Reflections on Attending BPW Canada’s AGM

In August I had the privilege & honour to attend my first BPW National conference in Moncton, New Brunswick. As your Vice President as well as a Mom, this journey didn’t come without it’s own share of challenges.

You see, I’m Mom to a daughter who possesses a formidable personality. She keeps me on my toes and motivates me to understand how best to parent a girl without diminishing her free and independent spirit. Every day I face my own fears of messing her up, preparing her for my departure was no easy feat.

Leading up to the conference her and I had many conversations, often through tear filled eyes, about why I would be gone and ultimately what BPW stands for. We talked about the issues that I’ve been faced with as a woman in a male dominated industry (equal pay & respect to name a couple) and how by the time she is a part of the workforce this shouldn’t be the case. We talked about the fact that many women experience violence in their life we need to find ways to help. You’d think this would be heavy for a almost 8 year old to handle but guess what, she got it! I the end, she was still not happy about Mom being gone but she understood BPW serves a greater good.

I on the other hand, still had some major butterflies to contend with. I was battling the ever present Mommy Guilt. Was I scaring her for life? Did I reassure her enough leading up to this trip? Am I an awful Mom because I identify myself as more than just a Mom?

I know it is an ever present struggle for me. Over the last few years I have discovered that I am a person who needs time to process my thoughts & feelings. The main way I go about this is through writing and artistic creations. I lean into the emotions that I am feeling rather than shying away from them because in my experience, blocking a feeling only gives it more intensity. When I can take the time to identify it I can take away the power it holds over me. I now had 6 hours of travel time to process how I was feeling before reaching Moncton. I took time to journal, meditate, and in the end choose to be present in the activities that were a part of this amazing opportunity.

During the course of the next couple of days there were chances to network, collaborate, share best practises and do some visioning for the future of BPW. I have to say though, the highlight for me was being along side BPW Saskatoon President Caval Olson-Lepage when she presented as National Chairperson on Violence Against Women.

Leading up to the conference I had worked along side Caval to produce a Powerpoint presentation on the topic. It wasn’t an easy task as much of the content was personal and at times, brought a lot of emotion and feelings to the surface. Together, we crafted the message. Like Caval, this presentation was high impact, insightful but also relatable and real. Caval presented with courage and grace and was the only speaker to receive a full standing ovation during the AGM, something that is deserving of celebration.

I think she would agree with me, that this illustrates the underlying power of BPW. We are a network of supportive & collaborative women who stand beside and behind each other as we find the courage to share our own stories.