From left: Tammy Dyer (Options Community Services)

From left: Tammy Dyer (Options Community Services)

Celebrating Surrey’s 
community of women

Annual afternoon tea a reminder to recognize contributions of women every day.

For four years, the women of Cloverdale and Surrey have gathered for an afternoon tea in support of International Women’s Day.

Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux, who started the annual event, said the event creates an opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day and profile inspiring women from Surrey.

This year’s tea took place on Sunday, March 5, at Elements Casino, bringing 73 women and three men together to enjoy an afternoon of networking.

Cadieux, Christine Mohr, the executive director of Options Community Services, and investment advisor Jas Salh hosted the event and took part in what Cadieux called “Oprah-style interviews.”

Salh interviewed politician Judy Higginbotham, while Mohr interviewed Tammy Dyer, a fellow executive at Options. Cadieux had laryngitis, so her hosting spot was filled by Barinder Rasode, the co-founder of She Talks, who interviewed Kathy Kinloch, the president of BCIT.

The interviews were basic, with only a few questions, but Mohr said it was an opportunity to share the success of the interviewees and those who supported them.

“The event had a multiple effect,” said Mohr.

When Dyer was interviewed by Mohr, she mentioned the support another woman had given her after her mother passed away when she was in her early 20s.

Mohr said she knew the event was special for Dyer—her daughters came out to the event, one from Fernie and the other from Calgary.

“It was important to them, I think, too, to see their mum being honoured,” said Mohr. “So it’s just giving the opportunity to really honour and celebrate somebody that does a lot in their community.”

Mohr said the speakers spoke to common themes. All of the women put the service of others first, and, importantly, none of the women focused on challenges they faced in their careers because of their sex.

Cadieux said in an email that she felt “fortunate to not have experienced any challenges that I can associate with being female,” although “there are real and perceived barriers for women, and…often different goals, different motivators for and measures of success.”

The challenges, instead, seemed to come from within.

Even when Mohr was relaying her own story—from earning a UBC bachelor degree to pursuing higher and higher positions of authority—she said it was her own internal voice that inspired doubt when applying for certain jobs. Mohr said the support came from outside, from other women who told her she was good enough.

Mohr said what she learned from her own experience was to highlight the capacities and strengths of the people around her. “Because sometimes people don’t see that,” she said.

Mohr said she hopes people left the event with a reminder to take a closer look at women who surround them on a daily basis and to recognize “the gift that those women are and the strengths that they have.”

According to Mohr, celebrating the women in your life shouldn’t be limited to one day or one event, such as the annual tea.

“We’re surrounded by amazing women and (should) be celebrating that more daily. And not waiting for a tea,” she said.