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Guelph honours its Women of Distinction (21 photos)

The 2018 Guelph Y Women of Distinction Awards took place at the River Run Thursday night, honouring 20 of Guelph's distinguished women

Honorary chair Marissa Teeter set the tone early at Thursday night’s annual Guelph Y Women of Distinction Awards at the River Run Centre.

“Is there a better time than now to celebrate the women in our community, the women in this country and the women in this world?” Teeter asked the crowd rhetorically.

“With everything that’s going on around us, I think that celebrating women is very relevant and there’s no better time to celebrate women.”

A total of 20 women were recognized in various categories.

Lifetime achievement awards were handed out to University of Guelph professor Bonnie Mallard and Homewood Health Centre CEO Jagoda Pike.

It was the 23rd annual Women of Distinction Awards, which are a Guelph Y fundraiser for three of its programs: Teenage Parents Program (TAPPs), Encore (a holistic program for women with breast cancer) and Power of Being a Girl (a one-day conference for Grade 7 and 8 girls).

The emcee and keynote speaker Thursday was Melissa Grelo, media personality and co-host of CTV’s The Social.

The theme of the night was 'It Takes A Village'.

Grelo spoke of the benefit of having a support system in one’s own village.

“But in many of our villages, the women are still often at the centre, still doing the lion’s share of the caregiving, caring for the children, maintaining the home and cooking the meals,” Grelo said.

“So as much progress as women have made socially and culturally, it’s our institutions, our systems and our habits that are much harder to change.”

With all the advancements women have made in society and in business, Grelo said it’s important to use those within your village to make it better.

“It is going to take a re-imagining of our proverbial village and a heck of a lot of bravery to take a good look at what each person’s doing to contribute to a happy, full life for everyone involved and to also have the guts to make the changes that are necessary,” Grelo said.

That might mean a re-imagining of the workplace to help address women’s needs, but also reaching out to the others in your circle.

“If the village is to survive and thrive in the 21st century, caregiving needs to not only be valued… it must be shared between the sexes and no longer fall along gendered lines.

“This means not only asking for help wherever you can find it, but especially it means letting others like family help - friends, partners, spouses - without having it to be done your way.”

She said she has at times had to put aside her “female macho BS” and urged people to “lean in to caregiving.”

This year’s Women of Distinction were:

  • Bolatito Alawode, founder of an online Nigerian grocery store

  • Bonnie Mallard, University of Guelph professor of immunogenetics

  • Brenda Gibson, advocate and activist

  • Claire Martin, University of Guelph professor and kidney researcher

  • Crystal Gong, biomedical science student and volunteer

  • Dominique O’Rourke, communications and PR expert and community builder

  • Hayley Kellett, co-owner of The Making-Box improv centre

  • Jackie Morris, welder, educator and mentor

  • Jagoda Pike, President and CEO of Homewood Health Centre

  • Jaya James, Executive Director of Lakeside HOPE House

  • Lee-Ann Prickett, co-owner of Experior Financial group and dedicated fundraiser

  • Lisa Browning, author, editor, publisher, coach and mentor

  • Nia Dennis, mother, student and volunteer

  • Rosalind Slater, longtime supporter and volunteer with the Guelph Little Theatre

  • Sally Humphries, former director of the University of Guelph’s International Development studies program

  • Sarah Spry, manager of the drone training program at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre

  • Shoshanah Jacobs, University of Guelph biology professor

  • Tami Martino, Director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations at the University of Guelph

  • Tanya Olsen, owner of Royal City Nursery and women’s health advocate

  • Teresa McKeeman, former director of childcare services for Wellington County

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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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