A relatively new program that offers mentorship to young women has been launched as an online platform by four Metro Vancouver-area women who aim to make a difference.
It’s called She Connects, a volunteer initiative that aims to connect young women in high school with women who have graduated, “to foster thought-exchange, dialogues and mentorship synergies,” according to a program description on the website sheconnects.ca.
“Through our mentorship program,” Surrey resident Avneet Sandhu explained, “we aim to foster relationships where women can share stories, learn from the experiences of others, and support one another to reach their personal goals with an emphasis on mental health.
Sandhu is a co-founder of She Connects, along with Emily Haugen, Meghan Dunn and Leena Parhar, whose mission is “to connect young women by facilitating relationship building, mentorship, and knowledge transmission, to create a stronger community of empowered women across Canada.”
The four met in April 2019 as Daughters of the Vote delegates in Ottawa, with Sandhu representing the federal riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells. Parhar is from Abbotsford, Haugen from Langley and Dunn, Maple Ridge.
She Connects provides “a safe space for young girls and women, and will allow them to speak to a mentor directly about anything they might need guidance on,” the co-founders emphasize. “Our mentors support mentees with the appropriate resources and tools for success and resiliency. With this mentorship program, we strive to lift women and empower them to be the driving force in their own lives.”
A launch event was held online Sept. 12, with guest speakers including MLA Grace Lore (Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity), Sarah Heer (Lieutenant Colonel, Canadian Armed Forces), Ruth Mojeed Ramirez (Chief Equity Officer, The Inclusion Project), Jodi Huettner (founder, CEO of Helga Wear), Leanne Walsh (employment lawyer, West Coast Workplace Law) and Danielle Hofer (outreach officer, Women’s Enterprise Centre).
So far, close to two dozen mentees are signed up for She Connects, with more sought from local high schools.
“A lot of our mentors are in grad school and are studying disciplines that may benefit and/or interest our mentees,” noted Sandhu, who lives in the Fleetwood area, graduated from Princess Margaret Secondary in 2014, is a Simon Fraser University alum and now works for the Department of National Defence.
“We have more mentors than mentees right now,” Sandhu added, “and it’s about getting in touch with young girls and womxn and broadening awareness about She Connects on social media and primarily in schools. I’ve literally put up She Connects posters on mailboxes in my neighbourhood.”