Welcoming Community: Gender Equity

As March is Women’s History Month, we want to challenge you to consider the topic of Gender Equity in this month’s newsletter.  

Significant historical inequities with regards to gender have been present worldwide, statewide, and in our region of northeastern Minnesota. Consider Equal Pay Day, the day symbolizing how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year—this year, March 14. Women have fought for equal rights, pay, and representation for generations. The conversation around gender equity also includes transgender individuals.

Efforts are being undertaken by individuals and groups in northeast Minnesota to promote gender equity and provide every individual within our communities with equitable opportunities to develop within and contribute to their communities regardless of their gender. 


A recognition of the past and continuing inequities in relation to gender can help local governments, community members, and organizations advocate for gender equity for all community members in the region.  

Welcoming efforts around gender equity might consist of:  

  • Identifying and addressing existing barriers related to gender equality 
  • Highlighting historical and current examples of excellence from underrepresented gender backgrounds 
  • Encouraging community discussion and group learning in considering how policies related to gender will impact various groups 

Considering gender equity is essential to understanding a more complete picture of equity across the Northland. Visit the Resources to Explore section below to learn more about current initiatives and stories around gender equity in the Northland.  

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” —Rebecca West   

Continued Learning 

The goal of the Welcoming Community program is to provide continued opportunities for learning and connection related to topics relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our region. In our monthly emails, we highlight a specific equity topic and provide resources related to the monthly theme. 

The theme for the month of March is Gender Equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section, we ask that you consider the following question: 

“In terms of gender equity in northeast Minnesota, where have we come from, where are we now, and what steps do we need to take to reach an equitable future?” 

Resources to Explore 

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Inclusion Learning Cohorts: One Step Toward a Welcoming Community  

Northspan’s Welcoming Community programming, in partnership with local, regional, and national educators, has been organizing and facilitating monthly meetings in two areas of the region: the geographic areas of the Cook County School District and the Cloquet School District. These Inclusion Learning Cohorts (ILCs), were formed in 2022, beginning with an Inclusion Readiness Assessment survey to establish a baseline for understanding the inclusiveness of each of these rural communities. The focus was then placed on working with local community members in understanding needs unique to the communities, engaging educators with expertise related to gaps in inclusion identified, and relying on local knowledge.  

The ILCs consist of monthly workshops over a seven-month period. Each workshop topic is based off needs identified in the Inclusion Readiness Assessment survey, and input from community members. The workshops are experiential learning opportunities focused on:  

  • Building relationships across difference  
  • Learning inclusive community practices 
  • Discussing challenges in the community  
  • Identifying a community project to move forward together 

Both the Cloquet Area and Cook County Area ILCs are currently wrapping up their seven-month series of workshops, and are in process of selecting a community inclusion project for which they can apply for a grant to fund up to $5,000.


The ILCs in these communities are just one step in moving toward a Welcoming Community for our region of northeast Minnesota.  

One participant from the Cloquet Area Cohort, Hillary Hedin, shared this thought at the conclusion of the workshop series: 

“It was so encouraging to hear how each of us wanted what is best for our community—to live in harmony with one another—working, playing, learning together. Helping each other, making sure our neighbor is OK—no matter what differences we may have with that person.” 

After the success seen in these two cohorts, Northspan plans to continue ILCs in rural areas of the region. More information on upcoming cohorts and a future application process will be shared as it becomes available.  


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Welcoming: In the News! 


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 Welcoming Events Across the Northland 

Photo Credit: Matthew Sauser, Matthew Sauser Photography 

Many initiatives are ongoing to support Welcoming across northeast Minnesota. Listed below are some in-person and digital opportunities to explore and participate in! 

Do you know about a connection opportunity we could highlight in an upcoming newsletter? Submit events to alewis@northspan.org by April 10th, 2023. 

Minnesota Film Festival: Indigenous Filmmaker Shorts
April 1st, 2023 at 2:00PM
Zeitgeist, Zinema 2
Learn more here 

AICHO Dabinoo’Igan Concert Fundraiser 2023
April 6th, 2023 at 7:00-9:00PM
NorShor Theatre, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

ECO 3 Earth Week Events
April 17th–April 22 (multiple events)
Multiple Locations
Learn more here 

Campfire Conversations Hosted by The Current Collective
April 20th, 6:00-8:00PM
Duluth Folk School/Dovetail Cafe, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

The Itasca Lyceum: Why Democracy?
April, 24th 2023
Rapids Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, MN
Learn more here 

See No Stranger: A Manifesto of Revolutionary Love
April 26th, 2023 at 7:30-9:00PM
Mitchell Auditorium, The College of St. Scholastica
Learn more here 

The Duluth Lyceum: What do we owe our local environment?
May 25th, 2023
Duluth Folk School/Dovetail Cafe, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

Leading with our Hearts:
Ojibwe, Sami, & Nordic Designs from Nature

Multiple dates & times
Nordic Center, Duluth, MN
Learn more here 

Love Your Block Mini-Grant: Accepting Applications
(Lincoln Park & Hillside Neighborhood)

Application Deadline: June 1st, 2023
Learn more here 

Ongoing Events 

Cultural Healing Program:
Weekly Beading Classes

Learn more here

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:
Ke Go Naa! Language Lessons

Learn more here

Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging:
Classes, Workshops, Trainings 

Learn more here

Entrepreneur Fund: Stride
Learn more here

Members Cooperative Credit Union
Financial Education Webinars

Learn more here
 Banzai Financial Wellness Library

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:
2023 Gitigaan Classes 

Learn more here

Minnesota Women’s Press Changemakers Alliance
Learn more here 

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Invite a Friend  

If you know others in your community who are interested in participating with Welcoming Community programming, please share this blog post so they can learn more & Click Here to join our email list. 

Contact Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org with any questions.