Founder, My Halifax Experience and My East Coast Experience
Welcome to the 10th issue of My Halifax Experience.
It hardly seems possible, but here we are in our third year of publication. When I first started thinking about this magazine, I was looking for ways to celebrate the successes of immigrants and newcomers to Halifax. I wanted to give them a forum to not only see themselves in a mainstream publication, but to share their stories with readers who might not otherwise hear them.
Since then, our mandate has expanded. My Halifax Experience now focuses attention on obstacles faced by immigrants, newcomers, and international students, and tells stories of resilience and triumph. It also challenges readers to confront their biases and create a more inclusive and diverse city and region, one that welcomes what we all have to offer.
A pinnacle of my time publishing this magazine has been our Top 25 Immigrants in the Maritimes Awards and Gala. It was this awards program that highlighted the need for our expansion into New Brunswick and PEI with our newly launched My East Coast Experience sister brand. Nominations are already open for the 2018 Awards and Gala! Visit our refreshed website at myeastcoastexperience.com to see what we’re up to and submit your nomination.
You might be wondering why we’ve chosen to highlight immigrant women of influence in our 10th issue. It’s simple. One of the keys to strengthening the economic and social fabric of this region is diversifying who gets a seat at the table. I’m talking about immigrants, African Nova Scotians, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups. And I’m particularly passionate about the role of women in the vibrant future of this city and this region.
For our economy to grow and thrive—and be sustainable—we can’t afford to leave anyone behind or squander any of the incredible talents, skills, and knowledge that are all around us. And at this moment in history, we can’t level the playing field without looking at the underrepresentation and under-compensation of women in the corridors of power.
In 2012, there were almost a million self-employed women in Canada, and 47 per cent of all SMEs in this country were entirely or partly owned by women. Sixty-two per cent of university graduates are women—and for 30 years more than half of the university graduates in Canada have been women. Yet women still earn approximately 70 cents on the dollar relative to men, and they occupy only five per cent of CEO roles and 17 per cent of board positions.
This has to change, and it has to change starting today.
Gender equity is everyone’s responsibility. And one thing My Halifax Experience can do, right now, is feature five superbly accomplished women immigrants in the pages of our 10th issue.
We’re very proud to feature Jennifer Gillivan, President and CEO of the IWK Foundation; Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, President and CEO of Digital Nova Scotia; the Honourable Lena Metlege Diab, MLA for Halifax Armdale, Minister of Immigration, and Minister of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie; Ann Divine, Founder and CEO of Ashanti Leadership; and Rafah DiCostanzo, MLA for Clayton Park West.
Each of these women has generously submitted their own thoughts and words, and I think what they have to say—about diversity, about unconscious bias, about leadership, and about women supporting one another—is essential reading for anyone serious about making this city the best it can be.