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Women Today

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 1

Publisher’s I Mary Kemmis


’m proud to introduce this year’s Red Deer Express’ Women Today magazine. The stories of women’s monumental contributions to the building of our communities are often missing from our history books, with all but the most exceptional women lost to antiquity. Women Today showcases the progress women have made since all women obtained the right to vote federally in 1919. Led by Tara Veer, the City of Red Deer has numerous examples of women in political, business and social leadership roles. Rather than exceptions to the rule,

they are the rule. Stories like the ones in Women Today ensure that the contributions of the amazing women who call Red Deer home are recognized and remembered and included in the narrative of our times. Dianne Wyntjes, Tara Hellewell and Pam Snowdon are inspiring role models who continue to showcase shining examples of community spirit and perseverance. Their leadership, enthusiasm and drive assures us that the future of Central Alberta is bright. I hope our readers find as much inspiration from the stories we tell as I have.

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Kayla Williams 2 Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Women Today

brings her melody to Red Deer’s music scene

HIGH NOTE - Red Deer’s Kayla Williams is making quite the name for herself in the City’s music scene. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express By Todd Colin Vaughan

Kayla Williams is a 31-year-old emerging Red Deer artist that is coming off an incredible 2017 — winning the Singer/Songwriter of the Year Award at the 2017 Alberta Entertainment Awards this past January. The award comes after the release of her track One More Dose which is currently playing on local radio stations and has over 2,200 views on YouTube. Williams said the song came from a difficult place, after she went through a break-up in December 2016. “I had a song that I wanted to get out of my heart and it timed out right that I was going to a recording studio,” she said. “This was the right one because it was about me. They took this simple keyboard, vocal and turned it into this pop-synth ballad which is exactly what I want and is the sound that I love.” Following the recording of the track, which was done at The Space by Heath West, Williams went on to produce a music

video for the song. “That took off and led me to pursue it more because I believed in the song so much,” she said. Since then, many people have told Williams the video encapsulates Red Deer in a very meaningful way, with many of the shots being filmed at different locations throughout the City. Following the release of the music video, Williams shopped the track to different radio stations throughout the City but soon discovered that many of them required an artist to provide an EP or album. While disappointing at the time, it led Williams onto her next venture to produce an album. Williams also realized that the quality of work and time put into One More Dose is what led to its popularity throughout the City. To produce an entire album with this quality means a significant financial investment going forward. “In February, I applied for a grant so we will see,” she said. “Fingers crossed. What comes with quality of recording is a pretty large price tag, so having the

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funding would be life-changing. “That is the life of an artist. Just kind of struggling and trying to find a balance between doing what you love and making money.” Despite the financial challenges of being a pop singer, Williams has been gifted with plenty of local recognition — including her award at the 2017 Alberta Entertainment Awards. Williams, while not expecting the recognition, said it is an example of the way the Red Deer music scene supports local artists. “The community is better than what people think,” she said. “People outside the community question it but there is a lot going on here that people don’t see and we are getting crazy bands here now. The scene is supportive and ready for everyone.” Williams said that while leaving to go to a larger centre is tempting, currently she appreciates the idea of making her way in Red Deer. Her journey to the 2017 Awards began when she was only three-years-old singing to pop music, but the most formative music years for her were her teens when she discovered Brian Williams and the Beach Boys. “I would go to school dressed as Brian Wilson because I was just obsessed,” she said. “Their harmonies are insane and it is not just surf music. “I would record my own versions of their songs and I still do that. I have a strange following of American men that love my covers because I do them so accurately. “That is what trained my ear before I was in school.” Williams said she eventually met her idol Wilson in 2011

through her YouTube Beach Boys covers. Solo music, while currently being her main focus, is just part of Williams’ schedule. She does improv with Bull Skit and also is in her own adult-oriented comedy/musical show — The Diirty Show — with Melody Stang. The Diirty Show, like all of her pursuits, is empowering for Williams and she has taken those lessons of being a female artist into her music. “I am not out there preaching, but it means a lot to be a woman in the music industry,” she said. “It is still challenging and it still has its ups and downs. In general, you have to have unwavering self-confidence.” That self-confidence comes in handy in an industry that still has, “Barriers to Break,” but Williams said, “You have to keep pursuing what you love.” Williams also is a music instructor, where she has seen firsthand how pursuing her career can affect the lives of young girls in particular. “I have a few that really do love it and they want to perform,” she said. “That is fun when you have those students that are excited to pursue music.” While 2017 was a big year for Williams, she said there isn’t a road map she has to follow. “I don’t set specific limits or say I need to be somewhere by a certain time,” she said. “It was a good year for this whole thing I am doing. Hopefully people keep listening and keep coming back. “I don’t know where the path leads but there is never a time where I say in my head, I guess I will just have to get a desk job. “I could be 50 or 60 and still touring music. It is what I love and I don’t foresee anything else.”

