March 8th, 2023 - Senators’ Statements — International Women’s Day

Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day, a celebration that is shared by women all around the world.

International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future. It is an occasion as well to remind and reinforce the important value of equity that we hold dear in Canada and one which we try to help to progress across the world.

The Government of Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is “Every Woman Counts.”

To celebrate this year’s theme, I would like to tell you about some women from New Brunswick who exemplify the values of International Women’s Day and who represent three points in time: the past, present and future.

Émilie C. LeBlanc, an Acadian known as Marichette, was truly ahead of her time. Born in Memramcook in 1863 and a teacher by profession, she published a series of letters in the newspaper L’Évangéline under the pseudonym Marichette to denounce social injustice against Acadians and women and stand up for their rights, including the right to be heard, the right to education and the right to vote.

She was not afraid to speak her mind, as we can see from a letter in which she said that women were just dying to go to the polls to show seniors how to vote.

As for inspiring women of today, I just need to look around at the leaders in my community of Kent County. We’ve had amazing leaders such as Danielle Dugas, who was the first woman mayor in Saint-Louis-de-Kent. When I ran to be a member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, an MLA, 24 years ago, I was asked if Kent was ready for a woman to be their member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. Today, I can say women are certainly ready. For example, during my second term, the municipality of Rogersville was a great example of the progress that we had made. At that time, I, as the local MLA, myself a woman, served alongside Rogersville Mayor Pierrette Robichaud, also a female, and members of the local RCMP detachment — all women in that municipality.

Since 2021, the Government of New Brunswick has awarded the Minister’s Award for Excellence in Championing Gender Equality. The award was created as a way to highlight and acknowledge New Brunswick individuals who are forging paths and advancing equality. One of the awards is dedicated to youth champions: Vera Chen in 2022 and Emma Coakley in 2021. They both demonstrate remarkable values of inclusivity: in music for Vera Chen, and on living with a disability for Emma Coakley. These are important initiatives and acknowledgements to symbolize and strengthen our values as a society.

Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 21st century, women began to make progress, going from having to publish under a pseudonym when demanding change to paving the way for change, both for their communities and for future generations of women.

Honourable senators, please join me in recognizing the tremendous work that has been done. May the journey towards progress continue.

Thank you.

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