TORONTO, May 30 /CNW Telbec/ - More than 300 municipal leaders were on hand when the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) this morning paid tribute to former Windsor, N.S., mayor Anna Allen for her leadership in encouraging women to run for municipal office and her long-time public service.
The breakfast event, at FCM's 73rd Annual Conference, was the third annual fundraiser for the Mayor Andrée Boucher Memorial Scholarship, which FCM awards annually to a college or university student judged to have submitted the best research paper on a topic related to women in politics. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), an annual sponsor of the FCM event, donated $5,000 to the scholarship fund.
Barbara Byers, the CLC's executive vice-president, said it's important to ensure that the women involved in municipal politics are diverse, including women of colour and women with disabilities. "When we talk about increasing women's participation in municipal government, we need to include all women," she said.
FCM's Ann MacLean Award for Outstanding Service by a Woman in Municipal Politics was presented to the retired mayor of Windsor, N.S., Anna Allen. She received the award from former FCM president and long-time mayor of New Glasgow, N.S., Ann MacLean, for whom the award is named. The award is presented annually to a retired woman politician in recognition of exemplary service to her community and the mentoring of women who want to run for municipal government.
"Through all of her years as a volunteer and in elected politics, Anna was known as a political force who fought for equality for all and encouraged greater citizen participation in municipal initiatives such as the voting process," said MacLean. "She also played a key role in organizing municipal campaign schools throughout Nova Scotia, encouraging women at these schools - and in her spare time - to dare to dream that they were actually qualified to run for municipal office."
Allen told the gathering it was "a humbling experience," to receive the award.
"Before I ran for council, it was Ann MacLean who said to me, 'You've got a pretty good little town. Why don't you just take care of it?'" said Allen. "So I did. And I think I actually did a pretty good job!"
Allen added that she has been reading about "our foremothers" and what they had to endure. She told young women in the audience that they "are our future...just go for it."
Toronto mayor David Miller addressed the gathering and saluted Toronto councillor Pam McConnell, chair of FCM's Standing Committee on Increasing Women's Participation in Municipal Government.
McConnell is spearheading the Toronto Regional Champions Campaign, which consists of young women shadowing Toronto's women city councillors and learning about the intricacies of running for municipal government. Several of the young Toronto regional champions attended the breakfast event.
"I'm very proud of Pam's local and national leadership in this area," said Miller. "And I'm also very proud of all of our women city councillors for participating in our Toronto Regional Champions Campaign. They are doing very important work and I fully support them."
McConnell said the young regional champions may be young but are already accomplished young women.
"They have great careers ahead of them as leaders in elected office or whatever fields they choose to work in," she said. "We're just waiting for them to take over from us."
The Toronto Regional Champions Campaign is an offshoot of FCM's grassroots regional champions initiative to build networks throughout Canada to encourage, support and mentor women who are considering running for election to municipal government. FCM's goal is to reach 30 per cent participation by women on municipal councils by 2026. Women make up half the population in Canada, but only 23 per cent of municipal councils.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. With 1,800 members, FCM represents the interests of municipalities on policy and program matters that fall within federal jurisdiction. Members include Canada's largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 18 provincial and territorial municipal associations.
SOURCE Federation of Canadian Municipalities
For further information: For further information: Joanne MacDonald, FCM, (613) 907-6241, firstname.lastname@example.org