Women fill many roles in life. Mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, providers, caregivers; a shoulder to cry on, a pillar to lean on.
Moreover, throughout history, countless women and girls have made an impact in fields as diverse as the arts, sciences, business, politics, and human rights. Whether they are well-known figures or behind the scenes, each of them has made a significant contribution to society through their dedication and courage.
“International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” – United Nations
How You Can Get Involved
1. Speak to the Women in Your Life
Take the time to speak with the older women in your life. Whether living at home or in senior living, by taking the time to tease out their stories, you might discover depths of dedication and courage that you never suspected. Read about some of our ASC resident heroes below.
2. Explore Timelines Through Pictures
Seek out photos that capture milestones. Many women in retirement have kept photos that are important to them – these are a great way to generate discussion. Providing additional background information can also help situate each milestone within a broader historical context.
Think of the photos as springboards to stories about her past: ask about the people, places, events, and feelings behind the photos. This will facilitate reminiscence, unlocking forgotten memories, which in turn will enhance her quality of life.
3. Read up!
Seek out works of fiction and non-fiction written by or about women. As a part of their International Women’s Day commemoration project, the Government of Canada has put together a reading list that you can access through this link.
The book list is meant to amplify and expand on learning or inspire guided reading groups or community book clubs. So, why not organize a book club in your community? Reading and sharing stories is a great way to nurture friendships in retirement.
4. Build Your Own
The best way to celebrate IWD is by discovering the women who have made a difference in your community. Follow the example of our Chateau Symmes senior housing in Quebec: consider building a gallery to celebrate the achievements of local women and share their stories.
If you know an outstanding woman, why not nominate them to the Women of Impact gallery!!
At All Seniors Care, we spoke to 2 exceptional women in senior retirement communities in London, ON and St. Albert, AB. Read about their empowering stories below.
“Oh my lans!”, laughs Eileen, when told that she was the first ASC resident, nationally, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Eileen’s East Coast good humour is infectious. This 90-year-old mother, wife, adventurer, and lover of travel, didn’t know that she was the first resident in line, “I just took the first chair in the line-up because I wanted to get it over with!” The experience hasn’t phased her: she didn’t suffer any side effects at all from the vaccine. To Eileen, the vaccine represents HOPE for alleviation of the pandemic “pain in you know where”.
The unshakable pragmatism that saw her be first in line to receive the vaccine might be said to underscore her life.
The 1950s were an important expansion period for the history of women in business. At a time when domesticity was celebrated, Eileen owned her own hairdressing business in her hometown of Digby, Nova Scotia, employing a staff of two. Still, her dream was to raise a family.
This dream came true when she married and adopted 3 children. Eileen loved her life as the bedrock of the family while her husband returned to school. After her he graduated, it wasn’t long before they embarked on a great northern adventure. They moved to the Northwest Territories, where she raised their children, was active in the community, and encouraged her husband in his career in education and later politics, as the first Minister of Education in the NWT.
This embodiment of “behind every successful man, there is a strong woman” calls International Women’s Day a “good idea”. She continues to be inspired by the intelligent women who have surrounded her over the years.
At 94 years old, Jean’s diminutive size (she’s a proud 4’11”) belies her indomitable spirit. Born prematurely in the 1920s, Jean’s strong will was evident from day one. In her gravelly voice, Jean reminisces about her parents: her mother was a nurse and her father a Sargent Major who served in World War I. A strict family with traditional expectations, they did not understand a daughter who wanted nothing but to play baseball and be a missionary.
Jean openly speaks about her battle with depression. After the birth of her 4th boy, she spent two years in treatment. Not one to allow stigma to dictate the course of her life, Jean forged her own path, got a job, and fell in love a second time. They led a happy life until his death 9 years later.
Jean then found a job that she both loved and that allowed her to follow in the footsteps of her hero, Mother Theresa. Recruited as a homemaker with the Red Cross, Jean was celebrated for the kindness and dedication she showed in the care of her palliative clients. A tireless volunteer, Jean also worked with troubled youth at the Boys and Girls Club of London for over 50 years.
The first resident to move into Fox Hollow Retirement Residence, Jean is a passionate advocate for women’s mental health. This feisty role model’s current goal is to live to be 100.
At All Seniors Care
We are celebrating the women who have made a difference in our community! Here is a taste of a few of the activities our health and wellness staff have planned:
- At Lewis Estates in Edmonton, IWD will be celebrated in the Memory Care and Supportive Living centres with memory enhancing trivia and crafting.
- Sage Hill Retirement Residence in Calgary will host a documentary featuring women, and a discussion around life histories and learning from one another.
- Fox Hollow in London, ON are working to create a “Women to Women Advice” videos. These will feature senior women give advice to younger women. Watch for details on their Facebook page!
- They will also host a speaker on March 8th. Lauren Auger, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at Western University will be speaking via Zoom on the history of WW2, war brides, and the impact it has had on the women of today.
If you are curious about All Seniors Care Living Centres, contact us to see if our services are right for the senior woman in your life.
Take time to explore the stories of women from your province or territory, as well as those from other regions across Canada using this interactive map published by the Government of Canada.