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A woman's touch

Jessica Gray
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 15/06) - Whether it's providing training and leadership opportunities or organizing awareness campaigns, the Status of Women Council of the NWT always has women's rights in mind.

"We're aiming for equality for all women," said Sharon Thomas, the council's executive director.

This year, the council is looking forward to providing two new programs under its umbrella - the family violence demonstration project and the women in mining, oil, and gas program in partnership with Aurora College.

The first involves having NWT communities brainstorm ideas about how best to prevent family violence where they live.

The council plans to look at the proposals and then work with communities for three years to help them achieve their goals.

"It's a community project. Evaluation is a big part of the project," said Thomas.

The second is the creation of a women-only trades program at the Yellowknife and Fort Smith Aurora College campuses. Right now, Thomas said there are a few budget changes that need to be made, but there seems to be a lot of support for this type of program, and approval could come as soon as January.

"Electrical, welding and carpentry," are some of the trades Thomas said may be part of the program.

The council was formed in 1990 under the NWT Status of Women Council Act and is funded by the government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).

The council receives funding for four permanent positions. For 2006/2007, $333,000 was set aside for the council by the territorial government - up $15,000 from the year before.

The body is responsible for giving out the Wise Women Awards every year to recognize women for their achievements in communities across the North.

This year's winners are: Marie Speakman from Yellowknife, Eileen M. Koe of from Fort McPherson, Tina Marie Gargan in Fort Providence, Laura Lennie from Tulita and Louise Fraser of Fort Smith.

The organization is directed by a board appointed by the GNWT minister responsible for the Status of Women.

The board members are: Lynn Brooks and Patsi Lamouelle from Yellowknife, Lorayne Menicoche-Moses in Fort Simpson, Betty Tetso from Deline, Therese Dollie Simon of Fort Resolution, and Gerri Sharpe-Staples from Inuvik.

There can be up to nine members selected for the board of directors.

A territorial women's conference is in the works, scheduled for Feb. 9 to 11, 2007.

Organizers plan to hold the conference at the Explorer Hotel.

The draft agenda lists several workshops and guest speakers dealing with a variety of topics specifically geared to women and women's groups.

- This is the second story in a seven-part series examining NWT advocacy groups and institutions dedicated to women and families. Part three will appear in Friday's newspaper.