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Izena banner2021 marks a major milestone for Edmonton. It’s been a century since the first woman – Izena Ross – was elected to Edmonton City Council. Since 1921, only 30 women have followed in her footsteps. And only one woman has ever reached the mayor’s chair.

YWCA Edmonton and Parity YEG have spearheaded a year-long project launching today called Searching for Izena: 100 Years of Female Leadership At Edmonton City Hall.

The campaign, which has been funded by the Edmonton Community Foundation, will commemorate this important centennial and is anchored by a nine-part podcast being released monthly until the municipal election in October. Several virtual events, including panel discussions, are also being organized.

Beyond telling the stories of Edmonton’s 31 female councillors, the campaign will also explore the barriers left to break, including the fact our city has never elected a woman of colour to serve at city hall. We will also investigate why so few women have served our community. In comparison, 238 men have been elected to council since Edmonton was incorporated in 1892.

At the end of the campaign, our volunteer group is planning to leave a historical document to give back to the city; most of this information has never been collected before. For example, it took us months to even find an original photo of Izena. We are ecstatic that Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton Heritage Council and several current and former Edmonton City Councillors are helping us with the research.

Many thanks to YWCA Edmonton Board Members Lisa Holmes and Sandra Muchekeza and YWCA Staff Members Katherine O’Neill, Amber Niemeier, Christine-McCourt-Reid and Hibo Mohamed for serving on the project steering committee; they have brought so much passion, creativity and energy to the campaign. We also have close to a dozen YWCA Edmonton volunteers helping with research and marketing initiatives; it’s been a great way to engage them during a pandemic.

To find the ‘Searching For Izena’ podcast, search wherever you find your podcasts, including Apple, Spotify and Podbean. You can find all the podcast links and information here:  https://www.ywcaofedmonton.org/podcast/

Please contact us if you’d like to get involved. All are welcome! For more information about the ‘Searching For Izena’ campaign, head to: searchingforizena.com

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