5 Amazing Women to Know

I love learning about inspiring people who are doing great things in the world. The non-stop bad news makes it hard to remember how many people are out there making a change and lifting others up as they do. In an effort to bring a little bit of light to the internet, I wanted to share 5 amazing women who are kicking-ass and making a positive impact on their communities.

Ginella Massa - Journalist, Reporter, Producer and Newscaster

Ginella Massa is not only a great reporter, she is also breaking barriers for women, Muslims, and hijab-wearing women. In 2015 she made history as the first hijab-wearing news reporter on television in Canada and in 2016 she made history again, being the first hijab wearing woman to anchor a major newscast in Canada.

But she doesn’t just stop at that. She also has a history of working to provide media training to community groups in Toronto. She has worked to help groups better engage with news outlets who are reporting on or about them. Helping them to understand the best ways to communicate their message.

Ms. Massa also writes about issues affecting Muslims in North America, giving voice to a community who is often left out of the conversation. She is someone who leads by example, and is definitely someone you should know about!

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Buffy Sainte-Marie - Cree Singer-Songwriter and Activist

Ms. Sainte-Marie is a living legend, and a Canadian hero in so many ways. She has spent more than 50 years using her art and music to fight for Indigenous people. Born in Canada and raised in the US, she has worked with Indigenous communities across North America, and focuses the majority of her advocacy on indigenous education. In 1969 she founded The Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education, which is a non-profit focused on spreading awareness of Native American cultures and improving education.

Her anti-war anthem “Universal Soldier” has provided inspiration to many over the years, and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. And if all of that isn’t enough, Buffy Sainte-Marie will be honoured this year with the 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at the Juno’s. Ms. Sainte-Marie is an incredibly important voice not only in North America, but in the world.

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Casey Plett - Writer

Casey Plett is a writer, a trans woman, and a Mennonite (like me!), and through her work she is giving a voice to the LGBTQ+ Mennonite community.

Let me pause for a quick second to explain the type of Mennonite she and I are. Similar to Judaism, being Mennonite is both a religion and a culture/ethnicity, and you don’t need to be one to be the other. Also similar to Judaism, we have both orthodox, and non-orthodox groups. Needless to say, we do not come from the orthodox line of mennonites (#TeamElectricity). You can read about ethnic Mennonites here, and tweet me your questions here. Okay.. back to Ms. Plett!

There is so much power in telling our stories, and Ms. Plett continues to do that both through her published writing and through her blog (linked below). She has written stories and short fiction centering the experience of trans women, along with literary essays and op-eds calling out transphobia, the canadian government, TERFs, and calling out the tortured hero trope. By giving voice to this community she is making Canada not only a better place, but a safer place.

Her book A Safe Girl to Love is “eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love”. It can be bought at the link below.

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Buy her book here: https://www.amazon.ca/Safe-Girl-Love-Casey-Plett/dp/1627290052

Audre Lorde - Poet, Writer, and Activist

Audre Lorde was a revolutionary woman. She was a poet, civil rights activist, feminist/womanist, and LGBTQ+ rights activist. As a woman who lived at the intersection of so many different forms of oppression, her voice was incredibly important to the many communities she spoke for and with. As an early critic of racism within the feminist movement she helped to push the movement forward, and to build spaces for black queer feminists. Her writing was deeply impactful to many people and continues to hold profound meaning today.

Over her many years of writing and public speaking she has been quoted often. Below are two of my favourite Audre Lord Quotes:

  • "I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own."
  • "Your silence will not protect you."

She was and remains a force for change. Books by her can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/18486.Audre_Lorde 

Tammy Duckworth - U.S. Senator and Veteran

Ms. Duckworth is a woman who has done so many amazing things. She was the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois and the first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (1). She is now a U.S. Senator, with a history of being “the first”.

Ms. Duckworth lost both of her legs in the Iraq war, and she has fought for the fair treatment of veterans ever since - working first as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and eventually as the Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama Administration. She also continues to be an advocate for those with PTSD, and has stated that PTSD "IS a combat wound".

Ms. Duckworth continues to break down barriers for women, Asian Americans, and people with disabilities!

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