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Women of Distinction awards handed out in Regina

This marked the 41st year of the awards celebration, offering both a virtual and in-person event.

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In a re-imagined event, the YWCA Regina 2022 Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards were handed out on Saturday in Regina at the newly renovated Darke Hall.

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The YWCA’s biggest fundraiser, the event celebrated 26 finalists in seven categories. Each award highlights women in southern Saskatchewan “who are using their skills, talents, and voices to be advocates and leaders in social change,” according to a news release.

This marked the 41st year of the awards celebration, offering both a virtual and in-person event that featured the awards, a panel talk for women leaders to “tell it like it is”, food stations, wine tastings, a collaborative art mural, and more.

“We are so excited to offer a unique and innovative celebration for our community,” YWCA Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen stated the release.

Funds raised support YWCA Regina’s Community Programs, including the Big Sisters Program.

The winners in each category were:

Education, Training & Development: Cindy Lowe — For the past eight years, she has taught personal finance, accounting, and business education at Swift Current Comprehensive School, helping young students develop the important financial skills. She has also been instrumental in creating and updating numerous practical and applied arts courses and has also developed an extracurricular business club for students, coaches debates, and works to foster confidence for her students.

Leadership in Business: Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin — As Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) executive vice-president and chief risk officer, she has led transformative industry practices that reflect her commitment to inclusivity, relationship-building, and long-term service delivery. She also serves on the national board of directors for Habitat for Humanity.

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Social Action & Advocacy: Donna Pasiechnik — A public health advocate whose passion is social justice and equity for vulnerable groups, she has worked as a journalist, journalism professor, and public policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society. While with the society, her leadership, hard work and determination of her led to changes in provincial legislation, municipal bylaws, and new policies to protect public health.

Women in Non-Traditional Roles: Susan Ewart — She has been the executive director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) since 2016, earning the support, trust, and respect of the trucking industry as a leader in this province and across Canada. She is the first woman to be appointed to the role. She helped found “Women Shifting Gears,” a first-of-its-kind program to help women overcome barriers in entering the trucking industry.

Indigenous Resurgence in Action: Alicia Morrow — A passionate and caring community activist, she has dedicated herself to uplifting every member of her community. She is a proud Cree woman and mother from Peepeekisis First Nation, with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies and Certificate in Reconciliation. She founded “The Comeback Society” a group with a mission of amplifying Indigenous voices and culture.

Young Women of Distinction: Telia Lafontaine — The 16-year-old takes every opportunity to be an engaged member of her community. When her dad de ella faced an illness, she helped her siblings with homeschooling, worked for the family business, and contributed to her family’s needs by starting her own small jewelry business, Ohana Handmade — an ode to her Hawaiian-Metis heritage. Her jewelry company de ella gained international attention, with Lafontaine named the youth winner in the Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs.

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Research, The Sciences & Technology: Dr. Shela Hirani — An advocate and leader for the health of women and their children, she serves as associate professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Regina. Her program of research “Breastfeeding Advocacy Research: Program, Policies, and Practices” aims to strengthen breastfeeding related programs, policies, and practices. She was recognized as one of the World Health Organization’s Top 100 Outstanding Women Nurses and Midwives.

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