The Tru-Unity Girls Leadership program was founded seven years ago by Angela Sereda, Jenn Angus, and Jocelyn MacLeod to give Moose Jaw’s young women more opportunities to learn what they are capable of.
The group holds an event annually to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child on Oct. 11. The purpose of the United Nations-declared day is to highlight the inequalities and vulnerabilities facing adolescent girls around the world.
This is the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl. Despite recent progress, adolescent girls are still far more likely than boys to be subjected to sexual violence, be excluded from educational opportunities, and to be discriminated against in many other ways, including the tragedy of child marriage.
This year’s Tru-Unity event was a speed-dating style visit for all the Moose Jaw-and-area Grade 7 and 8 girls — a total of 180 young women. They gathered at the Heritage Inn to meet with 12 local leaders.
“I think (this event) is amazing because we have a group of girls who are at a crucial point in their lives, where they’re trying to build confidence and figure out who they are,” said Jenni Peeke, a teacher at St. Agnes. “It’s nice to see them meeting with leadership role models and have the opportunity to talk to them and get inspired.
“It’s cheesy, but I think they’ll learn they can do anything and they don’t have to be held back based on their sex.”
The mentors who volunteered their time at the event were:
- Rustie Dean — Journalist, radio host, weather/traffic anchor
- Riel Erickson — Pilot and Commandant of 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (2 CFFTS)
- Trish Seman — Staff Sgt., Moose Jaw Police Service
- Shauna Sinclair — Journey Person Aircraft Maintenance Technician, current technician team lead at 15 Wing
- Angela Sereda — Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP), Community Paramedicine (CP), manager at Medavie Health Services West
- Jocelyn MacLeod — Program Director at Thunder Creek Rehabilitation Association
- Jennifer Angus — Executive Director at Moose Jaw Transition House
- Josee Aikens — Athlete, coach, and Grain Producer at Aikens Family Farm
- Jenna Usher — 1st Degree Blackbelt in Taekwondo
- Hayley Hart-Rushinko — Manager, Game Day and Special Events for the Moose Jaw Warriors
- Emily McConnell — Pilot at 2 CFFTS
- Cari Evenson-Carleton — Advanced Care/Community Paramedic
“We started this seven years ago to celebrate International Day of the Girl and to provide girls the opportunity to embrace being a young woman and using their voice to help change the world,” Sereda said. “For us as leaders, it’s really important to bring them all together so they can learn about and understand the amazing women we have in the city of Moose Jaw.”
Chayden Giles, a Grade 8 student at St. Agnes, said she was most excited to hear from the paramedics because she’s interested in that career. However, she was happy to speak with all the mentors.
“I’m happy to be here,” Giles added. “They’re inspiring all of us by telling their stories.”
“Each of these women has a different journey and a different experience, but we felt that they all have a positive message for all the girls here,” MacLeod said. “Even if they say just one thing that triggers inspiration for these girls, that’s all we want to see happen.
“That they walk away feeling inspired that they can do what they want and be who they want to be when they grow up, and they know they have a bunch of women here to support them in doing that.”