Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/2/2016 (1941 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Westman Communications Group YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Gala will be held Thursday, March 3, in the Keystone Centre’s UCT Pavilion.
The gala is YWCA Brandon’s major fundraising event of the year. Proceeds from this event support the YWCA Brandon mission: Working to empower women and their families through supportive programs and services.
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.
Tickets will be sold until Feb. 25 and can be purchased by contacting the YWCA Brandon at 204-571-3680 or stopping by 148 11th St., Brandon.
Following are this year’s nominees and the categories in which they have become "Women of Distinction."
Evelyn has achieved many things in her life: a nursing diploma, a degree in sociology, becoming a state-registered midwife and becoming a nursing professor. She did all of this before returning to work on the maternity and neonatal intensive care units at the BRHC. In 2015, Evelyn travelled to Nairobi and Uganda twice to help women and children by teaching them valuable and lifesaving skills. Evelyn leaves again on March 5 for three weeks in Africa. Evelyn has been a lifelong leader, teacher and advocate for women from all walks of life. Everyone impacted by Evelyn is thankful for her vision, humour, knowledge and passion.
Bea has had a long career as a home economics teacher and an even longer career as an active volunteer in our community. She has served on the boards of Child and Family Services, the Brandon School Division, Brandon University’s Board of Governors, Brandon United Way and has served Girl Guides of Canada for almost 80 years. She was instrumental in establishing Milestones, an annual wellness fair for preschool-aged children in the Westman area. She also helped to lay the groundwork for Westman Immigration Services, was fully involved in the restructuring and transition of CFS and has served as a commissioner at various levels for Girl Guides of Canada in Manitoba. Her 87 years has in no way slowed down her involvement in the community and she continues to be an inspiration.
Pam was born and raised in the Brandon area. She attended Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School and spent her summers with the Sea Cadets, first learning and later teaching sailing to other young people. "She stood firm in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way she adjusted her sails" is a quote that optimizes Pam’s view of life. She has participated in the Torch Run/the Polar Plunge and raising interest and funds for the Special Olympics. She also serves lunch once a month at Helping Hands. Pam is a true role model for young women. She is a hard-working woman and she makes the community a better place as a dedicated volunteer, mother, and police officer.
Barbara has been employed at Samaritan House’s Mary’s House for the past 18 years as the co-ordinator and adult counsellor. She has worked in the field of family violence for 26 years. Barbara brings her expertise to women and children fleeing domestic violence as well as survivors of sexual abuse. She has been published twice in the Brandon University Journal of Education for her development of curriculum for the group work she provides at Mary’s House. Barbara is an active member in our community, contributing thousands of hours in volunteer time for those in need. She is currently attending courses for her master’s degree in counselling at BU.
For the past 40-plus years, Louise has worked tirelessly to improve Emergency Medical Services in Manitoba. She was Winnipeg’s first female EMS provider, and went on to do program development and education delivery for Manitoba Health and the Canadian Red Cross. While teaching at the Emergency Services College, she championed the Manitoba Critical Incident Stress Network development. Now, as an EMS manager, she continues to be an inspirational leader, always considering patient care first. She is a proud mother and grandmother, ensuring her grandchildren understand the value of agriculture through her partnership in the Meandher Creek Pumpkin Patch.
Social Action and Community Service
Audrey, the Strathclair No. 317 Air Cadet Squadron 2nd Lieutenant, through perseverance and dedication ensured the continuance of the squadron. After 30 years of service and being a decorated officer, Audrey retired, but has continued to volunteer, ensuring the squadron remains active. Audrey faced many challenges becoming a reservist as in the 1960s, boys joined but girls were not allowed. In 1985, Audrey enrolled as a civilian instructor, but was not allowed to become an officer due to a weight/height restriction. When the restriction was lifted, she enrolled. On Aug. 1, 2001, Audrey received her commission scroll, becoming a commissioned officer in the Canadian Armed Forces in the Supplementary Reserves.
