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Dear mental health, I’m sorry

I’m sorry.

I’m just starting to realize how important you are. You’re something that needs to be cared for, something that can’t be ignored. So, for all the times you cried out for help when you weren’t feeling well, and I ignored you, telling you to stop being so sensitive, I’m sorry.  For all the times I tried to hide you and pretend you don’t exist, I’m sorry. All the while, you sneaked into my bones and muscles, waiting to be heard. I get it! Physical pain is easier to listen to. But sometimes, you make it hard to get out of bed. Let’s not forget all those times you wouldn’t let me see my friends or family, because you just didn’t have the energy to converse and socialize.

The past few years have not been kind to me. Between drastic life changes, difficult relationships, and trying to understand my own personhood, I found it hard to be kind to you as well. I failed to listen when you told me how to feel. Pushing away feelings of stress and sadness is just easier for me. It’s only when you come at me with full force that I understand you’re something that I need to look after.

But it’s hard to understand where you’re coming from sometimes. It makes it difficult to talk to people about you for that reason. Are you acting up because it’s my time of month? Are you trying to tell me I have too much on my plate? Sorry, I don’t understand.

I fear my relationships will suffer because of you. If I don’t understand you’re not well, how could my loved ones? Multiple ‘bad days’ can kill the vibe, ruin a positive atmosphere. I’m sorry if I mask what you’re trying to tell me, in an attempt of keeping things light. Fun. I’m sorry that I downplay your sickness as another ‘bad day.’ It’s just easier. We don’t want people being more concerned than they should be, right? I hope you understand.

I’m sorry that we never had the chance to get that close. I’m sorry we don’t keep in touch. To be honest, you’re a little high maintenance. For you to feel better, a lot of actions have to be taken. Therapy is expensive. And yes, my job might be stressful – but it’s what puts money on the table. My friends and family may be difficult to interact with sometimes, but they care about me. It’s difficult to ask me to give up such important parts of my life for your own betterment.  I’m sorry you’re not a priority even though we both know you should be.

But I’ll try harder. The days you don’t feel well, I’ll try to listen. And when other people are talking about their own mental health, I’ll listen then too. When they don’t understand where you’re coming from, I’ll explain it to them. It’s time to start talking about you. Because you’re important. I realize that now.

Affordable housing to recieve billions in federal budget

The federal budget is taking affordable housing seriously, with a new National Housing Strategy that wants to tackle Canada’s housing crisis.

The 2017 budget proposes to spend $11.2 billion over 11 years and will build safe and affordable housing across the country. In cities with high prices and a severe lack of affordable housing, like Toronto and Vancouver, this funding cannot come soon enough. The government’s proposed housing fund will be run by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) — the country’s public insurance program for mortgages. The CMHC will receive $5 billion over 11 years to work on several projects related to housing. Another $3.2 billion will be dedicated to affordable housing specifically and will use a multilateral investment framework, relying on private and public funding to get affordable housing projects up and running across the country.

Out of the $11.2 billion, $3 billion will be spent in the next three years and $20 million for this year.

The money budgeted falls short of what the big city mayors caucus asked for at their meeting in late 2016. They asked for a pledge of $12.6 billion, spread over eight years to solve the affordable housing crisis that are growing in Canada’s largest cities. Toronto specifically has $2.6 billion in repairs needed for Toronto Community Housing units on the brink of being closed down.

Mayor John Tory is asking that the province pitch in to the housing fund as well and fill the gap that the federal government cannot commit to. Affordable housing in Toronto needs a huge investment to repair current community housing units as well as provide more. There are 82,414 households on the waitlist in the city, most consisting of families and seniors, and with rising house costs people are desperate for somewhere to live.

All three levels of government ultimately need to work together to tackle the affordable housing crises popping up across Canada. The National Housing Strategy is a brave step and the commitment of billions of dollars will make headway to giving vulnerable parts of the population somewhere safe and healthy to live. Without a home, it is nearly impossible to escape the throes of poverty — finally it seems that Canada is realizing the importance of shelter in the Great White North. Let’s hope that investment is maintained!

