Saturday, September 25 will see Daughters Day celebrated for the second year as a virtual event, instead of the live event at Edmonton’s City Hall that took place for the first eight years of the event.
“We are disappointed not to be able to gather in person for a 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.”
Daughters of the Year are chosen for their personal achievements and the impact they have had in making Alberta a leader in gender equity. This year Sandra Azocar, Jonabel Cabasal, Tibetha Kemble, Eveline Ngwa, Cheryl Whiskeyjack and Sofia Yaqub are being honoured.
“Their achievements are diverse, but between them they have a significant impact, providing leadership and inspiration to others, making Alberta a better place for each of us,” notes Abboud. “There were many nominations, and the selection of these six speaks to how blessed Alberta is with
talented and dedicated women.”
In addition to comments by each of the Daughters of the Year, the YouTube program includes a message from Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor, Salma Lakhani, who was part of planning the first Daughters Day.
“The pandemic has created greater challenges for women, but the inspiring example of women such as this year’s Daughters of the Year shows us the debt we owe to the courage and determination of women. I congratulate the women who join 63 previous Daughters of the Year making Alberta better, and I urge all Albertans to join our efforts to give every woman full opportunity in Alberta,” says Abboud. “As our theme this year says, we now have a decade of Daughters of the Year, and their examples are a strong foundation for us to learn from and build an active future.”
Daughters Day is an initiative of Canadians for a Civil Society. The 2021 Daughters of the Year were selected from nominees by a panel of four women– Cecilia Blasetti, Shreela Chakrabartty, Nancy Hannemann, and Gail Haynes. Katie Stanners and Harriet Tinka are the hosts for the event, which includes entertainment by singers Maria Dunn and Paula Kirman.
Daughters of the Year Award Recipients
Sandra Azocar is a leader in the labour movement, an active part of Edmonton’s Chilean community, and a child protection worker. She is currently executive director of Friends of Medicare. She was active with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and served as a vice president for six years, in addition to providing leadership with the union’s Women’s Committee. With her parents, Sandra helped found the Chilean Canadian Cultural Society, and her activities have included organizing the Chilean pavilion at Heritage Days.
Jonabel Cabasal has been working with children for 23 years, currently in Edmonton daycares as a preschool teacher. She is passionate about young people and works creatively to give her learners a great experience- often developing additional learning aids in the evenings. She is generous, purchasing school supplies and books to send to the Philippines, as well as funds to support feeding programs.
Jonabel is active with women’s dance groups and volunteers with the Filipino Saranay Association as a cultural dancer, language teacher, and choreographer and song/scriptwriter for the Mother Language Day Celebration. She sometimes writes for Alberta Filipino Journal. Jonabel was born in the Philippines and came to Canada as a temporary worker, but in 2016 received permanent residency.
Tibetha Kemble is an advocate for inclusion, and a leader in lifelong learning, community building, and advocacy for human rights, social justice and creating a more civil society. She is Senior Manager of NorQuest College’s Indigenous Relations & Supports team which includes an employment service designed to connect prospective Indigenous workers with employers recruiting for construction-related careers.
Tibetha encourages post-secondary institutions to become truly anti-racist, decolonizing the institutions. She is a strong advocate for changes to the current child welfare system. She serves on the EndPoverty Edmonton board. Tibetha identifies as a member of the Piapot Cree Nation, in southern Saskatchewan, and is a survivor of the 60s/70s scoop.
Eveline became a social worker because of a commitment to a world where everyone can live healthy lives in healthy communities. She is a member of the Alberta Black Therapists Network.
Eveline was born in the village of Nforya in Cameroon. She is working to raise funds to enable this drought and war-ravished area to drill a water well so women and children are not having to walk many kilometres to scoop dirty water from surface depressions to meet their needs. She has worked with Days for Girls International to have hygienic kits shipped to women in the village.
One of her nominators says, “Eveline has played an instrumental part helping me build my self-confidence as a woman. I will call her even late at night when I have any personal challenge and she is available to listen, and provide guidance.”
Cheryl Whiskeyjack is a community leader and a believer in reconciliation, who supports “two-eyed seeing” – viewing the world from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous lenses to co-create a better future.
Cheryl is a founding member of C-5, an innovative partnership between five Edmonton organizations working collaboratively to serve families. As Executive Director of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, Cheryl’s job is to help urban aboriginal peoples live in two worlds: the City of Edmonton, with its laws and norms, and the aboriginal world of ceremonies and beliefs that has existed on this land for millennia. “We have a community of people thousands of years in this land,” Cheryl says. “And they feel displaced, even though they live here.”
Sofia Yaqub has been a resource for newcomers in Edmonton for over thirty-five years, especially for marginalized women and seniors. Some of the organizations where she has had key roles include the Islamic Family and Social Services Association, Pakistani Canada Association of Edmonton, Children of Islamic Nations, and Shaama Centre.
She has served on community boards, including Glenrose Consumers’ Advisory Council, Human Concern International, and Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. The spark for her service journey was wanting to serve her own mother, and others like her, to deal with the complex challenges of building a life in Canada.