Each and every day I see women, without fame or fortune, commit acts of strength and love that impact people's lives; unseen and with quiet courage.
Every mother is a working-woman, every daughter a caregiver to someone, every sister a friend, and every grandmother a mentor. With small gestures and sometimes Herculean efforts they change, for the better, the lives around them.
Both the women in the limelight and the women whose names I do not know are the 'keel' in the ship of humanity.
My portraits salute those warriors who went before, are working for the cause of equality and love of community now, and the everyday woman who quietly inspires, engages and is a trailblazer.
And to those they may call 'ordinary' as they have neither accolades, medals, or recognition, I say you are: extraordinary!
This is my journey through Asking.
Rev. Alexa Gilmour founded the Stone Soup Network with the goal of helping to build a society that values the gifts of all individuals and that creates abundance through community. Whether standing in the mud with the Toronto Occupy Protest as a chaplain, offering sanctuary inside her church to Roma refugees facing deportation, or bringing her liturgical leadership to a city in mourning at the April 2018 #TorontoStrong vigil, Rev. Alexa is always looking for ways to break down the barriers between “us” and “them.” Most days you can find Alexa at www.windermerechurch.ca, www.stonesoupnetwork.ca or on www.twitter.com/Rev_Alexa
Osra Lindo: Mother, Grandmother, Sister, friend. A student, a university graduate at 79 years young, a lifelong learner. Old in age but young at heart. Lover of people. Believes that we attract what our hearts give out. Feminist. Rum punch fan. Always say thank you.
Tantoo Cardinal: Adventuring on the Winds.
Kathryn Fudurich: I view my life as a series of choices that lead me closer to what success and happiness look like to me, not to fit anyone else's perception or projection of those things. Daughter. Partner. River's Mom. Sister. Caregiver. Friend. Alzheimer's Advocate. Musician. Solo Canoe Tripper. Business Owner. Whatever I Want To Be... I believe that giving back in a meaningful way in a world that's so wildly out of balance is what we're here for. I believe that carving out time for yourself and the really important things in a world that glorifies stress and being busy is a conscious choice that we are all accountable for. I strive to live a consistent practice of patience, gratitude, self-acceptance, and wider understanding of the varying lenses humans experience life through. kathfilms.commemoryball.org
The Women of WEP: (from left) Robyn Colangelo (art director, year 1), Julia Hambleton (distribution manager), Janet Morassutti (managing editor) and Melanie Morassutti (deputy editor) have what they believe to be the funnest job in Canadian journalism, cranking out the paper edition of the West End Phoenix from their office on the 2nd floor of The Gladstone Hotel. The high points include creative freedom, flexibility and the deep thrill of collaborating with people – writers, artists, volunteers, community members and colleagues – they love. www.westendphoenix.com
Books are how Jael Ealey Richardson came to understand what it means to be black in Canada. But books by black authors and writing workshops led by folks of colour were important to her and hard to find. So after publishing a memoir about her life and her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey - THE STONE THROWER - Jael founded the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) where she continues to serve as the Artistic Director for Canada’s first literary festival centred around marginalized voices, which is held in Brampton, Ontario in May. Since the FOLD began, Jael has also published a children’s book (also called The Stone Thrower) and is a regular book columnist for CBC’s q. Her debut novel, Gutter Child is due in Fall 2020 with HarperCollins Canada. jaelrichardson.comtheFOLDCanada.orgtwitter.com/jaelrichardsontwitter.com/theFOLD_
Rosanne Cash: singer, songwriter, author, activist, advocate for gun control, trying to live a fearless life.
