Empowering Women in Cornwall to Thrive

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
Stephanie McKay and Angele Ouimet

Stephanie McKay and Angele Ouimet

Five weeks ago, Stephanie Mackay and Angele Ouimet were complete strangers.

Now, to see them share laughs at a local café & bar, you would swear they’ve been friends for years. The two met after joining sheconnex, a networking group for women in Cornwall.

“You meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet,” said Stephanie who, along with her boyfriend, moved to Cornwall from Vancouver in August 2010.

Recently, both Stephanie and Angele attended a workshop at Renew Lifestyle Studio. “It was a small, intimate group,” said Angele. “We just kind of stuck side by side but didn’t really talk at first.” As the event went on however, they began chit-chatting and realized just how much they had in common.

Later on that cold, snowy February evening, Angele was set to walk home when Stephanie offered her a ride. A friendship was born. Since then, the ladies have met up for tea and have even double-dated over dinner with their boyfriends.

For Stephanie, meeting such a positive woman was inspiring and definitely a welcome change.

“For the first little while I was here, I met good people – a lot of people that lived here their whole lives,” said Stephanie. Unfortunately, she was constantly told there was nothing to do in Cornwall. Now, she realizes that isn’t the case.

“There’s a ton to do here,” she said. “I didn’t do this much when I was back home (in Vancouver).”

“I am so pleased about what Sheconnex is offering to the women in our community, and I feel that this story is just another reason why Cornwall is so great!”, said Karine Parthenais, Sheconnex founder. “We have had great succcess since launching just a few weeks ago – due in no small part to how warm and friendly people here are. We are fielding calls from people in other cities wanting to open a Sheconnex branch in their community.”

Stephanie originally heard about Sheconnex through her employer at The Latour Financial Group, where she is a Mortgage Agent. She “liked” the Sheconnex Facebook page and at the launch, she won an iPod because of it. “I had never won anything in my life!” said Stephanie, who also works at the Shoppers Drug Mart Distribution Centre, where she helps organize transportation.

Stephanie’s keeps busy with her two jobs but nonetheless, she wanted more. In her first month as a Sheconnex member, she’s had opportunities to attend everything from fitness and yoga classes to even a cooking class. “I think it’s cool because there’s such a variety of events; it never gets mundane,” said Stephanie, who also appreciates the different kinds of women she’s meeting. All, she says, are very supportive.

Angele is originally from Cornwall, but she too was living out west in Whistler, B.C., until recently. She moved back home with her boyfriend in June 2011 and this time around, she decided to get involved in the community. “You have to look for the things that are available; you can’t just sit at home and say there’s nothing to do,” she said.

Angele ran into high school friend and Sheconnex founder Karine Parthenais at a local coffee shop prior to the Sheconnex launch on Jan. 31. Karine told Angele about her project and she knew right away that this was right up her alley. “I wanted to benefit from it; I was curious and I wanted to support Karine as well.”

In fact, Angele has become quite involved with Sheconnex. She has recently put her nursing career on hold and has signed on with Sheconnex as a corporate assistant. Angele has also begun volunteering at Baldwin House, a women’s shelter which offers services for abused women and their children. Sheconnex has committed to lending Baldwin House a helping hand and at the launch, Karine and her team presented them with a generous donation.

“I watched them hand over that $1,000 cheque and I was wiping tears,” said Angele.

In some ways, Sheconnex has become a life-changing experience for her. “I’ve made new friends, I started working out, I’m volunteering now,” she said.
Angele also keeps busy as an Arbonne consultant. “Sheconnex was important socially but it was a kind of a business move too,” she said. “I needed to put myself out there and make new connections and meet women.”

Even the busiest woman can make time for Sheconnex according to Angele. “The launch was on a Tuesday night for two hours,” she said. “I probably would have been at home and done nothing. It’s a good way to get out of the house and it breaks up your week. It’s little things that I wouldn’t normally do.”

Angele was very curious with regards to those little things – small events and workshops that she chooses to participate in with an open mind. Because women have that frame of mind and attitude going in, it allows them to engage in conversation and connect. “When the first workshop came up, I said to myself: ‘I’m not going to say no I’m just going to go.’ And then I made a friend!”

For her part, Stephanie feels extremely welcome at Sheconnex and the positive energy has definitely rubbed off on her. She has met everyone from soccer moms to executives, 20-year-olds to 60-year-olds and all are there for different reasons.

“You never feel like an outsider, no matter what event you go to,” said Stephanie. “You don’t feel out of place and there’s no judging.”

Together, these ladies are helping each other attain their personal goals and dreams – whatever they may be.

“Strong women need to stick together,” said Angele.

About Sheconnex
Sheconnex is a membership based organization, specifically designed to give women the tools and insight needed to thrive professionally, personally and socially. You can learn more on the organization’s website:


The above article was written by Rodney Wilson.