'It's a really powerful feeling': 2 Regina-area women in NYC for UN Commission on the Status of Women

Kendra Strong-Garcia and Patricia Thomson will speak at a panel on rural and Indigenous women’s leadership and community development at the Commission.

Kendra Strong-Garcia, Patricia Thomson will speak at panel discussion

Patricia Thomson (left) and Kendra Strong-Garcia are in New York City for the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. (Submitted by Kendra Strong-Garcia)

Two community workers — one from Carry the Kettle First Nation and one from Regina — are in New York City attending the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Kendra Strong-Garcia is the senior director of programs for Regina's YWCA and Patricia Thomson is the executive director for the Cowessess First Nation. Both say they are proud to be representing their communities at the Commission.

"It's been an amazing experience and a bit humbling in knowing that we're surrounded by so many women leaders from around the world and listening to their stories and listening to their struggles but also listening to the hope they create," Thomson said.

Strong-Garcia said the experience is motivating her to think bigger.

"It's a really powerful feeling to know that we're part of this large-scale Commission and coming together with women all around the world who are discussing issues and are relevant and important to their communities but on a world scale," she said.

Empowering women

This session's theme is: "Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls." 

Strong-Garcia and Thomson will be speaking to that theme Wednesday. Strong-Garcia's work with the YWCA has led her to interact with many young women whom she hopes to empower to make decisions that are right for them.

During the panel discussion, she said she will talk about "the potential that they have, the importance of instilling confidence in the young girls and empowering them to make healthy decisions about relationships, their body and moving forward to be the next generation of leaders."

Patricia Thomson (far left) and Kendra Strong-Garcia (second from left) are speaking at the Commission Wednesday. (Submitted by Kendra Strong-Garcia)

Thomson said her focus will be on sharing how her connection to her culture has made it possible for her to become a leader in her community.

"What I want to be able to share with Indigenous women all over the place, especially in Saskatchewan, is how much my culture played a part in where I am today," she said.

She said that connection to the land, her culture and family created a space for her to make good decisions and take advantage of opportunities that were presented to her.

"I give credit to my grandparents and my parents for supporting me and providing me with that cultural basis that made a huge difference for me."

The Commission runs until March 23.

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition