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Women enjoy a breakfast of champions

By Celina Ip

Team Canada Invictus athlete and Canadian Armed Forces veteran Brenda McPeak shakes hands with Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley manager of supports and services Tina Williams (right), following the Women's Day Breakfast on March 8.

Team Canada Invictus athlete and Canadian Armed Forces veteran Brenda McPeak shakes hands with Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley manager of supports and services Tina Williams (right), following the Women's Day Breakfast on March 8.

Local women enjoyed a breakfast of champions on International Women’s Day.

 

The morning of March 8, The Nook Creperie was alive with inspiring chatter as more than 40 women attended Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley’s Women’s Day Breakfast.

The special occasion was meant to honour International Women’s Day and to share the stories of Ottawa Valley’s female movers and shakers who have taken on leadership roles, started businesses, and advanced academically and professionally.

“This year is a special year for Community Living as it is the organization's 60th anniversary. From the beginning, women have been a part of the leadership of this agency and they continue to hold those roles today. More than 100 people work at Community Living and the far majority are women,” said event emcee Jennifer Layman.

While The Nook served up delicious crepes and coffee, women shared their tales of passion, courage and grace in the face of difficulty.

“I opened Ashley Furniture HomeStore which is a furniture store and a man's business. So, any meetings and any seminars we go to we are known as 'the girls',” said Tessa Malette, owner of Pembroke’s Ashley Furniture HomeStore. “But I need to thank my mom for bringing we where I am today because I never would have done it without her. I’m proud to go in and be known as 'the girls' and to do well in a business that was always known as a man's business, which has now become a women's business too.”

Megan Conway, Algonquin College health and community studies chairwoman, stressed that mentors are a key factor in a person’s success and that women need to inspire confidence in each other and encourage one another to persist and keep moving forward.

“I think about all of the mentors in my life from when I was a little girl to when I was in my first job and I think of the importance of raising women up and all of the various ways we can do that as sisters, as moms, as friends and bosses,” said Conway. “There's lots of ways as mentors that we can really raise up women and help them to believe that they can be all they can be. I’ve had that fortune in my life and I hope that as women in this room we can do the same thing for other women.”

Following breakfast, all eyes turned to the front of the room as it was time for Team Canada Invictus Games athlete and Canadian Armed Forces veteran Brenda McPeak to deliver her keynote speech.

“I’ve spent most of career in Petawawa and I’ve been fortunate enough to only get posted once and that was to Gander, Newfoundland in 2011. Unfortunately, I did get injured during that and I had a major back injury where I had four bulging discs and one of my discs was pressing on a nerve. But once I moved back to Petawawa, I met with medical staff and support systems in place to help me get my career back” said McPeak. “This year, when I had the chance to compete in the Invictus Games, I felt like I wasn’t worthy to be there because you cant see my injury and I don’t need any help day-to-day but I only rarely need medical help. So that was a huge hurdle for me as I didn’t feel worthy to be a part of the Invictus team and I had to push myself to be confident and be in that right mindset to compete.”

After thanking McPeak and all of the women for being a part of the special occasion, Layman expressed that it truly was a “breakfast of champions” and that each and everyone woman in the room had a great story to share with the world.

“I want to take a moment to remind you all of the people you just had breakfast with – chair of boards, leaders of organizations, owners of businesses and women who are making our communities a better place to live,” said Layman. “We have all enjoyed a breakfast of champions this morning.”

cip@postmedia.com

 

 



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