A true inspiration for International Women’s Day

Lisa Goudy
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Clients at the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council (MJMC) listen as teacher Doug Cassidy talks about the book, Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter, telling the true story of Wangari Maathai on March 7, 2014 in celebration of International Women's Day, which is March 8.

Wangari Maathai helped plant lost trees in Africa.

Clients at the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council (MJMC) heard her story on Friday to celebrate International Women’s Day, which is Saturday. The book they read is called Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter.

“It’s a good story and it’s true,” said teacher Carol Moran. “(Clients) can relate to the fact that a small thing can make a very big difference and I think that’s important.”

After receiving a scholarship to study in the United States, Maathai returned to her country and saw people cutting the forest. In response, she began planting trees.

“She got other people to help and she ran into difficulties, like the workers kind of laughed at her and she was jailed for a little period of time because of her beliefs,” said Moran. “She got funding and started giving the women a little bit of money to plant the trees … She could see them planting from her prison walls and that’s what gave her courage to keep going and (then she saw) the good of her work.”

She added women sometimes look at someone like Hillary Clinton or Adrienne Clarkson and, seeing they had so much aid and money, women feel like they can’t do it.

“This is achievable steps that could encourage them to do something in their own lives or in their community that could make a difference,” said Moran. “We were looking for a role model.”

Stefanie Palmer, executive director of the MJMC, said the council always celebrates International Women’s Day in some way.

“I just think the day’s really important just because there’s so many women across the world that struggle for women’s rights and I think it’s important to raise awareness here, especially for women that are new to Canada as well,” she said. “That’s important to us because it’s part of what we do is teach people about life in Canada and their rights when they get here because they don’t always know that information.

“I think it’s important that they know they have equal rights here and it may not be the same as where they’ve come from in the world.”

She said Friday’s event was educational for clients.

“The clients that we have at the multicultural council are from all over the world and so it’s a time of celebration for them,” said Palmer. “(It’s important to be) celebrating our accomplishments and raising awareness.”

The International Women’s Society of Moose will also hold an International Women’s Day potluck supper on March 13 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Church. This year’s theme is “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls.” Guest speakers include Mayor Deb Higgins and Lois Thomson.

Lisa Goudy can be reached at 306-691-1289 or follow her on Twitter @lisagoudy

Organizations: Moose Jaw Multicultural Council, Society of Moose

Geographic location: United States, Canada, Andrew

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