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HomeCANADABrampton Councillor Rowena Santos receives Municipal World 2023 Women of Influence in...

Brampton Councillor Rowena Santos receives Municipal World 2023 Women of Influence in Local Government Award  

Municipal World has announced Rowena Santos, Councillor for Wards 1 and 5 in the City of Brampton, as the 2023 honouree of Municipal World’s Women of Influence in Local Government Award. 

It is the first time Municipal World is announcing a single honouree for the Women of Influence in Local Government Award, which celebrates women who have made significant contributions to the field, whether on the administrative or political side of life. 

Councillor Santos is the first Filipino on the City of Brampton Council, first elected in Wards 1 & 5 in 2018. Having lived in Brampton for most of her life, Councillor Santos has a deep appreciation and passion for the history and culture of the city.

Councillor Santos effectively advocates for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in municipal government, evidenced by her recent election into the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) board for the fourth straight term, being a member the Anti-Racism and Equity Committee since inception, as well as her work with the National Council of Canadian Muslims to combat islamophobia.  

Councillor Santos works to foster more inclusive work environments by making EDI a strategic priority, and her contributions help communities across Canada become more equitable and inclusive.

Since the beginning of her first term, she has consistently advocated to end gender based violence and passed important motions to increase awareness and take action to address intimate partner violence. Earlier this year, she passed a motion at Brampton City Council to enact the first-ever Women’s Empowerment Group for City staff, a Women’s Advisory Committee and gender-based analysis training for senior leaders. She encourages and provides women the opportunity to share their stories, ideas, influence, education, and heritage, to support advancement in senior leadership roles.   

As the City of Brampton’s Chair of Community Services, she has led work on youth mental health, fostering increased collaboration between all levels of government and the local school boards. Councillor Santos played a significant role in developing the first-ever International Students Charter alongside Sheridan College to help bring meaningful change to how international students experience life and study in Canada. As Chair, she has provided leadership in developing inclusive programs and services that support one of Canada’s most diverse cities. This has included championing a $200,000 grant for the local girls’ hockey association to transform their facility and give local players access to amenities on par with those in other municipalities.  

Rowena Santos, Regional Councillor, Wards 1 & 5; Municipal World 2023 Women of Influence in Local Government Award Honouree, said, “As a mother, daughter, sister and aunt, I am honoured to accept the Municipal World Women of Influence in Local Government Award for 2023. This award is a testament to the pursuit of progress for all women in politics. My sincere thanks to the women who have paved the way, my council and City colleagues, and the women of Brampton who support the advocacy for our community. This award recognizes the power of hard work and the increasing influence women have in our political sphere. Take your place. Own the space. Do it with style, humour, smarts and grace. Thank you, Municipal World, for this recognition.”  

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in one of the most impacted communities in Canada, Councillor Santos co-chaired the Social Support Task Force, which helped disproportionately impacted residents overcome food insecurity and access essential health and well-being supplies and services.

Her passion and dedication to the arts and artists in Brampton has led to significant advancements in Arts and Culture. In 2023, her leadership helped to pass a historic $15.8M budget for Municipal Arts and Culture service delivery in Brampton, including $2.6M for a purpose-built arts and culture centre to support an emerging creative community.  

Councillor Santos holds an H.B.B.A. degree from the Schulich School of Business and a Masters in Sustainable Development and Environmental Planning from the London School of Economics. Her passion for sustainability has included work on the Council declaration of a climate emergency within Brampton in 2019, plus the incorporation of active transportation lanes throughout Brampton to promote alternate modes of transportation that benefit the environment and residents’ health and well-being.  

Patrick Brown, Mayor, City of Brampton, said, “Councillor Santos is a fierce and fearless advocate for Brampton who strives to make a meaningful difference on many fronts in our community each day. At the Council table, she reminds us of our duty to look at City policies, services, programs and events through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure we best serve our own community while leading by example for others across Canada. She has shown courage and resilience challenging the status quo and the old guard before her unwilling to accept progressive change. Councillor Santos, congratulations on this award and thank you for being an inspirational leader in the City of Brampton.”  

Councillor Santos was raised in Brampton and is raising her son in Wards 1 & 5. As a supporter of the arts, she also enjoys playing with her local band Point of Order. She believes in a healthy and active lifestyle, regularly running and biking the Etobicoke Creek Trail. 

“The City of Brampton is unwavering in its commitment to building a more equitable, inclusive and empowering organization and community. We are immensely proud of Councillor Santos’ leadership on Council as she drives progress for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in municipal government. On behalf of the City of Brampton, congratulations to Councillor Santos on this incredibly significant and well-deserved recognition,” Marlon Kallideen, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Brampton, said. 

About the Municipal World Women of Influence Awards 

Launched in 2019, the award previously recognized multiple honourees. The 2023 award recognizes a single honouree plus two honourable mentions, selected from 57 nominations and 10 finalists. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Operation Black Vote Canada Chair Velma Morgan have been named as 2023’s honourable mentions. 

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