Women’s History Month - How our team members credit the women in their lives for making them who they are today
October is Women’s History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and girls throughout our history and recognize those who are making an impact today.
As part of this celebration, we’re spotlighting some of our incredible team members who are making their history possible, every single day.
These are Denise, Samantha, Janice and Cheryl’s stories.
Born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Denise comes from a long line of strong women. “My mother raised me to be resilient,” she says. “She learned that from her mother, my Nanny Christie, who learned through her mother, and who learned the same through hers.”
She credits her mother’s kind, caring and hard-working nature as a defining factor of who she is today. “She taught me to work hard and to take pride in the work I do, but most importantly, she taught me to be kind, loving, supportive and compassionate. Those traits have become my superpowers, and I owe that to her.”
As a child, she recalls watching her mother work as a house cleaner while raising a family. Though she had little support, she filled their home with love.
For Denise, reflecting on Women’s History means acknowledging how far we’ve come and where we still need to go. “Women’s voices need to be at every decision-making table, and we’re not there yet,” she shared.
Today, Denise is helping shape the next generation of girls and children in her free time, as a volunteer at a paediatric hospice where she visits with children with life limiting illnesses. “These kids are such a joy and the time spent with them is light and fun and full of laughs, and it’s always something to look forward to.”
Through these efforts and more, Denise looks forward to a future where women are empowered to make their goals, possible.
As a first generation Guyanese-American and newcomer to Canada, Samantha has forged her own path, both in her personal and professional lives.
While attending Stephens College, the second oldest women’s college in the United States, Samantha surrounded herself with talented and intelligent women who continuously strived to push the boundaries of what was considered “acceptable” for women and absorbed herself into women’s history.
“I studied female authors I didn’t know existed because they published under male pseudonyms and I read historical research on important female figures, none of which were taught anywhere else. It became clear: HIStory has been missing HERstory.”
More than anything, it’s the women in her life who have been her greatest sources of inspiration. From her grandmothers who overcame tremendous personal struggles, to her mother who taught herself genetics after her teacher told her that “girls don’t need science”, the women in her life have laid the foundation of Samantha’s outlook on life and female empowerment.
Now, Samantha is shining the light forward, as a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Her “little sister”, Zorianna, whom was only 6 years old when they first met, is now 22 years old and pursuing post-graduate education while working night shifts as a patient care technician in hopes of becoming a nurse.
“On the days I’m tired or feeling like what I do won’t make a difference, I think about all the times in my career I’ve been the only woman at the table. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and get back to the hard, real work of driving change.”
Like Denise and Samantha, Janice credits who she is today to her mother, Rosemarie, who passed away from ovarian cancer when Janice was 17. “She was kind, thoughtful and treated everyone with the same level of love and respect,” she said. “I will forever be inspired by her strength and the impression she left on everyone that had the pleasure to experience her.”
It was the memory of her mother’s strength that carried through to Janice, when she herself battled with a rare type of Lymphoma in her adulthood. “I kicked cancer straight to the curb with a bald head and bright red lips! I never gave it power, I never looked back and I met every day with an attitude to win.”
For Janice, Women’s History Month is an especially important time to recognize the role that so many women in her life have played, and how she can continue to be there for others.
“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to reflect on the women that have offered guidance and protection along the way. The women who have helped define the woman I am today. It’s a chance for me to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of who I am as a woman.”
Through all of this, Janice has embraced her challenges, and shares gratitude for all the little things in her life. “I am thankful for my struggles because, without them, I would never have stumbled upon my strengths,” she shared. “Life is great. Live it, celebrate it and love it with all you’ve got! That’s me in a nutshell.”
As the youngest sibling of 3 women, Cheryl truly values the meaning of family. “Family bond for us is everything. I’m Filipino and I come from a very big family where weekly get togethers and potlucks were a regular occurrence,” she shared.
Following in the footsteps of her mother’s passion for baking, Cheryl and her eldest sister co-own The Creative Cakery Bake Shoppe, a business they’ve been running for 10 years. Alongside baking, Cheryl is a classically trained pianist, hula dancer as well as an active volunteer.
“It’s important for me that my kids understand that they are privileged to have the life that we do, so we do what we can to volunteer inside and outside of our community.”
Be it donating toys and essentials to children in the community or participating in a food drive, every year they find an opportunity to give back. “One of the biggest goals I have as a mother is to raise my kids to be genuinely good people with kind hearts and it’s a big deal for me to lead by example,” Cheryl says.
In particular, she highlights her mother, who left her home in the Philippines at just age 24, as a prominent female figure in her life. “I cannot fathom what it took for her to leave the only home she has ever known to move to the other side of the world where she had nothing, no sense of home, no safety net – only the dream of a more prosperous life for her family,” she further explained.
Cheryl aims to inspire the future generation of women wherever she can. Here at Rogers, she sits on Rogers Women of Colour committee, as Creative and Branding Lead and is also part of Rogers Mentoring Program.
For Cheryl, Women’s History Month means honouring the women in her family, each and every day; Honouring her mother’s strength in overcoming cancer twice, her grandmother’s palpable warmth, her sisters and cousins who double as best friends and her aunts who feel like second mothers.
As a mother herself, she hopes to instill the same kindness and generosity she experienced as a child, in her children. “If they live that in everything they do, then hopefully it will spread and they will touch lives of countless amounts of people and implore them to do the same.”