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Barrier-breakers given their due at awards gala

Esteemed women get Distinction nods

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Nominees for the 38th annual YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Gala gather before the event Wednesday evening at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Nominees for the 38th annual YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Gala gather before the event Wednesday evening at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. Photo Store

One has a lifetime of battling to eradicate women's negative body image and eating disorders. Another is a pioneer in adult education. And two are extraordinary practitioners of yoga.

The 38th annual YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards were celebrated Wednesday evening at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg -- honouring 13 amazing women.

"These women have broken down barriers and helped others with their words and actions," said Betty Black, past chairwoman of the steering committee.

This year's recipients:

-- Eira 'Babs' Friesen Lifetime Achievement Award to Joan Hibbert.

As a lay member of the ministry team at Augustine United Church in the early 1980s, Hibbert listened to the stories of women challenged with addiction and childhood trauma. Soon after, she co-founded, developed and co-ordinated for three years the Women's Post Treatment Project, known today as the Laurel Centre.

-- Gerrie Hammond Memorial Award of Promise to Hannah Taylor.

At the age of eight, she founded the Ladybug Foundation Inc., which has raised awareness and much-needed funds for homelessness projects.

-- Prairie Award of Promise to Rhianna Holter-Ferguson.

As Stonewall youth town councillor, Holter-Ferguson has used her position to empower other youth her age by establishing the Town Council Youth Award, which recognizes the contributions of outstanding youth.

-- Arts to Patti Caplette.

Caplette is an award-winning creator who has worked in the fields of professional dance, musical theatre, film, cabaret and special events for more than 40 years.

-- Circle of Inspiration to Prairie Yogi.

Monique Pantel is the yin to Rachelle Taylor's yang. They used their complementary strengths to build the yoga and lifestyle brand Prairie Yogi Inc., which aims to unite and inspire women to celebrate physical activity and live a mindful life.

-- Culture to Ruth Naomi Livingston.

As president of the board of trustees for Temple Shalom from 2006 to 2010, Livingston spearheaded monthly workshops to bring members together and helped form a committee to assist people in need through food donations and hospital visits.

-- Education, training, and mentorship to Sheila Billinghurst.

Billinghurst is a pioneer in the field of adult education in Manitoba.

-- Leadership and management to Jan Sanderson.

Sanderson has been working for the province since 1989, forging new partnerships and new approaches to improve outcomes for all Manitoba children, as chief executive officer of the Healthy Child Manitoba Office and Secretary to the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet (HCCC).

-- Public awareness and communications to Chrissy Troy.

As a fixture of Winnipeg radio for more than a decade, 103.1 host Chrissy Troy starts work at 3 a.m., yet has given up countless hours of her personal time to host and promote charitable events.

-- Science, technology, and the environment to Zahra Moussavi.

Growing up in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s meant Moussavi, as a girl, did not receive the same quality of education as a boy her age would have. Nevertheless, Moussavi earned a PhD in electrical engineering and a postdoctoral in biomedical engineering.

-- Voluntarism, advocacy, and community enhancement to Colleen Allan.

Allan, current executive director of the St. Raphael Wellness Centre, has devoted herself to the advancement of causes affecting women, especially vulnerable women facing family violence, addiction and other life issues.

-- Wellness, healthy living, and recreation to Karen Williams.

Dedicated to sports for people with disabilities, Williams is now the head coach of the Para Storm Swim Club, and her athletes have participated in more than 130 competitions on the provincial and national levels.

-- Young woman of distinction to Akosua Bonsu.

One of eight young women chosen to represent Canada on an international trade and development mission to Asia, and the only delegate representing Manitoba, Bonsu works with international students and new immigrants.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2014 A2

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