, such a great person” She always looked after everyone and found a way to make sure they had what they needed, whether it be food or winter clothing, Lois would always make sure it was available.
As an educator, Shelley preaches the need for early education when it comes to supporting children in their understanding of #BreakTheBias. While children are naturally curious and have a penchant for fairness, it is still important to teach them about stereotypes and gender equality even though they may not be directly exposed to it.
Building their confidence is just the beginning. We need to be open, show them that there are people who believe in them, we need to help them understand and see their opportunities, what is possible before them and celebrate their successes.
When it comes to diversity, Shelley believes that everyone has something different to contribute in many ways. Surrounding yourself with diversity is an asset. It is important to hear all voices. It shouldn't matter who you are or how you identify. No one should ever make assumptions nor should they paint everyone with the same brush!
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
"It is about taking the time to reflect on what we have already accomplished and to stop and think about what we do personally and how we can make a positive difference to show anything is possible "
Dessy Tsolova London, UK
Founder and CEO, Fashion Insiders & CO
Dessy claims to be an “accidental entrepreneur”.She was born and raised in Bulgaria, a small country in Eastern Europe. She states that craftsmanship and resourcefulness are two characteristics that make her birthplace special and have come to define her as well. You were considered a misfit if you were self-employed and owned your own business in communist Eastern Europe. Over the past several years, Dessy worked for small and large British luxury brands. She left working as an employee to co-found one of the first, at the time, online manufacturing platforms connecting designers and brands to fashion manufacturers worldwide.
As a teenager, Dessy moved to London, UK which she found to be fascinating as it was a melting pot of nationalities. When it comes to diversity, Dessy believes that we should all have an open mind when it comes to co-existing with each other. We should be empathetic to our different generations, traumas, gender, race and backgrounds. When it comes to #BreakingThe Bias, Dessy encourages others to look more at the world, be open and share our own experiences. We have to open our hearts and minds to be able to love more. “Ultimately, we are all the same spirit”
Dessy’s real life experiences and willingness to share has allowed her to form meaningful relationships throughout the globe.With her unique perspective and out of the box thinking, Dessy has become a role model and mentor to women everywhere!
With technology and the internet at our fingertips, we now have the ability to connect to each other globally. To Dessy, this means that we are ultimately one soul, we are interconnected now more than ever. We have the ability and opportunity to reach out to each other whenever from wherever, so why limit your resources and support?
Dessy shares that bearing witness to situations and events she didn’t agree with, empowered her to be the person she is today, explaining that we do not all fit into the same mold. She states her true inspiration comes from the women she works with day to day. She feels inspired as she watches these women build their businesses and raise their families. Dessy, like any other woman, admits to struggling when it comes to balancing her career and raising her family. She openly admits that there are “good days and bad days and seasons within”
When asked what advice Dessy has for women, she shares the desire for women to trust themselves more, to love themselves more and to develop their intuition. She feels that so often we hear from others that they know better, but their examples come from their own experiences, their own fears and mistakes. Who’s to say that their lessons need to be yours? It is important to always bounce forward.
Why is it important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
“We should celebrate women! We should always celebrate being a woman, not just on IWD or Mother’s Day. We are the backbone of life, we are peacekeepers and the feminine energy the world needs"
Meranda Noble, Gore Bay ON
Environmental Service Technician, Office Administration and Snowplow Operator, H&R Noble Construction
Meranda has been involved in the family business from a very young age. She was always her dad's, “tag along” and when a new piece of equipment arrived in the yard, Meranda demanded her dad show her everything about it. If it was only 10 minutes, Meranda recalls holding her dad down for the entire 10 minutes!
Loving her enthusiasm and passion for wanting to learn it all, everyone in all capacities at H&R Noble Construction created a welcoming environment for Meranda to continue to learn and grow along with the business.
She credits her parents as being her role models that empowered her to be who she wants to be and supported her in doing everything and anything she wanted to do. They provided her with different opportunities to tackle life in whatever way she wanted.
Meranda says that being raised in such an environment has contributed to her being confident and comfortable with herself . They preached that treating others with respect and working together as a team was extremely important.
Meranda feels that this also contributed to her success and has fortunately faced very few barriers in her career being a woman in a male dominated industry.
She is also grateful for the support she has received throughout the years from the community she lives in. Her advice to others:
" Be open to what interests you. Don't think that you have limits due to your gender. Tackle things confidently. Build others up around you. People will aspire to be like you!"
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
Rylee Mayer, Gore Bay ON
Direct Support Worker, Manitoulin Community Living/Developmental Service Worker Program, Cambrian College
Rylee was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy at a very young age. Her parents were told that she would never walk or talk and would face several developmental delays and milestones throughout her early childhood.
Rylee's stubborn personality and happy disposition was evident from infancy and became prominent during her toddler stage. Rylee was a fighter! She defied the odds against her, reaching her developmental milestones and while doing so became a pillar of inspiration for her family, the doctors involved in her care and the world around her. She was defiant when anyone suggested she couldn't do something because "she had limitations".
As she grew up, Rylee faced different forms of discrimination and at times bullying from her schoolmates as her disability is visible and required her to wear orthotic devices to assist her ability to walk and limit spasticity in her movements. Rylee never let this get her down, developing many meaningful relationships throughout her life and persevered, navigating the ups and downs in life just like any other. Rylee can walk, talk, read, write and drive a car just like many other 22 year olds!
Rylee uses her empathy and compassion to help others. She is currently in the final months of completing her studies in the Developmental Service Worker Program and will graduate in the spring. She is a Direct Support Professional with Manitoulin Community Living where she assists adults living with developmental disabilities.
Rylee has a strong message for young women who may find themselves struggling to #BreakTheBias:
"Be confident in yourself and your abilities, and promote them. We all have our own unique strengths and weaknesses. That is simply what makes us human. So, embrace those qualities and believe in your strengths. I believe in you! Attempt anything you want to! If you fall down or choose the wrong path, then get back up and shake it off. Thing is, you will face obstacles in your life both personally and professionally that put mental and physical limitations on you, but my advice is do not listen to the restraints. You know yourself better that anyone else and the only obstacle in your way is yourself."
Support the Cause
My Ol' Blues is proud to support local nonprofit organizations such as The Manitoulin Family Resources’ Violence Against Women Prevention Program
We truly believe they help make a difference in the lives of vulnerable women and their families, providing accommodation and support in developing client-led plans for their future.
They encourage women to be strong, to be courageous and empower them to reach for the stars.
My Ol’ Blues will launch a #BreakTheBias Campaign to coincide with International Women’s Day 2022. Proceeds from the sale of our 4in1Headgear will go directly to our Manitoulin VAW Program. Quantity is limited so purchase today. The sky's the limit!
For more information, please visit:
Nominate a Loved One Giveaway!
What woman in your life makes the world a better place? Does the sun shine brighter when you think of her? With a simple smile your world changes? No matter how you identify, chances are there have been some women in your life that have shaped you. Tell us why and share her story with us. We will select one Nominee and one Nominator to win a $28.00 My Ol' Blues Gift Certificate as an appreciation for being a source of inspiration to you and the communities we live in. Share with us your story firstname.lastname@example.org
A Special Message from Kathy
"As I read through each woman’s story, I realize there is a common thread intertwining all of us. We are teachers, leaders, we have empathy and compassion. All women must continue to support each other and be that step up that helps another reach their goals or change their paths for the better. The more we speak up about injustices and take action, make positive changes , the better the future life of women will be."