I have noticed lately that women are rising up, speaking up, and supporting one another more and more. It really came to my attention in the reality TV show, Canada’s Ultimate Challenge. Have you seen it?

In this competition, there are 6 teams of 4 ordinary people who really, in my mind, are extraordinary. And, each team is coached by a world class Canadian athlete like Donovan Bailey, Olympic Gold Medalist in the 100 metre sprint, and Clara Hughes, Olympic Medalist in both speed skating and cycling.

The teams travel to awe-inspiring locations across the country and compete in obstacle course races that test their physical and mental strength and endurance. The challenges are gruelling as in traversing underneath a 100 metre long suspension bridge, 100 metres above the valley floor on swinging beams and discs in Squamish, B.C.; pulling a 21,000 lb airplane down a tarmac in Kelowna, B.C.; and carrying buckets of water up 487 stairs at Montmorency Falls, Quebec City.

Some challenges require one team member to compete, others are in tandem with 2 team members, and still others require the whole team. At the beginning of each challenge, the coaches have 5 minutes to strategize with their teams.

The dynamics are so interesting to watch. As you would expect, there are the macho, brute force types like one coach, Luke Willson, an NFL Super Bowl Champion. I’ve never heard of him but that’s not saying much. I’m not a football fan.

Over the last couple of weeks, the women have risen to the occasion in different ways. Clara Hughes bowed out as team captain to take care of her mental and emotional health. She’s the national spokesperson for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign promoting mental health awareness. I’m glad to see she leads by example and doesn’t just talk the talk. Her team was very supportive, especially the women, of her decision to step down and put her own well-being first. Even though, it left them kind of stranded. But alas, another coach stepped in to replace her.

In the Ultimate Plane Pull challenge where the teams had to pull an airplane over 50 metres down the tarmac, the red team, which is Donovan Bailey’s team, appeared most likely to win. They had the biggest and most musclely men on their team. And guess what? They lost. They should have won but their testosterone levels got in the way. Each of them tried to brute force their way to victory. They didn’t work together as a team. The one and only woman on the team was not comfortable with how it all went down. She spoke up and called out her male teammates. She specifically said, there’s too much testosterone going on. We’re not strategizing, listening to one another, or working together. Yay, Lori! She’s a 50-year-old Indigenous woman.

And finally there was the Ship to Shore swim challenge and it was a tough one. In this solo challenge, one member had to swim out 110 metres to a tall ship, climb up a rope ladder, hoist their team flag, and then dive back in and swim back the 110 metres to shore. Bradley of Team Black, coached by Luke the footballer, was extremely confident, even cocky, that he could easily win this challenge because he had swum the English Channel. Do you think he won? No, of course not. I was thrilled to see Dustin, the guy who had never made the school swim team but hung out at the pool every day and practiced, come out on top. Victory is sweet!

But the real story here is Lori swimming for the red team. Half way through, she was not doing well. She was exhausted and couldn’t work up the courage to jump back in the water and swim the 2nd leg of the race. She just couldn’t do it. So, Waneek Horn-Miller, an Olympian in water polo and coach of the blue team, knew she was in trouble. She swam out to Lori, stayed by her side, and coached her all the way back to shore. And, she wasn’t even her team’s coach. Wow, I love that she didn’t care whose team it was. She just saw someone in trouble and didn’t hesitate to dive in and help out.

Now we’re down to the semi-finals and there are only 3 teams left. The winning team gets to go to the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics to cheer on Team Canada. Sweeeet!

I highly recommend this reality TV series. It’s on CBC on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm EST. You’ll be in awe of the contestants’ grit and determination as they step up for each challenge. And, you’ll also be in awe of the beauty and diversity of our country’s landscape. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to watch the team dynamics especially the women. Go ladies go!!

And speaking of women supporting women, I’m so grateful for the women who came to my Design Focus Group this weekend. They showed up, spoke up, and were engaging, insightful, and full of ideas and suggestions. You’ll have to wait until next week though to see the results.

Until then,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna

I’m a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer. My COKANNA Canadian-made bamboo clothing is all about comfort and style. Giving back to the community is important to me so I support local breast cancer organizations who treat the whole person and not just the disease.