Eight women in Thompson are being celebrated on April 25 during the Women of Distinction Awards hosted by the YWCA. Over 60 per cent of the YWCAs across Canada participate in this signature fundraising event.
The awards are put into two categories. The first one is the Woman of Distinction Award category. In Thompson six women have been nominated. Bea Shantz is being nominated for her many years of outstanding volunteer work in the community. Betsy Kennedy is a courageous leader and role model for women across the north. She is one of the few women chiefs in Manitoba. Ester Latchman is being recognized for outstanding leadership and efforts in addressing issues within the community. Johanna Petrowski works tirelessly to improve the health and wellness of the students and families of Wapanohk Community School and the community as a whole. Michelle Smook has been a powerful advocate for women, the LGBTTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and queer) community and was the leading force behind he creation of the Pride North of 55 movement in 2014. The last woman nominated in this category is Norma Leahy. Leahy is a role model in her unwavering commitment to community through her volunteer work with various community organizations.
The second category is the Chantelle Chornoby Memorial Award for young women. This year two young women have been nominated. Brielle Beardy-Linklater due to being a leader in the Youth Aboriginal Council at R.D. Parker Collegiate. She has been a trailblazer in the struggle for LGBTTQ rights in Thompson. The final woman nominated for 2015 is Rebekah Hudson. Hudson has been nominated due to the amount she volunteers with different organizations in Thompson, as well as her leadership role with the Youth Aboriginal Council.
Nina Cordell, women’s programs coordinator with the YWCA, says it’s encouraging for the women of Thompson to see this. “It’s a good example of how you can contribute. In Thompson a lot of the volunteers are the same people volunteering for the same events, so it’s really a great way to honour those women who are volunteering.”
Elaine McGregor, executive director, agrees saying a lot of the women don’t believe they’re doing anything special, and this ceremony is a good way to recognize their hard work for the community. “When I was reading through the nomination packages it was just so humbling and inspiring. It’s amazing and incredible how much these women do.”
During the awards all nominees will be recognized, along with the nominators. From there top awards will be handed out at the end of the event. “We have a points system and we have 10 categories within that system, and their points are allocated based on only the information given in the forms. That can include support letters as well,” explained Cordell.
Funds raised during this event will go towards to YWCA Women’s Centre. The centre was opened without funding and this money will go towards purchasing things as well as helping with specialty programming.
Tickets are no longer available for this year’s event.