Women Today

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4 Wednesday, March 7, 2018 By Todd Colin Vaughan

Red Deer College (RDC) Athletic Director Diane St-Denis has the privilege of overseeing student-athletes at Red Deer College. Being able to have competitive programs in both the Kings and Queens divisions is one of the aspects of her employment she takes great pride in. Creating equity in athletics at RDC is part of her continuing mandate. “We have had great female athletes that have been great role models,” St-Denis said. “The best recruiter you can have is a student-athlete that has been able to have success that can explain and share that with others. “When I look at the state of our athletics, we are very healthy in regards to our female programs.” St-Denis credits the success of female athletics at RDC to solid coaching and leadership, something that is equal across the entire athletics department. St-Denis was quick to note that many of the policies necessary for equity were already in place. “We have made some adjustments to some policies to make sure we have equity across the board as far as financial aid and budgets go, but those were present before,” she said. “We have just articulated them a bit more clearly. The College has always been very supportive in ensuring that equity is transparent throughout all of our programs. “That is really important for an athlete to know that they will be treated the same as any other athlete in any other sport.” Part of those budget adjustments, according to St-Denis, is in providing financial aide to students which helps female athletes not have to choose between their education and their pursuit of sport. Being able to bring in solid student-athletes is only part of the equation. St-Denis said that community programs, such as club sports,

Female athletes Women Today

excelling at RDC both on and off the court

ATHLETICS DIRECTOR - Red Deer College Athletics Director Diane St-Denis is continuing to promote equity in campus sports. Photo Submitted has allowed coaches to teach their philosophies and cultures to athletes before they ever get on campus. This is turn, helps keep athletes on campus for their full school tenure. “I applaud our coaches for being so involved in the community,” she said. “They are working with community coaches or creating programs in the community where they can start embedding those skill sets and culture into athletes before they come to RDC. “When they get here, they

have a very strong foundation and also understand the expectations of what it means to be a student athlete.” As pertaining to culture, St-Denis said it is important to her that female athletes are marketed, treated and built up the same way male athletes are. “At times, sports is seen as the male domain and we put a lot of what we say in what sport can do to build somebody and how it can build skills you don’t get in the classroom,” she said. “We don’t typically attribute those to women, so it is really

important that we consistently reinforce to them that those skills are available to them as well and I think we have made a lot of progress in sport. There’s still a lot more to do.” She added that there are many possibilities in sport that are open to women, which may not have been available to them 20, 30, or 40 years ago. “You want them to stay in sport because you want them to become the future coaches, the future officials, the future administrators that are laying the foundation for the next set of female student athletes coming in,” she said. Part of building up female athletes is ensuring that RDC athletics markets and presents their sports to the community in an equal matter. It also helps that many of RDC’s female athletes are in the midst of huge success. “I think we have become more aware of the effort we need to make in order to promote both sides of the equation,” she said. “We need to speak passionately about how good all of our programs are, making sure that people understand that the Kings have had long traditions of winning in a lot of sports, but we also need to remind folks that we have some fantastic female student-athletes. “We need to create packaging that encourages people to come and watch both the Kings and Queens. We want people to come early because we have that great spectator experience.” Presenting RDC female athletes to the community is a no-brainer for St-Denis. “They are great leaders,” she said. “You want your young daughters to talk to these young women. They are fantastic, very intelligent, very driven, very competitive and very compassionate. They are perfect role models to be promoting out in Red Deer.” She added if young female athletes are interested in post-secondary athletics they should, “Get involved” if they are truly passionate.

Women Today

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5

women Recognizing

in the community March 8th, 2018 marks International Women’s Day, and it’s a time to recognize the women all around us. The Red Deer Express is honoured to recognize the women in Red Deer’s community who have made significant contributions to those around them. To celebrate, Soroptimist International of Central Alberta is hosting their annual International Women’s Day Luncheon on March 8th at the Radisson Hotel, where they will present awards to recognize women in the community. The special guest speaker will be Red Feather Women. Also taking place on March 8th is an International Women’s Day concert at The Hub On Ross with various musicians taking part.

With so much to be proud of as a woman, prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. it’s important to make this day yours and Since its viral start last year, the phrase caught celebrate being an exceptional on quick and was popularized by woman. Whether you are a mothvarious women icons across the Carlie er, a daughter, a coach or simply a world, with high-profile posts from woman who works hard at what she Connolly several celebrities and many stodoes, it’s important to give yourself ries shared by women like you and a pat on the back and celebrate I. Because of this, many women have come forward to share their International Women’s Day for just stories in the comfort that others being you. have too. With various events planned across the country, it’s important to It’s because of this solidarity recognize the strength and power that women are such strong and women have on one another. A great exam- incredible leaders and voices. So here is to ple of this is the widely known movement of the many women in this community. Happy ‘Me Too’ or #MeToo to help demonstrate the International Women’s Day.

