As the saying goes, “the only thing that is constant is change.”
This idea may be upsetting to some. We will get into who, later.
I love it.
They resent it.
I love it because progress and change are synonymous.
One cannot exist without the other.
They resent it for the exact same reasons.
For people who embrace change it is an opportunity. For people who stubbornly dig-in and attempt the business-as-usual approach, change is the ultimate threat.
We are a threat.
Women are a threat.
That’s why so many powerful men resent change. They have spent generations insulating themselves through a system that vilifies women. Men with ambition are celebrated, while the same trait in a woman is met with disdain. It’s not about giving women strength. We’re already strong. Every single one of us is strong. We have endured and overcome more daily adversity carving out our rightful and equal place in our respective industries than any man in the same position.
It’s not about making women stronger.
It’s about changing the way society sees that strength. The way they see our ambition. Our drive. Our progress. The change we want and the change we represent.
And they resent us for it. For being a threat to their comfy way of life. A threat to the status quo.
But that is the opportunity. Those that have dug-in are haplessly trying to reinforce the barriers they spent generations building. And they are losing.
They are losing because women are strong.
They are losing because women are picking up hammers, framing houses, wiring high-rises, pursuing architect and engineering roles, designing applications, driving back-hoes, starting companies and they are doing it all in spite of the barriers erected by the patriarchal under-belly of our society.
Those that are winning are the ones who realize that change is constant and are using their voice from within those barriers and from without, to tear them down.
I founded Avana with my husband, my brother, and my sister-in-law. It was a means to an end. We would develop and build 40 rental units and eventually it would become passive income that would allow us to slow down and spend time with our daughters. The name Avana is actually a tribute to the names of my daughter, Juliana, and my niece, Ava.
That was in 2014. By 2018 everything had changed.
As we began to familiarize ourselves with the housing realities in our communities, we saw opportunity. We saw opportunities that the banks, the established developers, the politicians, the “old boys club” had failed to see. They had been too busy building barriers. Barriers that only saw profit as dollars and cents. They were rich. They did not want anything to change. The good old days.
We didn’t see it that way. We saw profit as our new means to an end. Instead of adopting the status quo business model regurgitated and duplicated by oh so many empty suits in board rooms across the country… building construction grade, four-walled structures filled by tenants priced out of a housing market riddled with systemic flaws. A business model that neither recognized the changing demographics of our communities, our workforce, of the family unit, of movement in gender roles, in all things changing, nor did it care.
We set out to develop our properties with purpose; recognizing that ignoring the constant changes in the needs of our communities had left too many people behind, struggling to afford basic human rights in safe, secure and affordable housing.
And surprise, surprise but who do you think was affected the most? Who faced more barriers than anyone else when it came to finding a safe place to live? Why, yes.
28% of women-led households in Canada are in core housing need.
56% of people experiencing homelessness in Canada are women-identified and/or children.
7% of women in Canada have experienced hidden homelessness at some point in their lives.
90% of families using emergency shelters are headed by single women.
21% of single mothers in Canada raise their children in poverty.
Approximately 700 women and 236 accompanying children are turned away from domestic violence shelters across Canada each day. In our hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan approximately 3000 women and children were turned away from shelters just last year. Our population is less than 250 000.
There were only 10 second-stage shelter spots in our entire city. Last week we announced 39 new dedicated homes for women fleeing intimate partner violence within a development that has 116 affordable suites. Our federal funding agreement to secure a partial loan to build these suites only requires us to put 30% of those homes to market at affordable rates. We are dedicating 100%.
Our purpose-led embrace of the opportunities fostered by change has seen over 1100 homes built or being built in Regina and Edmonton. Over 70% of those are deemed affordable.
We are also changing the stigma around affordable housing for our residents. We hear time and time again that these homes are the nicest homes that they have ever seen in their lives, and now they get to call them home. This housing is not yet another bruise caused by patriarchal terminology and stereotypes like “subsidized” or “welfare”. It instills dignity, pride, safety, hope, value.
It gives women the very things they have been systematically denied for too long.
Those things. When combined with the strength we already know women have….
It might just be enough to change the way they see our strength.
This idea is upsetting to some…
Some, old, rich, white men profiteering off antiquated, repulsive and offensive patriarchal norms so deeply ingrained in our society… they may not get the memo. But they are too busy trying to save the slowly eroding barriers we are dismantling with the opportunities of change.
As they cower behind the status quo they will wither away because all we see is opportunity and all they see is a threat.
They see us.
They resent it.
But I love it.
Because change is opportunity and the only thing that is constant is change.