Introducing the 2015 Daughters of the Year

Yessy Byl is a human right activist and public educator best known for her work around Temporary Foreign workers and labour related issues in the province of Alberta. A first generation immigrant of Dutch heritage in Canada, Yessy moved to Canada in 1969 as a four-year-old. After graduating from the University of Calgary’s law school in 1980, she has been working untiringly to improve labour conditions in Canada. Yessy has an accomplished list of experience of serving as board members for various legal organizations.

Kristina De Guzman Kristina has made a lifelong mission to connect newcomers of all ages with artistic projects in Edmonton.  Her latest work  is a joint initiative between her former colleagues at Edmonton Immigrant Services Association (EISA) and Edmonton artists to capture the stories and faces of the residents and businesses on 107th Avenue. Kristina is an accomplished musician and loves to explore neighbourhood storytelling with visual art. Kristina works with Edmonton Arts Council and is actively engaged in promoting the arts scene in Millwoods.

Sheliza Kassam founded the Children’s Birthday Miracles while still in high school. The non-profit organization creates memorable birthday celebrations for less fortunate children. Featured as part of the Coca-Cola’s “Open Happiness” campaign, Sheliza’s organization has provided food, presents, entertainment and necessities to birthday parties at homeless shelters in Calgary, Toronto and Medicine Hat and and in Peru, Kenya and Tanzania.  Sheliza’s social justice ideas are well followed in TEDxYouth Calgary, We Day Alberta and the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. She has tons of accolades, including Top 30 under 30, Stars of Alberta, the Deloitte National Inspiration Award and many more.

Malja Najmi-Beauchamp a high school student from Fort McMurray has been a great support for fellow teens going through difficult times in life from bullying, family breakdowns and contemplations of suicide. Malja has been involved in many activities throughout her life working endless hours for organizations like Canadian Mental Health, Jump for Heart, Boys and Girls, Girl Guide, YMCA, Mayors advisory council. Always a happy face and with loads of enthusiasm, Malja is seen actively engaging as a community volunteer reaching out to the elders in the community.

Karen Smith works tirelessly towards ending sexual violence and healing of the survivors. Karen has been the Executive Director of Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) for 12 years.  She has worked with survivors of sexual violence for over 22 years untiringly. She lives in St. Albert. As she retires, we are pleased to honour Karen at the end of her outstanding service in Edmonton.

Leslie Weigl is an outstanding multicultural educator at the University of Alberta. She has worked with the international and local student community of Edmonton since 2004 to engage them in global citizenship concepts. Leslie has also taken a leading role on campus to provide intercultural training. She designs and delivers interactive workshops that help people understand their own cultural perspectives and feel others perspectives.

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