Bridge to Gender Equality Project Summit at Sparkling Hill Resort


Photo credit: Minted Photography


Blog post by Maya Kanigan, Women in Leadership Foundation, Founder & President.


Earlier this month, the Women in Leadership Foundation held a Summit at Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, BC to bring together 20 leaders from across the country for our Bridge to Gender Equality Project to take steps to advance gender equality.


Our Summit participants included EDI experts, industry/employer members, and community members; our Women and Gender Equality Program Officer; and our WIL team. We are a diverse group who are all connected through a shared purpose. I am deeply honoured to have had this opportunity to work with these amazing leaders and would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone for their valuable time, thoughtful contributions, conversations, and amazing energy that made the Summit exceed our expectations on many levels. The Women in Leadership Foundation acknowledges the financial support of Women and Gender Equality Canada to make this Summit and project possible.


To launch our Summit, Denise Young, our Project Lead and Facilitator, had us start in circle. Many thanks to Sxwpilemaat Siyam, aka Chief Leanne Joe and Tim Manuel, Chief Leanne’s husband, who led our opening with sacred words of wisdom and set our intention to focusing on our work that we were about to embark on together and how we are creating the foundation for the next generation. Tim shared a historical perspective about the Okanagan Syilx People and the land.


Our main Summit objective: to provide space and time for advisory committee members to develop draft work on priority themes to break barriers to gender equality. In addition to the group work on the gender equality priority themes and presentations, Chief Leanne Joe also shared an overview of the Indigenous Leadership Circle Project and the important work, which she led. Here is the report:

Indigenous Leadership Circle Report (English)

Indigenous Leadership Circle Report (French)


And Betty Mutwiri, Founder & CEO, BM Leadership Coaching and Consulting, facilitated a transformational leadership workshop for us, entitled “Flourishing Leadership”. Thank you, Chief Leanne and Betty, for your workshop facilitation.


And WIL’s Bridge Project Team – with special heartfelt thanks to Denise Young who facilitated the two days of the summit with empathy, fun, and inclusivity and lead the pre-work content to get us there; Michelle Negreiff who flawlessly executed the Summit coordination with amazing work ethic that always kept us on track, combined with wisdom and heart, and Annabella Feeny, our newest team member who recently joined WIL on the project (days before the summit), and jumped right in as needed! Huge thanks to you all - I am deeply grateful to work alongside each of you.


It was intentional to set the location as Sparkling Hill Resort – an amazing destination featuring Canada’s only luxury spa. While I may live only 1 hour away, I, like many of us, find it challenging to make myself a priority. And I saw this as an opportunity to combine passion work with leisure time for everyone at a time when we all incredibly busy, we wear many hats, and when wellness is paramount. While working to make a difference is my purpose; it means much to me be there for my daughter in the future to see the change. The luxury spa was a rejuvenating experience in the healing waters “KurSpa”.


Here is a quote from a journal that my 11-year-old daughter gave me; it is something I treasure and write daily in:


Kindness is golden

Protect your peace

Make yourself a priority

See the good

Be kind to yourself; it takes time

There is beauty in simplicity

Small steps everyday.


(journal from Indigo)


She is so wise and I love how writing in this journal each day connects with my purpose and keeps me going when sometimes the task at hand may seem overwhelming, all it takes is small steps everyday.


Learn more about the Bridge to Gender Equality Project here.




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