Verdi Club celebrates International Women’s Day

By Joel Charron

The 5th Annual International Women’s Day Celebration had it all.

Inspiring woman, soothing music, delightful entertainment and belly dancers.

Roughly 250 women filled the Verdi Club banquet hall for an afternoon celebration of women.

Guests were entertained by soloists Lisa Deneau and Delainie Brown and young violinists Lauren and Joshua Vitella.

The Verdi Club’s 5th Annual International Women’s Day celebration started off with an introduction of what was to come during the program and ended with a standing ovation.

Delainie Brown entertained the crowd with her delightful voice.

Barb Dupont, mother of murdered nurse Lori  Dupont and an integral part of a group of women, who got Bill 168 passed, was given a standing ovation. The ovation by 250 attendees was not only for her words, but also for the endless hours of hard work and perseverance on Bill 168 – workplace harassment and violence.

Tears rolled down women’s faces, as Dupont stated the number of years, months and days that had passed since her daughter and Amherstburg resident Lori Dupont was killed at work.

Dupont worked very closely with Inquest Action Group to make Bill 168 a reality.

“Bill 168 holds a special significance to me and the women of the Inquest Action Group holds a special place in my heart,” said Dupont.

Dupont said her and the Inquest Action Group had to “learn a lot, the hard way” before Bill 168 was passed.

“A bill must pass three readings before it receives royal assent and becomes law,” said Dupont.

Bill 168 failed seven times during previous attempts.

Dupont said they started their campaign to pass the bill in January 2008.

“We met with numerous MPP’s to lobby for changes, we presented our views which had to be backed up with facts and figures,” she said.

In April 2009, a year and a half after the information of the Inquest Action Group, Bill 168 was introduced into the legislature for the first reading, The Minister of Labour, Peter Fonseca introduced the bill.

In October 2009, Bill 168 passed the second reading, which was followed by presentations being submitted by Dupont’s family and the Inquest Action Group in November 2009.

“On Dec. 15 2009 Bill 168 passed the third reading and received royal assent in the legislator,” said Dupont.

Bill 168 came into effect June 15, 2010.

“Fourteen years and 13 days after the workplace murder of Theresa Vince and four years, seven months and three days after the workplace murder of Lori Dupont,” she explained. “Many years of hard work went into making this bill possible.”

Dupont called the women of the Inquest Action Group “remarkable.” Stating that it was their support that kept her going at times where she felt “utterly defeated and drained.”

“It’s just amazing what women can do when they come together and have a goal,” said Dupont.

Sarah Watson, wife of Essex MP Jeff Watson outlined two organizations that women can join in order to help women and children around the world: Compassion Canada and Watoto Canada.

Sarah Watson's mesage was insightful and inspiring

“We can make and are making a difference, as a nation and as individuals,” said Watson. “We have helped Afghanistan escape a Taliban regime that oppressed women and girls.”

Watson said under the old Taliban regime girls were not allowed to attend school. However, that is no longer the case. Today, over two million Afghan girls now attend school.

“We know by our own experience how education opens doors,” said Watson.

Watson challenged the attendees by encouraging them to sponsor a child through Compassion Canada.

“Child sponsorship is one of the easiest ways to directly impact and improve the life of a little girl,” said Watson.

Watson said her family sponsors three children from different parts of the world.

“Children who come through these types of programs are equipped to break the cycle of poverty in their family and we truly know through letter exchanges that we have changed a life,” said Watson.

The other organization is Watoto Canada, which funds a program “Living Hope” aimed at restoring dignity to vulnerable women.

The program focuses on women living with HIV/AIDS, as well as, women who have been disfigured and shunned by their villages.

Project: Living Hope provides reconstructive surgery to women, education in a trade and provides small loans to start businesses in order for them to be able to begin a new life.

“On this International Women’s Day let’s not forget those less fortunate,” said Watson. “Use your power to change a life.”

Director of the Hiatus House, Genevieve Isshak also spoke to the guests.

Hiatus House is a social service agency offering confidential intervention for families experiencing domestic violence. The shelter has 26 rooms providing 42 beds for abused women and their children. The shelter is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hiatus House has been servicing Windsor/Essex County since 1976.

According to Isshak, Hiatus House admitted 270 women this past fiscal year, as well as, 259 children. Hiatus House is currently housing 20 women and 18 children.

“A lot of women who come to the shelter feel safe for the first time when they walk in our doors,” said Isshak. “It takes a strong woman to endure the abuse that some of these women have experienced.

Hiatus House is equipped with 27 cameras and bulletproof windows.

“Our goal is to help women create violent free lives and rebuild their strength,” Isshak said.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Pat Simone said the committee was very happy with the turnout, despite the weather not cooperating the night before. The Committee consisted of Chairperson Anna Rosso, Livia Cerasa, Emma DiPasquale, Betty Federico, Donna Tontodonati, Mary Conte, Anna Donatucci, and Pat Simone.

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