Meet our shining lights

'Magical night' honours women's contributions across the province


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Ladies who lunch are so last century: Now, we celebrate those who lead.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/05/2011 (4227 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ladies who lunch are so last century: Now, we celebrate those who lead.

On Wednesday night, 78 Manitoba women were honoured as nominees for the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, which salute women carving out achievements in fields from education and arts to science and health.

They come from every background and all walks of life. There was a scientist on a quest to beat breast cancer, an artist committed to creating space for all kinds of creations and even the first woman to earn a doctoral degree from Providence Theological Seminary.

Dr. Yvonne Myal

The only two things they had in common? They were all women, and they were all recognized for their work.

Twelve awards were handed out at the 35th annual ceremony, which brought together hundreds of attendees for a gala dinner at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Tickets to the event cost a pretty penny, but all for a good cause: The proceeds will boost the YWCA’s women’s programs, including after-school and seniors’ activity programs.

A “humbled” Dr. Mary Pankiw accepted the night’s first honour, the Ira Babs Lifetime Achievement award.

“Tonight is the magical night of milestones, of reaching for the silvery stars… Where everyone is a winner.”

“I thank Canada… and the great people of Manitoba… and the great city of Winnipeg. We have it all,” a proud and eloquent Rev. Deborah Olukoju said. She won the Voluntarism, Advocacy and Community Enhancement award.

Here’s a look at the winners’ list:

ARTS: Jordan Miller, who founded cre8ery art gallery to give space to diverse and emerging artists.

CIRCLE OF INSPIRATION: 2010 University of Winnipeg Students’ Association directors Lauren Bosc, Rebecca Bock-Freeman, Katie Haig-Anderson, Lana Hastings, Ava Jerao and Danielle Otto led the way on student and social justice issues.

Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press Joan Durrant

CULTURE: University of Manitoba Icelandic department visionary Birna Bjarnadóttir.

EDUCATION: U of M Family Science professor Joan Durrant’s widely published research on child-rearing sparked worldwide interest.

LEADERSHIP: Mariette Mulaire spearheaded the creation of Centrallia, the ambitious business forum that launched in Winnipeg.

PUBLIC AWARENESS: Local PR goddess RoseAnna Schick has built buzz for countless cultural and aboriginal artists and events.

SCIENCE: Dr. Yvonne Myal has led innovative research to enhance our understanding of breast cancer.

VOLUNTARISM: Rev. Deborah Olukoju is a tireless mentor for immigrant women, helping them achieve education, health care, careers and even family counselling.

HEALTHY LIVING: Seven Oaks General Hospital president and COO Carrie Solmundson helped drive the hospital and its Wellness Institute to close gaps in the system and improve patient and employee care.

YOUNG WOMAN OF DISTINCTION: Channing Lavallee is a social worker at St. Boniface General Hospital who has been honoured with several top awards for her volunteer efforts with the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Children’s Wish Foundation.

Dr. Mary Pankiw.

GERRIE HAMMOND AWARD: Not only is Gurkamal Dhillon a student leader at Balmoral Hall, but she is also an air cadet commander, Habitat for Humanity youth ambassador and a member of the Youth Parliament of Manitoba.

PRAIRIE AWARD: Ashley Jahns raised $8,500 to help rebuild schools in Haiti and spearheaded a book drive for a nearby First Nation that lacked a school library.


— staff


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