5 Strong Women in Oakville, Burlington, and Milton
There’s no better time to applaud the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of the women around us than on International Women’s Day 2018.
Celebrating leaders and those making a difference through acts large or small, we’ve come up with some incredible women who have bridged the gender gap and proved how valuable women are in our towns and city.
It was actually quite challenging to put the list together because, fortunately, Oakville, Burlington, and Milton have so many awesome women to choose from.
Here’s a look at some of Halton’s most notable women:
She’s the woman behind the Teen Random Acts of Community Kindness (T.R.A.C.K.). It’s a volunteer program for youth ages 13 to 18 who want to work with police to make a difference in Halton. “We just really focus on simple gifts that we all have,” said Halton Regional Police Const. Jody Dugas. Teens learn sustainable life skills, self-esteem, leadership, respect, trust and responsibility while completing fun and meaningful acts. They’ll do all sorts of things from working with the homeless to delivering cupcakes to seniors to wrapping Toys for Tots gifts to Earth Day cleanups. The program moves around the region once a month. “I would like to have more programs,” said Dugas. On top of all the time and energy Dugas puts in, she’s warm, bubbly, and an absolute ray of sunshine. Events are so popular, there’s often a waitlist. “I’m so happy to have all the kids and I hate to say no to them,” she said.
Marianne Meed Ward
The Ward 2 councillor was elected in 2010 and has been super-vocal about development in downtown Burlington. Her background is in communications and she also founded Save our Waterfront, a grassroots movement made up of Burlington residents who are committed to preserving access to Lake Ontario. She’s often the only councillor to speak up. In this sense, Meed Ward has proven herself fearless and a true ‘pitbull in a skirt’ — that’s exactly our kind of woman.
The Halton MPP and long-time Milton resident was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2014. In Jan. 2018 she was promoted to Minister of Education - that’s no easy portfolio - as well as Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care. Issues on her plate include school closures, full-day kindergarten, and day care. Naidoo-Harris was born in Durban, South Africa and her family immigrated to Canada to pursue the dreams they couldn’t achieve under apartheid. They settled in central Alberta, where Naidoo-Harris grew up in a rural town. Naidoo-Harris is a former journalist who worked for NBC and PBS stateside before heading to Ontario in the ’90s.
Crowe began working with Halton Regional Police in 1989 and currently serves as the Deputy Chief of regional operations. Throughout her career, she’s been committed to ensuring victims of crime are treated with dignity and respect. Crowe went public with her breast cancer diagnosis and she’s involved with committees including the Halton Sexual and Domestic Violence Collaborative and the Child Abuse Review Team. Crowe is a career coach for young women and a member of 100 Women Who Care Oakville.
The Burlington MPP was elected to the Ontario legislature in 2014 and is now President of the Treasury Board. McMahon has long been known for the annual Greg’s Ride, in honour of her husband, OPP Sgt. Greg Stobbart. He was killed - by a driver with five convictions for driving under suspension - while cycling in 2006. McMahon took tragedy and used it as fuel, founding the Share the Road Cycling Coalition. Greg’s Law was passed on April 22, 2009 and became law in September 2010, making our communities safer by reducing the number of suspended drivers and repeat offenders on Ontario’s roads. In addition, she’s launched the Burlington 150 Awards to recognize amazing people.
BONUS: Riya Karumanchi
What did you accomplish at age 14? (We were busy hanging out at the mall, baby-sitting, and shooting hoops). This Burlington high school student created a smart cane to help the blind and visually impaired. The cane vibrates to alert users about objects in front of them. OK, Karumanchi’s technically a girl, not a woman (yet) but she’s the definition of #motivation and we’re completely fangirling over her accomplishments. Respect!