When Senator Pamela Wallin was born in 1953, women in Canada had been eligible to serve in the Senate for less than 25 years.
It was only in 1929 that the Privy Council of Great Britain overturned a 1928 Supreme Court of Canada decision that upheld a provision in the British North America Act that women were not legally "persons" and therefore not eligible for appointment to the Upper Chamber.
Wallin was in Yorkton Friday night to help Shelwin House and the Canadian Federation of University Women/Yorkton Club celebrate International Women's Day at a dinner event at St. Mary's Cultural Centre.
In her speech on the challenges and benefits of mentoring, Wallin underscored the strides in politics and business women have made saying society, at least in the west, has gotten to the point where people don't even really talk about the first woman to do this or the first woman to do that.
The senator, who hails from Wadena originally, said she didn't think twice about accepting the invitation.
"I said yes right away because it's always nice to come home and have the opportunity to say thank you to the people in your own community for what they do," she said.
Specifically, she praised the work of Shelwin House, which provides shelter in Yorkton for women and children fleeing from abusive relationships.
"I think we're all sad that we still need a Shelwin House, but thank God they're there," she said. "This whole discussion of mentorship and building leadership, that's what it is. It is being there for women in need and they will, in turn, do that in some way for someone else. It's always about paying it forward and I think that's the real importance of this."
In addition to Wallin, Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit and Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney brought greetings from the Province and City respectively. Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz, who was on the agenda, was not present.
Deb Wilkinson, chair of the Shelwin House board of directors, who spoke at the beginning of the evening about the history of International Women's Day, was very pleased with the event.
"I am absolutely thrilled," she said. "It was everything I was hoping for and more."
About International Women's Day, she said, "It represents everything from being the very small possession, really, to being entrepreneurs, politicians and business owners."
Although Wallin joked with the audience about "getting away from the Ottawa press gallery," she did answer questions about the controversy of her senatorial expenses for Yorkton This Week suggesting she is anxious to lift the veil of silence she continues to exercise.
"In my own circumstance, I'll just wait until all the process is gone through, until they're all finished and then I think I'll have some things to say about how I think the Senate functions," she said. "I'm just going through this as everybody else is going through this so, lots of things I'd like to say, and lots of things that I will say eventually, but I think it's just wise at this point to just let things unfold and then I'll have plenty of time."