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St. Mary’s Council backs women’s leadership school

SHERBROOKE – St. Mary’s Council voted this week to cover the cost of two area delegates to a women’s political conference in Port Hawkesbury this spring.

The motion sets aside up to $250 per person for incidental expenses related to participation in a two-day “Leadership School” in Port Hawkesbury in early May for women interested in becoming involved in local government.

St. Mary’s Councilor Kaytland Smith made the presentation on behalf of 

Government FOCUS, whose core members include 20 women (including herself and other councilors, wardens, mayors, band leaders and unelected officials) from 16 municipalities and First Nations in Cape Breton-Unama’ki and Strait Region, and Guysborough and Antigonish Counties.

Although the fundraising goal is to raise enough money to defray the costs – including childcare, course materials, and registration fees – of attendance for four women from each of the 16 communities, Smith noted St. Mary’s Council support demonstrates its belief in the initiative’s value. “This is more about seeing the need and the benefit of having better and more equal representation for women in local politics and governance than it is about the money,” she said.

In her presentation, Smith pointed out that while local governments affect everyday lives more directly than their provincial and federal counterparts, women hold only 32 of 131 municipal and band council seats in eastern Nova Scotia. 

The Leadership School’s (May 1-2) specific purpose is to increase the number of elected females to that regions’ Mi’kmaw First Nation and Municipal Councils by providing ongoing engagement, educational materials and opportunities for women interested in local government, and to support to those who actually decide to throw their hats into the political ring with practical advice about running for office.

St. Mary’s Warden Michael Mosher said council was impressed by the presentation and agreed, “it’s a great initiative. . .A lot of effort and time has gone into this. We are more than glad to help.”

No other significant business was on the agenda.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal