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Six photos showing the people participating in the article, under the title International Women's Day.
International Women’s Day is March 8. This year’s theme is “Inspire Inclusion.”
March 8, 2024

Valuing women’s experiences today, and every day

International Women’s Day calls us all to work towards a world free from discrimination, bias and stereotypes. This year’s theme is “Inspire Inclusion” so we invited nominees for the 2023 HHS Pat Mandy Inclusion Award to share their thoughts about International Women’s Day, inclusion, and working at Hamilton Health Sciences.


Karli Bourque headshot

Karli Bourque

Therapeutic Recreationist, Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre

For me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of the women in my life who have helped shape me into the professional I am today. It is a chance to reflect on the both visible and invisible workload that many women carry in order to lift up those around them, and use their determination as inspiration on my own journey throughout life. Historically the efforts of women have been overlooked, and their contributions have been minimalized, this day is an opportunity to bring women and the work they do, not only professionally but personally, to the forefront, and value them.

As women, our ideas and opinions are valued as equal to the others within the room.

As a Therapeutic Recreationist, inclusion is ingrained in my way of thinking. I look at both professional and personal situations with a reflective lens, using empathy to gain an understanding from the other individual’s perspective. Creating spaces, programs, and even conversations with accessibility and access as drivers has a benefit to all, and that’s what I try my best to do. This year, I have also become an EDI champion for my team. This allows me to meet with other EDI champions throughout all of HHS, and attend guest speakers and training opportunities that will help me understand and be more proactive in how I approach inclusion in my life.

We all have a unique lens and experience of life that we bring with us when we go into work, and being able to have a work environment that values the stories and perspectives of their employees is why I think HHS is a great place to work. As women, our ideas and opinions are valued as equal to the others within the room, and our suggestions and contributions have been, and will continue to be responsible for change. And HHS is striving to ensure safety and support for individuals of all genders and identities, and that is what I value most. That as an individual, regardless of gender, you are valued, and you are heard.

Dr. Nidhi Luthra

Clinical Psychologist, Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre

We are celebrating women’s strength, resilience and compassion that builds and nurtures the fabric of our families, culture and society. In my day-to-day work, I am quite fortunate to be able to collaborate with patients’ mothers, grandmothers, aunties and friends as well as cutting-edge researchers, clinicians, technicians and staff coming from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

This day is about honouring these women who balance multitudes of personal and professional roles each day, including those who manage households to make it possible for their families to achieve their dreams. I would not be where I am today without my mom’s unconditional support.

I have constantly strived to understand each child and family within the context of their own intersectionalities.

During my five years as a psychologist at HHS I have constantly strived to understand each child and family within the context of their own intersectionalities of language, culture, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. I have served as a co-chair of an Inclusion and Anti-Racism working group of psychology staff at MCH for the past two years.

Since 2022, I have also been the lead psychologist for a multidisciplinary Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) assessment clinic that is a partnership between HHS and De Dwa Da Dehs Nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre. We work to increase access to developmental and mental health services for Indigenous families. I have immersed myself in learning about Indigenous culture, history and practices with a goal to collaborate and provide culturally safe health care.

At HHS, I have been repeatedly amazed by the compassion, empathy and collegial support that I have received from my colleagues and leaders during challenging times. There is a real sense of community where women are champions for each other’s goals and for maintaining a good work-life balance. I feel safe, supported and heard. My voice as a woman of colour is being heard more as EDI initiatives are being implemented across HHS.

Sarah Rashid

Social Worker, Pediatric and Adult Hemoglobinopathy, McMaster Children’s Hospital

International Women’s Day is a day to provide recognition to women’s contributions to our everyday life, society and world. Women continue to be left out of spaces and continue to have their voices silenced. The day is a reminder about why our systems and spaces need to change in order for women to continue to be empowered and heard, and for women to be present.

International Women’s Day is a good reminder for us all how far things have come, and how we still have much more work to do.

When a day exists to celebrate one particular thing, it is because that particular thing has been underrepresented in everyday life. International Women’s Day is a good reminder for us all how far things have come, and how we still have much more work to do.

I inspire inclusion in my work at HHS by advocating and working towards making health care a safer space for racialized patients. I work primarily with racialized pediatric and adult patients and their families, and many of the racialized women I support have experienced trauma from the health care system.

Racialized women’s pain, medical needs and health are often not taken seriously, and this must change. Racialized women should feel heard, listened to and respected within the health care system. As a biracial woman working in health care, I see how structural racism within health care impacts racialized women, and I recognize my privilege in being able to support and advocate for racialized women within our corporation.

At HHS, there is a strong presence of women in leadership and throughout the organization. HHS is committed to change, and I am hopeful that as the corporation continues to be accountable and continues to work on having a workforce that represents the patient population, there will be ongoing opportunities to build relationships, community and diversity for women who work at HHS.

Elizabeth Snow

Social Worker, Cardiac & Rehabilitation, Hamilton General Hospital

Some days I feel empowered as a woman and I see all the wonderful diversity in the world and so this day can feel like any other. Other days, I am bombarded by how much misogyny and hatred still exists in our world and so this day can feel like a much-needed beacon of hope. There are so many women’s rights being challenged, and often eroded, that it can feel difficult to celebrate. However, I also know that it continues to be so very important that we do celebrate this day because the days that feel like any other are due, in part, to days such as these.

This is also a day that I will think of my Mom, who passed away in 2023.  My Mom is the most inspirational woman I know as her independence, integrity and care empowered me to be the person I am today.

This day can feel like a much-needed beacon of hope.

My coworkers nominated me for the Pat Mandy Inclusion Award and it is this team of amazing women that I want to highlight here as they all deserve recognition. Aly, Dawn, Jess, Monica, Oriana and Stacey, all from the cardiac health and rehabilitation team, thank you for how your patient care and care to those around you shows how inclusive you are of the diverse needs of others.

The way you go above and beyond for our patients to meet all their needs helps empower our patients to recover in all aspects of their lives. And the way you strive to find your own work/life balance, and support the rest of your team to do so, shows how inclusive you are of your team’s needs.

April Terreau

Investigations specialist HR Labour Relations, King West administration

International Women’s Day holds deep significance for me, especially in today’s challenging times where women’s rights face increasing threats. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of women while also acknowledging the work that still needs to be done, particularly in supporting marginalized groups such as trans-women. Our trans-women need more support and love. It’s exhausting to need IWD and I’m also glad we have it.

I strive to inspire inclusion by fostering a culture of acceptance and challenging systemic biases.

In my role at HHS and in my personal life, I strive to inspire inclusion by fostering a culture of acceptance and challenging systemic biases. At HHS, it’s literally my job to investigate gender discrimination and racial discrimination workplace issues and work towards systemic change. I recognize that I’m white in my privilege and I have my own internal patriarchy but I’m still uncovering that work in myself. I try to live my personal life by meeting people exactly where they are. I see your beauty however you show it. Love is a function of acceptance.

I love that HHS is committed to turning the ship around. The hospital is investing in teams to stand up for change and make a real difference. I feel that HHS is really taking the whole EDI space seriously and putting their money where their mouth is, expanding the teams to root out problems and prevent them from happening in the first place. It’s not just a tick-box. We’re having the tough conversations and measuring the results of our programs. The fact that we’re having those conversations is inspiring.

Stephanie Tibelius

Dietician, Children’s Exercise & Nutrition Centre, McMaster Children’s Hospital

IWD provides such an amazing opportunity to highlight all women and the contributions they are making. There are so many exceptional women in our community and I love learning about their experiences and the work they are doing. For me, IWD creates a positive space for those identifying as women to support each other and to experience support from everyone around them. The day feels like a celebration for how far we have come as well as an important day for advocacy as women around the world are still fighting for equality.

I think HHS is committed to creating a safe and equitable workplace for everyone.

I am committed to ongoing learning about the principles of EDI. Alongside my colleagues, we engage our clinic in regular EDI learnings as well. I participate in the Pride Affinity group at HHS and am an EDI Champion. I also have a passion for food sovereignty and food access. Along with many HHS colleagues, we launched a Food Pantry pilot program at McMaster Children’s Hospital to support families experiencing food insecurity in 2023.

In my personal life, my wife and I run a homestead business which includes community fundraising. Our homestead is an opportunity to be present as women in agriculture as well as queer representation in the rural community.

I think HHS is committed to creating a safe and equitable workplace for everyone. I see this in the creation of the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Rights team and the involvement of EDI Champions across major areas of program change and development.