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Diana Anderson is passionate

6 Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Women Today

about bridging the arts community BY MARK WEBER

For Red Deer Arts Council Coordinator Diana Anderson, a passion for art - and the unique and inspiring creations of others - led to what has proven a most fulfilling path in life. Hailing originally from Calgary, Anderson relocated to Red Deer with her family in her teens and there are certainly rich, artistic sensibilities in the family line. “My (maternal) grandfather, Herbert Earle, was an engraver by trade,” she explained, adding

that he did lots of fantastic work for the City of Calgary as well, including crafting illuminated addresses that were given out to travelling dignitaries. “He was also one of the founding members of the Calgary Sketch Club. Anytime we went to visit as kids, he was always doing some kind of a painting - he painted a beautiful portrait of my mom which I proudly own now,” she added with a smile. “Not only was he a fine painter and engraver, he also played the violin and the piano. He also did make-up for theatre, so he was

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PASSION FOR ART - Diana Anderson of Red Deer Arts Council has a passion for the arts and connecting artists together. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

definitely ‘into’ the arts.” His granddaughter found herself with a growing love and appreciation for the arts as well during her growing up years. Also, a key turning point came when she had saved a bunch of money for a highly anticipated trip to Europe with a friend. Well, the friend backed out at the last minute and Anderson didn’t end up going. So what to do with the cash? She enrolled in the Red Deer College visual arts program. “I thought, well, I have always loved art. I’m always doodling and drawing and that kind of stuff. I’m going to go and see what’s what.” She signed up and the years that followed proved to be utterly enriching as she explored all kinds of modes of artistic expression. “I would look at some of the artists in our class, and think how absolutely phenomenal they were. Then I would look at my work - it was reasonable - I got good marks - but I got excellent marks in art history,” she explained. “I just fell in love with art history. “So when I finished, I knew I wanted to go on because I didn’t think I would be a fantastic artist, but I really wanted to see people and talk to people about their art. Art history seemed the way to go. “And by the time I went through the program at the University of Alberta, graduating with honours, I ended up with a BA Special with Distinction in Art History.” That’s also where a shift in perspective came. Anderson knew that, as indicated, her passion was for art of course, but also for the works of others. Still, she wasn’t immediately aware of a career direction. “I just took it because I loved it. I had no idea of a job, or if there was a job in it.”

But thanks to her profound skills, she didn’t have to wait long. She had moved back to Red Deer and eventually noticed that the Red Deer Museum was looking for display preparation work. “I thought, I wonder if I could use some of my art and design and art history (studies) in that?” Sure enough, she was interviewed by then Museum Executive Director Morris Flewwelling for a six-month Young Canada Works Project. “In June of that year, Morris asked if I would like a full time job - I said yes,” she added with a laugh. “That turned into a fabulous 30-year stint with the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery.” Talk about an awesome, exhilarating season in her life - Anderson was putting together superb shows of really exciting works. She even served as president of the Alberta Museums Association for a time, too. “That diploma and degree really helped me to spread my wings in a couple of different directions, which was really fun.” Ultimately, as exhibits coordinator, she would also build and design several traveling exhibitions and enjoyed many spectacular opportunities including working with the Canadian Museum of Civilization to help with the exhibition program there over a two-month period. She also worked at the Bilton Gallery in Red Deer for a couple of years following her time at the Museum, and then a post with the Red Deer Arts Council surfaced about eight years ago. Anderson is always happy to discuss the ins and outs of the local arts community. “Extremely talented artists here in Central Alberta - Red Deer stacks up pretty damn fine. We do!”

Women Today

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 7

Women finding a balance in business By Carlie Connolly

Bev McCrostie, an instructor in the Business Administration program at Red Deer College’s Donald School of Business knows a thing or two about women leaders. She herself has a Masters in Education and has been teaching for 21 years at RDC, 14 years through the online environment. McCrostie is currently a business instructor and has taught an introduction to management course in the fall and is currently teaching sales and organizational behaviour online. And although business has tended to be a more male-dominated area, she continues to see an equal balance, with more women coming into the business world. “This winter term more than 50 per cent of students are female,” she said, adding that they equal about half of the overall population at the Donald School of Business. McCrostie said Alberta has typically been more male-dominated with it being a heavy oil economy, and it can be tricky for women

to get integrated into. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying. “I think what’s happened is we’re seeing more and more women coming into oil and gas just because there are lots of those opportunities for them to succeed in business.” She added that when you look at the direction women are taking in going into business, most of them tend to be in the service and retail business area. “That’s their strength, that’s where we see women entrepreneurs moving into.” When it comes to what makes women good in business, McCrostie said people are beginning to recognize the need for more compassion and that need for team-building, rather than everybody being autonomous. She said that when everyone pulls their ideas together, they’re going to be far more successful. “We recognize that in families and we recognize that in business, and it’s that willingness to admit when you’re wrong and to try out new ideas.”

