The second annual Daughters Day celebration took place on August 24, 2013, at Edmonton City Hall.
Daughters of the Year Award Recipients
Rebecca Fitzsimmons is an inspirational advocate for a new generation of families who have chosen to live, work, and raise families in rural Alberta. As an enthusiastic parent volunteer, she successfully undertook the challenge of creating and finding resources to have a licensed preschool open in her local school at Savanna in the Peace River region in 2010. In 2012 she organized and implemented the “Food for Thought” school breakfast nutrition program, recognizing the difficulty of children needing to be on school buses early in the morning for long trips having a good breakfast first. She was honoured with the ATA Volunteer of the Year award for her school this year. Rebecca brings other opportunities, such as Zumba classes, to rural areas where such things are not usually available. Rebecca lives on a grain farm with her spouse, three children, and a variety of animals. With so much on her plate, Rebecca’s youngest daughter thinks its OK for her mom to “get a little cranky at times” but confirms she is definitely “the best mom in the world”.
“Strong, compassionate, and inspirational” are words many people use when talking about Namrata (or Mona) Gill. After growing up in India, she came to Edmonton in 1991. A few years later she left an abusive marriage with her daughter for a women’s shelter, determined to make a good life for both of them. Three years later she became the first Sikh female police officer. She has courageously shared her experiences in a National Film Board documentary. Today she leads support groups at WIN house and Multicultural Women and Seniors Services Association, and mentors women leaving abuse. She speaks on honour-based crime and similar topics at conferences, including, recently, as a keynote speaker at the women’s symposium ‘Building Leadership and Community.’ She makes time to host a Punjabi radio show about rights and laws. And the little daughter from her early difficult time is now grown up and living in Mumbai, spreading her wings and fulfilling her dreams. “Being a firm believer against abuse of women, Mona puts herself out there in the community and tackles these situations, filling all hearts with hope and optimism,” says Sofia Yaqub, who has worked with her for several years.
April Oi-Bo Lam is a gifted young athlete. She excels in swimming, horseback riding, alpine skiing, and softball. At only nineteen, this determined athlete has bagged several prestigious accolades and will be representing Alberta at the 2013 Canada Summer Games and 2014 National Special Olympics in swimming. In a short time, April has established herself as the top female athlete in the province and a serious contender at the national level. She has been named as Global TV’s Athlete of the Week and awarded the Most Valued Player in the Yellow Division for her achievements. She won two Silver and four Gold medals in the Special Olympics Provincial Games in spring 2013. A great teammate and a motivating peer, April swims out of love for sports and not for external accolades. Her careful observation, hard work, perseverance, and dedication have contributed to improving the standards of training environments for young players. April grew up in St. Albert and, when not in sports, April loves to spend time with her little niece and her ninety-seven-year-old grandfather.
Shawnay McRorie is an incredibly dynamic young woman who embraces and lives the culture of human rights. Her commitment to volunteering and supporting those marginalized in the community has earned her accolades. She was awarded the Youth Human Rights Award by John Humphrey Centre last year. She has a significant commitment to working with young children and adults who live with disabilities. She has used her own dance background to do this in both iDance and Ballerina Dreams for example. At her school, Shawnay has spearheaded inclusion initiatives and spends time to support peers with challenges. She takes part in conventions, school board meetings, and schools talking about inclusion and pushing boundaries. To friends and family, Shawnay is a natural leader who “walks the talk every day” and is changing the landscape in our understanding of the practice of honouring human rights throughout the community.
Dr. Christina Nsaliwa
An Edmonton daughter of moral substance, as friends would describe her, Dr. Christina Nsaliwa (or Chris) “is a longstanding member of Edmonton’s diverse communities, a strong advocate of human services, and an inspirational mentor for women,” says colleague Jenika Watson. Born the eldest daughter in a family of nine in Malawi, Chris moved to Edmonton in 1992. She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Alberta and worked as a sessional instructor. In 2000, she joined Edmonton Immigrant Services Association when the organization was seeking a new lease of life. Thanks to her passion for community service, boundless energy, and unflagging optimism, she rebuilt the organization, which today has a budget of $1.81 million and 32 staff delivering settlement services to new immigrants. Christina places a strong emphasis on respect for the opinions of others, Canadian heritage and equality as defined by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Her expertise in crosscultural communication, anti-racism, and prevention of family violence have earned her respect and trust in every part of the city.