Jen Ochej: At my core, I’m a detail person who thrives under pressure and loves being the problem solver. I’m the one people come to when they need something done, figured out, or taken off their plate, and when I took on my first Tour Management gig (three weeks in the UK with Sarah Jane Scouten), I knew it was what I was born to do– a perfect culmination of my skills and passions. I always say if I'm doing my job right, the artist won't have to worry about anything except putting on their best show every night - I may not always succeed, but that's the goal every day. I'm a Tour Manager, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a comic book nerd, a total homebody who craves being on the road and loves living out of a suitcase on a tour bus, a wanderer; sometimes too serious, always thinking, and always up for anything with the people I love. I've worked hard to get where I am and do what I do, and consider myself lucky as hell every day to be - truly, genuinely - living the dream. twitter.com/jenochej
Chief Lady Bird (Ogimaa Kwe Bnes): Rama First Nation and Moosedeer Point First Nation. Eagle clan, Illustrator, street artist, Aquarius, French Bulldog mom. instagram.com/chiefladybird
Aura: Oneida Nation of the Thames. Turtle clan, beadworker, street artist, Illustrator, Gemini, mother of 2 tabby cats and a German-Aussie Sheppard. www.instagram.com/monique.aura
Sisters, artists, lateral love, empowerment. Painting florals on everything as an act of love.
Mary Walsh: mental health and addiction advocate, novelist, actor, satirist, activist, director, mother, Newfoundlander. marywalsh.ca
Tara Slone is a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend. Lead singer of the Juno-nominated band Joydrop, a Rock Star: INXS alumnus, the co-host of Rogers Hometown Hockey, a lifelong student of Tibetan Buddhism, a feminist, a fierce LGBTQ ally, passionate about bringing attention to Canada’s First Nations. Relentlessly curious, a believer in kindness, compassion, vulnerability, and basic goodness. Always in search of good food. taraslone.cahometownhockey.com
Jadine Baldwin is an 18 year old aspiring author and advocate for people with disabilities. A daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter and lover of all things books and tea. She is a vibrant, humble, strong, independent woman who believes that she can change the world (one wheel at a time). Jadine wants to attend University and become the next John Green or Rupi Kaur (favourite authors). She knows that true beauty comes from within, but still enjoys a little bit of glitter on the outside from time to time. When she is passionate, you will hear her roar!
Jane Harbury: "I am honoured to have been photographed by Lisa for this series. I'm a Gemini, which may not mean anything. My whole life has been a series of unplanned, unthought-out adventures, none of which I regret. Still fortunate to work with amazing artists. Perhaps most will say 'she posts great stuff on Facebook - mainly animals' or 'you should write a book'. I'm more than fine with the first comment but the book writing bit, too busy making a living." janeharbury.wordpress.com
Sarah Dougall is the trail-blazing entrepreneur and brainchild behind Toronto's famous Made You Look Jewellery Studio and Retail Gallery. Sarah’s desire to push the boundaries has brought together makers and designers in a collaborative environment that supports the local arts community, the artists and the neighbourhood. She lives by the motto: create the world you’d like to see. madeyoulook.ca
Shirley Lum: Creator of A Taste of the World Neighbourhood Walks, where I get to combine the peeling back of Toronto's unique layers as Food Historian, Literary Detective and GhostWalk guide. New passion: Chocolatier curating tastings to share the magic of chocolate. Judging the International Chocolate Awards, the Canadian Competition as Guest Grand Jury. 2-wheeled adventurist. Pioneer. Avid rooftop gardener. CBC aka Canadian born Chinese who's voice has been heard on numerous CBC radio Fresh Air shows. instagram.com/A_Taste_of_the_World, instagram.com/SChocolateMagic
Sharon Lewis: artist, rebel, filmmaker, tv maker, performer, caribbean-canadian, mother, I tell stories but they aren’t lies thesharonlewis.com
Leslie Arden: I spent my youth trying to decide whether to spend my life with animals and nature, or with music. Now I divide my time between composing, writing, playing and singing at my grand piano, and boarding and fostering dogs on my beautiful ten acres in Ontario farmland. It’s all about balance. lesliearden.com
Dorothy Aitchison: Mom, grandma, great grandmother, friend. A feminist, artist, milliner, dressmaker, small business owner, baker, knitter, reader. A role model; respected and loved. Farewell, lovely Dorothy - November 9, 2018.
