HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO Gaby Wickstrom asks Jacqui Beban questions during the Q&A portion of the evening.

Goddess Gala event empowers women

The gala event celebrated International Women’s Day with special guest speaker

The North Island Goddess Movement helped North Island women celebrate International Women’s Day while also raising $3,000 for a women’s scholarship fund.

The March 8th gala at the Gate House Theatre featured wine, snacks, games, positive affirmations, and special guest speaker Jacqui Beban, who is the first female present in the history of the 75-years-old BC Truck Loggers Association (TLA).

“What our group is designed for is to create sisterhood — that is why we are all here,” said co-organizer Neva Perrott at the beginning of the event. “Enjoy the evening and celebrate each other, because you are worth it.”

Co-organizer Gaby Wickstrom, also announced that thanks to the help of corporate sponsors, West Coast Helicopters and Strategic Natural Resources, they were able to dedicate 100 per cent of the $1,500 dollars raised in ticket sales towards two women’s scholarships.

With a donation of $500 dollars from Strategic, $500 from Lemare Lake Logging, and $500 Wickstrom and Perrott had raised previously, they totalled $3,000 in funds raised.

“Our thought for both of those would be to open it up to anything that would assist women in bettering themselves, so it wouldn’t be limited to taking a course at school,” said Wickstrom, explaining that one scholarship is intended for women aged 14-24, and the other is intended for women aged 25 and older.

RELATED: Goddess Movement celebrates North Island women

A highlight of the gala was the inspiring speech given by Beban, where she spoke about her experience being a leader in the male-dominated logging industry.

Beban, who sat on the TLA board for 10 years, before she was elected vice-president and then president, was also born into a Nanaimo-based family that has been logging for more than four generations.

“I always worked around men, but I never gave it another thought because I didn’t know any different,” said Beban during her speech, explaining how she grew up visiting logging camps, and started as a ‘parts girl’ in the shop, before taking over the family business at the age of 24.

“I didn’t realize how starting on the path to be the TLA president would impact me,” said Beban, adding, “Who would have thought becoming the TLA president would give me so much insight into who I am?”

Beban also asked women to raise their hands if they’ve ever heard the phrase “Women are so emotional”, then explaining how that phrase has negatively impacted her throughout her career.

“It shut me down and I lost my confidence but most importantly I lost my spark. I didn’t want people to see me too happy or too sad, so I just stayed a little below average,” said Beban.

“What I did learn and continue to learn is that it is okay for you to show your feelings and emotions — it’s okay to express them,” said Beban, adding, “We don’t have to fit in a mould and be what we think other people want us to be.”

After Beban told more stories about her life and experiences as the TLA president, the event concluded with a question and answer period, where Wickstrom and women from the audience were able to ask Beban any questions that came to mind.

Wickstrom and Perrott are currently in the process of setting up a scholarship committee, which will be made up of diverse women that will oversee the selection process and scholarship criteria.


HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO Women chat during an intermission at the International Women’s Day event at the Gate House Theatre.

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