Celebrating ourselves

OK, relax men.

OK, relax men.

I am about to wax poetical about Saturday’s It’s All About Women Conference and Exhibition – and what a celebration it was! Oh, and about how great women are, which is in no way meant to say men aren’t. One of the conference’s biggest boosters is Kevin Pattison, a member of conference creator and organizer Coralie Tolley’s enthusiastic corps of volunteers.

There were one or two other men on scene during the day, but the focus was definitely on women.

My only complaint, no, not a complaint, an observation, was that I had to choose not to attend some workshops. But the ones I did take in were well worth it. There was an opportunity to rev up the day with zumba, yoga, or self-defence.

Several workshops focused on women’s power, and the need to take responsibility for our own lives in terms of safety, health, wellness for body, mind and soul, self-care, financial security and artistic outlets, among others.

“You have to give yourself permission to take the power,” said afternoon keynote (and powerful) speaker Dr. Rose Backman, who completely bowled me over in a short, private session – getting to the root of some emotional baggage I have been lugging about since I was a little girl.

“Remember how powerful you are, you don’t need anyone’s permission but your own,” she said in her speech, noting women need to get rid of unhealthy beliefs they have about themselves, most commonly around relationships, money and weight.

The conference provides an opportunity for women to see what others are offering and achieving in the community. It’s a time to make and renew friendships, open minds to new information and opportunities; all in an atmosphere of supportive and creative energy.

Unfortunately, for far too many, there is a dark side to being a woman, and the main reason Coralie has organized this important event for the past six years – domestic abuse.

One powerful workshop that many unfortunately avoided Saturday was run by the Salmon Arm Family Emergency (SAFE) Society, the beneficiary of the event’s net proceeds. No sitting around here. By choosing a card, participants adopted the persona of a woman and followed her real-life story of abuse as indicated on the card. From station to station, each one representing a cog in the wheel of abuse – police, court, social services, etc. we travelled, often in circles. Every trip to the abuse station required putting on a bandage, a powerful, visual reminder of the degree of abuse some women suffer before they escape – either to safety, or in death.

On Monday, an exhausted Coralie remarked that if the conference changes the life of just one female victim of abuse, her mission is accomplished.

Thank you Coralie and volunteers for giving us a day to celebrate ourselves and each other, for shining a light on a dark subject and providing us with a way to help.

Salmon Arm Observer

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