Jo Orsatti is a forensic artist by trade, but in life she is much more. A Mamma and Nonna to human and animal children a plenty; she is guided by her compassion, caring, laughter and love. She sees herself as a resourceful and creative painter, illustrator and mixed media "Artist at Life."
Helen Paddle: first female car salesperson in Toronto, sensible farm girl, snappy dresser, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, frugal, tenacious, prudent, no-bullshit, excellent laugher
Julia Gray: Someone wise, many years ago, said to me "do what keeps you soft." I try and return to this idea of doing not necessarily what is easy, but what keeps me soft. I work to be in good relationships with family, in the broadest sense of the word. I am a writer, a mum, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a best-friend-to-one-guy-in-particular, and I work to be a most curious artist and researcher. possiblearts.ca
Bif Naked: performing artist, poet, bare-knuckle fighter, human and animal rights activist, goddess, survivor - bifnaked.com
Rusul Alrubail is the Executive Director of Parkdale Centre for Innovation. She launched the centre because she believes in the power of voice, community and supporting diverse talent, traditionally pushed to the margins. Rusul is also an author, educator, social justice advocate, and mom of two. twitter.com/rusulalrubail
Hon. Jean Augustine: the first black female MP and Cabinet Minister, Fairness Commissioner, social justice advocate, trendsetter, teacher, principal, trailblazer. Dr. Augustine's legacy includes the successful 1995 motion declaring February as Black History Month in Canada. A pioneer of the modern day era, at eighty! jeanaugustinecentre.ca
Jayna Hefford: Hockey player. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. 5 time Olympian & 7 time World Champion. Commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Professional speaker focussing on change, adaptability, resilience and culture. Mother of 3, loves to cook, believes in the power of opportunity. jaynahefford.ca, thecwhl.com
Andrea Zackary - Oral deaf, event planner, social entrepreneur. Founder of Def Events & Beyond. Proud mother of 4 girls, wife, gymnastics mom, networker, mentor and motivator. Working hard to give back to the deaf community. Kids first, they are the future. Together we can make a difference! #thinkbig #dreambig #noexcuses
Cathy Barrick: Cathy is driven by purpose. You can see it come to life with an all-consuming passion that you might expect from a stadium-filling rockstar rather than charitable sector CEO. She is a big thinker and a big personality, but she never misses the little things that matter the most to the people around her.
As CEO of Alzheimer Society of Ontario, her resume includes social worker, fundraiser, social innovator and many accolades. But her deep empathy for people living with dementia is her north star. She is inspired daily by the memories of her own grandparents’ journey with Alzheimer’s and a childhood spent with them, close to nature.
She is committed day in and day out to funding innovative research and transforming policy and services in the fight against Alzheimer’s. But she never loses the opportunity to share the joy and celebrate a quiet moment, in the journey of a single client’s life.
Reverend Dr. Cheri DiNovo: performed the first legalized same sex marriage in Canada in 2002 and as MPP before returning to Ministry at Trinity St Paul's United Church. Passed more LGBT Legislation than anyone in Canada's history - First Trans Rights, Banning Conversion Therapy for children, Parent Equality and Trans Day of Remembrance. cheridinovo.ca
Pam Palmater (Blue Thunderbird Woman): Mi'kmaq, mother, warrior, activist, lawyer, professor, and author educating the next generation to live a warrior life in mind, body and spirit so we can restore justice to our people and the planet. #7futuregens #resist #rise #warriorup pampalmater.com
Lorena Agolli, owner of SOLE SURVIVOR SHOP an all-female operated shoe and leather repair shop. Sole Sister, Gypsy by Nature, Leather Craftswoman, Witch, Peace Warrior, Lover And Teacher through her life story.
