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Inspiring speakers take stage at Tri-Cities Chamber International Women’s Day event

L to R: Speaker panelists Dr. Indira Samarasekera and Dr. Martha Piper, co-authors of Nerve: Lessons on Leadership from Two Women Who Went First, with moderator Paige Petriw, Councillor, City of Port Coquitlam.

Vivien Symington, Chair of the Tri-Cities Chamber Women in Business Committee.

(COQUITLAM) March 10, 2023 — It was a packed house at Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club on March 8 for the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce International Women's Day Brunch, with more than 200 in attendance.

"We have come so far from the first International Women's Day celebrated in 1911," said Vivien Symington, Chamber Board Director and Chair of the Women in Business Committee. "However, we all know we don’t have to look very hard to find places in the world where women do not have basic rights and freedoms, let alone equity. Our hearts go out to the women and girls of Iran, Afghanistan, and other areas of the world who suffer under oppression.

"We are so blessed to be able to gather here today to bring attention to the achievements that have gotten us to this point in our community and our country. And we feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of the growth and development of future generations, and to stand up for the rights of women everywhere," Symington added.

Keynote speaker Shachi Kurl, President, Angus Reid Institute, spoke about leadership in the face of adversity and controversy. Kurl recounted her experience moderating the 2021 national leaders debate, with Prime Minister and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, then Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, then Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, and Block Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet.

Shachi Kurl, President, Angus Reid Institute, speaks at the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce.

The debate was televised live in advance of the federal election. Kurl faced sharp criticism in the days following the broadcast, led by four of the five party leaders, for her question to Blanchet on Quebec Bills 96 and 21, calling the laws discriminatory. Only Paul defended Kurl's question, and her role to ask about the tough and controversial issues. Kurl described the wave of disapproval, threats, and lack of support that continued until her Globe and Mail opinion piece was published after the election.

Speaker panelists Dr. Indira Samarasekera and Dr. Martha Piper, co-authors of Nerve: Lessons on Leadership from Two Women Who Went First, shared stories and insights from their careers, which culminated in becoming the first woman president of the University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia, respectively. The panel was moderated by Paige Petriw, Councillor, City of Port Coquitlam, and owner of Spotlight Events. Each member of the audience received a copy of Nerve.

Fiona Famulak, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, commended the Tri-Cities Chamber for its growth and leadership role in the provincial chamber network. Famulak underscored the importance of the Chamber's advocacy efforts, and how local chamber membership translates to strong business, strong communities, and a better economy provincially and nationally.

The event was sponsored by the Scotiabank Women Initiative, Transmountain, Coquitlam Continuing Education, Prospera Credit Union, Kiewit, BTM Lawyers LLP, Fortis BC, Butter Studios, TriCity News, Coquitlam Florist, Sandpiper Signs & Decals, Dusk2Dawn Production, Lison Design, Muse & Merchant, From:Us, Six Degrees, and Pasta Polo.

View the full Event Photo Album on Facebook here.


Since 1971, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce has been the largest business association serving Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, and Belcarra, now representing 1,000+ organizations from every sector. The Chamber works to foster economic development, provide connections and benefits, and influence public policy at all levels of government to ensure strong business and strong communities. The Tri-Cities Chamber is an active member of the BC and Canadian Chambers of Commerce.

For more information, contact:
Leslie Courchesne, Chief Executive Officer
Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce

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