Investment in greenhouses is an environmental win for Ontario

Eating local produce is not only much more delicious, but a healthier alternative for the environment as well.

Earlier this week, Ontario launched the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative to fund $19 million into greenhouses to promote local and high quality produce in the province. The initiative will allow for the use of new and sustainable technologies and will encourage investments in greenhouse agriculture.

Ontario is the leader of greenhouses, currently contributing to over half of Canada’s greenhouse produce. The province is growing by 150 acres per year and continued investment in this form of agriculture has positive financial benefits for the future. Greenhouses are especially beneficial for sensitive crops that are susceptible to erratic weather patterns and a harsh climate — like the weather Ontario was subjected to this year. Continued investment in greenhouses allows Ontario to expand its local produce capacity and provide people with fresh, homegrown food.

Greenhouses are a sustainable and ‘green’ initiative because they allow carbon to be captured in a concentrated area with high density of green growth being grown inside of a structure. Greenhouses also open the doors for other innovative technologies such as solar-powered electricity and using recyclable materials to build (with the poly-tunnel as an example). Transporting produce locally also lowers carbon emissions because it doesn’t have to travel as far.

Overall, Ontario’s investment in greenhouses will benefit the green economy, provide more green jobs and the province will continue to be a national leader in promoting an environmentally-friendly agenda. By focusing heavily on innovation in the green sector, perhaps Canada stands a chance at actually meeting carbon targets in the future.

Jessa Crispin regains focus in new book “Why I Am Not A Feminist”

Feminism is the new black. And although that’s not necessarily a bad thing – not at all, actually – there are a few concerns with this not-so-new concept of women’s equality. Unfortunately, instead of a movement, feminism has largely become a brand, a buzzword albeit. And it’s being used on literally everything. Hats, sweaters, mugs, and even stickers for your laptop. Your laptop. So, it’s no surprise that the definition of feminism is losing its meaning between the merchandise and arguments between you and bae about ‘who pays for dinner’ next.

Nowadays, everyone is a feminist. Jessa Crispin, however, argues otherwise. In her new book, “Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto”, Crispin explains the importance of bringing back the true meaning of feminism.

Her inspiration behind the book was simple. After reading up on modern feminist writing over the past five years or so, Crispin claimed to be constantly filled with despair on the content of the writing. And with the ongoing issues around the world, including the rise of the far-right worldwide, mass deportations in America, the shutting down of abortion clinics, she noticed that feminist writing still continues to be mostly concerned with lifestyle choices and pop culture. And that’s not the main priority right now.

“It led to occasions where I had to scream into a pillow. So writing this book was just my way of doing something with that anger so I wasn’t overwhelmed by it anymore.”

“Why I Am Not a Feminist” reminds readers what feminism is really about. As a feminist, men and women should be fighting for the political, economic, and social equality between the sexes. A feminist should recognize that women are oppressed by complicated systems. A feminist should realize that the oppression of women is not limited to the wage gap in North American society, or the prevention of girl on girl hate, or on dress codes that dictate what women should or should not wear.

Upon first glance, one may come to the conclusion that the book is actually calling out ‘white feminism’ – a concept which has gotten an increased amount of attention in recent years. While not outright exclusive, white feminism is about the failure to consider the problems faced by the “average woman” who are often alienated due to their colour, sexuality, cultural practices, and religious beliefs.

Be careful though. It’s not. In fact, Crispin hates the term “white feminism” as she so boldly told Women’s Post.

“It doesn’t really convey the meaning it’s trying to. What it should be is “power feminism,” a kind of pro-woman stance that is interested in the amassing and holding of power. Yes, white women have the most power these days. But the problems related to power feminism — a kind of blind selfishness, a focus on individual success over societal reform, a value system based on money and power and greed — are problems with our whole culture.

Maybe just call it patriarchal feminism!

