Persons’ Day provides mentorship for women

Alex Di Pietro
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A message of encouraging female resilience was clear on Saturday, as the Prince Albert Council of Women hosted its first ever Persons’ Day at the Prince Albert Inn.

The Prince Albert Council of Women hosted its first Persons Day event on Saturday. 

Keynote speaker Betty-Ann Heggie was joined by panelists Connie Farber, Shelly Bellisle, Rose Stewart and Carmen Cartier in offering mentorship to those who attended.

Encouraging female empowerment is of large importance to the women of Prince Albert, according to Marie Mathers-Ross, president of the Prince Albert Council of Women.

“It is very crucial,” she said. “Our club is meant to help women get out of their crust and do things that they would like to do.”

Mathers-Ross said the council acts not just as an advocacy for women, but for the homeless, children and victims of racism.

“We are in a city where there is a lot of racism, and you’ve got to get over that and make people understand that we are all of the same,” she said.

Heggie is a member of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame and founder of the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program. She emphasized that, based on a model by global consultant McKinsey & Company, there are three primary elements for any person to become successful.

First, she said, is presence or knowing oneself. Second, she said, is belonging or accepting that there is a need for the help of others. Third, she said, is resilience or wanting to do something for oneself.

“What is said in this study is that men relate to the study as well, but women, especially, need it,” Heggie said in an interview. “As women, we will allow ourselves often to have presence and belonging, but we tend to shy away from resilience, because we tend to wait for someone to rescue us.”

One of Heggie’s sub-points was that mentorship doesn’t have to be just formal gatherings like the one that was held on Saturday.

“There’s not really a firm definition of a mentor,” she said, noting that one can experience a sense of mentorship just by striking up a conversation with someone. “I call that the drive-by mentor.”

Heggie’s hope is that the mentorship will help more women attain high positions in society.

“Women have a different set of skills, and they bring balance to organizations,” she said. “I’m not saying it would be any better if we only women running things. We need both men and women at the table, shoulder to shoulder.

“But unfortunately, we don’t seem to be able to get that,” Heggie continued. “Women have trouble getting into those top positions, and I believe that mentorship is the answer.”

Any money Heggie is paid for her speeches goes into the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Foundation.

“The money out of there gets donated to programs to mentor women,” she said.

Following Heggie’s speech was the panel and a question and answer period.

Members of numerous other organizations attended the event.

Fred Payton is the chairman of the Prince Albert Housing Authority. He said the housing authority provides assistance to a lot of individuals, including single mothers.

“It’s always very important to recognize the fact that women are persons and should be treated equally with men,” he said. “We want the other resources in the community to know that we exist and what we provide, but we’re also here so that we can find out what other resources are available in the community.”

Tickets were priced at $20 for the event, but free tickets were issued to assist those who could not cover the cost.

“We received a grant, and we’re using part of that grant for this,” Mathers-Ross said.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Prince Albert Council of Women, McKinsey Company Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Foundation

Geographic location: Canada

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