MEDIA

The Globe and Mail

Woman to take command of Station 116

On the back wall of the fire station 102 in Mississauga is a corkboard with a pin-up of a bewitching brunette with plump lips in a tight, black sheath with a plunging neckline. “Pretend you didn’t see that!” one of the firefighters calls out through a husky burst of laughter, in an attempt to erase a well-worn stereotype

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Toronto Sun

Blazing a trail for women

She’s the first female fire captain in the City of Mississauga’s history and one of a just a few women fire captains in all of Canada. And though Shelli Varela is proud to pave the way for other women and young girls, she also sees herself as a role model for underdogs everywhere.

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Mississauga.com

Mississauga’s first female firefighter pens book to encourage children to follow their dreams

Shelli Varela followed her dream. In 1994, she became the first female firefighter with Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services. In 2008, she became the first female captain in the city’s history and one of the few women across Canada to hold this title. Now she’s written a book, Peanut Meets the Pigtailed Firefighter, to encourage kids to follow their own dreams.

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Mississauga.com

Fire department to welcome first female captain

Mississauga will soon have its first female fire captain. Firefighter Shelli Varela will be promoted on July 7 to the rank of captain, making her the first female captain in the city’s history and one of the few in all of Canada. She was also the first female firefighter ever hired by the City of Mississauga, when she joined the 500-strong Mississauga firefighter ranks in 1994.

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The Mississauga News

Fire department appoints first female captain

Mississauga will soon have its first female fire captain. Firefighter Shelli Varela will be promoted on July 7 to the rank of captain, making her the first female captain in the city’s history and one of the few in all of Canada. She was also the first female firefighter ever hired by the City of Mississauga, when she joined the 500-strong Mississauga firefighter ranks in 1994.

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Women’s Post

Shelli Varela: fanning the flames of a dream

November 21, 2008 By: Meghan Young Imagine an adult with a twinkle in her eye as she playfully asks a child the inevitable question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Now picture the child’s grave little face, brows knitted and lips puckered, as she replies earnestly, “Doctor.” In the simple life of a child, there are only a few dream professions from which to choose, the most popular being astronaut, firefighter, doctor, and, yes, superhero. When posed this particular question, however, captain of Mississauga fire station 116 Shelli Varela admits that when she was young she wanted to be a jockey. “I was always so much smaller than everyone else and, well, I loved horses,” she says. So how did this small, quiet girl — albeit a tomboy — who wanted to race horses end up becoming one of the rare female fire captains? In all modesty, Shelli simply states, “I ranked well in the testing process alongside some very outstanding individuals, whom I’m proud to work with to this day.” She was inspired by a family friend who was a firefighter in Toronto. “He was the first person who not only told me that I should apply, but thought that I could do it,” she says. At the time, there were no college firefighting programs, and so once she decided that she wanted to pursue firefighting, Shelli “built an education by piecing together individual courses that addressed the duties of a firefighter.” With such determination, Shelli never saw being a woman as a challenge. Instead, she considers her height her greatest obstacle: “At five-foot-two, the world seems like it’s the wrong size some days, but it causes me to think about things differently.” Perhaps it’s this creative side that allows her to “find the positive in the negative,” turning what could be a disadvantage into an asset. It is this outlook on life that Shelli carries with her as she “campaigns for the empowerment of women and children.” Supporting such organizations as Breakfast of Champions, Girl Guides of Canada, and Firefighters Without Borders, Shelli reveals, “My ‘fever,’ if you can call it that, is watching someone light up when you first convince them that they can do something they thought they couldn’t. I think creativity gives people the ability to make them feel they can accomplish these things, makes them think outside their box.” At the tender age of 38, with 14 years of experience already under her belt, Shelli will continue to fight fires and spark hope with her motto: “Be the best and give ’er!” Meghan Young dreamed of being a singer as a young child. The dream died when she realized she was tone deaf.

 

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Toronto Sun

They’re hot for a cause

FIREFIGHTERS FROM across Canada are heating things up this month with the release of their 2006 calendar. The Firefighter Calendar, which goes on sale Sept. 23 for $15, features women on one side, men on the other. Proceeds from the calendar are expected to top $10,000, which will go to the Canadian Cancer Society.

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The Globe and Mail

Firefighter calendar for him and her

The traditional firefighters calendar isn’t just for one gender, any more. The 2005 Canadian fundraising calendar is reversible — featuring one calendar of men and another of women. Firefighter and project co-ordinator Shelli Varela said public demand led to the dual calendar. “I was the co-ordinator of the first-ever Canadian national all-female firefighters calendar,” said Ms. Varela, who has been a firefighter for 10 years in the Toronto area.

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