But yes, feminism has been blind for too long to issues of class and race and sexuality, and it has been reluctant to look at the times when feminism and feminist leaders were racist, homophobic, and xenophobic. You still see this nonsensical resistance to associating themselves with the trans advocacy movement because they can’t move past a biological view of gender, or their lack of empathy and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. And that’s a symptom of anxiety, that if they admit the humanity of other people — despite the fact that they themselves are begging to have their own humanity recognized — there won’t be enough attention for their own issues.

We’re all in this together. We are suffering under the same system. There has to be a solidarity that transcends race, sexuality, religion, class, and every other marker, so that we can fight effectively.”

So what exactly does Crispin hope you take away from her manifesto? Well, that’s not her job to figure out.

“I write the thing, then it’s up to people to manage their own responses. I’m not trying to abdicate responsibility for the work, I absolutely stand by it. But I don’t really have any expectation that this is going to change feminism. I think the best thing a writer can do is simply to write the material and then get out of the material’s way.”

She’s unapologetic. She’s pertinent. And her new book is a reflection of that. It’ll leave you feeling rather angry, and Crispin’s gallant, at times ranty way of explaining her point of view will only fuel this anger. This is not the type of book you’ll want to read with a cup of tea in your pajamas. It’s the type of book for when you’re looking for that extra jolt of passion required to seek the change you need.

Whether you agree with her views or not, readers should admire the Crispin for her unconventional, yet highly relevant, way of thinking. Essentially, “Why I Am Not a Feminist” is a not-so-friendly reminder that being a feminist isn’t just about wearing a “this is what a feminist looks like” shirt or about re-blogging a gif from a Taylor Swift interview on Tumblr. It’s about looking past that, and focusing on what is important to truly bring about the change towards equality.

“Why I Am Not a Feminist” is now available on Amazon!

What are your thoughts on the book? Let us know in the comments below! 

Canada budget 2017 highlights transit and housing

At 4 p.m. on March 22, the Government of Canada released their 2017 budget. As Canada celebrates it’s 150th anniversary, this budget, entitled “Building A Strong Middle Class”, is being described by many as uneventful and uninspiring. There was a lot of emphasis on innovation and skill training; but at the same time, little money was dedicated to facing new problems such as immigration, refugees, and post-secondary education.

The budget creates a deficit of about $29 billion for 2016/2017. The Liberals plan on reducing that deficit to about $14 billion by the end of their term.

The Liberal government says this budget was created under a gender-based analysis, meaning that all aspects within the budget, even those that don’t pertain to gender, were assessed based on the impact it would have on women. A gender statement within the budget makes reference to the still-high gender gap in Canada and the additional violence women experience on a regular basis.

“When making decisions that significantly affect peoples’ lives, governments must understand to what extent their policy choices will produce different outcomes for all people,” the gender-statement in the 2017 budget reads.

“A meaningful and transparent discussion around gender and other intersecting identities allows for a greater understanding of the challenges this country faces, and helps the Government make informed decisions to address those challenges—with better results for all Canadians.”

Here are some of the other highlights within the budget:

Transit: The government has dedicated $20.6 billion, spread out over the next 11 years, to public transportation projects. This funding will be used to cover up to 40 per cent of new subways and rail light lines — which is big for cities like Ottawa and Toronto that are in the middle of creating large integrated transit systems.

At the same time, the government is eliminating the public transit tax credit, which allows transit users to claim 15 per cent of what they pay.

Infrastructure: With the growth of the affordable housing crisis, the federal government has decided to invest $11.2 billion over 11 years for affordable housing. This money will be divided into a few different programs, including $225 million will go towards improving housing conditions for Indigenous Peoples not living on reserves.

Child Care: The Liberal government is going to spend $7 billion on childcare, creating about 400,000 new subsidized childcare spaces in the next three years. Parental leave has also been increased to 18 months, and expecting mothers can claim Employment Insurance benefits up to 12 weeks prior to giving birth — it used to be eight weeks.

Skills/Training: Innovation Canada will be receiving $950 million over five years to support innovators and to build “super-clusters”. The budget also agrees to allow those on Employment Insurance benefits to apply to go back to school or undertake training, something which was not possible in previous years.