BALANCING BUSINESS - Bev McCrostie of RDC’s Donald School of Business says women continue to have a good ability to balance their work with their family life. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express McCrostie added that although women aren’t generally huge risk takers, it’s more about moving gradually and not going out and looking for $1 million in financing. “Some women start off really small and then expand, and then some prefer to just stay small, primarily because they’re looking at a work/life balance.” And McCrostie’s online courses for the Management Certificate are a great way for women to keep that work/life balance. Many of her students balance out owning their own businesses and continuing to work through school.

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Tara Hellewell’s

8 Wednesday, March 7, 2018

By Carlie Connolly

It’s more of a lifestyle than a job for Tara Hellewell, executive director of the Central Alberta Humane Society (CAHS). “It doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like my life, it’s everything to me and I wouldn’t give it up for the world,” she said. Born in Saskatchewan, Hellewell has dedicated her life and career to the fund development non-profit charitable sector. She started off with the Chamber of Commerce, gaining a good knowledge of the City’s business community, and was an integral part in helping many small businesses thrive in the early days. “Through that I was able to volunteer for a local organization — and I’ve always loved animals — I’ve always had a special place in my heart for them.” Being born into a military family, she wasn’t able to have any animals as they moved so frequently. “That was really interesting to me to get involved with an organization that dedicated itself to animal welfare, which the SPCA at the time did, and they were really the only shelter.” Hellewell sat on the board of directors for a couple of years, heading up their capital campaign committee. As a result of that she was so interested in the fundraising piece and charitable work that she decided to dedicate the rest of her career to that. She later left the Chamber and took on a position at Bethany CollegeSide. She later then moved onto what was then known as the Women’s Shelter. “At the Shelter we were able to create the first ever healing centre specifically for children,” she said, adding that she’s had some great key moments in her careers. It was almost seven years ago now that her current position

Women Today

involvement with animals is a lifestyle and a passion

FURRY FRIENDS - Tara Hellewell of the Central Alberta Humane Society has always held a place in her heart for animals. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express came up as Executive Director of the SPCA, which has since been changed to the Central Alberta Humane Society. “It was exciting to me because it was like I’d come full circle. It was really being here as a volunteer on the board of directors that took me into the charitable sector,” she said. Hellewell said since being in the position, she’s never looked back. “It was exciting but scary at the same time because the brand new facility had just opened and we took our budget from about $200,000 a year to $1.2 million a year, and so we had to be very creative in ensuring that we were able to sustain ourselves in this massive facility.” She said, “We continue to add

new programs and help more and more animals. We have a great sustainable staff member team. We’re like a family.” She said helping the animals is a rewarding way to work everyday. “I get to come into work and see animals and see the difference that we’re making and see them adopted out and hear the stories of their success, so there’s nothing more rewarding than that whole piece.” Being thrown in with a group of 20 staff members, most of which are women, and having to figure out how her leadership style would evolve, has also been quite the journey for Hellewell. Another big part of her life are

her two dogs Harlee and Bandit, along with her partner Jaret, who is a big supporter of the work that she does. Hellewell is also busy in her board participation with Women for a Humane Canada and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. “Women primarily have started this movement and we’ve been very much the leading force in the employment and volunteer sector in animal welfare,” she said. Hellewell is one of the two founding members for that group, and there is now over 20 of them. “When I took on this position I’ve always noted that there’s a real disconnect in our SPCA and Humane Society movement. We’re all separate and a lot of people in the public don’t really understand the sector very well,” she said. She added that they are constantly seeking funds as they don’t get government funding, and they are challenged every day to do work that’s extremely needed. Hellewell said she believes it was important for them to have a voice to be able to speak to the government, try to make changes both in legislation and in the law to protect animals and to find a way for funding to start to come to support the work they’re doing. Having joined the Federation of Humane Society’s board she said, “Even though we’re a small community, representing us at that level in Ottawa has been an amazing experience. I’ve been able to speak to politicans to share some of our experiences and challenges, and they’ve really given us a voice on a local level.” In her little spare time that she does have, Hellewell enjoys going to her cabin, the gym and reading, mostly books about dogs of course.

Wendi Ronspies is a community Women Today

WOMEN WORKING TOGETHER - Wendi Ronspies, the visionary behind Studio 11 shared workspace.

