NightShift founder MaryAnne Connor answers questions from Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt Friday, during the #Pressforprogress event at Morgan Creek Golf Course March 9. (Tracy Holmes photo)

‘We should be building a world that welcomes everybody’

#PressForProgress event held Friday in South Surrey

Dozens of women from around the Semiahmoo Peninsula – and a few men – gathered at Morgan Creek Golf Course Friday to hear from three of their own who are striving to make a difference on a grander scale.

The event, dubbed #PressForProgress, was organized by Surrey South Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux to mark International Women’s Day.

It was “an opportunity to reflect on what more there is to do, worldwide,” Cadieux told the crowd.

“There is still lots more to do. We need to always be cognizant of that, and always be pressing for progress.”

Cadieux – who last week introduced a bill aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women – and fellow MLAs Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Cloverdale) and Tracy Redies (Surrey-White Rock) each interviewed one woman for the event: MaryAnne Connor, found of NightShift Street Ministries, was Hunt’s guest; Manjeet Ghangass, from Self Advocates of Semiahmoo, was interviewed by Redies; and Taylor Byrom, of TaylorHart.Designs, chatted with Cadieux.

Each shared a similar message.

Connor, who has been advocating for the homeless in Whalley since 2004, spoke of determination:

“You just don’t give up,” she said. “Every single challenge that I have encountered in my life has moulded me to the person I am today.

“Never give up, because, to me, that’s failure.”

Ghangass – recently recognized for graduating from SFU Surrey’s Envision Financial Community Leaders Igniting Change program – told the crowd how she is a bigger, better, bolder version of the person she was in high school. She spoke of the importance of people with disabilities being able to make their own choices, and not feel pressured to do things other people want them to do.

She also said she strives to be a rebel.

“If you’re being seen as a drama queen, you’re being seen as weak,” Ghangass said. “A rebel is seen as mature, independent, strong.”

Byrom said the goal of her fashion line – developed for children with complex-care needs – “is that everyone is equal.”

“That should be the goal in life, too, shouldn’t it? Why should we pick apart the differences?”

In closing, Cadieux emphasized the importance of looking for similarities, not differences.

“We should be building a world that welcomes everybody,” she said.

Other attendees included BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, Fleetwood-Port Kells Liberal MP Ken Hardie and the Conservative candidate in last December’s federal byelection, Kerry-Lynne Findlay.

The #PressForProgress event, in its fifth year, was also a fundraiser for White Rock-based Avalon Recovery Society, which supports women who are recovering from addiction.

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Entrepreneur Taylor Strom chats with Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux during the #Pressforprogress event at Morgan Creek Golf Course March 9. (Tracy Holmes photo)

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