The countdown is on for another Silver City first at the Riverfront Centre, although this one comes with a feminine twist.
On Friday, museum and library staff are hosting the town’s inaugural International Women’s Day event.
It’s been almost one year since the integrated facility opened, and the March 8 gathering again highlights how the place really has become a cultural anchor for all ages, and genders, to learn something new.
“Events like this, especially where we can engage with our students on global social issues with local content, local people and local successes, serve us so well in meeting both of our mandates,” says Sarah Benson-Lord, museum and archives manager. “As the hub for both local heritage content and all-ages learning, we see such value in offering these sorts of experiences that generate dialogue, especially dialogue with our youth.”
Read more: Take a Tour of the Trail museum
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8, yet the global campaign theme continues all year long to encourage action.
This year’s message is #BalanceforBetter, which is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.
As with any global initiative, the most important aspect is to share insight with the generation of up-and-comers. With that in mind, Grade 7 students from Glenmerry Elementary have been invited to talk with a panel of 10 women who represent a cross-section of the community.
“It wasn’t hard to find this panel,” Benson-Lord said. “We thought of women who are doing good work in the community, who volunteer, who have interesting careers, perhaps a career that is traditionally male,” she reflected.
“We have a staff of 15, full and part-time, 12 are women and three are men. It’s really interesting just how impactful women are on the economy and at home. Hopefully it’s a really engaging experience for everyone.”
Teacher Matthew Gale is looking forward to the day, and the conversation his students will be part of.
“(An) integral part of learning and developing a sense of local and global citizenship is building relationships,” he said. “This event will be an exciting opportunity for students to engage with inspiring community members.”
Prior to this invite, Gale says his students were not aware of International Women’s Day.
“There has been some curiosity about why an international event such as this is necessary,” Gale told the Trail Times. “First-hand, I have experienced youth in our community reducing women as inferior. This harmful attitude was then supported by minimizing women to being only as good as the domestic job they do in the household, and that women have made the workplace a difficult cultural place,” he explained.
“Our schools have great informational programs aimed at eliminating these ideas. However, I feel building relationships with the women in our community instead of reprimanding negativity can take us closer to destroying these negative attitudes.”
One of guest panelists for the city’s first celebration of this global event, is Gwen Ziprick. She is a licensed funeral director with Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services in Trail. Historically Gwen’s profession has been male-dominated, so her insight is especially fitting.
“Funeral directors have typically been men, that is true,” she began. “Traditionally it was a family business meant to be handed down from father to son. When big business began purchasing funeral homes en masse, this changed dramatically.”
When Ziprick graduated from funeral college in 2010, she says that was the first year in the history of the school that there were more women than men graduating.
“Most of us women were what you may consider powerhouse people – strong willed and outspoken, hard working,” she said. “We were a handful! I am so proud to have come through those years with men and women whom I still admire very much.”
As the mother of a son and two daughters – one of whom is also a funeral director – Ziprick says she always encouraged her children to find a career that brought them happiness and fulfillment.
“I truly don’t consider (gender) to be a defining characteristic so I don’t think in terms of balancing numbers in this way in any workplace,” she said. “Everyone should be considered based on their ability and passion for the work.”
Another job historically filled by men, specific to the City of Trail, is the lead role in the parks and recreation department.
That changed around 10 years ago when Trisha Davison became the first woman hired for the head seat.
With that position comes the enormous responsibility to oversee all city-owned and operated recreation facilities and parks as well as 75 to 100 staff members, depending upon the time of year. Most recently, the bricks-and-mortar of the Trail Riverfront Centre was added to her laundry list of duties.
“I have always loved the role recreation plays in community development and in shaping the quality of life for residents,” she shared. “It has always been a very rewarding job – from the benefits you see derived from the community services and programming offered, to the pride the community takes on excellent well run facilities, to being a major touch point for so many people in their employment aspirations.”
Davison is another guest panelist for the Women’s International Day event on Friday. Before she moved to Trail and worked her way up from deputy director to the department head, Davison had worked in varying capacities of municipal recreation in the Lower Mainland.
The Trail Times asked if she has seen more women gravitate toward head positions over the span of her 24-year career.
“In general there are two sides to recreation service delivery – administration and programming and then operations and maintenance,” she replied. “Provincially, it appears that over the years the profession is seeing more and more women moving into director roles. With that said, the service as a whole is well diversified, very inclusive and people from many backgrounds see success in these roles.”