“I Hope To Offer Empowerment & Engagement.”

Madeline Lemire, NYWC's Manager of Volunteer Resources

NYWC’s Madeline Lemire reflects on the defining passion of her life and career.

My name is Madeline Lemire, and I am thrilled to be starting as the Manager of Volunteer Resources for the North York Women’s Centre! I have been living in Toronto for 11 years now and have heard about the NYWC’s great work over the years.

A passion for women’s rights has always been at the centre of my life, from my time as an outspoken student in smalltown northern Ontario to my professional career in communications, film and politics.

Throughout the years my understanding of women’s rights and gender equality has grown, from a teen believing that many of our goals were already reached (Oh, how I wish I was even half right!), to realizing the importance of intersectionality in the movement and the mountains we have yet to climb.

“I know what a small group of dedicated people can accomplish.”

I was lucky enough to be raised in a family of strong women and was first taught the importance of advocating for yourself from my grandmother. She remains a feisty matriarch to this day, and upon meeting her it would surprise no one that she successfully unionized her workplace in the 80’s. It was from her that I had my first lesson in what a small group of dedicated people can accomplish in their community, and I have carried that with me into my own work. 

There are many areas that I am passionate about advancing women’s footing in, but equity in the workplace is something that has always been at the top of my list. Having women in management roles not only helps a business operate more effectively, it’s also the best way for other women to advance and excel in their own roles. NYWC will be the first place that I have worked with a totally woman identifying team, and I cannot overstate how excited I am to get to work in such a setting. In terms of volunteer programming, it will be my goal to continue this chain of mentorship and learning for the women accessing our services.   

“Anyone can be the change they wish to see in the world.”

Working in the June 2022 provincial election for the Ontario NDP was the highlight of my political career thus far, where I spent months finding and encouraging diverse candidates to run. I was privileged to speak with so many amazing women who were already organizing in their communities. I was particularly surprised to hear how many of them felt that they weren’t capable of official leadership roles, despite all that they were already accomplishing! As I help to rebuild the volunteer and outreach programs of NYWC, I especially wish to increase attendance to our Empowerment series and to push the message that with a bit of gumption, anyone can be the change they wish to see in the world. 

I have spent many hours as a volunteer across multiple industries, from organizing days of action and community events for the Ontario NDP, to attending marches calling for social change, and even to herding cats (ahem, talent and attendees) at the Toronto International Film Festival! Through this, I have come to believe that donating even a few hours of time in the name of bettering the lives, resources, and communities of others is one of the most meaningful things a person can do. I am excited to be at the helm of managing volunteers and resources, and pushing NYWC’s outreach, impact, and community engagement forward. 

While the pandemic upended many of the volunteer activities that NYWC had established in person, the Centre has continued its work and strived to provide services to the most vulnerable people in need. I am inspired by the digital outreach and education we have been able to achieve and hope to continue this spirit of change as an opportunity for programming evolution. I look forward to being a part of this wonderful organization, and to bring even more empowerment and engagement to the community.

If you’d like to make a difference in women’s lives too, find out more about North York Women’s Centre and visit our Volunteering and Jobs sections.

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