The sound of confetti canons launching colourful paper streamers inside a Regina Atlas Hotel banquet room Monday night was a symbol of history in the making.
It was a small celebration, as mayor-elect Sandra Masters heard the news that she will become the first woman elected mayor since Regina became a city more than a century ago.
“I keep saying that I just live my life. I am who I am and when I set my sights on something I go forward and I do it,” Master said in her acceptance speech at city hall on Monday evening.
“You know it doesn’t occur to my (three) sons a woman wouldn’t be a leader. It doesn’t occur to my daughter this isn’t exactly where I shouldn’t be at this time. But the feedback I get from other parents is one of deep appreciation for representation.”
With nearly half the seats on city council now held by women, incoming Ward 8 councillor Shanon Zachidniak said it’s a welcome change.
“I think it’s past time for us to have more women in elected positions,” Zachidniak said.
“I’d like to see more diversity across the board, cultural diversity, people of diverse backgrounds. I think it’s the beginning of a new trend of better representation on council of the city that we are actually representing and I think that’s positive all the way around.”
But with the city 117 years old, many are asking why it’s taken so long for Regina to see it’s first woman elected mayor.
“It’s one of those things where representation matters and if you don’t see yourself in the leadership of your community you don’t necessarily see yourself as somebody who would want to join,” said policy strategist, Winter Fedyk.
Ahead of the provincial election at the end of October, Fedyk launched the website Women for Saskatchewan on Oct. 1, which provided a platform for women’s voices.
Fedyk said while they are taking a bit of break right now, there is a lot of interest in keeping it going.
“We wanted to provide a platform for women to have a safe space to put forward some of their ideas and policies in a way that was non-partisan,” Fedyk said.
Meanwhile, when it comes to governing, Fedyk said while women don’t necessarily govern differently than men, women by nature tend to be more collaborative versus competitive.
“If you read about why women don’t run, it’s because the competitive nature of politics has an influence,” Fedyk said.
“So think with that collaborative nature, especially on city council, it will service well particularly in this era that we are in with this public health crisis. I think we need leaders who are willing to talk to other people, to learn and to bridge those gaps.”
With more women elected to power, including America’s first woman vice-president, Kamala Harris, it’s a momentum growing here at home.
“To keep the momentum going, people actually have to see that it has an impact in terms of how your city, or your province, or your country is governed when you elect a woman,” Fedyk said.
“I’m hopeful that Mayor Masters will take the opportunity to differentiate herself very quickly on that front and put forward some of those ideas, or those policies, or just the way of doing business, that will really demonstrate the value of having a woman mayor. I think that’s what will encourage people in the future to continue to support women in their runs, or run themselves.”
Even though the dust from the election has barely settled, the eyes of younger generations are watching, as women continue to break barriers and change the face of politics.
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