Women’s House and Business to Bruce celebrate International Women’s Day

Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey partnered with the County of Bruce Business to Bruce again this year to bring another fun and touching International Woman’s Day celebration to the area. Once again, a sold out crowd of 200 attended the March 3rd event  held at the Lakeshore Recreation Centre in Port Elgin where the crowd was thrilled with the speaker. the food and all the activities that were planned throughout the evening.

The event is an annual celebration and also a major fundraiser for the Women’s House. The purchase of a ticket provided guests with some great appetizers, a decadent dessert buffet and an evening filled with fun and entertainment. During the first part of the evening the din of chatter in the room continued to rise as guests networked, noshed, and made bids at the Silent Auction tables, finally finding their way to their seats.

The evening began with introductions and welcoming words, from Business to Bruce, followed by a few words from dignitaries in attendance. Michelle Lamont, of Women’s House, welcomed Women’s House’s Board Chair, Tracy Primeau, and Champion Sponsor Society of Energy Professionals’, Sarah Beirnes.







Among the dignitaries were (Left above) Pat O’Connor, representing MP Ben Lobb and Auctioneer for the evening and Alex Ruff MP for Bruce-Grey Owen Sound and (Right) Municipality of Kincardine Mayor, Anne Eadie.

Tracy Primeau

Then the fun and interactive activities began. The Trivia Game is always a favourite, and this year did not disappoint! Only one person knows the answers and that’s Michelle Lamont. In a surprising turn of events, Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey’s Board Chair, Tracy Primeau won the Grand Prize, a $100 value Amazon Alexa Echo, donated by Bruce Power, that she generously donated back to Women’s House to use for a future fundraiser.

Auctioneer Pat O’Connor presents winning auction prize to bidder Nancy Macdonald

The laughter and good times continued as the crowd was entertained, by Auctioneer, Pat O’Connor, as bidding was fast and furious for two Live Auction items, donated by The Best You, located in both Kincardine and Owen Sound. The Best You also provided a donated gift to everyone in attendance, so everyone walked away with something!



Women’s House then moved onto awarding the annual ‘Woman of Distinction’ and ‘Young Woman of Distinction Awards’ to some very deserving recipients. There were  six nominations for the ‘Woman of Distinction’ award category and two in the ‘Young Woman of Distinction’ award category.

Nominees for the ‘Woman of Distinction’ award were: Alana Murray, Anna Morrison, Colleen Trask-Seaman, Kathy Fraser, Amy Bross and Ruth Montgomery and the nominees for the ‘Young Woman of Distinction’ award were Eden Babbitt and Morgan Ritchie. It was a very difficult decision because all of the women contributed much to the community, not only supporting women and young people, but focusing on improving the environment, education, supporting those less privileged,advocating for social justice and recognizing and supporting our community’s needs with kindness and compassion.

Ruth Montgomery received the 2020 ‘Woman of Distinction’ award saying that, “We have never been so connected, but yet we have never felt so isolated and alone at the same time.”  Montgomery works to make connections and bring women together to support, coaches and mentors women and has been inspirational to many along the way. She is an entrepreneur who makes social enterprise a priority, who leads women in many areas, including camp-based retreats at Camp Maven. Through her Maven Project, she has given women a voice, an opportunity for personal development and is changing lives for the better. Her nominator, Kirby Proper, says she “creates a safe space for those around her to get real and get vulnerable, and is a true inspiration.”

The ‘Young Woman of Distinction’ award recipient was Morgan Ritchie a Kincardine student. Her nominator, Margaret Visser, said that she is a “…talented young woman that shines in everything she does”.  She is very musical, an accomplished singer and dancer in her own right and also a music and dance teacher. She sets the bar high by leading and representing the young community as an Ambassador of the Fair and Vice-President on school council while using her positions to advocate, support and educate others, to be a voice for those less fortunate, to make the community and the world a better place.

Normally, there are only the two recipients and each must be present to receive her award  This year however, there was a third one-time only award presented posthumously to her family – Amy Bross, who died in August of last year in a tragic accident.

 (R)Tami MacDonald accepts for              Amy Bross

Nominator and Bross’ aunt, Tami MacDonald, in a touching tribute said that, “Unfortunately, in August of 2019, there was a tragic accident, and Amy’s life on this earth came to an end. That’s a little over six months ago but her memory and her message lives on through her family, friends and all the lives she touched.”



        Family and Friends of Amy Bross – For Larger view Click on Image

Keynote speaker, Jamie MacMillan, ‘wowed’ the crowd as she shared her story, earning admiration from the audience.

She spoke about her struggles as a student, as a woman, and in her eventual career choice, as an ironworker, a very non-traditional career choice for a woman. She had lots of advice and a positive and encouraging message that reinforced her mission – Engage, Educate and Encourage.  Today, through her company, Kick-ass Careers, she works to encourage, mentor and guide young women into careers in the skilled trades and technology and her message includes a focus on creating inclusive and respectful work environments for everyone in the workplace regardless of differences.

She advocates for both men and women to work towards creating this positive environment through her ‘Workplace Equality Awareness Ribbon’ campaign and travels throughout North America inspiring young women to consider non-traditional career choices with the support of many corporations in the skilled trades and technology industry.

In the end, fundraising efforts were very successful with the two Live Auction packages, 35 Silent Auction items and the Trivia Game earning a total of more than $2600.

‘Business to Bruce’ also announced that it will be offering the proceeds from the event ticket sales to the Women’s House.

“We are so thankful, not only for their partnership in this event, but also their gracious offer and look forward to sharing the details with our supporters as we move into our new fiscal year in April,” said Michelle Lamont, Community and Fund Development Coordinator for Women’s House Serving Bruce & Grey. “Our partnership is the epitome of this year’s theme #eachforequal.  Together Women’s House and Business to Bruce have a balance of unique qualities, connections and focuses that compliment each other and similarities in programs in services that help women to have better lives and give them the tools to fulfill their dreams.”