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Photos: Estevan celebrated outstanding women of the southeast

Pictures and a full recap of last week's Southeast Women of Distinction Awards ceremony.

ESTEVAN — The grand celebration of outstanding women living, working, volunteering and shaping the southeast corner of the province took place at a May 2 luncheon at the Wylie-Mitchell Hall.

Twenty-six extraordinary women were nominated in five categories this year, and the Women for Women (W4W) event organizing committee, consisting of nine local women, underlined that each and every one of the nominees is a role model and was being celebrated through the festive community event.

"We increased our nominations from outside of Estevan, we have six. And we have an increase in our Young Visionary category with seven nominees. Each of you is so deserving of this recognition. And that makes the awards decision so difficult," said Tania Andrist with W4W.

An independent committee located from outside the southeast decided the recipients.

"Our committee does not see the packages and we have zero influence on the outcome," Andrist underlined. "The decisions are based on the packages that we receive from the nominators and we are so grateful for the unbiased adjudication. I know that the decisions are very difficult, particularly because of the large categories. There were so many worthy candidates.

"On a different day with a different committee, there would be a different nominee chosen, so I really congratulate every nominee in this room."

Young Sasha Mantei was recognized with the Young Visionary Award, presented to her by Breanne Van De Woestyne with Impact Creative Digital Services. This award is for individuals under the age of 20 who are an example for others through their exemplary achievement in academics, athletics, volunteerism or community building.

Mantei is a student at the Estevan Comprehensive School, her interests outside of school include artistic swimming, 4-H, working on the family farm and roller derby.

Also competing for the title were Aivry Culy, Teigha Lesy, Izzy Semenuik, Andri Groenveld, Keira Lindsay Zepeda and Tayla Gervais.

The winner in this category will also receive a $2,000 scholarship, and each of the remaining six candidates will receive a scholarship of $250 during the school's year-end awards presentation.

Vi Day of Carnduff was the winner of the Innovative Leadership Award, presented by SaskTel. Estevan MLA Lori Carr handed the award out on behalf of SaskTel.

This award recognizes women who have created or implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships or other opportunities that significantly improve the lives of women in their community.

Day and her late husband Tony Day owned and operated Fast Trucking in Carnduff and other businesses, and have been strong employers in the region. The Day family has also supported many causes.

Other nominees were Daralee Kittelson, Chandra Marchuk, Sara East, Trina Battersby, Kylie Jo McGregor and Brooke Wilson.

Michelle Beaulieu claimed the Outstanding Contribution to the Workplace Award, presented by TS&M Supply and handed by Karl McKenzie. This award is for women with exemplary achievements beyond the scope of their paid work that improve workplaces.

Beaulieu, a constable with the Estevan Police Service and is one of two forensic officers in the city. She is also active in the community.

Other nominees were Jennifer Henderson and Jackie Wall.

Pam Gunnlaugson won the Equity & Inclusion Award, presented by Saskatchewan Blue Cross, finishing ahead of Aimee Haralson. The award recognizes women for leadership, resilience and activism to further advance efforts in improving the community or the culture for the next generation.

Gunnlaugson's career has been dedicated to helping individuals develop their potential academically and personally, and she thrives when working with newcomers and Indigenous people.

The winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Community Award, presented by Steam Est. Industries and handed by Keith Cassidy, was Daniyale Woolsey of Bienfait. The award recognizes influential community builders whose contributions and leadership have helped to create a community where everyone can thrive.

Woolsey has been a member of the town's fire department, organizes the Bienfait Canada Day parade and co-ordinates other July 1 activities, and is involved in numerous sports and recreation organizations.

Also nominated were Verdeen Matthewson, Lynn Trobert, Misty Pennington, Nancy Samoluk, Jeri-Lee Jones and Kasey McIntyre.

Mary Anne Veroba was the MC for the event. Becky Cassidy opened the event with an inspirational address.

"Continue to grow, continue to go through hard things and come out on the other side with the purpose of sharing your story to help others and most importantly, continue to expand the league of superheroes that you surround yourself with every day. Love them, lean on them, learn from them. And at the end of this life if we've managed to do that, I think we'll feel like we live a beautiful life," Cassidy said.

The event also saw inspiring and insightful speeches by Stacey Wempe and Michelle Gilchrist. (The next edition of the Mercury will have more on their speeches).

Gertie Lev was inducted into the Trailblazers Memorial Walk, joining inaugural inductees

Shirley Orsted, Melodye Pierson, Ida Petterson and Shirley Carson, who were recognized last year as women who were the first to do something and/or to go somewhere, and who gave other women the opportunity to follow up and the knowledge that was needed to make it possible for them to do so. (For more see PAGE A2).

The W4W committee consists of Cassidy, Andrist, Van De Woestyne, Veroba, Brittany Zahn, Tara Daoust, Lori Gervais, Michelle Erdman and Stacy Dutka.