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Celebrate International Day of the Girl

Whistler event features writer Elizabeth Renzetti alongside a panel of local teens on Oct. 13

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Whistler has had, and continues to have, an impressive number of women in leadership roles.

At one point in recent years, women held the positions of mayor, fire chief, head of the Chamber of Commerce and head of Tourism Whistler, to name just a few.

That's just one of the realities that has shaped the way girls in this community see their role in society, says Ayden Kristmanson.

"Girls my age don't realize we're in this bubble with women surrounding us," she says. "It's not like that everywhere ... Since we're such a small community, you're doing things with boys—playing soccer, biking. Girls in Whistler are used to being alongside boys; we feel we're exactly the same."

That's the perspective Kristmanson, a Grade 12 Whistler student, will bring when she sits on the panel as part of the celebration for Whistler's International Day of the Girl, this year partnering with the Whistler Writers Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

She and Sidney Sponer, a student from Quest University, as well as local high school student Sophie Saint Jaques, will take the stage to speak with humourist writer and Globe and Mail reporter, Elizabeth Renzetti, whose latest book is a collection of essays called Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls.

The theme of the annual event this year is "Dropping The 'F' Bomb," which is aiming to look at "why we all need to re-claim feminism."

"I was talking about it with my friends a bit; when we hear the word 'feminism,' we don't look at it as negative," Kristmanson says. "Some people see it as negative, but for us, it's mostly that we support women's rights, we support each other, we fight for what's right for both genders. It's a positive thing now."

For her part, Renzetti says she's looking forward to fielding questions from the girls at the event. "I think it's useful if you can actually talk about girls' lives and have them speak up," she says. "At this event, I'd prefer not to talk so much myself, but hear what they have to say. That's the much more crucial thing."

While she's been writing about feminist issues for decades, Renzetti gleaned fresh inspiration for Shrewed from covering the 2016 presidential election in the U.S., and noticing the misogyny that surrounded it.

"Like a lot of journalists, I was blind to the reality of what was going on in the U.S.," she says. "I thought Hillary Clinton would be elected and there'd be a female president. I talked to both supporters in the U.S. and what I should've heard because people said it to me, was the depth of animosity people had—including women—when talking about Hillary Clinton."

But the backlash to that misogyny and the feminist movements that have emerged since then, have prompted her to feel optimistic, she adds.

"We all have days we feel optimistic and pessimistic," she says. "I do believe what Martin Luther King said, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice,' that's very true. It needs vigilance and support and people coming forward and being brave and other people supporting them."

Whistler's Celebration of International Day of the Girl takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13. Doors are at 5:30 p.m. and the show is at 6 p.m. The event is open to ages 12 and up. Tickets are $10 at ticketzone.com/dayofthegirl2018.

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