-minded visionary

By Michelle Falk

Wendi Ronspies is the visionary behind the first shared workspace, located in the Cronquist Business Park called Studio 11. When the architectural designer decided to purchase a storefront business, her ideas for the industrial unit went beyond the physical structure. “I am a community-minded person—I could work from home, but I like to be around people,” Ronspies said. Shared workspaces are becoming popular in larger centres as an opportunity for upand-comers, young business owners and start ups to have

an office front even if they have limited capital. Studio 11 has a communal kitchen, boardroom and common entrance, and each business has their own office. The advantages to shared workspaces are not only financial. “You learn from people even if you’re not in the exact same field,” Ronspies said. She added that these young business owners have been a source of inspiration and encouragement to her. They collaborate with each other, share knowledge and give referrals. “We bounce ideas off each other,” Ronspies said.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 9

Michelle Falk/ Red Deer Express

She did not plan for it but the workspace has developed an informal mentorship. Ronspies, who has been in business for 25 years, said she doesn’t think of herself as a mentor necessarily, but she knows she has a lot of experience to share with her new entrepreneurs. She had a lot of people come through to look at renting in the shared workspace, but in the end it was filled up with all fe-

male-run businesses. “It’s awesome having an all girls environment here,” Ronspies said, because she is usually the only woman when she’s on a job site. In addition to Wendi Ronspies Design, the businesses in Studio 11 include: Lindsey Johnson Design Co, RJ&Co, Beauty Mark Productions Inc., Missy Glow, Doll Face Lashes, Rachael Nicole Aesthetics and Lashes by Melodee.

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10 Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Women Today

A chat with City Councillor

Diannntjees Wy

INSPIRING OTHERS - City Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is the people. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

By Carlie Connolly

Raised on a farm near Diamond Valley District, just west of Sylvan Lake, Red Deer City Councillor Dianne Wyntjes headed to Red Deer in 1975 and has since made quite the life for herself. Wyntjes has been working hard since she was just 15-years-old. She worked at Bishop’s Drugs throughout high school and later

went off to Red Deer College. With an interest in nursing or teaching, she didn’t quite know what she was going to do. “Jobs in the eighties were very abundant, so I took one year of business at Red Deer College,” she said. Wyntjes remembers asking one of the instructors at the time if she should continue and get her certificate, to which she replied saying that sometimes what you

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learn outside of the classroom is equally important. So, Wyntjes set out on her working journey, working for the federal government in administration, and from there, she came to City Hall to work in Licensing and Inspections. “I dealt with the parking tickets.” She later moved on, getting a job with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), a one-person office and one representative office. Her role was in Labour Relations and supporting working women and men. “Coming from a farm background, unions weren’t very popular, so I learned a lot, and from there I became a representative myself here in Central Alberta, and then for the last 17 years of my career I was the regional director for the Province.” That position, she said, taught her a lot about the importance of local government. She remembers being in Calgary at a CUPE conference at an information booth at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and later thinking to herself about running for politics. Fast forward to today, she is now in her third term on City council, starting out as a councillor in 2010. Looking at her current position, she said one of the rewarding things is the people. She also refers to the four ‘R’s’ as important, which include reading, research, response and relationship.

“I’ve come to really appreciate the many agencies, the many businesses, the many people in our community who are contributing to making Red Deer such a great place to live.” She added that the best part of being a municipal councillor and representing citizens is seeing the diversity of people in the community and being a part of making the City a great one to live in. As a leader, Wyntjes said she tries to be collaborative. “I’ve always believed that all of us is smarter than one of us.” She added that she believes there’s lot of women who have paved the way. “To me, it may be competitive at the ballot box, but in the end it’s important to have that collaboration to be able to work together,” she said, adding that she talked to women candidates, encouraging them to run and giving them the confidence to run. Besides being a councillor, Wynjtes said she tries not to spread herself too thin. She is currently the daughter to her almost 94-year-old mom and a proud wife to her husband. “My husband’s a farmer, so he has very long hours sometimes, so I try to be the good wife,” she said with a smile. “For me, it’s always important to manage the household stuff.” In her spare time Wyntjes enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family.

Women today

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018 11

Doula Becky Purpur

12 Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Women Today

is a ‘mother to mothers’

By Michelle Falk

Doulas have a really important role in changing the face of birth, said Becky Purpur, a doula of 16 years who is the woman behind Mindful Mother Doula. Purpur is a mother to mothers, coaching them through every step of the way from pre-natal to postnatal care and documenting the story as an expert photographer along the way. It’s safe to say she’s a life-long doula. Purpur attended her first birth at the age of 12, accompanying her mother who was a midwife at that time. “I got a very, very different education than most doulas,” she said. In addition to her mom, both her great-grandmothers were midwives. Purpur also trained as a midwife, but never ended up working in the field. Right after Purpur finished her degree in midwifery, she had her son Zander. She chose to take a few years off to really relish those early years at home. During her time away the landscape of midwifery changed dramatically and when she was ready to return to work new regulations meant she would have to re-do her training completely. She took stock of what she really wanted to in her life and decided to pursue work as a doula. Purpur has no regrets about having her training as a midwife She believes that regulating midwifery was important for quality of care and government funding. It’s been a positive for the profession and led her to the right career path, too. “My heart is really in nurturing care,” Purpur said. She also sees the role of a doula in a mother’s life as essential, because caring for mothers is something often undervalued culturally