Marcia is a mother to Joe (17) and Elly (11), partner to Tim Wiebe, and an active community member. Her extensive involvement in community gardening and fruit-sharing in Brandon has earned her recognition as a community food security champion, and she was nominated for the Golden Carrot award in 2014. Her work as the volunteer co-ordinator at Samaritan House Ministries and her professional background in psychiatric nursing have given her a unique position in the community to be an agent of change. Marcia has worked and advocated on issues of poverty and homelessness in our city at many levels, including leadership and youth engagement.
Social Action and Community Service
Wendy is the executive director of Westman Opportunities, which is an organization that works to enhance the lives of residents with intellectual and physical disabilities. As a member of the Association for Community Living Board of Directors, the Westman Parkland Network and Abilities, as well as a coach for Special Olympics; Wendy is an active advocate who is not afraid to break barriers, create opportunities and speak for those in the community who do not have a voice to raise issues on their own.
Agnes Witherspoon (Hilhorst) moved to the Glenboro community at the age of 13 and a lifetime of service ensued. In addition to outstanding volunteer dedication and service to community groups and organizations, Agnes and her husband Glen operated the Glenboro Gazette from 1967 until they sold it in 1990. Agnes continued to be employed there until 2000. Agnes and her husband also purchased the Glenboro Laundromat in 1985 and operated it until it closed in 2007. Agnes and Glen were married for 55 years until his sudden passing in 2014, and have a family of three sons and seven grandchildren.
Pat keeps all the pieces moving when it comes to her work, her family, their farm and their life together in the Parkland region of Manitoba. She’s a rural leadership specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development, a staunch advocate of women in agriculture, a tireless volunteer, proud mom of five university-educated children, partner in the family’s 5,000-acre wheat and canola operation and loving wife of 34 years to Paul. Pat’s door is always open and there’s a hot cup of coffee ready for friends, old and new. In addition to all of this, she’s one heck of a downhill skier.
Arts and Culture
Musician, mentor and mother are only the tip of the iceberg for Naomi Forman. Whether adjudicating young singers across Western Canada or working one-on-one with her students, Naomi is always ready to offer a warm smile and a word of encouragement. She has sung with organizations such as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Manitoba Opera Association, and has operated her Brandon-based production company since 2010. Naomi currently serves on the artistic committee of the Brandon Chamber Players and is president of the Brandon Dance Ensemble. She and her husband Kent are dedicated supporters of the arts.
Linda is the director of Dance Images Studio in Brandon. She has been teaching dance, high school and coaching sports, as well as volunteering countless hours in the arts, for more than 30 years. She has an honours bachelor degree in physical and health education, as well as a bachelor’s degree in education and is trained in all disciplines of dance. Her passion and love for dance and the theatre is infectious, and it is mirrored in the children and adults with whom she works. Linda has been a positive role model in the lives of countless young people, encouraging them to excel and succeed in life. Linda is married to Dwight Kearns, with whom she has three daughters — Ginger, Lacey, and Raine.
Born in Ninga, Kathleen launched an art program in the basement of her home in Souris to allow friends and colleagues to try their hand at painting. She inspired an art movement in the community, which after only one year had expanded to 40 emerging artists and has outgrown her home studio. The need for more space led to the opening of Lagasse’s Studio of Fine Art in Souris. Featuring the work of several local artists and inspiring close to 200 prairie women to experience making art first hand, Kathleen has enriched the lives of many in western Manitoba.
Deborah is a strong Cree Métis woman who lives each day to the fullest, inspiring others to follow suit. She graduated from Brandon University with a First Nations aboriginal counselling degree and is currently employed as a prevention education consultant with the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. Her position allows her to work with local youth and witness first hand the challenges faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Brandon and the surrounding area. Deborah provides sharing circles, counselling, medicine wheel teachings and sweat lodge ceremonies at the Brandon Friendship Centre. She has also worked with the Brandon Regional Health Authority on a research project called Closing the Cultural Gap, and has been volunteering on various committees and boards related to her cultural passion since 2003.
Healthy Living Wellness and Recreation
Robin, a paramedic, was also the first female firefighter with Brandon Fire and Emergency Services. Her widespread contributions and achievements include volunteering in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricane George and at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. She is one of 300 Body Talk instructors around the world and she has taught this practice to medical doctors in Costa Rica. She owns Inspire You Studio and Breathing Room Yoga in downtown Brandon. Robin has been the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award through the Canadian Red Cross, as well as the Inspire You to Choose award through Healthy Living Brandon. She has hosted the Westman Wellness Show for its two years, as well as other wellness shows and programs. Robin has also achieved her personal goal of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa — an outstanding accomplishment and with all things combined, an inspirational woman.
