It’s important to choose your words carefully, Kirsten Brazier believes.
Brazier, the featured speaker at the eighth annual Rotary Club of Langley Central International Women’s Day Luncheon on Saturday, March 7th, said instead of using words like policeman, firemen and repairman to describe those professions, it would be better to say “police officer, fire fighter and repair tech.”
“We all need to step up and think about the language we’re using,” Brazier commented.
Not because it would be politically correct, but because it reflects the fact that women are in those professions, said Brazier, a Langley pilot who founded the free Girls Fly Too annual event in 2012 out of frustration at the small percentage of women pilots.
Over the years, the annual event has given thousands of girls a chance to fly, to encourage them to take up the profession.
When she became a pilot 25 years ago, Brazier estimated about six per cent of all pilots were female, and that is still the case.
“The question remains, why are the numbers so low?” said Brazier.
To become a pilot, she said girls and women have to be encouraged to see past popular images of pilots as white and male that reinforce the notion career choices are limited for women.
“We have to change our whole marketing mind-set,” Brazier declared.
“You don’t have to be in a box.”
And it begins with language, Brazier believes, battling the use of words that reinforce traditional stereotypes.
“Just think about what we’re saying.”
Brazier said her message is not just for young girls, that women of all ages need to know that they can pursue any career they want.
Four unsung local heroes were recognized as “Women Who Inspire” at the luncheon.
Susan Parsons, chair of the International Women’s Day committee, presented awards to Kathy Derksen, president of the board of directors for the Langley Hospice Society; Veronica Kalo, a Brookswood Secondary home economics teacher; Christine McCracken, co-executive director of encompass support services; and Beverly Rodrigo, architect of the Starfish Backpack program that feeds hungry students in Langley.
Kathy Derksen, president of the board of directors of the Langley Hospice Society, has been a volunteer with the society since 1991.
Derksen and her volunteer board established the hospice thrift store that raises almost 40 per cent of their annual income for their supportive care and program centre.
She was described as the key driver of the new 15-bed hospice residence that is set to begin construction this spring.
Veronica Kalo, a Brookswood Secondary School home economics teacher, established the program “Too Hungry to Learn” to help feed students who would otherwise miss meals.
Student in need of food, are provided a free meal no questions asked.
Over the years, Kalo has been involved in helping the homeless in our community and on any given weekend provides bags of food and warm clothing during the cold weather to those in need.
Langley’s Christine McCracken, Co-Executive Director of Encompass Support Services was cited for her work as an true advocate for those who are face barriers or are vulnerable based on social circumstance including those who identify as LGBTQ2 and the indigenous population.
McCracken started working in Langley with Family and Youth Services Society in 2009. They later amalgamated with Aldergrove Neighborhood Services who then rebranded to Encompass Service Society.
Beverly Rodrigo, who chairs the United Churches of Langley Outreach Committee, approached the Rotary Club of Langley Central and the United Churches of Langley for funding, launching the Starfish Backpack Program with 20 packs. Now, in partnership with the Langley School District the program supplies five elementary schools with a total of 47 packs, sending home nutritious food to feed the students in need and also help their families supplement meals over the weekend.
For the last 10 years, Rodrigo has sponsored a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society that raises no less than $2000 annually.
More photos from the event can be viewed online.