Canadian Federation of University Women hold conversation with recently appointed female senator from Orangeville

October 29, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By August Bettinelli

The local sector of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) recently held a discussion with Orangeville native Karen Sorenson, regarding her appointment to the Senate of Canada, in celebration of Persons Day (Oct. 20)

The conversation with Sorenson is part of the CFUW Orangeville and District’s Women’s Speaker Series, which took place last Wednesday, and saw Sorenson take questions from women in politics from her hometown.

Sorenson, three-term mayor of and twice re-elected councillor of Banff, Alberta; was a resident of Orangeville as a child, and is an alumni of Princess Elizabeth Public School and Orangeville District Secondary School.

She is a mother and wife among many other influential titles, and emphasizes that her family will always “come first”.

Sorenson applied to the senate around two years ago, and on July 23 of 2021, Prime Minister Trudeau called Sorenson, offering her a seat in the senate.

Returning from a trip to Vancouver, she was in the car with her husband when she got the call, and describes how she was “ continually punching [her] husband’s right arm out of just pure excitement.”

“I continue to have a desire to make a difference, and not from the cheap seats either, but at the table, not because I’m a woman, but because I can contribute vision, skills, knowledge, perspective, and ideas,” Sorenson says. “I don’t consider myself a female senator – I’m a Senator.”

On top of her political career, Sorenson is a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the 2019 Woman of Distinction Award, along with the Alberta Centennial Award.

During her appearance on the local CFUW’s women speaker series, she highlights gender based discrimination, but preferred to focus on positivity and emphasize why women should have “seats at the table”.

“Neurons from one side of a woman’s brain travel to the other side 5-10 per cent faster than men, so women can absorb and process new information faster, and therefore learn faster. Women have better people skills because of their emotional development, stronger empathy, more eye contact, and communicative talents. So, women tend to make friends in more places and build relationships easier,” says Sorenson.

“Additionally, women are more verbal than men, and we reaped the benefits of advanced speaking skills. Women are also naturally inquisitive, and we are not afraid to ask questions. I believe many of our successes or failures are based on the questions that we asked early on. And also, women tend to be more active listeners, which of course is a key component of an effective conversation.”

Meeting with panel-members Lisa Post, Laura Campbell, Debbie Sherwood and Jenni Le Forestier, all local political figures and activists, the women discussed ventures, mostly environment based, illustrating Sorenson’s commitment to the people.

She mentioned several lessons she learned, during her conversation with the CFUW Orangeville and District.

The first being that “gender doesn’t matter”.

Being a mother, Sorenson indicates that there are always questions put on women, who also have a family life, that go into politics.

Also, she notes that “regardless of gender, our generation, race, religion, income, or number of years of residency; many people feel they are not only entitled, but more entitled than the person beside them”.

Essentially, no matter what, you’ll always end up dealing with people that will give you a hard time; which leads to her next advice: be authentic.

“Being you is a distinct competition advancement,” she says, further detailing how authenticity isn’t a common trait, and those who can display this trait are considered more attractive; in all aspects.

This, along with being confident – Karen’s next piece of advice – will help an individual to reach their goals.

She discusses confidence, and how it can make an impact on your audience.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” says Sorenson.

Adding, that people shouldn’t avoid these traits due to their idea of what others will think, as well as urging women, and everyone else, not to “shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort”.

Furthermore, she encourages building relationships with others, along with having the prospect to “create other leaders, mentor, engage, be available and approachable”.

Sorenson also notes that we should not be shutting down young girls for being too bossy or outspoken, instead encourage them to further develop leadership skills.

“In my experience, females still seem to lack confidence, relatively speaking. We need our daughters to continue to be encouraged, in fact, expected to lead. If you know a little girl who some say she’s bossy. You go tell her that she has great leadership skills,” she says.

Meanwhile, Sorenson’s accomplishments and dedication are deserving of recognition, and from Orangeville, all the way to her current residence of Banff, Alberta, the communities are lucky to know an individual who will continue to push for change and make an impact on those around her.

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