Community Spotlight: Nancy Mckenzie

This International Women’s Day 2021, we decided to connect with inspiring women championing inclusion at UBC to hear their reflections on this day and perspectives on a more equitable and inclusive future.

Chair, UBC Board of Governors


What does IWD mean to you?

For me, IWD is a time to reflect on progress that has been made in women’s independence, health and equity, and at the same time, recognize that there is much more to be done both locally and globally in support of women’s rights.


What has been your experience navigating work through COVID?

I was very fortunate that my work easily transitioned to an online environment, and that I had an established home office to work from. I know many are not in this situation and that COVID-19 has highlighted great inequities for many women, particularly IBPOC women and women with disabilities. It is important for us to leverage what COVID-19 has revealed and to use this opportunity to identify and create real and permanent solutions to these inequities.


Could you briefly discuss some of your work at the 2019 BC Women’s Health Foundation GLOW Gala committee.

My role was working alongside some amazing women on the gala fundraising committee, specifically with sourcing unique items for the charity auction. In 2019, the proceeds went to support expansion of the Provincial Milk Bank to support the tiniest babies in neonatal ICUs with donor milk to help them to become strong and fight infection. It was very emotional to hear and understand stories from mothers about the milk bank, from both donors and recipients. Through my engagement with BC Women’s Health Foundation I also learned a lot about the inequities in the health care of women that need much more attention, such as ensuring representation in clinical trials.


How can we help give back to the society through volunteerism?

I think that everyone has something that they can contribute. Volunteerism is such an important but misunderstood foundation of our society. Without volunteers, so many non-profit organizations would simply not be able to function. I think the key is to find something that resonates with you, so that your passion can come through to help create positive energy and contribution to whatever organizations you choose to support. I have always found that as much work as you put in, you get so much more in return from knowing you have made a contribution to an important cause. I have also met some incredibly passionate volunteers who are just so much fun to be around and to collaborate with.


What is the one idea you want to challenge this IWD?

Sadly, I think in many places there still persists notions that women are lesser than, or that they are in positions to meet a diversity quota. There are so many wonderfully talented women contributing in every possible part of society.

I love that one of this year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge” meaning that we all call out and stand up when we see gender bias and inequity happening, and that we recognize and celebrate the achievements of women around us. We have seen the power of women standing together, and the more that we do so and support one another, the stronger we will all become.


Please share one self- care tip that worked for you during these challenging times.

One thing that always works for me is getting out into nature. It has been a way to achieve both physical and mental wellness.
I love to hike, walk or run outdoors, and in Vancouver we are fortunate to be near many beautiful hiking trails. Taking a long walk or hike with close women friends (when it has been allowed) has also been one of my primary ways of staying balanced and sane through the pandemic!


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