 

Do you have an opinion on the 2017 budget? Let us know in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Sara L. Austin

Sara L. Austin has had a sweeping impact on children’s rights worldwide and has dedicated her life to helping kids. She is the founder and CEO of Children’s First Canada, a non-profit that focuses on educating the public and holding the government accountable regarding their policies on child poverty.

“People often ask me how I got started with this, I’ve worked with thousands of kids. I was a summer camp counsellor in Ontario and responsible to look after five or six year old kids. One of the kids told me she had been sexually abused by her stepfather and didn’t want to go home,” Austin said. “We called Children Aid’s Society and when they finally arrived, she held onto me. I had to let go and trust that we have a system that protects kids. I learned very early in life that lots of kids don’t get the start in life that they deserve. Whether as a parent or a citizen, we need to give children our very best.”

Austin launched Children’s First Canada in November 2016. “There is an idea that kids in Canada have the jackpot of life. Research shows though that we have millions of kids that are falling through the gaps. There are a lot of mental issues, and several children have experienced abuse or neglect,” Austin said. “We haven’t achieved any significant progress in child poverty over the past two decades so we are trying to build public awareness for change.”

Child poverty affects one in five children in Canada and one in three Canadian children have experienced abuse. One of the pillars of Children’s First Canada is to accomplish widespread public awareness and to have a significant impact on the media in educating people on the relevance of child poverty. “We are doing after-school programs or mentoring. We are bringing these organizations together to jointly advocate together and to bring forward solutions that are evidence based,” Austin said. “It is a combination of policy influence and advocacy to make a difference for children.”

Austin launched the non-profit in Calgary, motivated by the Children First Act, a provincial law in Alberta that protects children and is one of the strongest child protection acts in Canada. Her hope was to inspire the rest of the country to follow suit.  “I was inspired by the social innovation in the city of Calgary and the province of collective impact as well as the role of the private sector,” Austin said.

Previously, Austin worked at World Vision and held a number of positions including Director of the President’s Office and Policy Advisor for Child Rights and HIV/AIDS at World Vision Canada, Senior Advisor for Child Rights at World Vision International, and Manager of Operations at World Vision Thailand.  “I started researching children in South East Asia and I was directly interacting with children in prostitution and brutal child labour,” Austin said. “We can’t treat children as objects, they are experts in their own lives. They have their own views on how things can get better. It has been a consistent thread throughout my career.”

One of Austin’s proudest achievements was creating the ‘Optional Protocol’, an international UN law that allows a child, or an NGO, to act on behalf of the child to launch a complaint if their human rights aren’t being protected through international law. The protocol was passed in 2014. “The law had been discussed for children for decades, but it hadn’t been developed. That was what prompted me to do my master’s degree at Oxford University,” Austin said. “It was a bittersweet moment, but at the same time the Canadian government didn’t support it and still hasn’t signed onto the protocol. The new government has pledged to sign onto the protocol and we are following the government to hold them accountable.”

Along with helping children, Austin is also a huge advocate for women. She won the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) top 100 award in 2010 and also sits on the advisory board for the organization. “WXN celebrates women leaders across the country and their motto is ‘We inspire smart women to lead’,” Austin said. “They celebrate women from all walks of life. They provide mentorship opportunities as well.”

When Austin is taking a break from work, she loves to go skiing with her family and be out in nature. She also enjoys biking and hiking in Calgary. “Having a family keeps me grounded every day. I flew home and it was nice to come home to my own son and be reminded everyday how lucky I am to provide for and care for my own son,” Austin said.

Austin is a leader for advocacy relating to children and she teaches us how to stick up for the people who need us most. Her life-changing impact on an international and national level makes Canada a better place for kids to live in and gives public awareness to the fact that child poverty still exists today.

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Would you wear these clear panel mom jeans?

