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Arts & Culture(Archives)


Fort McMurray Famous Five

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Four Years of Inspiration and Motivation for Women Leaders

What do the Premier of Alberta, the world’s first female fighter pilot, an infamous humanitarian journalist and a Grammy award-winning singing sensation have in common?



The Fort McMurray Famous 5 Speakers Series has been running for four years in our fair city, and is part of a national Famous 5 Speakers Series, with branches in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.

Our mission is to guarantee women’s voices will be heard and celebrated, so that acts of courage continue in the legacy of the Famous 5 – the five courageous, idealistic Canadian women who stepped forward onto the world stage in 1929, to challenge laws and convention to insist that women were indeed “persons,” thus resulting in women having the right to vote.

Nancy Vonk, the co-creator of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, Susan Aglukark, singer/songwriter and Shelagh Rogers, CBC host/journalist are some of the renowned Famous 5 speakers who came to Fort McMurray to share their stories of leadership from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Although we can’t predict which speaker will be the most popular, we do know that each speaker resonates with someone and sometimes it isn’t the speaker, but the discussions, following the speaker, that impact the audience.

Case in point with the following speakers:

Deanna Brasseur is one of the world’s first female fighter pilots. The tremendous focus required to fly at speeds of 250 km/hour with pinpoint accuracy didn’t surprise me about her; the surprise came from how despite 25 years of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including abuse, Brasseur maintained her unshakable focus on her goal of becoming a fighter pilot.

And then there is Amanda Lindhout. Most Canadians are familiar with her story. Kidnapped in Somalia, she was held in captivity for 16 months. Upon her release, she was unrecognizable even to herself; missing hair, teeth, fingernails, and toenails from the beatings and starvation.. Her family was left bankrupt from selling everything they owned to pay the ransom. The story in itself is remarkable, but more remarkable, even inconceivable, is how she has chosen to forgive her captors and turn her experiences into an opportunity to start organizations that provide scholarships and microenterprise funding to Somali women.

How about our 17-year-old veteran of the country and western stage, Danielle Lowe? Who sees music as a powerful force that feeds her soul and has the ability to heal others? Her question “what’s your passion, and what are you doing about it?” had a profound effect on the audience.

Premier Alison Redford’s talk contained a strong message for society to create an environment of leaders and for each of us to know that as individuals we all have the ability to be leaders. Her personal examples of her mother and grandmother were a surprising and very human touch that resonated with the audience.

Whatever your age, occupation, or talents, you have a voice. These heroic women are using their voice to follow their hearts and desires, while providing inspiration and motivation to the Fort McMurray audience. Come out and be inspired, share your voices with the Fort McMurray community. Events happen five times a year at MacDonald Island Park. For more information visit: