As a child in a small rural village in Sierra Leone, Mariatu Kamara lived peacefully surrounded by family and friends. But when 12-year-old Mariatu set out for neighbouring village, she never arrived. Rebel soldiers attacked Mariatu and cut off both her hands. Mariatu miraculously survived and eventually moved to Toronto, Canada where she wrote the book “The Bite of the Mango”. Mariatu works for UNICEF as a Special Representative.
Major (retired) Deanna Brasseur holds the distinction of being one of the first two female CF-18 fighter pilots in the world and Canada’s first Aircraft Accident Investigator. In 1998 Deana made Maclean’s Annual Honour Roll for speaking out about the topic of rape and sexual abuse in the military, and the following year became a Member of the Order of Canada.
In addition to holding 10 Canadian Powerlifting records, Rhonda Heaslip has had three very successful careers: search and rescue airframe technician with the Canadian Armed Forces, a journeyman carpenter, and Realtor.
Rhonda began powerlifting at age 21, and two months later won a bronze medal at the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) in Boston. At the World Championships in Tokyo in 1995, she set new Canadian records and ranked fifth on the planet in her class.
At 36 she decided to retire, however, in 2009 while working out with a friend (also a champion powerlifter) the friend noticed Rhonda was breaking Canadian records at the gym and once again, Rhonda decided to re-enter the competitive arena at age 53. “I’m lifting what I did at age 36”, she says. “It keeps me physically youthful and mentally sharp like nothing else can. The sport teaches you the only person who can limit yourself is you.”
Over the weekend, Kim Conway received her prize from the Enbridge Famous 5 Speaker Series, a genuine silver tea set. Yay, Kim… and Go Oilers! :o) More contests to come We need and welcome more Fort McMurray and RMWB women to “Like” our Facebook page.
Check out some of our fun posts and photos at www.facebook.com/enbridgefamous5
2011 to 2012 was quite a year for The Fort McMurray Famous 5. Our third year, and to date, our most successful – most speaker events were sold out.
Question: What do the world’s first female fighter pilot, a Sierra Leone Civil war child survivor, a gold medal powerlifter, a CBC host & journalist and a singing sensation have in common?
Answer: The Fort McMurray Famous 5 Speaker Series!
Putting the speaker season together is always an interesting challenge, and after three years, I can honestly say, I never know which speaker will resonate the most profoundly with the audience. The message I do get though, is that each speaker resonates with someone and that sometimes it isn’t the speaker, but the discussions following the speaker that impact you, the audience.
I love running these events, for all the massive organization, planning, and endless details, it’s always a rush to see a crowded bustling room of excited women engaged, participating and interacting. On a personal note, it’s a thrill to meet the speakers and spend time with them. I learn something from every speaker and frequently there is an overall lesson that comes to me at the end of each season.
This season the “big” message was (from my time spent with these women over lunch and dinner) how turning 50 became a kind of rebirth. Despite their successes, 50 was a time these women could no longer ignore the strong under tide beckoning them to make drastic changes. Were they scared? Hell yes. Did they go ahead anyway? Absolutely!
For Deanna Brasseur, designing a limited edition coin, and establishing NLP training to assist Military with their healing from PTSD, has become her focus and drive. Rhonda Heaslip re-established herself as a 53-year-old powerlifter, who could not only complete with but surpass her younger self. Shelagh Rogers left CBC as a full-time employee. Although she continues her work as a freelancer host/journalist, she devotes endless hours to de-stigmatizing mental health and to promoting education in Aboriginal communities. For Heather Rankin, having come from a family of 12, going solo for her is both terrifying and exhilarating. By the way, March 30th was her first time as a keynote speaker.
Spending time with these women has brought about changes in my own life. After reading Deanna’s book “Achieve” I put myself on the 21-day positive mindset diet. I’m convinced this resulted in me being involved in a romantic partnership that is, a great fit and a gift. Although I’ve always followed a fitness routine, I asked Rhonda’s advice on starting a new program that would give maximum benefits for under an hour a day. I’m happy to report I love her recommendation of TRX (navy seal suspension fitness training, 30 minutes, 9 exercises!). Since turning 50 two years ago, I also can’t ignore the signs of rebirth and Shelagh, has offered me guidance and encouragement in career choices for the next decade of my work life. Heather –realized it’s her turn, to go solo. For me, it’s the opposite, after years of being solo, now it’s my turn to be in a partnership.
Whatever your age, you only get one turn. These heroic women are using their turn to follow their hearts and desires and in the process are making the world a kinder, more compassionate and definitely a more colourful place.
What is it your turn to do?