Searching for Izena Summit

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Edmonton Public Library - Stanley A. Milner Library (Downtown)

7 Sir Winston Churchill Square

Edmonton, AB T5J 2V4

Canada

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The Searching for Izena Summit will commemorate 100 years of female leadership on Edmonton City Council.

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The Searching for Izena Summit

The Searching For Izena Summit is a free community gathering to celebrate and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first woman (Izena Ross) being elected to Edmonton City Council in 1921. This historic event organized by YWCA Edmonton and Parity YEG will highlight the history of female leadership at Edmonton City Hall and also shine a bright light on the pressing work left to do to achieve lasting gender parity and increased diversity on council. Only 31 women have ever been elected to Edmonton City Council compared to 258 men. Just one woman has reached the mayor’s chair. Zero women of colour or Indigenous women have won at the municipal ballot box in Edmonton.

A highlight of the Searching For Izena Summit will be a live recording of the ninth and final instalment of the “Searching For Izena: ‘Unwomanly’ Stories of Female Leadership at Edmonton City Hall” podcast. Podcast co-hosts Stacey Brotzel and Kim-Ann Wilson will interview Searching For Izena Project co-chairs, YWCA Edmonton CEO Katherine O’Neill and Parity YEG Vice Chair Research Rajah Maggay, about the project’s findings and legacy. Other podcast guests include:

  • Jan Reimer; a former two-term Edmonton councillor and Edmonton’s first – and only – female mayor
  • Bev Esslinger; a current two-term Edmonton councillor
  • Nafisa Bowen; a former municipal candidate and one of only 21 women of colour to seek public office in Edmonton before 2021.

There will be a reception following the program. Guests will also be able to view a special exhibit of items and photos from numerous female Edmonton councillors who served over the past 100 years. While the event is free, please register early because seating is limited. The Searching For Summit has been made possible thanks to the generous support of: City of Edmonton, Edmonton Community Foundation, Edmonton Heritage Council, Edmonton Public Library, the Italian Centre, the Bridal Boutique and The Adams Agency.

WHERE: Stanley A. Milner Library (Third Floor); 7 Sir Winston Churchill Square

WHEN: Sunday, December 12, 2021; 1:30-3:30 p.m.

About The Searching For Izena Project

2021 marks a major milestone for Edmonton. It has been a century since the first woman was elected to Edmonton City Council. Her name? Izena Ross.

For more than a year, the Searching for Izena Project has scoured the city archives and Internet to discover information on this trailblazer. Unfortunately, the story of the “housewife” turned “alderman” was mostly unknown - beyond a few news clippings, and only a small Edmonton park named in her honour, her legacy has largely been lost to history.

Leading up to the municipal election in October 2021, the Searching for Izena Project’s goal was to commemorate Izena, uncover her story and advocate for female leadership and gender parity at Edmonton City Hall. Since Izena’s historical win 100 years ago, only 30 women have followed in her footsteps. Only one woman has ever reached the mayor’s chair and the one and only time there was ever gender parity at Edmonton City Hall was 32 years ago.

The project, which is powered by dozens of volunteers from across Edmonton, highlights how these female political trailblazers helped shape and build Alberta’s capital city. It also shines a light on political barriers that still haven’t been broken – even in 2021, including the fact that zero women of colour or Indigenous women have ever been elected. The highlight of the city-wide campaign organized by YWCA Edmonton and Parity YEG is a nine-part podcast called Searching for Izena: ‘Unwomanly’ Stories of Female Leadership at Edmonton City Hall. Co-hosted by Stacey Brotzel and Kim-Ann Wilson, the monthly podcast has been an unflinching, honest and colourful account of the past century and the role women played at Edmonton City Hall. For more information about the Searching For Izena Project, head to searchingforizena.com

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Date and time

Location

Edmonton Public Library - Stanley A. Milner Library (Downtown)

7 Sir Winston Churchill Square

Edmonton, AB T5J 2V4

Canada

View Map

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Organizer YWCA Edmonton

Organizer of Searching for Izena Summit

YWCA Edmonton is powerful voice for equity and has been leading social change and progress for women and families in the Edmonton region since 1907. Part of an international movement, YWCA Edmonton is a trusted provider of services, programs and advocacy work that transforms lives and helps build a stronger, healthier, and equitable community for all.

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