SPECIAL BOND - Becky Purpur of Mindful Mother Doula holds one-month-old Adler Van Havere while his parents Seth and Kirsten look on at a post-partum follow-up visit. Michelle Falk/Red Deer Express

so without a doula it often doesn’t happen. Purpur spoke about how women go through this incredible, empowering and emotional process and they are then encouraged to jump right back into their busy lives, while some cultures have the mother rest in bed for up to 60 days, eating special foods and healing. “It’s not only about the baby,” Purpur said. “There’s a mother transforming here.” Doulas act as advocates for the family - explaining processes within the system, what is available to them and the possible consequences of that decision. They let families know what their rights are and how to communicate what they want to medical practitioners. Doulas work as support people in hospitals, at home births and in birthing centers. What a family pays for with a doula is someone to walk with them every step of the way. Doulas offer prenatal, labour, delivery and post-natal care. Purpur said she typically maintains regular visits with a family for about six weeks following the birth. “I don’t reduce care until breast feeding is well established.” She laughs though, that while her job is technically finished with postnatal care she often gets calls from mothers through the child-bearing years asking for advice on everything from sick babies to fertility. Purpur sees caring for mothers as not only something that takes place on a physical level but that also carries a psychological and spiritual competent. She does mother-blessing ceremonies to welcome a woman into this new phase of her life and to acknowledge the significance of the physical and social transition. “It’s not

just a day at work,” she said. “It’s a huge day for a family.” Purpur also works to honour the occasion as such and to help families focus on how to set apart this moment in their lives from all others. “This is probably the most sacred experience in a family’s life.” Doulas are unlicensed and unregulated in Canada which Purpur said she is glad for because there is no limit on the scope of her care. There is not a set framework she has to follow and she said she loves being able to attend to each family as they require. Doula care varies a lot from one practitioner to the next as well in terms of what services they offer, the cost of those services and the training and experience they possess. Purpur offers a range of add-on services including pain management meditation coaching, meal prep, placenta encapsulation, umbilical cord drying, mother blessings, extended post-partum care and photography. She started including photography into her practice about four years ago as a way to integrate the hobby into her work and offer families something extra to remember the experience. She explained that now she makes an effort to get the birth photos to the family as quickly as possible because it has a very positive effect on how a mother remembers the experience and thinks about it in the months to come. Meanwhile, she is passionate about educating other doulas and believes that this is best done through mentorship training with a senior doula partnering with a new recruit. She and her mom have been training doulas since 1994. “I need to elevate my profession.”

Women Today

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 13

Kirsten Van Havere: the empowering journey of home birth HOME BIRTH - Kirsten Van Havere with her husband Seth and children Ingrid, three-years-old, new baby Adler, one-month-old, Cash, 10-yearsold and Magnus, six-years-old. Michelle Falk/Red Deer Express

By Michelle Falk

When it came to bringing her babies into the world, home birth with a midwife was the only option Kirsten Van Havere ever considered. She wanted an experience that was about her family, her choices and that empowered her as a woman. She had attended a friend’s hospital birth in her early 20s and was troubled by the experience. Van Havere wanted her own birth experience to be different. She has had all of her children at home with Jen Bindon from Prairie Midwives as the ‘Mother Midwife’ or lead practitioner. Despite the experience she’s enjoyed in where and with whom her babies come into the world, Van Havere said, “Each birth has been so unique.” When she had her daughter Ingrid, now three, the delivery had been very fast and everything had gone smoothly. She had thought this last birth of her son Asher, born on Jan. 22nd, would the easiest delivery yet, but that was not the case. “I expected this one to just kind of fall out,” she laughed, “But it was by far my most difficult delivery.” This was the first time that Van Havere had a ‘highly trained’ midwife involved. When she

had her daughter, a friend who had some doula training acted as a support person. When she had her first child it didn’t even occur to her to hire a doula; she had a midwife and thought the idea of a doula was redundant. “This time I wanted someone to be taking care of me,” Van Havere said in an explanation of why she and her husband Seth decided to privately pay for a doula for the birth of their fourth child. “As a culture we have forgotten how to nurture mothers,” she said. After a new baby is born there is a lot of fuss about the little one, but often the mother is left behind. For the third birth, though, she knew she wanted a different experience. She was certainly glad that she had doula Becky Purpur’s knowledge and experience there for Asher’s delivery, though, as it was the most difficult delivery she had. “I needed every person that was there,” Van Havere said. “There was a point where everyone in the room (including their three older kids 10-year-old Cash, six-year-old Magnus and three-year-old Ingrid) had their hands on me as I was labouring.” Kirsten said people often ask her if the experience is scarring for the kids.

