March 2, 2020

The Future (of City Building) is Female


Women are now more than ever leading, collaborating and driving change in their communities. Whether through elected positions in municipal politics or leading civic-minded organizations and projects behind-the-scenes, women are shaping the future of Canada’s communities and cities across the country.

Here are seven women who are inspiring us:

Kluane Adamek – Whitehorse, YK

As the first female Regional Chief on the National Assembly of First Nations, Kluane has been representing the 14 Yukon First Nations since 2018. She is also weaving a sense of belonging into her community and others in northern Canada through Our Voices, a collective of young Indigenous leaders committed to working with youth to inspire, engage, and uphold a thriving culture. As the co-founder and co-chair, Kluane is creating a space to engage and inspire youth, to let them know that they matter and are important to their community now, and for its future.

She inspired us last year at the Future Cities Summit 2019 with her Message from the Future which envisioned a future where small and large communities in the Yukon were leading the way in solar energy, a model of success for large urban centres.

Jeny Matthews-Thusoo – Calgary, Alberta

As Program Lead of Resilient Calgary, Jeny is striving for a truly inclusive City of Calgary. That means making sure that all members of the community are not just being heard, but are in positions of leadership and in charge of decision making. Last year, Jeny initiated the Inclusive Collaboration Circles that ensures community members with different cultural, ethnic, racial, socio-economic backgrounds and experiences were properly engaged and purposefully involved in this project. She held discussion groups and consultations with community members, with varying living experiences, including youth and seniors, immigrants, Indigenous groups, members of the LGBTQ community, as well as people living with disabilities, in racialized communities or in low-income neighbourhoods. This innovative aspect to resiliency planning is a leading example of the importance of looking at a city holistically to ensure it can withstand future economic, environmental and social shocks and stresses.

Stephanie Cook – Opaskwayak Cree First Nation, Manitoba

What began as a pilot project of seven plants has grown into a project providing fresh produce to over 125 families. As lead of Operations for the Opaskwayak Cree First Nation’s vertical, LED vegetable farm, Stephanie has created the Nation’s first year-round farm that now counts 75 plants and yields yield seven crops every year. For members of Stephanie’s community, this access to affordable produce during all seasons, not just summer or fall, is life-changing. Just like many northern communities, food insecurity permeates the Opaskwayak Cree First Nation, and over the years, the lack of access to nourishing foods resulted in high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and shorter life expectancies than the rest of the population.

Since then, many people in her own community have started their own plots or community gardens, and now, other northern communities are looking to the Opaskwayak Cree First Nation’s farm as an inspiration to grow their own food, and build a healthier community.

Valerie Plante – Montreal, QC

Since being elected as Montreal’s first female mayor (in 375 years), Valerie Plante has working to build a city that is liveable for all Montrealers.Valerie is raising the bar for what ambitious city building can look like, especially when it comes to affordability and environmental sustainability. In the City’s 2020 Operating Budget, we see this ambition quite clearly – the City of Montreal will build 12,000 affordable family dwelling units by the end of 2020, will integrate 2,000 new electric bikes to its already existing network, will be zero-waste by 2030, and will develop Canada’s largest urban park, spanning 1,600 hectares.

Laurie Guthrie, Kim Nash-McKinley, Melissa Lunney – Fredericton, NB

Meet three women that have joined forces to create a more accessible, welcoming and supportive city of Federicton. Through the Smart Fredericton project, Kim Nash-McKinley, the Director of Economic of Economic Development of St, Mary’s First Nation, Laurie Guthrie, the Smart City Manager for the City of Fredericton and Melissa Lunney, the CEO of Appdigenous, the City of Fredericton & St. Mary’s First Nation are connecting individuals to what they need most through personalized digital tools, data and technology to improve their day to day quality of life. This work is centered on empowerment and inclusion, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable – older adults, youth, newcomers, those experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness.

The collaboration has resulted in five projects: Digital Fredericton, Doorable, Road Home Digital Platform, Non-Profit Data Collaboration and a Digital Community Hub. Kim, Laurie and Melissa’s work has built the foundation for a smart, healthy community that will recognize, connect and enable residents across generations and cultures.

Finding this resource useful?

We’ve got hundreds more toolkits, videos, podcasts and reports available for free. Simply register now and you’ll get full access to our library of world class city building resources.