The second annual Nicola Valley Women’s Fair took place on Saturday (March 18), attracting hundreds of local women and other community members for a day of celebrating, honouring, and recognizing women. 

The theme for this year’s fair was “Women Inspiring Women,” which was apparent through the plethora of resource tables and meaningful conversations that took place in the Merritt Civic Centre. The event featured 42 tables with different community organizations and resources, three workshops, and childcare for any attending mothers. The fair also had eight different speakers discussing a variety of topics, including mental health, women in business, and end of life planning. 

“I hope events like this can inspire more women to support one another,” said Ellen Miller, organizer of the Nicola Valley Women’s Fair. “I just want this to serve as a tool to make women aware of resources available to them.” 

Miller estimated that several hundred Merrittonians made their way through the fair this weekend, representing a strong showing of support for local women. She said the support of the community, including a number of local businesses and nonprofits, made certain the event will return for another iteration in 2024.

The first annual Nicola Valley Women’s Fair took place in 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic began and large public gatherings ended. While the first fair was well attended, Miller said it wasn’t feasible to hold the event in the following years due to the pandemic. Upon its return this year, the community event was well supported. 

“Everybody was very pleased, because the turnout was so good,” added Miller. “We had a very good variety of different speakers and resource groups there.” 

Attendees were not only able to engage a number of local resource groups and organizations, such as the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, and the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, but also hear the fair’s engaging and impressive lineup of speakers. 

The day’s keynote speaker was Brandy Gozda-Sekhon, president and daily operator of six McDonald’s restaurants, including Merritt. Gozda-Sekhon spoke on her experiences as a woman in business, and shared her advice with a crowded auditorium.