Leadership in Business
Heather is a local business owner in Brandon. She opened Straighten Up Salon in February 2010, which today is one of the top full-service salons in the city, employing 20 of Brandon’s most talented professionals. In 2015 Heather launched H&CO Academy, a private vocational school that offers programs in hairstyling, nail technology, and as of September 2015, an esthetics program never before offered in Brandon. Heather’s lifelong passion for education has steered her career in the beauty industry and her future plans are to open more academies across Canada.
Simone Dixon is the manager at Scotiabank’s Rosser branch. She is new to the role as of last year; however, she has been with Scotiabank since 2003. Simone has received "top individual" awards for her branch many times. Before Scotiabank, Simone worked in the financial industry, where she was a recipient of awards for customer service and risk management. Simone volunteers her time with many organizations including JDRF, Kiwanis of Brandon and Walk for a Cure Diabetes. Simone is married to Daryl Dixon, with whom she has two children — Michael and Chantale.
Young women 16-21
Emma is a Grade 12 student at Erickson Collegiate. She volunteers at the local curling club in the junior curling program and at bonspiels and community suppers. She is a member of the Gay Straight Alliance, Students Making a Difference and the student council, of which she was president from 2013-2015. In 2014-15, she participated in an exchange to France for three months. This year, she was honoured to be chosen as a Future Influencer at the GrowCanada conference, and to receive the Premier’s Healthy Living Award for Youth, recognizing her contributions to the school and to the community.
Ayla has contributed a lifetime of citizenship work in her 17 years. In addition to countless hours of volunteer time in her community, Ayla, along with her brother, started an organization called Kids Helping Kids. This organization raises funds to assist in the reunification of families who become separated when parents come to work in Manitoba from Jamaica and the Philippines. Ayla was one of 13 youth delegates who travelled across Canada to provide a youth perspective at the United Church of Canada’s general council in 2015. She believes citizenship is a responsibility and lives out that philosophy in all aspects of her life.
Micayla is in her fourth year at Brandon University, having successfully completed her bachelor of arts degree in history, English and geography. Micayla is a lifelong learner and plans to become a teacher to help inspire youth to reach their dreams through education. Presently, she is continuing her studies in the after-degree bachelor of education program at BU. Micayla has been involved with a youth organization — Youth Revolution, a Brandon School Division initiative — for six years and strives to impact the lives of youth positively by minimizing risk-related behaviours and encourage healthy lifestyle choices.
Kylee is 21 years old and was born and raised in Brandon. She is graduating from Brandon University with a B.Sc. in psychology this spring and has applied to the University of Manitoba College of Medicine. Kylee hopes to become a family doctor, with the focus of her work being women and girls. She has dedicated many hours to volunteering in the community. She works as a crisis worker at the Crisis Stabilization Unit and as a crisis counsellor at Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services. Kylee hopes to establish a scholarship for girls who wish to study to enter the medical or science fields.
Shivani was born in Anand, India. Her family moved to Canada when she was 12. Shivani is a leader in her school, and has been member of the student council for all four years of her high school career. She uses her position to make positive changes both here and abroad. Through Shivani’s determination and leadership, the council raised $10,000 to build a school in Ecuador. She plans to attend university to study civil engineering, but no matter what career path she chooses, there is no doubt that her passion for social justice will always be her main focus.
Young women 22-29
Shawna has a B.Sc., a B.Ed (2016), is a Reiki master, wife, and new mom. Shawna entered the Brandon yoga scene in 2005 and has since travelled across the globe to India to study yoga. Her first pregnancy inspired her to study pre- and postnatal yoga and yoga for kids. She then launched her own business in her hometown, called Brandon City Yoga. Shawna is currently in her certifying year in the bachelor of education program at Brandon University, and is looking forward to beginning graduate studies this fall in the master of environmental and life sciences program.