What has the fashion industry come to? I can sort of understand the distressed-jean look. The frayed-holes-in-the-thighs fad had a little potential in the rock and alternative rock era. But, and as much as I try to review fashion with an open mind,  even I can’t get past the newest denim craze — the clear panel mom jeans.

These retro-style high-waist cropped jeans have a clear plastic rectangle around the knee, allowing your friends, family, and strangers to admire that area of the female body that connects our calves to the rest of our legs. Because, apparently, that is cool.

Topshop clear panel mom jeans

 

This pant, which was released by Topshop, a British fashion retailer that provides clothing to Nordstrom and Hudson’s Bay in Canada, has become an overnight Internet sensation. People are responding with hilarious uses for these “knee windows”, such as using them as message boards or using them to avoid those pesky grass stains. A lot of people questioned the fact that these pants can be washed using a washing machine – but what would happen if you accidentally threw it in the dryer? Would your knee windows melt?

How does Topshop see these jeans? This is what it says on their website beneath a photo for these clear-panel creations: “Off-duty styling never looked so good. Crafted from pure cotton, our MOTO mom jeans come in authentic mid blue rigid-look denim. Cut with a high-waist and a tapered leg, they are finished with multiple pockets, classic trims and cool clear knee panel detail.”

And you can get them for the low-cost of $95!

I’ve stared at these pictures for a solid few hours now and I still don’t get it. Let’s look at the basic facts. The clear panelling disrupts the whole look of the jean. I also imagine they aren’t incredibly comfortable. Have you tried to wear something that is made of plastic? It sticks, makes funny sounds when you move, and is not exactly the most pliable of materials. What happens when you sweat? Topshop claims the paneling adds a “futuristic feel” to the pant, but let’s be real. In the future, I would hope people would be more creative then plastic knee windows.

If it’s meant to be a sexy thing, for people who don’t like the look of their calves but want to show off their awesome knees instead, I think it also fails. The knee isn’t exactly the most sensual part of the body. Yes, in some cases, it is considered one of the erogenous zones on the body, but it’s not going to do much for people simply to look at them, unless you are into that kind of thing.

Ultimately, I think this is an incredible waste of a hundred dollars. As a writer, I wish I had a better word to use than this, but, these jeans are just weird. Hopefully, this is a fad that will come and go. If not…I may have to avoid buying jeans altogether.

 

Do you like this new look? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Run With It clothing tips for novice runners and walkers

With spring just around the corner – Vancouverites are begging to retire their snow shovels – warmer temperatures can motivate some to take up running for the first time or inspire those determined souls who are trying to come back after a nagging injury.

Before starting a running program, it’s wise to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Your feet are essential to your well being and they deserve the very best that you can provide. If you’ve ever run in soaking wet, heavy, skin-chafing cotton, you’ll know the importance of choosing fabrics that are sweat wicking to help keep you dry and enhance performance while training.

Courtesy of Skechers Canada

Looking for something you can wear straight from a run to the office? Try Firma Energy active wear. Their stylish leggings are great for walking and the office. “Firma energy wear absorbs infrared waves that our bodies omit & re-emits them with far infrared waves , which penetrate the human body, increase blood circulation and stimulate muscle tissue to a depth of 5cm,” says owner Yvonne Hogenes.

Firma athletic-business wear. Photo Credit: Jeanette Brown

Here are the Top 5 Run With It clothing tips for participating in this year’s Vancouver Sun Run 10k, which annually attracts about 50,000 runners, mostly non-competitive; or any other event that may stoke your competitive spirit.

  1. Dress in layers. It is generally cool at the start of the run, so…. wear some clothes you can either throw away or give to someone to hold for awhile.
  2. Bring extra clothes for after the race to change into.
  3. Wear what you normally train in and are comfortable in for the race. New garments, especially socks, can sometimes chafe your skin. For best results, test run a pair of sweat wicking socks so you’ll know what to expect.
  4. Avoid cotton – wear lightweight, breathable sweat wicking fabrics to keep you dry and comfortable.
  5. Wear a runner’s cap to keep you dry and protect you from the sun.

