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1812 heroine inspires Canadian women to speak up in 2012

by Shari Graydon

Laura Secord descendant says iconic role model “more relevant than ever”

For immediate release: They say you can’t pick your relatives. But even if women’s advocate, Shari Graydon had been able to choose, she couldn’t have improved upon the iconic heroine she’s connected to by a lucky accident of birth.

Shari Graydon affects a sombre expression while standing next to the statue of Laura Secord on Parliament Hill in an attempt to discover whether there's sufficient family resemblance to earn her free chocolates.

Her mother, Norma, was born a Secord near Niagara-on-the-Lake, making Graydon a sixth-generation descendant of the woman known for her courageous 30-kilometre trek to warn General Fitzgibbon of the Americans’ impending attack in June of 1813.

“Because Laura Secord risked great personal peril to communicate her knowledge, she’s a particularly relevant source of inspiration for the work I do,” says Graydon. As founder of the non-profit project Informed Opinions, she trains women with expert information to share their insights – just as her famous ancestor did.

Research conducted by the project confirms other studies showing that female perspectives make up less than 25% of the commentary available on influential newspaper commentary pages and prominent talk shows in Canada. These figures are very similar to those recently reported elsewhere.

“Women’s absence from the public conversation means we have much less capacity to help shape policy and spending priorities,” says Graydon; “and that’s a problem — not just for women, but for Canada as a whole.” She cites a growing body of research finding that groups are more effective problem solvers when they rely on diverse perspectives, arguing the lack of women’s perspectives in the media is a barrier to Canada’s capacity to innovate.

“Laura Secord’s role modeling is more relevant today than ever.”

Graydon is honoured to be participating in an event being organized by the Department of Canadian Heritage at Fort York on Monday, June 18th from 9 am to 11 am, featuring the descendants of several prominent figures in the War of 1812.

For more information, contact claire(at) or shari(at)

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