Vivienne McMaster: photographer, body acceptance advocate, wonder seeker, nature nerd, creative entrepreneur. After realizing the camera was a powerful tool to heal her own deeply critical self-image and self-worth, she created the Be Your Own Beloved workshops that help people get back in the visual story of their own lives and make peace with how they see themselves in photos. beyourownbeloved.com
Kris Noakes: Anishinaabekwe. Finding balance with one foot in a canoe and one foot on the gas pedal. Mother, advocate, peacekeeper, lifelong learner, lover of green tea and smiles.
Dana Bookman: Mother. Believer that anything is possible. Recognizes the power that comes from girls playing team sports. Founder of Canadian Girls Baseball. torontogirlsbaseball.com
Penny Eizenga: “A filmmaker on the journey to trust my own voice, my gut, my intuition, whatever you choose to call it, more than ever.” www.dogearedproductionsinc.com
Laura Maness: CEO of Havas New York. Wholehearted, servant leader that uplifts people and helps them grow, be and become (more like) themselves. Advocates for women and meaningful change as original signer and steering committee member of Time’s Up/Advertising. Lives with her husband Steven Brisson and young son in New York's historic TriBeCa neighbourhood. Enjoys SoulCycling, pilates, river walks, street art, pop up shops, bold California reds and HEYMAMA meet-ups. Passionate about building community and fueling imaginations as cofounder of Love Bug Café & Play. lovebugcafeplay, Instagram: @lauramaness, twitter.com/pinkbird_biz
Colinda Clyne: Nibi Biwajigan Kwe (Water Vision Woman). Anishinaabe kwe (Kitigan Zibi). Mother, educator, warrior, helper, friend, coffee connoisseur. Believes in the power of a single tweet. Living in gratitude. twitter.com/@clclyne
Beth Pollock: Exploring the world with a sense of wonder. Travel writer who has visited over 50 countries, and has stories to tell about each of them. Avid reader and author of three children’s books. Imaginative, gentle, tenacious. Mother, wife, daughter. If you need to talk, I’ll listen (and I’ll bring a plate of freshly baked ginger snaps). Loving the world and all the people I meet here. bethtravels.cominstagram.com/bpollock
Jo-Anne McArthur is a photojournalist, author and educator, and the founder of We Animals Media, which focuses on the stories of animals within the context of the human environment. Jo keeps a gruelling travel schedule but is nonetheless eternally grateful that she gets to help animals every single day. weanimals.org
Isla Grady: Believer, wife, mother, adoring grandmother of Caitlin, Emma and Ava, caregiver, passionate volunteer for victim support, advocate for ending hate, hunger, poverty and supporting the disenfranchised. Can be found in the church kitchen. Believes preparing food together, and eating together, is a place of trust where love and hope can meet and all are Family.
Vuyiseka Dubula: former general secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa - tac.org.za
Laurie Brown: mother, music journalist, radio host, writer, podcaster, dreamer - pondercast.ca
Irish Mythen: singer-songwriter, composer, artist, entertainer, teacher, student, daughter, sister, friend, lover, fighter, activist, traveller, mother-of-dachschunds, always in awe of this wondrous world. irishmythen.com
Annelise Noronha: Engineer, producer, composer. Teacher and mentor. Hopeful for the future of the Canadian Music Industry.
Michelle Peek: Photographer, artist, dreamer. Founder and Creative Director of Art Not Shame. Mental health advocate. PhD. Dancer at heart. Can’t stop thinking about love and belonging. Always learning. Potty-mouthed. Sensitive. Thoughtful. Imperfect. Vulnerable.
Denise Bebenek: Founder of Meagan's Walk: Creating a Circle of Hope. Advocate for families who are affected by the serious illness of a child. Compassionate wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend. Teacher. Musician. Philanthropist and volunteer. Warrior. Trailblazer. Motivational speaker. Resilient. Passionate and optimistic. Walks in gratitude. meaganswalk.com
Priya Ramsingh: author, thinker, creator of ideas, dreamer of a better world, optimistic that words can bring new insight that inspires change. I wrote Brown Girl in the Room to open eyes. I wanted this photo taken in High Park to celebrate my love of nature and all things real. I believe that we can learn from animals. Thanks to Lisa for including me in the series. priyaramsingh.ca
Cynthia Kinnunen: Passionate music educator and advocate for lifelong learning. Performer: voice, ukulele, piano. Community music festival director/founder. Volunteer. Firm believer in sexual health education. Mixtape maker. Apron collector. Most important roles: mum of 3, wife, daughter, friend. Gratitude always. cynthiakmusic.com, Instagram: @cynthiakinnunen
Gael Hannan: hearing loss consultant, author, advocate, public speaker - gaelhannan.com
Michelle Shephard: journalist, author, filmmaker, traveler, life-lover, nerd; tries to shed light in dark corners, laughs easily and adores her goofy Labradoodle named Dorothy Parker, who shares none of the writers' cynical traits. twitter.com/shephardmmichelleshepard.ca
Christa Couture: singer, songwriter, mom, non-fiction writer, digital producer, mother of lost ones, cyborg, halfbreed, and then some - christacouture.com
Ren Navarro: fan of cats, tattoos and craft beer. Resident trouble maker. Giver of epic hugs. Talk a LOT about the ongoing need for diversity in beer.
Anne Innis Dagg: a life dedicated to the study of giraffes, scientist, feminist, activist, author - annedagg.net
Josie Candito: Co-Owner of Master Mechanic High Park and their first female franchisee ever. She’s an animal rights warrior, women’s advocate, self-proclaimed ‘nerd’, hopeless romantic, loves to dance in the rain, loving wife, adores her beloved daytime family, a fairy godmother to Alex and Victoria, and proud Mommy of her fur-baby rescue, Charlie. One thing that does not define her, is her Fibromyalgia. She is Nicknamed ‘The Fixer’ and ‘Wonder Woman’, believes in spreading positivity and laughter through charity outreach, community involvement, and the uplifting messages she displays on her shop sign all year long. Keep up with all that she does and loves at mastermechanic.ca/locations/home.php?location=TorontoHighPark
Alex Pangman: singer, equestrian, organ transplant advocate/recipient - alexpangman.com
Joshna Maharaj: chef, activist, teacher, taste chaser, lover of the good life, happy wanderer - joshnamaharaj.com
Karen Waddell: professional actor, documentary filmmaker, community volunteer, mental health ambassador, advocate and educator, mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher, meditator, proud mama and wife - karenwaddell.wixsite.com/website
Lynn Courey: suicide prevention advocate, community service mental health provider, family support, caregiver, wife and mother - sashbear.org
Thea Munster is the creator of the Toronto Zombie Walk, the first event of its kind, spawning zombie walks around the world. When not organizing odd occurrences Thea is a videographer, writer, traveller, tarot reader and aspiring thereminist - my1000moons.com
Jenn Harper: mother, wife, social entrepreneur, speaker. Working hard to show Indigenous youth that they can create the life they dream about. Believes that the key to real happiness is how much we care about others, but we can’t do that until we love ourselves. So grateful to live another day sober! cheekbonebeauty.ca
Hannah Alper: Activist, blogger, author, kindraiser, change maker, traveller, eco-warrior, motivational speaker. "I believe we all have the capacity and responsibility to create change. I don't care how old you are or how young you are, where you live or how much money you have. The ability to create change does not discriminate, it's in everyone." callmehannah.ca
Lizzie Violet: writer, ghost stories, horror fiend, redheaded girl with the crooked smile - lizzieviolet.com
Rachel Rashotte: view from our balcony lady, lover of all things natural, healthy choices come first, seven years sober, compassionate mother, partner, friend.
Kate Drummond: professional storyteller, actor, writer, former school teacher, inspirational speaker, philanthropist, animal lover, dreamer *RIP Jackson katedrummond.com
Hope Chigudu: co-founder of the Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre and Network - zwrcn.org.zw
Mary-Lynne Howell: mother, farmer, teacher, leader and mentor of youth, Jerseygirl, agriculture and environment advocate, adventurer, finder of fun, pioneer, nurturer, lover of life, loyal friend and extremely blessed.
Angela Betts: inspiring, caring, positive, creative, kind, passionate, deadhead, life giver and lover, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, groovy entrepreneur and loyal friend, grateful. Young at heart. grasshopperimports.com
Liza Cohen: proud mother, partner, sister, daughter, friend, social worker and compassionate being. Grateful. Thankful. Blessed.
Eugenia Duodu: Scientist, leader, community advocate and soccer fan. She obtained her PhD in chemistry from the University of Toronto and is currently the CEO of Visions of Science. She works to provide meaningful opportunities for youth from low income communities to achieve their full potential. www.vosnl.org
Rae Ellen Bodie: learner, teacher, meditator, breather, noise-maker, lover, fighter, crone - raeellenbodie.com
Sam Campbell: quietly understated, dreamer, doer, animal lover, farmer, hopeful environmentalist. Purveyor of connecting people, places and things. Having a blast with her mid-life "re-launch" as a B&B/Farm Retreat host. cobblestonefarmretreat.ca
Bet Smith: artist-blacksmith, singer-songwriter, band member, craftsperson, devoted lover of the earth, betty of all trades - PersephoneForge.com
Barb Nahwegahbow: Zhashkwabino Kwe - Blue Sky in the Morning Woman. Daughter of Art and Mary Nahwegahbow, sister to ten siblings, aunty to many, and citizen of Whitefish River First Nation where I grew up. All my life, I have believed in the beauty of our people and our culture and have conducted myself personally and professionally according to this belief. I describe myself as a community organizer, cultural activist, writer, jewellery artist, supporter of Indigenous artists, and loyal friend.
Ashley Jacot De Boinod: food soldier, professional giggler, peppery, fungi enthusiast, lover of beasts, servant to all those in need, shop mum, pro cyclist wannabe, authentically me, hobbit, comedy addict - gloryholedoughnuts.com
Candace Alper: mom, partner, writer, educator, brain-stormer, global citizen, coffee-lover
Charlene "Chuck" LeBlanc: animal lover, artist, nature worshipper, ukulele player, hippie, headbanger, introvert, empath, hugger. Uses axe throwing as a way to spread joy and build community. Thinks farts are hilarious! riotaxe.com
Kat Leonard: Dare to live! If less is more, imagine how much more more is! KatLeonard.com
Dorothy Onyango: co-founder and executive director of Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya - wofak.org
Hill Kourkoutis: recording artist, producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, director, actor, lightworker, alien trapped in a carbon-based molecular structure, coffee snob turned tea aficionado, gear nerd, proud auntie, lover of food, art, dreams, moondust, stars and space (the place) - hillkourkoutis.com Martha Johnson: music creator and collaborator, mother, rock steady boxer, golden rule believer, adaptor
Vanessa Arscott: Plan V. Lover of live music. Coordinator of things. Auntie, sister, daughter, friend - planvproductions.com
Brenda Bronfman: mom, founder/ceo wishing well sanctuary, animal lover, peace seeker -
Courtney Lee Yip: photo & film maker, writer, Babes Boardroom founder, California soul, Ontarian heart - https://www.instagram.com/coco_mccracken
Robin Zee: artist, mother, performer, writer, survivor, life skills coach who believes never underestimating someones ability to shine - robinzee.com
Kelly Grace: maker, hustler, enthusiast, brushpusher, stylist, time traveller, carnie - kellygracefineart.com
Dawn Maracle: inspired, Mohawk, woman, mother, cancer survivor, educator, advocate, author, dancer, photographer, muse, cliff-jumper, public speaker, scanner. Indigenous and disability rights activist and consultant. https://www.facebook.com/dawn.maracle.12
Jocelyn Richards: photographer, lover of all things groovy, kick ass MS warrior