The Thompson YWCA held its fourth annual Women of Distinction Award Banquet April 14, 2012 at the Juniper Centre.
Nine women were nominated for this year's event: six in the Women of Distinction category; Grace Bindle, Barbara Carriere, Marilyn Duval, Sya Gregovski, Sherrie Kreuger, and Paulette Simkins; and three in the Chantelle Chornoby Memorial for Young Women of Distinction category: Sapna Handa, Mitch Nicolas, and Melissa Wakeling.
There were three winners in the Women of Distinction Category:
Grace Bindle was chosen for her ongoing dedication and commitment to the community through her work as a kindergarten and substitute teacher, and through her volunteer work with the Thompson Christian Council, the St. James Anglican Church women's group, the Heritage North Museum, the Thompson General Hospital Auxiliary, Relay for Life, the Block Parent Program, and the Salvation Army.
Marilyn Duval, a former executive director of the YWCA, was honoured for her willingness to be involved in issues that affect our community, such as housing, culture, safety, education, training and community relations work. She has volunteered countless hours with many organizations including the Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation, Thompson Urban Aboriginal Strategy, Our Home Kikinaw and MAPS (Men Are Part of the Solution).
Sya Gregovski, elected as a trustee for the School District of Mystery Lake in October 2010, earned her award for her passion for improving the quality of life in Thompson through fundraising efforts for the personal care home and the handi-van, through support for the Nanatowiho Wikamik Homeless Shelter and the church community, and through her advocacy and support for education.
The Chantelle Chornoby Memorial Award For Young Woman Of Distinction was presented to Melissa Wakeling for her commitment to improving the lives of the people in her community through her work as a teacher and as a volunteer. She helped develop two programs at RD Parker for students that frequently fall through the cracks because of the challenging situations in their lives; the first is the Teen Mom program where she provided a welcoming, child-friendly environment for teenaged parents attending high school, and the second is a transitional program for students who were high-school aged but had gaps in their education in their primary schooling.
Wakeling, who taught English, English enrichment, social studies, science and family studies in Grades 9 through 12 at R.D. Parker Collegiate before moving to Juniper Elementary School last September, to teach Grade 7 all-inclusive, was awarded a Prime Minister's Certificate of Achievement for teaching excellence last October, recognizing her earlier work at the high school.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence "honours outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines who use information and communications technology (ICT) to better equip their students with the skills needed to excel in a 21st-century society and economy," says Industry Canada, which administers the program.
The program began in 1993 to honour the outstanding achievements of math, science and technology teachers. In 1997, the program expanded to recognize innovative teaching practices of teachers in all disciplines. Awards are presented at two levels: Certificate of Excellence (national level) and Certificate of Achievement (local level).
Wakeling's volunteer time has been spent with school groups and many community organizations including her time as a former YWCA board member, Thompson Kinettes and the hospital gift shop.
Special guest speakers at the event were Jim and Edna Chornoby who presented the Chantelle Chornoby Memorial Award, named after Chantelle Chornoby, originally from Ilford, who was diagnosed with diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, at the age of 10.
She was able to beat the disease, but was later diagnosed with Acute Myloidgenous Leukemia in August 2007 and died at the age of 21 in May 2010, after helping created Chantelle's Promise, partnering with the Canadian Blood Service's OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network with the aim of increasing the number of aboriginal people registered in the One Match stem cell and bone marrow registry. Currently, less than one per cent of the aboriginal population is registered and 77 per cent of donors are Caucasian.
Margaret Paterson who brought greetings on behalf of the National YWCA Board, deputy mayor Dennis Fenske, who brought greetings on behalf of the City of Thompson, and Danielle Adams, a constituency office assistant, who brought greetings on behalf of Churchill riding NDP MP Niki Ashton.
Arlene Katchmar is the administrative assistant for YWCA of Thompson.