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Canadian Women Making a Difference: Petra Kooman

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are sharing a series of interviews with incredible women who #PressForProgress and are making a difference in Canada and around the world. Check our blog throughout the month of March for fresh inspiration!

Name: Petra Kooman
Occupation: Director of Marketing and Public Relations at IJM Canada
Age: 30s
How she's making a difference: Inspiring Canadians to protect the poor from violence and end slavery in our lifetime.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m currently the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for International Justice Mission Canada and have been with the organization since 2010.

I’m married and have a 17-month old son who keeps me on my toes. My mother told me that I was in constant motion as a toddler. I always chose to run rather than walk (I still do) and I can see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Outside of work hours, you can find me spending time with my husband and son or getting myself to a Saturday morning boxfit class with my friends.

2) What unique gifts do you bring to the world?
Maybe it’s by virtue of growing up on a farm, or seeing that the work of justice doesn’t happen overnight, but I increasingly value having the trait of endurance. I’m not sure if it’s a trait I was born with or a trait I developed over time, but the willingness to stay the course when things get tough has kept me going when all rational signs would point to giving up.

3) How are you making a difference right now?
I have the privilege of showing up at work every day and inspiring Canadians to help end slavery in our lifetime. It’s huge to try to end slavery, but not impossible. We’ve seen so many amazing transformations take place in countries like Cambodia and the Philippines that I do believe, together, we can do this.

4) What motivates you to do what you do?
As long as I can remember, I’ve had strong sense of "justice”. Not in the punitive sense, but as an overarching awareness that "things are not as they should be.” That kind of motivation could go in many directions but I’ve found that my interests in law and politics made me acutely aware of the impact a country’s public justice system can have in the life of a poor person.

5) Why are you passionate about the work of IJM? How do you show your support?
I love that IJM’s work focuses on the big picture (changing entire justice systems) but also on the one. Every single life matters. There are so many stories of our brave clients that remind me of the amazing restoration that can happen for a survivor of violence. Griselda’s story and Gowri’s story are two stories of amazing survivors that immediately come to mind.

I love sharing these stories, and many others, through my work at IJM Canada and inviting Canadians to seek an end to violence against the poor.

6) What would you like to see happen for women in the future?
If the women of the world could unite as one to demand an end to slavery, sex trafficking and sexual violence, I believe we would be an unstoppable force for good. In fact, history has proven over and over that the powerful voice of women can change the world.

7) If you could have a coffee chat with any woman, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’d love to meet with Corrie ten Boom. Her tenacity, unyielding faith, and courage inspire me! I want to sit with her over a cup of strong coffee and ask how she found the strength each day to persevere in the face of horrific circumstances.

8) What’s your favourite inspiring quote?
"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ― Earl Nightingale

9) What advice do you have for the women in our audience who want to make a difference in the world?
You are never too old or too young. You are never too much or not enough. Never listen to a lie that shouts about what you lack. The truth is that you are enough. You will undoubtedly make mistakes. And out of those mistakes you will learn. If there is a stirring in your heart to somehow make a difference, answer the call. You will not be disappointed.

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