October is Women’s History Month in Canada; a time to celebrate women and girls from our past and present who are contributing to a better, more inclusive Canada.
Now in its 30th year, this year’s Women’s History Month celebrates the theme She Did, So Now I Can to recognize the actions of inspiring Canadian women that positively impact our lives today. Locally, in Hamilton, EMPOWER Strategy Group is taking that theme to acknowledge sixteen GTHA women and their contributions.
On October 23 between 2 and 3:30pm, the 7th annual Women Who Rock gala event will occur to celebrate six trail-blazing women and girls. The event is hosted by entrepreneur Lohifa Pogoson-Acker and will feature a keynote presentation by Indigenous designer and artist Angela DeMontigny along with live entertainment provided by Hamilton artist Lil Acevedo (Lil América).
The honourees are recognized for advancing a cause that has a broad impact on the community, attained a high level of achievement, achieved recognition as an expert or leader in a specific field or contributed in a significant manner to the community. Six honourees will be chosen from among the sixteen nominees which will be announced on Sunday afternoon’s online event.
While the awards acknowledge women throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area who have excelled in their particular field, several Hamilton-focused artists are among the sixteen nominees.
Burlington, Ontario’s Hayley Verrall is a country-pop singer/songwriter who has opened for acts including Burton Cummings, Dan Hill and Ryan Langdon. A frequent performer in Burlington, Verrall has been seen at multiple community events, including the Sound of Music Festival and the Singing For Smiles program, in which she sings classic country music at seniors’ residences and retirement homes. Verrall has even written a song entitled Burlington, and was a 2020 inductee to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Hall of Fame.
Layla Staats hails from the Six Nations of the Grand River. A multidisciplinary artist, Staats uses her music and filmmaking as a tool in her activism. Earlier this year, Staats released her self-narrated mini-documentary, Blood and Water. The documentary exposes the modern day impact and generational trauma caused by residential schools and how connecting with water has helped to reclaim her Haudenosaunee culture. Just this past weekend, she performed this weekend alongside her brother, Logan Staats, at the Music Climate Summit in Toronto.
In addition to Verall and Staats, nominees include:
- Abrar Mechmechia
- Alethia Cadmore
- Amy Deschamp
- Celeste Licorish
- Collette Muray
- Drina Omazic
- Janice Cardinale
- Joan Savoie
- Kalea Kirsh
- Klya Kween Gerber
- Louise Noel Ammbrose
- Mabinti Dennis
- Sarah Barnhart
- Zobia Jawed