Overall, these clothing tips will help keep you warm, comfortable and help you to perform at your best.

Courtesy of Skechers Canada

www.runwithit.ca
Twitter: @christineruns
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What is consent?

“A drunk can consent.” This statement was said by Judge Gregory Lenhan following a sexual assault trial in Halifax in which he acquitted a man who was practically caught red-handed trying to have sex with an unconscious woman in the back of his taxi. Those four words have caused a public outcry, and a petition signed by 34,000 people is circulating asking for an inquiry into the judge himself.

Apparently, this whole idea of consent is rather confusing. So confusing that a judge, a man that has dedicated his life to justice and the law, thinks that sexual assault is something that can be decided be given without actually being conscious.

I know — I don’t get it either.

To help, let’s actually define the term consent.

Consent, according to the Oxford dictionary, means to give “permission for something to happen.” In the case of a sexual relationship, both parties must clearly agree to a sexual act and each person has the right to say no. Consent should never be assumed or implied. Seems simple enough, right?

What people tend to forget is that consent is continually. At any point during a sexual encounter, a woman or a man may tell his or her partner to stop — and that partner MUST stop. That is the nature of consent.

Therefore, considering that very basic definition, a person who is incapacitated through alcohol or drugs cannot give true consent.

In the Halifax case, the woman was found unconscious in the vehicle vehicle. She was naked and the taxi driver was found stuffing her pants and underwear into the front seat of his car. His pants were undone. The woman had an alcohol level of 241 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. This would have severely impacted short-term and long-term memory. Staff at the bar where the woman was picked up said she was incredibly drunk and was turned away at the door. That is when she hailed a cab.

Did I mention that her DNA was found in the accused’s mouth?

All of those details together should have resulted in a guilty verdict. Instead, the judge said there was no way to know whether the woman gave consent prior to her losing consciousness, and therefore the man could not be found guilty.

In essence: “a drunk can consent.”

This verdict verges on the ridiculous and unbelievable — and yet, it does not shock me. It doesn’t shock me because, as a woman, I know the judiciary system is not on my side. I know that, in the event of an unwarranted and unsolicited sexual act, it will take even more persuasion to convince a police officer that it was not my fault. And that’s a real shame.

Using the above definition, it is clear, without a doubt, there was no continual consent in the Halifax case. Even if the woman in the taxi urged the driver to have sex with her, the fact that she was unconscious nullifies whatever consent was originally given. The consent, at that moment, cannot be continual as the woman is not awake to give it.

Let me run through a few other scenarios in which consent is implied, but not actually given:

  1. A woman dresses provocatively, and that implies she is “looking to get some.”
  2. A woman invites you into their house or hotel room following a date, she is implying she wants to have sex.
  3. A woman asks a man if he has a condom. He puts it on. That means that sex is inevitable and what happens afterward is a consequence of that act. No one is allowed to change his or her mind at that point.
  4. A woman is intoxicated and their judgement blurred. That means they are looking for a fun time.

In all of these scenarios, a woman – or a man for that matter – has the right to change their mind and say no. None of these acts should be able to prove consent in the court of law, as consent is continual.

However, in many of these situations, lines are blurred and the judiciary system falls on “implied consent” rather than actual consent. There is also a double standard when alcoholism is thrown into the mix. How many times have you heard the defence say the following: “He was drunk, he didn’t know what he was doing. Let’s not ruin the reputation of this person based on one stupid choice.” The accused is then acquitted. When a victim of sexual assault says they were drunk, it is used to imply guilt and irresponsibility. This should not be the norm in our judiciary system.

That simple four-word verdict “ a drunk can consent” shows an ignorant and naïve understanding of the term itself. I am absolutely distraught and offended that a judge, someone who is in a position of power to determine whether or not a victim of sexual assault was in fact a victim, thinks it’s okay to make such generalized and harmful statements like this one.

Canadian women deserve better. They deserve not to be discriminated against in the court of law. They deserve to feel safe — and this can’t happen unless everyone is taught the real meaning of consent.

