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International Women’s Day-The Powerful Women Of Kawartha Lakes

KAWARTHA LAKES-Today is International Women’s Day. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate the strides and successes that women have achieved in the workplace. In the City of Kawartha Lakes women have taken on leadership roles in a number of different industries and businesses.

Here’s a look a just a few of the powerful Women of Kawartha Lakes. (We know there are many more)

Ward 8 Councillor Tracy Richardson and her family run a successful business in the Pontypool area. Pineneedle Farms is a third-generation tree seedling grower dating back to 1958. They specialize in ‘native’ species although you will find lots of other plants, tree seedlings, shrubs and trees here on our site.

Richardson has always done a lot of volunteer work in the community but decided she could do more.

“Being a Councillor that is engaged with the community allows me to be an ear to listen and a source to make a difference,” Richardson told Kawartha 411 News.

For Richardson, International Women’s Day is a day of acknowledgement and reflection about leadership in our Communities.

“This last year I have recognized MORE… the achievements of our Women leaders in our social, economic, cultural and political circles has been outstanding,” Richardson explains.  “We truly are blessed to live in an area where we have so many women leaders that have compassion and drive to make their communities even better.”

Richardson is one of only two female councillors in the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Ward 2 Councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan also brings considerable business expertise to the role. She and her husband Mike have owned Village Chiropractic in Bobcaygeon for 18 years. Seymour-Fagan opened Kawartha Coffee Company (KCC), in Bobcaygeon 14 years ago and steered it from a small start-up company, through three locations, to a successful catering company, a gathering spot for our community and a destination for visitors.  KCC uses environmentally sound practices and has been awarded a “Feast On” certification from the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, recognizing it’s commitment to supporting local businesses by sourcing from local farmers and producers.

Something you may not know about her is that before moving to Bobcaygeon permanently Seymour-Fagan managed some pretty cool bands.

The councillor says she felt she needed to do more than just complain about things she didn’t agree with.

“I wanted to be the change I wanted to see,” she told Kawartha 411 News. “I could not sit back and complain if I wanted to make a difference.”

On International Women’s Day, she says it’s important to be a role model to show other women they can do it.

“Other women need to support each other. We can do anything we put our minds to. Do not limit yourself. Women need to realize it’s only their thoughts of their limitations that will stop them. Be unstoppable.”

Robyn Carlson is the City Solicitor for the Corporation of the City of Kawartha Lakes. She has the general responsibility for the legal affairs of the corporation and for giving professional legal advice and recommendations to the Municipal Council and its staff.

Carlson practices in the areas of municipal law, planning law, litigation, prosecutions under the Provincial Offences Act, expropriations, environmental law and construction liens. Before coming to Kawartha lakes she was legal counsel for the City of Barrie. She holds a Law Degree from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelors Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Guelph.


Cathie Ritchie is the City Clerk. A city clerk plays an important role in local government. Locally the Clerk is described as the “keeper” of procedure and protocol, offering advice and guidance in these areas to City Council, the Mayor, all committee chairs, and staff, in addition to providing policy and by-law recommendations to Council and the CAO, and acting as corporate secretary to Council and the administration, and as the Corporate Signing Authority and much more. Ritchie is an experienced Municipal Administrator that excels in delivering corporate directives within the political environment of Upper, Lower and Single Tier Municipal Government.

Kelly Isfan is the President and CEO of Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay. Isfan has been a healthcare leader for more than 30 years, working in acute, community and long-term care sectors in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario. Most recently, she served as President and CEO of the Norfolk General and West Haldimand General Hospitals and was previously President and CEO at Campbellford Memorial Hospital. Isfan’s leadership strengths include a strong focus on community outreach, partnership development and quality care. She is an advocate for bringing exceptional healthcare to rural communities according to RMH. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan and a Master of Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota. She has served on the Ontario Hospital Association Board of Directors and has contributed to several OHA and Ministry of Health committees.

Take a walk down any main street in the City and you will find many of the businesses are women-owned.

Sherry Peel and her family own Bigley Shoes and Clothing in Bobcaygeon. They are one of the largest retail employers in the area with up to 80 staff in the summer months.

Bigley’s has grown from one store on the main street to ten stores under one roof, and “big-city fashion in cottage country”. Sherry became involved in the store three decades ago and turned it into a destination. Click here for more:https://www.bigleyshoes.com

Trish Dougherty has been the owner of The Kawartha Store in Fenelon Falls since 2012. She was the founder of Kawartha Country Wines since 2000. She has a Masters Degree in Education from Bishops University and a Bachelor of Education from McGill. It is destination shopping in Fenelon Falls with everything from Canadian Made women’s and men’s fashions to unique accessories and gifts. Click here for more:https://thekawarthastore.ca

Across the street is The Butterfly Boutique. The Butterfly Boutique is a chic boutique located on Colbourne Street. They carry; home decor, women’s clothing, accessories and more! The Butterfly Boutique was established by Natasha in 2007 and has been apart of downtown Fenelon Falls for 13 years. Click here for more:https://www.thebutterflyboutique.ca

Unwrapped is Kawartha Lakes’ source for eco-friendly and refillable household and personal care products. Inspired by the zero-waste movement, they help people throughout the Kawarthas, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls move away from single-use plastics and into a more sustainable lifestyle by offering bulk refills and plastic-free items for the body and home. Owner Jenny Connell was expecting her second child when she saw a documentary about what really went into household products. With a new baby on the way she decided she didn’t want all those toxic chemicals going into her children and Unwrapped was born. Click here for more information: https://www.unwrappedkawartha.com

The International Women’s Day theme this year is “Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” in recognition of the immense contributions of women serving on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

Women make up the majority of the essential frontline workers in several sectors, including health care, social services and retail according to the province. They also represent the majority of workers in the education, childcare and early years sectors, which we know are vital for children’s well-being and supporting working parents during the pandemic

Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues released the following statement:

“Women have also been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, both economically and socially. They have shouldered many burdens such as additional childcare responsibilities and increased domestic violence. Their participation in the labour market, in particular, has been severely affected.

Even before COVID-19, advancing women’s economic empowerment was a key priority for our government. That priority has become all the more urgent now. We are determined that women will not be left behind, and will in fact make a strong contribution to Ontario’s economic recovery. To that end, we are working across government to provide the necessary supports for women to return to the workforce, including childcare for working mothers.

Our post-pandemic goal is to continue building a bright future full of opportunities for all women in Ontario. A future where women are leaders and decision-makers, no matter what career they choose. A future where every woman and girl is empowered to succeed because promoting women’s full economic participation supports Ontario’s continued growth and prosperity. This is the bold new future we are building for the benefit of future generations.

So, on this International Women’s Day, I encourage everyone to take a moment and reflect on the lasting influence all of the determined, caring and compassionate women have had on your life. I am sure it will bring back some wonderful memories.”

And to the most powerful women in the world, MOM, we say thank you for teaching us to be strong but kind, empathetic but assertive and to see our value.

“You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last, and that’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.” Kamala Harris

Happy International Women’s Day!


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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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