News Release: Daughters of the Year making a difference in the community

News Release

September 4, 2014: For immediate release

Daughters of the Year making a difference in the community

Twelve women making a positive difference in Alberta will be honoured as Daughters of the Year at the third annual Daughters Day celebration.

“The contributions of the twelve women being honoured are diverse. Some are deeply involved helping people who are facing challenges in their lives, some are working to make public policy better for women, some have achieved remarkable success in areas of personal commitment. What is clear from their accomplishments is that when we ensure fair opportunity for all our daughters we are helping to create better communities for all of us,” says Daughters Day chair Charan Khehra.

The Daughters of the Year presentations are a highlight of a September 6 event at City Hall. They were selected by a jury from nominations received from the public. Jury members were Danielle Campbell, Edmonton Police Services Deputy Chief; former City Councillor Karen Leibovici; Danielle Monroe with ACT Alberta; Philomena Okeke-Ihejirika, University of Alberta professor; and Lori Sigurdson, Alberta College of Social Workers.

“The inspirational examples of the Daughters of the Year demonstrate why the goal of Daughters Day to ensure an end to all discrimination and abuse of daughters is so important,” says Jim Gurnett, Daughters Day project coordinator.

Daughters Day also features keynote speaker Dr. Jodi Abbott, President of NorQuest College, with a student body that is 80 percent women. Entertainment will be provided by Tommy Banks, Inner Voice, Macha Abdallah, Maria Dunn, and Paula Kirman. The host for the program is Elexis Schloss.

The day begins with an information fair and commitment walk, beginning at 112:30 PM, prior to the main program at 2 PM. “The walk invites people to follow a route that begins at City Hall and moves to eight sites in the area, at each of which there will be information about some area of women’s accomplishments. Families or friends get a route guide and then enjoy the walk while they learn from the stops and share ideas with each other, before arriving back at City Hall for the program,” explains Gurnett.

Daughters Day activities beyond the September 6 celebration included consultations with groups of women in communities around Alberta earlier this year that resulted in a handbook on ending gender discrimination that will be available at the September 6 event. There will also be a training workshop in October for women wanting to use the handbook in their own communities.

Information about Daughters Day is at


For more information or comment please contact Jim Gurnett at 780-218-6989 or

Interviews with individual Daughters of the Year can be arranged by contacting Gurnett.

Jeni Adler

Jeni Adler’s work at Jewish Family Services is marked by the effective creativity of the programs she operates, and the love and friendship she expresses to immigrant women and others with whom she works.

Shreela Chakrabartty

Shreela Chakrabartty is a pioneer film director and producer, whose recent Edmonton-made movie “Rock Paper Dice Enter” has had a successful run in Canada and internationally. She has done many projects with FAVA, and worked on the sound for the Academy Award nominated “Water.”

Lan Chan Marples

Lan Chan Marples chaired the first Edmonton Chinatown conference on the 100th anniversary of the community. Her work with the Chinese community has included leadership at ASSIST Community Services, and programs to combat family violence, and engage isolated seniors. She has provided leadership with Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation’s annual Harmony Brunch.

Joan Cowling

Joan Cowling served four terms on Edmonton Public School Board where she worked to have Francophone students welcomed, and spearheaded Aboriginal inclusion programs. As Chair of Canadian School Boards Association, she helped develop a model multiculturalism and race relations policy for school boards. Joan is Chair of John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

Linda Dumont

Linda Dumont started Alberta Street News in 2003 but worked with street papers in Edmonton from 1993. Alberta Street News provides a way for those unable to hold conventional jobs to make some money selling papers. She is a published poet and talented painter as well as an articulate anti-poverty activist.

Rajvir Kaur Gill

As Indo-Canadian Women’s Association program director, Rajvir Gill is developing community activities around the elimination of violence against women in the name of “honour.” She serves on the new WAVE Committee of the City of Edmonton and the REACH board. She was recently named one of the “Top 30 under 30” in Edmonton.

Paula Kirman

Paula Kirman is an activist in community/independent media and social justice, using skills as writer, editor, photographer, videographer, and singer/songwriter to effect positive social change. She documents many social justice events and posts at her website Radical Citizen Media. Paula is Editor of the community newspaper Boyle McCauley News, and wrote the theme song for the Daughters Day celebration.

Laura Manickaraj

Laura Manickaraj has dedicated much of her life to living with people with developmental disabilities in L’Arche communities, since 1987 in Calgary. She is a living testament to the value of inclusion and embracing diversity. She describes involvement with people with disabilities as a mutual opportunity for learning. Duncan, who lives in a L’Arche community, says, “Laura is a second mother to me. She brings life to the community.”

Zainab Mohamoud

Zainab Mohamoud is one of Red Deer’s most active and enthusiastic volunteers in fundraising for breast cancer research. She cooks and sells Somali foods at a farmer’s market to raise funds for girls’ education in Somalia and is a social worker at Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association.

Shawna Pandya

Dr. Shawna Pandya is a neurosurgery resident at University of Alberta Hospitals, with a passion for space, and a degree from International Space University. She mentors for Cyber Mentor, encouraging women in technology and sciences. She was part of the team doing pre-clinical testing of the NeuroArm for robotic neurosurgery.

Bridget Stirling

Bridget Stirling has been a public educator with Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton and made presentations supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, helped organized Take Back the Night and International Women’s Day events, and volunteers on the board of Edmonton Social Planning Council.

Michelle Van Teeling

Michelle Van Teeling spent years obsessing about being thin, until she concluded eating well and exercise was the real route to healthy body, and mind. This led her to body building, and her first competition in 2007. Recently she placed second in Northern Lightweights Women’s Bodybuilding and Northern Masters, and now has the goal of qualifying at Nationals level. She creates masterpieces of cake design, available through Yummy Mummy Cakes too.

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