Woman of the Week: Dr. Vicky Sharpe

Dr. Vicky Sharpe can claim something many professional women cannot: “I basically follow my passion.”

Sharpe sits on the following boards: QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems for Tomorrow), the Alberta Energy Corporation, Carbon Management Canada Inc., and the Temporal Power Ltd. She is also a director on the board of The Capital Markets Regulatory Authority. Sharpe’s goal is to use her background in microbiology and energy to help inspire sustainable practices and encourage funding and investment in clean technologies.

“Board work, in my view, is really rewarding — if you get on the board that is right for you. I wanted to try and create more change.”

Sharpe always had a passion for the outdoors, in particular for the microorganisms that connect it all. These “tiny little simple genetic organisms” could affect so much change. They could digest oils, or remove hydrogen from the air. It was this interest that led her down an impressive and fulfilling career path in sustainability and finance.

She began her career studying science in Bath, U.K. and took her PhD in microbiology, or more specifically surface chemistry as applied to water pollution, at Trent University in Nottingham. She originally moved to Canada because there were more opportunities for women in her field.

“It’s a male-dominated system. In the U.K., I took a higher degree, a PhD, because I knew if I wanted to compete with the men, I had to be more qualified. People forget how hard women worked at that time to be treated equally,” she says. “There were more opportunities for women [in Canada]. It’s more receptive.”

Sharpe began her illustrious career as VP of Ontario Hydro International Inc. She was responsible for a community-based conservation program that helped retrofit homes, commercial buildings, shopping centres, and hotels in a small town with energy efficient technologies. The idea was for Hydro to become as utility energy efficient as possible. “There was a 90 per cent uptake in people taking at least one product that would be beneficial,” she says. “That was the highest level of adoption by society of energy efficiency.”

While at Ontario Hydro, Sharpe was involved with Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). She would travel to schools and talk with kids between the ages of five and eight about careers in science and technology. She also informally mentors women and helps connect them to other decision-makers. “I actually have taken some heavy hits working to support employment equity,” she says. “At the time there was a lot of negativity about that [but] I integrate it into my life. I give them advice.  We all need help. I had great people who help me.”

One of Sharpe’s other big accomplishments is the founding of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an organization she helped run as CEO for 13 years. She describes the SDTC as an “unusual organization” that was created through an act of parliament as a response to the Canadian Climate Change Commitment in the late 1990s. Through this organization, she helped find and negotiate agreements with clean technology companies and start-ups. In total, she mobilized over $5 billion for clean tech companies in Canada.

“It’s so exciting to see these great Canadian companies growing and building, but now – I asked for this in 2006 — we need to get more capital to scale up these companies if we want to be world leading. We are still struggling with that. Investors tend to go with what they are used to.”

Throughout her experience and studies, Sharpe never had any formal training in terms of finances — yet now, she is one of the leading negotiators in the field. “I found I spend a large chunk of my life chasing money for these companies,” she says. “I just learnt it. If you are trying to persuade businesses to be more sustainable, they are designed to optimize financial returns. So if you are presenting opportunities, you have to take that into account.”

Sharpe has a variety of experience, but there is one commonality that drives her.  “I have to do something that does an impact,” she says.  She won the Purvis Memorial Award in 2016, which is given to those who have made a major contribution to development and strategies in Canadian industry or academia in the field of chemistry.

In the little free time she has, Sharpe does a lot of travelling. Sometimes it is to visit family in the U.K., and other times it’s to better understand a global issue or to use her skills as an amateur wildlife photographer. Travelling and reading helps her reconnect with her love of nature and the environment, and revitalizes her passion for the topic.

“Climate change is in the background and it’s a critical thing to deal with. It’s a threat. I … promote a better understanding of what this is and what it means to people’s lives, both business and personal, and try to influence it for the better because as a society. I don’t think we’ve embraced the positive angles of sustainability,” she says.

“But, when you want people to do stuff, you have to be able to help them do it. There are great Canadian technologies for those who want to build sustainability. They are carrying the torch.”