The Weyburn Oilwomen Association (WOW) want to grow and expand with their activities in the community, including supporting organizations that support their values and beliefs, and directly support females.
The Oilwomen held their inaugural WOW luncheon on Friday at Southeast College, featuring an address by Carmen Sterling, reeve for the RM of Weyburn, who spoke about how she has been able to make a contribution as a woman at municipal politics at the local and provincial levels.
“We wanted to be more of a female service club to Weyburn and area, and we thought of doing fundraising and selling new memberships. It was just something we had started as a group of women in the community,” said Jordan Szczecinski.
“Members may want to volunteer their time and look for new ways for us to expand our reach within the community,” added Abby Kradovill, who noted they had some good feedback from events like the golf tournament in June, and are looking for more feedback, such as from the luncheon.
The Oilwomen have a fundraising event coming up, the Duelling Pianos, following up on the success of their first event last year. The pianists, Burn N’ Mahn, will be featured in a show on Saturday, Nov. 24 at the Legion Hall. The cost will be $85 per person or $650 for a table, with supper and entertainment included.
The Oilwomen provide scholarships at Southeast College, and will be offering one also to a graduate of the Weyburn Comprehensive School. They also support a number of organizations, particularly those that support females, such as Envision Counselling, the Salvation Army, Family Place’s Festival of Trees, JumpStart, Weyburn Hospital Foundation, and the Weyburn Police Association.
In her speech to the Oilwomen, Sterling noted she never thought while growing up that she would ever end up in municipal politics, but as the wife of a farmer and mother of two daughters, she felt she wanted to step up to help make things better in the RM.
She was first elected as a councillor at the age of 29 for Division 2, later stepping up as the reeve when that position opened up. She was supported in these positions both by her family and by her employers, at first Scotiabank and later the Royal Bank.
At the time she became reeve, she was touted as one of the youngest reeves in the province, and in her involvement at SARM (Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities), she found she was also one of the few women involved on an RM council, and at the time, the only woman reeve.
Sterling has learned many lessons in her years on council, and she has taken her involvement up a notch as she was elected as vice-president of SARM at the provincial level.
She’s also learned that it’s important for a councillor to be prepared for council meetings, and that as a councillor they need to be flexible when dealing with the requests and needs of ratepayers in the municipality.
One example of a long-term project she has helped work on with council were changes and upgrades to the RM’s zoning bylaw, which she termed as “a living document” as there are always ongoing changes and improvements being made to it.
“You have to have an open mind and be willing to see other’s positions. Former mayor Deb Button and I disagreed with each other on a number of issues, but we both had the same reason, of working for what we thought was best for our community,” said Sterling, adding there were times when she and Button had to say that they agreed to disagree on a given issue.
She said with the knowledge and expertise of staff available to the council, she doesn’t need to be an expert or to know everything about the needs of a municipality.
“I don’t have to know how to run a grader, but I do have to have a high level of information so the people who work for us can do their job,” she said.
It’s important for her to be prepared on issues for when they come up at council or at SARM, and commented, “Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. It also means coming to meetings prepared. Things have really evolved, and the digital world has geared up so we can have information all the time, and we can do our research. You do a disservice if you don’t come prepared.”
Sterling also said that in the workplace women should be strong and self-confident in their abilities.
“Be yourself, and don’t ever apologize for who you are,” she said, adding that she also believes in being direct, even though she has been called “bossy” as a result.
“Over the years, I’ve decided if what I’m doing is for the betterment of my community and I’ve been respectful, then call me bossy or something else. It’s my community that benefits.”
Sterling said she not only wants to serve the community in her capacity as a politician, but on a personal level she wants to be a good example for her two daughters, for whatever they want to do in their lives.
She urged anyone who has any interest in serving the community to step up and take a risk, and share their ideas and abilities in a way that will help people in the community or in their organization.