Dozens of women filed into the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre last Wednesday for a morning of fun, frank discussions and wellness.
“We really just wanted to let people know what’s available in the community,” said organizer Brenda Hall. “I was talking with a friend and we thought it would be a great opportunity and now it’s going so well, we think we’re going to do it again next year.”
Hall estimated about 20 exhibitors answered the call and brought tables, many of them from public health. They were joined by vendors like Steeped Tea and Norwex, along with an on-site Jazzercize class.
More than anything, Hall said she hoped the fair served as a safe space for women to ask questions and connect with providers.
Becky Boden, an nurse specializing in incontinence and prolapse, was on hand with an array of pessaries — devices inserted into the vagina that can help women control urine leakage and even prevent pelvic prolapse. She said that while it is largely underreported, these problems affect an estimated 50 per cent of women in North America.
And she said people often don’t know that there are non-surgical solutions.
“It’s an embarrassing thing to talk about,” she said. “In our community, people don’t get the information they need, and they end up going to the clinic or Stanton, and just not getting what they need.”
Judy Steele, supervisor for the public health division of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, said the fair was a timely event with International Women’s Day having just passed the previous Sunday.
“Women need to be celebrated more,” she said, adding that while there are many services available nearby, they aren’t always accessed as much as they could be. “Sometimes there’s a dearth of advertising, and in such a small town, you assume that everyone knows what’s available to them but that’s just not the case.”
Hall said all the exhibitors were eager to get on board, but that the high turnout in terms of visitors to those exhibits was a happy surprise.
“I think that women generally north of 60 are underserved,” she said. “Sometimes because of our geography but sometimes because it can be intimidating to come out and ask for help. This is a fun, relaxed atmosphere and I hope they feel comfortable getting when they need here.”