A message from Chief Stuebing on International Women's Day
Sunday, March 8 , 2020, is International Women’s Day. I want to take this time to acknowledge, celebrate and thank all the women that make HRFE one of the greatest fire departments in Canada.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” HRFE is committed to recognizing the generations who helped get HRFE to where we are today, and this includes the incredible women in the workplace today. The significance of the dedication and perseverance of these women is a tremendous source of pride.
Our rich history includes many talented women. It is shaped by contributions dating back as far as 1943 when three African Nova Scotian women served on The Halifax Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Platoon 7 in Halifax’s North End.
In the 1980s and 90s, Debbie Gaudet and Sam Meehan became the first career female firefighters hired in Dartmouth and Halifax. Also during this time, Shawna Hiltz became the first female dispatcher, and Julie Vials joined as the first female volunteer firefighter from Windsor-Junction/Fall River.
Recently, we have celebrated new milestones such as welcoming Natasha Prest who is the first career African Nova Scotian female firefighter, first African Nova Scotian female Fire Prevention Officer and soon to be Captain and the leadership of Assistant Chief Nadya-Lyse Paré and Assistant Chief Erica Fleck.
The stories of these women are a reminder that the foundations of HRFE include the remarkable contributions of women despite the challenges and systemic barriers that have been recognized by this organization.
I want to reiterate the importance this leadership team places on improving the diversity and inclusiveness of our department. We know that we can only realize our full potential when we better reflect the community we serve.
We are mindful of the obstacles that women face to full participation in all workplaces, particularly those that are traditionally male-dominated. We are working every day to promote equality by supporting innovative initiatives such as Camp Courage, founded in 2006 by Captain Andréa Speranza, to encourage girls and women aspiring to careers as first responders.
We are also identifying and reducing barriers to equity and inclusion through our recruitment and outreach activities, station renovations, training, uniforms and workplace culture. These improvements will help us become a standout leader in the Fire Services in Canada and beyond.
To celebrate this day, we would like to thank each woman who has contributed to HRFE. We are grateful to the generations of trailblazing women who have shaped our history and are working to realize women’s rights every day. Thank you to the women working and volunteering in all aspects of HRFE.
From myself and the Fire Strategic team, we salute you and those that came before you. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for women’s equality.