Since 1985, the Women of Distinction Awards Gala has been held to honour remarkable women of Brandon and the Westman and Parkland areas.
The awards gala is a great opportunity to show appreciation and gratitude to the outstanding community women who have achieved personal and professional milestones, who are outstanding role models to other women and girls, and who have made significant contributions to the well-being of their communities in the Brandon, Westman and Parkland regions.
Proceeds from this event support the essential programs and services provided by the YWCA Brandon within the community.
This year, the 30th annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Gala will be held Thursday, March 2, at the Keystone Centre,
Tickets will be sold until the day of the event, and can be purchased by contacting the YWCA Brandon at 204-571-3680 or stopping by 148 11th St., Brandon. You can also purchase them online at eventbrite.ca.
Following are the 2017 nominees for the Women of Distinction awards.
Women of Distinction Nominees
Jennifer Bone — Griswold
Jennifer Bone is a proud single parent of three sons, Colby, Jackson and Jeremiah and a grandmother to Jenessa. She has been an elected council member of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation council since 2010. Jennifer is the chair of the Sioux Valley Dakota Economic Development Board, a member of the Community Futures Development Corporation, and was the event co-ordinator for the 2017 Dakota Nation Winterfest held in Brandon in January. Jennifer is a role model to other women and girls as she lives a healthy lifestyle, is a community leader, and strives to make her community a better place for all of its members from infants to elders.
Chris Cooper and Leanne Petrin — Brandon
Chris Cooper is a graduate of the University of Manitoba Fine Arts Honours program (2002) and a multi-disciplinary artist whose work includes drawing and painting with a focus on sculpture and installation. Chris has recently been more involved with public art, curating community arts projects and exhibitions. Chris works at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba (2008-current) managing educational programming, tours, and linking classes with exhibitions. In 2016 she was asked to create a piece for the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and she has exhibited locally and nationally.
Leanne Petrin grew up in a family that was loud, a little bit crazy and very focused on community. She is driven to create change and spontaneity. Her master’s degree in city planning gave her skills to bring new ideas and resources to her community. As the affordable housing programs co-ordinator at the Brandon Neighborhood Renewal Corporation, she finds meaning in bringing about change for affordable housing in Brandon.
With Chris Cooper, Leanne has become involved with public art. Together they have facilitated the A Place to Call Home and the Winter Gardens projects. Cooper and Petrin shaped these projects by involving community members, non-profit groups and local businesses in an unprecedented partnership. As a result these projects are inclusive of multiple voices, which are rarely given visual expression in downtown Brandon.
Roberta Galbraith — Minnedosa
Roberta was born and raised on a mixed cattle and grain farm in the Minnedosa area. Her participation in the Rotary International Student Exchange program in 1980 changed her life and offered her a look at the global community. Roberta has advocated extensively on international children’s issues and raised funds for schools in Ethiopia and Guatemala. Roberta is a member of the Minnedosa Rotary Club and is actively involved in the club’s youth initiatives. Roberta earned a diploma in agriculture from the University of Manitoba and is a public relations officer with the Manitoba Canola Growers Association. Together with her husband, they operate a 4,000-acre grain farm near Minnedosa.
Florence Halcrow — Brandon
Flo’s story begins as a generational survivor of residential schools. While overcoming many challenges, she began working with the Brandon Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP) through the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation. Flo was soon recognized as a leader among her peers and was asked to take on projects dealing with bedbug infestations. Under her leadership the Bug n’ Scrub program grew exponentially. The program provides employment opportunities for eight casual staff who are experiencing barriers to employment and challenges in their lives. Flo’s compassion and ingenuity has helped people keep their homes, maintain the community’s stock of affordable housing, repaired relationships between tenants and landlords, and given people back their dignity.
Donna Jackson — Inglis
Donna is a farmer, mother and community builder. She grew up on a farm and is now an owner/ operator of High Bluff Stock Farm near Inglis. Donna loves to share her passion of farming by working with community groups, 4-H members, and leaders as well as youth cattle associations. She shares her enthusiasm for the industry through "ag-vocacy" and positivity. Donna loves hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and working toward her black belt in karate. Her philosophy is "it’s an adventure" and she believes that an active lifestyle is the key to a fulfilled life. Donna is wife to Carman and mother to five grown daughters.
Judith Ramsay — Brandon
Mission is the soul of Judith Ramsay’s life. An active member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, she began participating with Maranatha Volunteers International in 2003 on a project in the Dominican Republic. Since then she has participated in 12 international projects in countries such as El Salvador, Zimbabwe, Peru and Panama. Judy believes that although she may not speak the language, she can help change a life with a smile, a hug and a prayer. She continues her volunteering through involvement with recent immigrants to our community and by sharing her gift of music, as a pianist in her home congregation and at community events.