She proudly shows a photo of herself in the birthing tub in labour with her children smiling and cheering her on, their tiny hands on her back. The older siblings were excit-

ed to get to welcome their new baby brother into the family the moment he came into the world. “They weren’t traumatized by it at all, they were encouraging me,” Van Havere said.

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14 Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Women Today

Café owners finding career fulfillment where they least expected

Vanessa Darling

Tanis Woodfin

Vanessa Darling was a French immersion teacher and a mother of two when her husband John suggested she turn her hobby into a business. “I love being a mom, but it’s so nice to have something else to look forward to and that you can use your mind differently,” she said. As the bakery launched, they happily discovered she was expecting their third child. Darling was at the bakery when she went into labour, and back at work a week after Luc was born. “He became a common fixture here at the bakery his first year,” she said. The business has evolved from a traditional model to a more custom-pre-order bakery. People often come straight from the naturopath with a list of things they can’t eat and Darling will find at least five things they can enjoy. “I knew with teaching I would be back full-time and be emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of the day—this has just been a lot more fun,” Vanessa said.

Tanis Woodfin was diagnosed with Celiac disease when she was 18-years-old. “I never liked buying anything from stores, it was terribly made and priced,” she said. Her research evolved into the web site ‘T’s Gluten Free’ and she started to develop her own bread recipes. “I was not a cook, I was not a baker, but I just loved creating something that other people weren’t creating,” Woodfin said. Still working full-time as a legal assistant, she started selling her bread at the farmer’s market and could never bake enough. Three years in, she decided to open a storefront and was thrilled when the opportunity to move into the Breathing Room Studio opened up. “I think gluten is a huge thing right now, because of how the food is being handled and processed. We have a lot of allergies popping up,” Woodfin said.

The Maple Tree

T’s Bakery Café

photo submitted

Michelle Falk/Red Deer

photo submitted

photo submitted

By Michelle Falk

Kelsey Boisvert

Meeting Waters Coffee +Roastery “It was never something I pictured for myself, but so far I’m really enjoying it,” said Kelsey Boisvert. Her partner Dave Frotten’s parents approached him with the idea of expanding their family-run Nova Scotia café venture west. When Frotten said he wanted to go for it, Boisvert wanted to be involved too. So, they moved from Edmonton to open the café. “We saw the potential Red Deer had—we feel like it’s about to explode,” Boisvert said. They wanted to offer things that are trendy in bigger centres but were still new in Red Deer. “We’re starting to use it as a community space, offering open mic nights for musicians and comedians,” Boisvert said. They also plan to get a liquor license and offer local craft beer. “We think with the vibe we’re going for, later hours is the direction we’re leaning towards.” “I have met so many incredible people,” she said.

Estie Van Der Burg Stella Bean Sweets

Estie Van Der Burg had dreamed of opening her own café. The dental hygenist decided to go for it following a trip to London where she enjoyed high tea. “I thought, I wish I could do this at home in Red Deer with all my friends,” she said. Van Der Burg looked at her then fiancé Jessie and said, ‘I know this is a crazy idea and the absolute worst timing but I can’t give up on this chance’. They got married in Mexico on May 3, 2017 and opened the doors of Stella Bean Sweets ten days later. The café affords a unique elegance to the local restaurant scene with monthly formal high teas. This February they welcomed their first child Annalise. Van Der Burg said right now the flexibility to be with her daughter is the biggest advantage, but even before that it was a great fit. “I get to express my creative side without anyone standing in the way.”

Pam Snowdon

Women Today

finds joy connecting people to volunteer opportunities BY MARK WEBER

For Pam Snowdon, helping folks find the most meaningful volunteer opportunities brings a continual sense of joy and fulfillment. Snowdon is the executive director of the Red Deer-based Volunteer Central, where the mandate is all about linking local residents to a volunteer opportunity that fits best with their interests, talents and abilities. It’s a natural fit for Snowdon, who was inspired as a youngster by her parents, who were always more than willing to lend a helping hand during her growing up years in Ontario. “I do often tell the story about how volunteering was role-modeled to me when I was a kid,” she explained during a chat in her downtown office. “My mother was an immigrant from Holland, and when she came to this country she got very busy volunteering and helping other newcomers with their settlement.” Her mom would do everything from helping folks with interpretation at the doctor’s office to assistance with appointments and school registration. “I remember driving around the backroads in her station wagon - she would take people things that would help them as well. Both my parents were also very involved in their faith community. A lot of us did grow up in those smaller communities where people did just pitch in and help - growing up in a small town, that was kind of the norm.” Seeing her parents be on the lookout for how they could make a difference wasn’t lost on Snowdon, who began to understand both how vital volunteering is to a given community, and how fulfilling it can be. “We often encourage students -

