City councilor Jo-Anne Gignac see’s the city as a place of opportunity for women despite a recent study naming Windsor ‘the worst place in Canada to be a women.’
Gignac is a lifelong riverside resident within the city, and has seen a multitude of successes before representing ward five on city council in 2003.
She first served the community at the school board level by becoming a trustee for the public school board in 1988. This later sparked her interest into taking a higher position within the institution. Later, in 1992 Gignac was elected to the position of chair for the public school board where she would serve until 2000.
“I didn’t realize till the night of the election when the press came up to congratulate me that I found out I was the first female chairperson for the public school board — I was astonished that I was the first one,” said Gignac. “However at the time there were three other women with me on the school board so I certainly always felt that I was qualified to be there.”
Likewise, when Gignac was first elected to council there sat three other women with her such as the former councilor of ward two, Caroline Postma. Currently, Gignac is the only woman on city council, yet she doesn’t believe that this is any reflection of Windsor’s job economy for women.
The study by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives referenced Gignac as being the only women on council, and attributed that factor to Windsor placing last in female leadership.
However, she attributes any misconception of Windsor’s lack of female representation in the workforce to its manufacturing roots, which have previously been dominated by men.
“I’m not going to try and analyze why the institute took the position it did on Windsor, but I know this — I’m lucky to live in Windsor. I’ve had magnificent opportunities that I’m extremely grateful for,” said Gignac. “I know by a far shot Windsor is not the worse place to be a women it’s probably one of the best places to live in the world, and I’ve had some opportunities to travel worldwide.”
She mentions that along with herself there are a plethora of high profile successful women in the city, such as the head of Hospice, Carol Derbyshire, or the CEO of Edwin Utilities, Helga Ridel.
“We have a female head of Hotel Dieu Grace hospital, a female director of education for our city and the county,” said Gignac. “I think the role models are in place for young women — they can certainly look towards Windsor, and they’re going to find women who are in critically important positions not only in the city but in their respective fields.”
Gignac failed a multitude of times before reaching her goals in the workforce. But she attributes her mindset on work to her parents and grandmother who always encouraged her to participate in activities that bettered her community.
“I dont think its hard for anyone to become successful however i will say this there are failures and along the the way I think you have to be realistic and understand your work experience is comprised of a lot of things, said Gignac.”
Even though the study conducted by the CCPA ranked Windsor in last place for leadership gignac prescribes that failure is something to be expected and that overcoming failures will see success for both men and women.
“To the young girls pursuing their dreams, never let someone tell you not to do something because it’s complicated or you might fail. Be prepared to fail it’s part of the learning experience and move on from that,” said Gignac.
Check out Gignac below.