A global movement encouraging women to get outside and meet new people has landed in Kamloops.
The Lady Alliance began as an online community but the founder hosted the first in person event in 2017, a long weekend meet up that was never intended to be the start of something larger.
But as interest grew members joined from all over the world and The Lady Alliance has added more trips, retreats and courses all over.
This year a chapter was started in Kamloops by Jacqueline Siemens a few years after she made the move from Saskatcehwan to B.C.
“In my first three months (in Kamloops) I was trying to do everything I could because going from the prairies to the mountains I was like, ‘I love all of this.’ And not having a huge friend base here luckily Kamloops has so many walking trails and hiking paths.”
She said she started following The Lady Alliance on social media around a year ago. In March when they began recruiting new chapter co-ordinators, volunteers who help organize local events and connections, Siemens decided to apply.
A Kelowna get together last year showed her the good that can come from getting involved.
“It was my first chapter event that I experienced and it was really neat. It was a group of I think 15 women hiking, and we had a fire and it was just cool. At the end of the hike you had a few new friends so that’s what I’m hoping to build here.”
She said that experience encouraged her to get more involved.
“It’s not like there’s a strict model that you have fit into which is part of the reason why I like The Lady Alliance so much, it feels like a space where women of all shapes, sizes, heights, ethnicities, anything can come together and enjoy exploring and adventuring and sharing a little bit of a social aspect.”
After being accepted, the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions put a halt to most events, but as restrictions have lifted Siemens has been able to host her first few get togethers for members.
So far members have met for two hikes, but Siemens said she hopes as the chapter matures more members will participate and there can be more variety in the meet ups.
“What I’m hoping is that even if I have a couple people join a hike that have never experienced a hike outside of Kamloops and they walk away with a confidence to go explore on their own and hopefully join us for another event. That’s what I’m shooting for.”
But more than gaining a huge amount of members, Siemens wants to make an impact on individuals.
“For myself I’m six one, a plus size woman, so I don’t see a lot of people that look like me when I go shopping for outdoor gear or even try to find gear that fits. So it’s nice to be able to encourage people that your body is not a barrier to enjoy the outdoors.
“That’s the beauty of outdoor space…to break down those barriers of who an adventurer is, what a woman in the wilderness looks like. If you fit the model of what the outdoor community has put together, beautiful, if you don’t fit, beautiful. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy nature.”
She’s also open to creating events that members want to see.
“It can be whatever we want it to be which is the beautiful thing about it. We can make it whatever works for our community.”
The group is open to anyone but a waiver must be signed before participation.
On Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. the chapter is participating in the virtual No Man’s Land film festival featuring movies from four women with stories of breaking barriers in the outdoors.
Tickets, available through the chapter’s Facebook and Instagram pages, are by a minimum donation of $10.
“If you’re looking for local events that’s where joining your local chapter is beneficial.”