high school and college students - to volunteer because it’s a great way to test and see if a career path is right for you or not,” she said. “Is it going to be what you thought it was?” Over the years, Snowdon has worked as a professional writer, and owns her own company called Chrysalis Writing Services. She also worked for several years at a women’s centre in Ontario before moving out west in 2002. “It was one of my first forays into volunteering that turned into a career path with a non-profit,” she said. After arriving in Alberta, Snowdon was busy raising her children, delving more into freelance writing and volunteering where she could. Eventually, she took the position of executive director of Volunteer Central and it’s been, as mentioned, the ideal fit for Snowdon. As Central Alberta’s volunteer centre, they promote and encourage volunteering in Red Deer and Central Alberta. Through their comprehensive website, convenient downtown location, and relevant programs and workshops, they connect volunteers, non-profit organizations and businesses to create successful volunteer relationships in Central Alberta. “The mandate is to connect volunteers to opportunities and another part of that is to develop skills so we have a really wellskilled, experienced and strong cohort of volunteers in the community. It’s also to encourage everyone to volunteer, because everyone can play a role - no matter how big or small that is, or how formal or informal that is, too.” Volunteer Central provides a listing of volunteer opportunities, non-profit employment opportunities, training programs and

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 15

HELPING OUT - Pam Snowdon gets a great sense of joy in helping folks find meaningful volunteer opportunities. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

workshops. Sometimes, people opt to steer clear of volunteering, and one of the reasons is they may feel ill-equipped, or unsure of the expectations. But if organizations are clear about what they expect - to sit on a board for example - folks can rest assured their presence is in itself a source of support that is extremely valuable. “It doesn’t need to be this scary thing that keeps people away,

because people really have so much to contribute; so much richness from their life experiences not just to boards but to organizations in general,” she said. For Snowdon, there couldn’t be a better path. “Organizations in our community are helping everybody, and there are thousands of volunteers working behind the scenes to make that happen.”

Saluting all Women in Today’s World. Kim Schreiner MLA Red Deer North


16 Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Women Today

CREATIVITY - Red Deer artist Wendy Meeres continues to explore new ways of creative expression, particulary through the making of glass beads and primarily acryllic paints these days. Mark Weber/ Red Deer Express


Red Deer artist Wendy Meeres has had a passion for creative expression since her childhood days. Today, she is one of Central Alberta’s most gifted and wellknown artists - specializing in paints and beadwork, and prior to those media, Meeres focused on pottery for many years as well. She was born and raised in Red Deer, and recalls how art was simply her thing from a very early age. “My parents would say that as a kid, if my art teacher was throwing materials out, I would always be bringing them home,” she says

with a laugh. “Scraps of paper anything - just to make things on my own.” Those interests were honed and encouraged, too. “I also remember taking pottery classes in the basement of the Rec Centre,” she recalled with a laugh. Her parents were supportive of her blossoming talents, too, signing her up for various art classes over the years as well. She also took the commercial art program at Lindsay Thurber High School. “After high school, I did a year of fine arts at the College, and I was trying to be practical so I went and took graphic design at

Wendy Meeres

City artist continues to broaden her artistic expressions Grant MacEwan.” It didn’t prove the best fit however. “I ended up going back to university and doing a recreation degree with a focus on community development.” Her career may have been taking shape, but artistic pursuits were never far behind. “I was mostly doing water colours at the time,” she explained. After her university studies wrapped, she moved to Slave Lake. “I ended up living right across the street from a pottery studio. I did raku pottery for 25 years,” she added. “I was still painting as well.” Add to that raising a family, and Meeres certainly had her hands full during those years. She later relocated to Calgary, where along with family responsibilities and her own art, she was teaching as well.

“I love teaching - to be able to share that passion and to get someone else to that point where they think, ‘I can do this to a point where it brings me enjoyment’.” She particularly enjoyed teaching adults and kids together, like parents with their children for example. Seeing the more mature students in particular discover their own knack for creating was always a joy. Meeres also works for the City of Red Deer full-time. But there is always time to share her art with others. “It’s just who I am. It’s always been a part of my life, and I think it always will be. It’s where I spend my extra time; it’s where I go when things are bad - but also where I go when things are good. “It just gives me that sense of fulfillment.”

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Special Features - Women Today 2018  
Special Features - Women Today 2018