When I think of some of my favourite girl bosses, it’s not necessarily Canadian women who come to mind. The US, the UK and more have so many amazing women, many of whom are in the media a lot more frequently, that I could have given you a list of my top girl bosses without thinking of any Canadians. But when I started to think about the girl bosses from Canada, I quickly realized that, for a country with a relatively small population, we have a disproportionately huge amount of girl bosses. From politicians to pageant winners, Canadian women are slaying. A huge number of them are minority women, and all of them have used their platforms to voice their opinions and make a change.
Although I came up with a long list of Canadian girl bosses, I restricted it to 10, then made it 11 because I can’t count. It seems you don’t have to look far to find an inspiring girl boss, but here are just a few.
Would it really be a Canadian girl boss list without her? Atwood has been killing it for decades. In addition to writing what many consider to be the ultimate feminist, anti-patriarchy book, The Handmaid’s Tale, which was recently made into an HBO series (more than a little timely), she has written many more novels, short stories, and poetry collections. She also has a master’s degree from Harvard (nbd, right?), and has been given 25 honorary degrees from other post-secondary institutions, including Oxford, Cambridge, and the Sorbonne. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s won more than a handful of awards, including multiple Governor General’s Awards. She’s also unapologetically outspoken about politics, and is a big environmentalist!
Considering that her YouTube username is Superwoman, it’s no surprise Singh is a girl boss. With over 12 million subscribers on YouTube, she is one of the highest-paid YouTubers. As this is a title shared mainly with white men, it’s super cool that Singh, an outspoken feminist and woman of colour, has made it to the top of the lists. She was ranked first in Forbes’ list of top influencers in entertainment. She frequently makes videos that are specifically relatable to women, and has a talk-show series, #GirlLove, on which she’s spoken to many celebrities. She’s continually challenged the stereotype of women being “not funny” (seriously, why is this still a thing?). She uses her voice for good as well, as a partner with Me to We, and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Additionally, she released her own lipstick with Smashbox—you know you’ve made it when you have your own lipstick.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
If movies and TV are anything to go by, being married to the leader of a country must get pretty stressful at times, but Sophie has consistently proven she’s up to it. She’s been hugely important as a diplomat: meeting and having to make small talk with the likes of Trump can’t be easy, but she makes it look effortless. She lends her voice to many social causes, as an ambassador for Plan Canada’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign, and has been outspoken about her past struggles with eating disorders. Justin’s pretty lucky to have married such an amazing woman.
One of the Hollywood stars Canadians are happy to call their own, Page has used her voice for many years to bring light to issues she cares about, including feminism and animal rights, and has been a powerful voice in the LGBTQ+ community. Most recently, she shared her story in the #MeToo movement, and has been supporting many other women who have shared their stories, too. Safe to say, she’s an all-around badass.
After moving to London at 19 from Waterloo, Ontario, Estée has grown her blog and YouTube channel to have an audience of millions. Her makeup and stationery videos are great, but she has also been part of a mental health and body image movement. With an audience of mostly young women, she talks about lots of issues that are relevant to them, and shows the parts of her life that aren’t perfect or “insta-worthy.” She’s also written a book, in case she wasn’t enough of a girl boss already.
A Canadian woman of colour and poet, Kaur has seen huge success in recent years. Her first collection of poetry, Milk and Honey, has been on multiple best seller lists and has sold over 1 million copies. Her second book of poetry, The Sun and Her Flowers, has already topped best seller lists. Her poetry has addressed topics around womanhood, her culture, and her experience as a person of colour. She has even addressed the stigma and taboo around menstruation through poetry and photography. She’s recently been spending time with Canadian leaders like Jagmeet Singh and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of her as a leader and activist.
In case you didn’t know, Payette is basically one of the most important people in Canada right now. As Canada’s new Governor General, she acts as the representative of the Queen in Canada, and has to approve any new federal bill or law before it can come into effect. This is a role held by Canadians who are particularly exemplary, and Payette definitely fits into the list of previous Governor Generals. Payette is an engineer and former astronaut; she’s been to space multiple times, so yeah, she’s pretty out-of-this-world (excuse the pun). Additionally, she speaks French and English fluently, and can hold conversations in Spanish, German, Italian, and Russian. Casual, right?
Currently serving as Canada’s Environment Minister, McKenna has been killing it for a long time. She has her master’s degree from the London School of Economics and her law degree from McGill University, which are only some of the best universities in the world. She has worked in the typically male-dominated fields of politics and law, was a senior negotiator on a UN peacekeeping mission, and was elected to the House of Commons in 2015. Lately, she’s had to stand up for herself against Canadian right-wing media website, The Rebel, after being referred to as “Climate Barbie” multiple times on their website. Said McKenna, “There are lots of girls that want to get into politics and it is completely unacceptable that you do this.” She’s certainly not going to let anyone reduce her to a “barbie.”
Collins has broken into the usually male-dominated realm of photography. At 24, her photography has been featured in magazines like Vogue and Elle and in campaigns for designers including Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney. Much of her photography has focussed on the portrayal of women in a realistic, natural way. After having her Instagram shut down for posting a photo of herself in a bikini with visible body hair, she wrote an essay for the Huffington Post, called “Why Instagram Censored My Body,” that blew up online. Since then, she’s continued to challenge the way women are shown in photography.
You might recognize Harlow from America’s Next Top Model, but she’s a Canadian! She gained a lot of publicity on ANTM as a contestant with the skin condition vitiligo, and has been challenging traditional beauty standards in the mainstream media. Since ANTM, she’s been featured in many fashion magazines and campaigns, spoken frankly about her struggles with depression, and done a TED talk, and she doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Not only was Callingbull-Burnham the first Canadian to win the Mrs. Universe pageant, she’s also an Indigenous Canadian woman who has been outspoken about her culture and the struggles Indigenous Canadians have faced and still face today. Of the Mrs. Universe pageant, she said, “It’s the perfect time to tell the truth.” But she’s not letting herself be defined as a pageant girl. She’s voiced her political opinions online, encouraged Indigenous people to vote, criticized our previous government for their lack of action on Indigenous issues, and held our current government accountable for the promises they have made to Indigenous communities. She’s spoken openly and honestly about her experiences with abuse, poverty, and racism. She’s made it clear she’s going to use her title to make a difference.
Who are your favourite girl bosses? Let us know in the comments below!