Surrey assistant fire Chief Shelley Morris was one of three speakers at Friday’s event. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Stories of inspiration shared at International Women’s Day event in White Rock

Afternoon tea was hosted by Surrey MLAs

Inspire, support, build relationships and learn were among key aims of an event that packed an uptown dining room with more than 100 women Friday afternoon.

Hosted by local Liberal MLAs Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey South), Tracy Redies (Surrey-White Rock) and Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Cloverdale), the afternoon tea was planned to mark International Women’s Day (March 8), and featured three women who shared their careers, the paths they took to reach where they are today and advice for others.

READ MORE: ‘We should be building a world that welcomes everybody’

A key message from Surrey assistant fire Chief Shelley Morris was one she’d given her own daughter just the day before: trust yourself and be open to change.

“You just have to take the first step,” she said, in response to a question posed by Cadieux. “You don’t know your opportunities and you don’t know what the next step is going to be until you take that first one.”

Morris told the crowd that she found her passion at age 26 – and it wasn’t being the P.E. teacher that most people told her she should become, given her athletic prowess.

At that time, just two other women were working the job in Surrey, she said, and “we had to represent our entire gender.”

Now, two decades later and with more than a dozen female firefighters in Surrey, “we just have to represent ourselves.”

“It’s just getting the word out there that we’re not trying to fill a role that should’ve been filled by a male. We’re females getting an opportunity that we should’ve had all along because we’re good candidates.”

In addition to the changes she has seen since joining the Surrey Fire Service, Morris spoke to the issue of gender quotas, acknowledging that many perceive it as simply forcing organizations to meet certain requirements without regard to experience.

“I disagree,” she said.

Instead, Morris credits it with the increased interest that’s been seen in the fire service from skilled women, and the diversity it has led to within the ranks.

It helped remove barriers, she said.

Entrepreneur Annie Christiaens had three pieces of advice for those who are just starting out in business, including “be aware of what it really takes for the first couple of years” in order to be successful.

“It is 16 hours a day for the first year and there is no other anything in your life,” she said.

Other tips she had were to not focus on money in the beginning, but “just follow your heart and people will show up for you.”

Lastly, “get some rest.”

Cici Liang, who started the Surrey/White Rock Community Engagement Society, said an important aspect of finding solutions is “to find the common ground.”

Asked what advice she had for new immigrants, Liang said they should feel good about who they are and where they’ve come from; learn the culture and the language and get involved in their new community; and, “don’t be shy.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

White Rockwomen entrepreneurs

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

At least 100 women filled the dining room at Oceana Parc Friday afternoon to hear from a trio of speakers – including Cici Liang – organized by local MLAs to mark International Women’s Day. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Annie Christiaens chats with MLA Marvin Hunt during an event hosted by Hunt and fellow MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Tracy Redies Friday, to mark International Women’s Day. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Just Posted

UPDATE: Delta call centre to report gatherings, access help during COVID-19 pandemic now open

Mayor George Harvie, DPD Chief Neil Dubord spoke about the centre during a virtual townhall March 26

Surrey Board of Trade helping businesses access COVID-19 programs

‘So many businesses have either phoned or emailed not only myself but my staff in tears,’ CEO Anita Huberman says

The new Run Surrey Run cancelled for 2020, pushed to 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns

‘The postponement was a very difficult one,’ says organizer of the inaugural walk/run event

South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce set to host ‘virtual town hall’ sessions

Video conferences aim to answer COVID-19 questions from business owners, residents

Former Surrey Eagle home from ‘quiet, empty’ Italy after hockey season cancelled

Delta-born Anthony Bardaro has spent last three seasons playing professionally in Europe

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Snowfall warning in effect for Coquihalla Highway

Total accumulations of up to 25 cm can be expected by this evening

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

Fraser Valley sex offender charged again less than two months after prison release

Taylor Dueck, who was living in Mission, has history of sex assaults in Abbotsford

’The energy sector is destroyed beyond repair’: expert on COVID-19’s impact on economy

‘That’s never been heard of before; no one sells oil for $4 a barrel.’ – Dan McTeague

Most Read