Doris Riseley — Shoal Lake
Born in Angusville on Nov. 12, 1923, to Charles and Lucy Bartram, Doris attended Angusville School until she joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in 1942. In 1944, she married Ken, a Royal Air Force non-commissioned officer serving in the Commonwealth Air Training Programme in Manitoba. Following a transfer for Ken, the couple moved to England in 1945, where they resided for 43 years. In 1988, Doris and Ken retired in Shoal Lake, where Doris has spent the last 29 years volunteering with the personal care home, the community hall, the Shoal Lake Flying Club, the Pioneer Club and the Royal Canadian Legion. Doris is best described as a willing and dedicated volunteer and a strong supporter of her community.
Linda Ross — Brandon
Linda Ross has dedicated her life to education. She is currently associate professor of psychology at Brandon University. Linda was the founding dean of the School of Health Studies at Brandon University She established a Winnipeg site for the bachelor of science in psychiatric nursing program and brought the bachelor of nursing program to Brandon University. Linda has continued this devotion to education through her elected position as a board trustee of Brandon School Division, having been elected for seven terms. Linda’s most important role is as proud mother of two sons, who keep her from becoming set in her ways and thinking.
Amber Sutherland — Brandon
Amber was born on Sept. 12, 1978, in Brandon and has lived just outside the city all of her life. She started her career with Rogers back when the video store was still around and was then hired by Teleco (now Red Wireless) which is a Rogers Authorized Dealer, in 2012. In 2004, Amber’s mother passed away after a battle with cancer. Amber and her mother were very close and this eventually led to her decision to dedicate her life to help the Canadian Cancer Society. She married her wonderful husband on Dec.19, 2009, and they have remained in love, dedicated to each other and to the cause of beating cancer ever since.
Verna Wilson — Strathclair
Verna Wilson is always involved in ensuring her community takes action to succeed at caring for others. When there is a need, finding the solution and making things work is what Verna does best. A mother to Shaun, wife to Jim, a retired medical technologist and committed volunteer, she serves on many local and national service clubs and committees. In 2016, Verna secured funding for, set up and launched the Strathclair Congregate Meal Program. Under this program meals are prepared for and served to seniors in a congregate setting or delivered, if needed, allowing seniors to live healthier lives in larger support circles.
Young Women of Distinction Nominees
Hannah Koversky — Brandon (16-21)
Hannah is a Grade 7 student at St. Augustine’s school. She takes a leadership initiative there, inspiring other kids to get involved in the community. Hannah has attended We Day in Winnipeg the past three years. She is trying to convince the principal to allow her whole class to go this year. She always comes back from We Day bursting with ideas and eager to spur others on to make the world a better place. Last summer, she ran in the colour fundraiser in Minnedosa. Hannah has been involved in ballet and gymnastics but her real love is swimming. She is currently in level seven at the YMCA and is involved as a youth leader with the organization.
Rylee Lanouette — Shoal Lake (16-21)
Rylee Lanouette is currently a Grade 12 student at Shoal Lake High School. Rylee demonstrates an unwavering willingness to help others. She volunteers in her community at the rink kitchen, the Nearly New Sale and with Leisure Services. In her school life, Rylee is co-president of the student council, secretary of the grad committee and a member of the social committee. In the past she has worked on the school yearbook, helped run a Halloween food drive and is often asked to help out when an older student is needed. Rylee is a natural leader and a role model to other students. She plans to continue her education this fall, enrolling in the business administration program at ACC.
Surien Fourie — Brandon (22-29)
Surien is a creative adventurer. She loves exploring cultures, places and unique food. She is happiest with her camera in hand, her hiking boots on and her passport in her pocket. Her curiosity has provided her with a thirst for knowledge, taking her to a variety of creative heights from travel writing to photography to abstract art. Surien has given back to whichever community she has landed in from a young age. Her devotion to local community is evident in her relationship with her family, the South African community, her church, people living with cancer, as well as the YWCA. Surien enjoys life to the fullest. She is always giving to — and caring for — others and is a wonderful role model to young and old.
Farran Leblanc — Brandon (22-29)
Farran Leblanc is a young woman of distinction with a passion for animals. She displayed innovation in establishing and co-founding Pawsitive Communities, which is a non-profit program operating under the Brandon Humane Society and in partnership with Dakota Ojibway Police Service. Pawsitive Communities aims to spay, neuter, vaccinate and rescue animals in First Nations communities. Over the past four years, she has fundraised in various ways including obtaining long-term sponsorship, hosting fundraising socials, and selling self-designed clothing in promotion of animal adoption that has helped purchase a mobile vet clinic. Farran believes the mobile vet clinic will make lives better for the animals as well as provide public education about the overpopulation of animals in communities.