Saturday, September 26, was booked to see the ninth annual Daughters Day celebration begin at Edmonton’s City Hall at 1:00 PM.
“We are disappointed not to be able to gather in person to be part of this celebration of the achievements of Alberta women,” says Daughters Day planning committee chair Dr. Vivian Abboud. “But this year people all over the world can join us and we are excited to introduce the Daughters of the Year to a wider audience.”
The Daughters of the Year are chosen for both their personal achievements and the impact they have had in making Alberta a leader in gender equity. This year Cecilia Blasetti, Simran Dhillon, Maria Dunn and Kathy King from Edmonton are being honoured, as well as Halima Ali and Angeline Goredema from Red Deer.
“Their achievements are diverse, but between them, they have a significant impact, that is making a positive difference for many others,” notes Abboud. “There were many nominations, and the selection of these six women speaks to how blessed Alberta is with talented and dedicated women.”
In addition to comments by each of the Daughters of the Year, the 40 minute YouTube program includes a message from Kate Gunn. Gunn has recently retired from the City of Edmonton, where she worked over the years in leadership roles with initiatives including the formation of REACH Edmonton, the NextGen initiative, the formation of EndPovertyEdmonton, and Edmonton’s WinterCity strategy. Especially close to her heart has been the Edmonton’s Women’s Initiative, launched in 2014.
“We are learning that the pandemic creates greater challenges for women, but the inspiring example of women such as this year’s Daughters of the Year reminds us that we all owe a great debt to the courage and determination of women. I am honoured to congratulate the six women who join 57 previous Daughters of the Year making Alberta better, and urge all Albertans to join in moving from reflection to action in our efforts to give every woman full opportunity in Alberta” says Abboud.
Daughters Day is an initiative of Canadians for a Civil Society. This is the ninth year the event has been celebrated. The 2020 Daughters of the Year were selected from nominees by a panel of four women– Dr. Jodi Abbott, Susan Arigo Dut, Susan Green, and Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies. April Eve Wiberg hosts the 2020 event.
Daughters of the Year Award Recipients
Halima Ali supports immigrant and refugee women and their families to overcome barriers, achieve economic security and prosperity, develop their own leadership potential and realize their dreams. Coming to Canada as a refugee herself, she has been guiding the work of Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association since 2005, work that has seen her honoured as one of Red Deer’s women of excellence. Under her leadership, CAIWA grew from a one-person organization to a major immigrant-serving organization. She has guided research with Red Deer College to understand the economic barriers and issues of domestic violence in Central Alberta immigrant communities. The home instruction for parents of pre-school children program she developed is a first in Alberta.
As Executive Director of Boyle McCauley Health Centre, Cecilia Blasetti is a leader in ensuring vulnerable Albertans who experience homelessness, addictions, mental health issues, poverty, and other social issues have access to supports and services tailored to meet their physical, mental, and social needs and respecting their dignity. Cecilia’s leadership has grown the organization to allow pregnant women experiencing homelessness to access housing and to improve access to primary health care for youth and Indigenous families. During the pandemic, she has lead the initiative for a 24×7 shelter for those without a home to isolate when needed.
Simran Dhillon is amplifying minority voices and advocating for changes in the community. Through her leadership, a not-for-profit organization supports disadvantaged youth to gain support to succeed academically. In collaboration with the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation, she helped create virtual summer programs for children affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She has created two start-ups to create life-saving technologies. One is conducting clinical research on her innovation, FentaGone – a technology to reduce street-level drug overdoses. She is working in collaboration with United Way to create an online resource for individuals who need help navigating social services during the pandemic. Simran serves as a University of Alberta Students Union Councillor and member of the General Faculties Council and is Edmonton’s World Health Organization chair.
Maria Dunn is a Juno-nominated storyteller through a song that writes and sings about the resilience and grace of ordinary people. Throughout her songwriting career, Maria Dunn has supported and celebrated social justice and human rights activism. She has worked with Ground Zero Productions to develop and perform oral history-based video ballads sharing the stories of working people and climate justice through multimedia performances, including “On The River” (honouring Indigenous activist Chief Dorothy McDonald-Hyde), “Packingtown” (a tribute to North Edmonton’s meatpacking workers and community), and “GWG: Piece By Piece” (inspired by immigrant women working in Edmonton’s GWG garment factory). Maria has performed for events addressing cutbacks to refugee health care, peace rallies, and on picket lines supporting workers’ rights. She has written commissioned songs to celebrate community groups including Friends of Medicare, Public Interest Alberta, Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, and Alberta Federation of Labour.
Angeline Goredema is committed to making the world a better place by being a positive role model for youth in Central Alberta and leading human rights initiatives. She initiated the Human Rights Youth Conference and makes presentations to students, promoting welcoming communities, and speaking out against bullying and racism. Angeline came to Canada alone as a refugee, and now is a young mother of three children. She has written a children’s book called “Living in Different Countries” to encourage understanding, knowledge, and acceptance. Her position with HIV North as Program Manager creates opportunities to work with a variety of community stakeholders creating positive change. Angeline was part of the Global Young Leaders Conference.
As a mother and advocate of Missing, Murdered, and Exploited Indigenous Women and Girls, Kathy King has dedicated herself to addressing the national human rights crisis of MMIWG. For over forty years as a social worker, she worked with government, health care, and community agencies. She has been a volunteer doing public education, workshops, and board work with organizations such as Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, Victims of Homicide Support Society, and CEASE: Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation. Always concerned for poor and disadvantaged people, her involvement became more personal when her own teen daughter began to experiment with drugs, developed recurring psychosis, and disappeared from the streets of Edmonton in 1997. The website MissingCara.ca and Facebook page Missing Cara share her daughter’s story and explore information about exploitation, trauma and healing. Kathy recently celebrated 25 years of marriage and enjoys her eight grandchildren.