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Women in Work Conference to hear stories of setbacks and success

Arts alumnae, community leaders set to inspire and empower students at inaugural conference this week

Communications alumnae Angela Dione, left, and Angel Guerra, the co-founders of Market Collective, will be speaking in the Her Story: Building Community in Calgary speaker night as part of the Women in Work Conference. Photo by Justina Contenti, Student Enrolment Services

By Justina Contenti, SES

University of Calgary students will be celebrating workplace equality and diversity this week during the inaugural Career Services’ Women in Work (WIW) Conference.

Taking place March 6-9, students will hear stories of setbacks and success from inspiring community leaders and industry professionals. Held in conjunction with International Women’s Day, WIW will inspire and empower women to reach their personal and professional goals.

Among those lending their voices to WIW are UCalgary alumni Angela Dione and Angel Guerra, who have been helping shape the arts and culture scene in Calgary for nearly 10 years. Dione and Guerra will speak during the final event of the conference, Her Story: Building Community in Calgary, a PechaKucha-inspired speaker night. 

While Dione, BA’09, and Guerra, BA’09, BEd’12, were finishing their Bachelors of Arts in Communications Studies, they were inspired to form a new market in Calgary to showcase local artists, artisans, designers and musicians. Their mutual interests in artistic expression and community building quickly blossomed into what is now known as Market Collective.

'You just have to believe in the project'

“When you first start something, you don’t know how it’s going to develop and you just put your sweat, tears and heart into it and you just have to believe in the project,” said Dione.

“So seeing the fruition of all of that work and seeing it become so much larger than anything you would have dreamed of has been really powerful.”

Since Market Collective launched in 2008, it has continued to grow, providing a space for hundreds of local artists to sell their goods and take home 100 per cent of the commission.

Community grows up around concept

The artist-centric approach to the market has helped create opportunities for Calgarians that weren’t as readily available before.

“We’ve seen countless success stories of people coming out of the Market Collective community who have been able to quit their jobs, grow their creative business and even open up their own stores,” said Dione.

Dione and Guerra attribute a lot of the market’s success to the community that has built up around it.

“If all of the artists and musicians and designers didn’t come out and put their full heart into this, then we would just be sitting there by ourselves with a really good idea,” said Guerra.

“It is really interesting knowing that you are directing (the market) but also knowing that your success depends on hundreds of different individuals.”

Arlene Dickinson keynote speech kicks off week

The Women in Work week kicks off with a keynote speech by Arlene Dickinson March 6, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in MacEwan Hall A and B. Both the opening and closing events of the conference are open to the entire campus community.

The rest of the four days are filled with roundtables, panel discussions and workshops, which are open to all current UCalgary students.

For registration details and more information about Women in Work visit