Andrea Payne & Corissa Tymafichuk
Corissa Tymafichuk and Andrea Payne are Grade 10 students from Paul Kane High School, St Albert, set on a lifetime mission to help survivors of human trafficking regain their freedom and rights and be able to live with dignity. The duo has been working actively as a team for two years to raise awareness about complex social justice concerns in their school and neighbourhood. In May 2013, their enthusiasm and leadership skills managed to turn a small school project into a huge citywide community walk, Free2Walk, attended by thousands, to stop human trafficking. The girls managed to raise $5000 – five times more than their target for the cause. Corissa and Andrea demonstrate that age is no boundary in making positive changes in our society. These “backyard abolitionists” are full of passion for music and are actively engaged in local theatre. As leaders of the Tuxis Parliament of Alberta, a provincial model youth parliament, they are exemplary models for other youth about the importance of involvement with democratic institutions.
Inspiration personified, Laura Smith has been a source of motivation and courage for over 600 students, unemployed or underemployed due to their low levels of English proficiency. “She inspires us with her passion for education. She constantly renews herself as a professional on her quest to provide us with the highest quality of education possible,” says student Victoria Dela Pena, who had a proud moment at an interview recently where she received a compliment for her English proficiency. Laura, a mother of two sons, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Alberta and began her career with Edmonton Public Schools. In 1986, she joined Catholic Social Services as an English as a Second Language instructor in the CORE Skills Health Care Aide Program. This program helps immigrants facing barriers to accessing education and employment. This is where Laura’s ability to recognize each student’s individual life story, past experiences and personal struggles that may affect their learning, makes her special for her students. She touches their lives with an emotional edge and helps them believe in their own capabilities.
The cause of missing Aboriginal women could not have found a more committed visionary activist than April Eve Wiberg. She is a founder of Edmonton’s Stolen Sisters Awareness Walk, created in 2007 to raise national awareness about the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Métis, Inuit, Non-Status and First Nations women in Canada. Often fallen out of sight, this grassroots movement helps put pressure on the government and its agencies (like the RCMP) to continue to investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Walk is held in conjunction with the Sisters in Spirit (annual event) in Edmonton. “I value Ms. Wiberg as a rare gem of professionalism, compassion, dedication and commitment to humankind, including her tremendous work with and for the Stolen Sisters Awareness Movement,” says Dale Monaghan, who has known her as a friend for almost a decade now. A proud member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, April lives in Edmonton with her young daughter, working for the corporate arm of her First Nation. She is involved in her community and supports other social movements such as the National Sisters in Spirit Vigil.
Linda Winski’s family life, work, and commitment to social justice are all the foundational pieces of her impartial love for others. She is strongly supportive of all in need. “Race, education, religion, social status, and gender played no part in Linda’s evaluation of people. I learned from her that the way you respond to people is usually the way they, in turn, will respond to you,” Daughter of the Year Award Linda Winski recalls Anne Marie Venne, who worked with Linda for over 10 years at the Roman Catholic Social Justice Commission. In the 1970s, Linda opened her home to the community, providing friendship, hospitality, prayer and a listening ear at ‘The Dwelling Place’ in Edmonton. She then went on to work with Edmonton’s urban core communities. In 2005, Linda joined the team at Inner City Pastoral Ministry. Here she made a special contribution with women, at shelters, street corners, and weekly gatherings for Sunday worship and brunch at Bissell Centre. Linda has remained deeply committed to her family as well, raising her son as a single parent, having her dependent adult foster-sister live with her, and staying in daily contact with her mother in a long-term care facility.
- Alberta’s NDP Caucus
- Alberta Human Rights Commission
- Canadians for a Civil Society
- Cambridge Strategies Inc.
- The City of Edmonton
- Culligan Edmonton
- Edmonton Catholic Schools
- Edmonton Examiner
- Edmonton Heritage Council
- Edmonton Public Library
- Edmonton Sun
- Indo-Canadian Women’s Association
- Institute For The Advancement Of Aboriginal Women (IAAW)
- John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights
- Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation For World Peace
- Menzies Printers
- Norquest College
- Powerplay Sports
- Punjab Sweets & Restaurant
- RK Jewelers
- YMCA of Northern Alberta
- YWCA Edmonton