Mountain Equipment Company

Join us: March 2022

The Empowerment Festival is now over. A big thank you to everyone who made this event a huge success! Ticket sales for the event raised $3700 for The Lady Alliance scholarship programs for women+ in adventure.

Celebrating International Women’s Day and diversity outdoors.

We’re excited to announce The Empowerment Festival: a film and speaker series that amplifies incredible stories, people, and lived experiences to allow us to uncover our own power within. Join us to hear mountaineers, guides, athletes and adventurers share their stories of self-empowerment in the outdoors.

Everyone is welcome – we can’t wait to see you there!

Event details

Join us! Tickets are just $10 and proceeds support The Lady Alliance, a non-profit that’s helping build scholarship opportunities for women+ in adventure.

Along with an awesome lineup of speakers, each event will have films and local community groups to help you take the next step for your adventures. Plus, there’ll be giveaways and a special MEC 10% off discount night – it’s going to be good.

Scroll down to see speakers, films, and full event details for each location:

  • Vancouver: March 8, 2022

  • Kelowna: March 15, 2022

  • Calgary: March 14, 2022

  • Toronto: March 16, 2022

  • Montreal: March 18, 2022

Scholarships are available to ensure this event is financially accessible to everyone; contact info@theladyalliance.com for more info.

Can’t make the event? You can watch featured films and recordings of each event for free online starting March 21: tv.unitycollectivemedia.com

Event info by location

The Empowerment Festival is making five event stops across the country. Each event will have national virtual hosts, as well as inspiring in-person speakers and local community groups doing great stuff in the outdoors near you.

We’ll be following provincial COVID safety guidelines at each event.

National (virtual) guest: Erin Parisi

Founder of the nonprofit TranSending7 and a lifelong athlete, Erin arrived in Colorado over 15 years ago and grew attached to outdoor spaces and the freedom and friendships they fostered. After announcing her transition, questions arose within herself, friends, and family on whether she would be able to continue her passion for adventure sports and travel at the same pace she had in her past life. Erin joins us to share her life story and commitment to taking on the 7 Summits project. Since starting, she completed three of the 7 Summits in six months with ascents in Australia, Africa, & Europe in the first half of 2018, and has accomplished even more summits since then.

National host: Kieren Britton

Kieren is the founder of The Lady Alliance, a nonprofit with the goal of changing the face of leadership in the outdoors. She loves to dream of the ridiculous and make it a reality. Whether it’s cycling across Canada or converting a school bus into a full-time home, there is nothing Kieren enjoys more than testing the limits and learning more about herself.

Films

  • TranSending: follows the journey of Erin Parisi as she comes into her own identity as a Transgender woman and trains for the Seven Summits to promote awareness and visibility for the Trans community. (Produced by: Wondercamp Films, TranSending7)

  • The Titan Project: follows Sabrina Appiah, a Canadian sport climber with Indian & African heritage on a mission to send her first 5.14a – the threshold for elite climbing. It’s also much more than that. It’s a story of one woman’s journey of self acceptance, healing and resilience. (Produced by: Danielle Williams, Melanin Base Camp)

Vancouver: March 8

Time: 7:30pm

Location: MEC Vancouver (111 2nd Ave East)

Speaker: Heather Geluk

Heather’s zest for adventure reflects a love for the outdoors and an inherent sense of ‘wanderlust’. She actively uses her experiences as an adventurer climbing the highest mountains on earth – from the Himalayas to the Andes to the Alps – as opportunities to inspire others and ‘give back’. Her newest expedition is her personal journey through the diagnosis of cancer. Heather joins us to share her journey into the mountains and how the last year with this diagnosis, treatment and new journey has shaped her love for her body, capabilities and overall joy in life.

Kelowna: March 15

Time: 7:30pm

Location: MEC Kelowna (1876 Cooper Rd #100)

Speaker: Lina Augaitis

Lina has established herself as one of the world’s top female standup paddlers with wins around the world from 2014 onwards. Originally from Ottawa, ON, Lina now lives and trains in Vernon/Coldstream, BC. She also enjoys expeditions which allow her to further push the limits of the sport by exploring new areas on her SUP, recently being the first to SUP the 750km from Whitehorse to Dawson in the Yukon. Lina is also a certified school teacher and mom to two beautiful young children: Tavas and Aiste that fill her days with challenges and joys.

Calgary: March 14

Time: 7:30pm

Location: MEC Calgary (830 10 Ave SW)

Speaker: Heather Black

Heather’s ancestral name is O’takii Tsowakii. A natural-born adventurist from the Blood Tribe Nation, Heather founded Buffalo Stone Woman, an organization that teaches participants about Indigenous culture and history through hiking tours. What makes each hike special is sharing the beauty of her Indigenous culture and stories of resilience. As a spirited entrepreneur, she is a workshop facilitator, strategist, advisor and always supporting economic development in the Business and Education sectors.

Toronto: March 16

Time: 7:30pm

Location: MEC Toronto (300 Queen St W)

Speaker: Sabrina Appiah

Originally from Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, Sabrina was raised in Hamilton, ON. At 26 years old, she tried her hand at climbing. Showing us all that you can start late, take a non-traditional path and still pursue your passion. Now, she regularly sends 5.13a/b and her recent project, Titan, is a 5.14a -the threshold for the highest level of climbing, regardless of gender – is the subject of our feature film. By “climbing hard, pushing limits and taking up space outside” she hopes to set an example for all adventurers -especially women+ of color who may not see themselves represented in the outdoors.

Montreal: March 18

Time: 7:30pm

Location: MEC Montreal (8989 Bd de l’Acadie)

Speaker: Emma Contaoe, MEC Climbing Ambassador

Emma is an avid climber and lover of all things outdoors. As a certified rock climbing instructor in Quebec and founder of Climbing Escapes, she teaches beginners the basics of climbing outdoors safely. She also hosts climbing, camping and yoga woman+ empowerment retreats near Montreal. Through five years of teaching, she’s realized that it is as meaningful to her as climbing itself.

About the fest and The Lady Alliance

This festival is produced by Unity Collective and supports The Lady Alliance. Previously known as the Women’s Empowerment Festival, it travelled across Canada in 2019, sold out in every location and had hundreds of attendees – it was a huge hit. MEC is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the 2022 edition.

The Lady Alliance’s mission is to make the world a better, more inclusive place, one adventure and adventurer at a time. Creating a more inclusive outdoor industry requires diverse leadership and inviting, safe and fun communities full of adventure and experience. The Lady Alliance is creating both.

Each local chapter provides fun free monthly events providing the opportunity to meet with other local adventurers in your area.

Thanks to their sponsors, The Lady Alliance provides scholarships that are helping change the face of leadership in the outdoors. From AST1 courses to full hiking guide certifications, they’re growing their scholarship opportunities to help BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, non-binary, gender diverse and female leaders excel in the backcountry. Because everyone should have the opportunity to experience education in the outdoors.