The Women of Distinction awards and dinner event got underway on Thursday evening at the Ches Leach Lounge.
The tables looked full with about 200 people in attendance. Some came out to show their support of one winner in particular, while others came to show their appreciation of inspiring women everywhere.
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by a dinner catered by Two by Dahlsjo, a local chef and restaurant owner, considered to rank in the top 10 provincially.
Since 1990, the YWCA has been calling out to the community of Prince Albert to honour spectacular women in one of five categories: Arts, Culture and Heritage, Education, Business, Entrepreneurship or Leadership, Young Women’s Leadership and Lifetime Achievement.
Over the years, the YWCA has helped to recognize well over 100 women who have inspired others to nominate them for their work.
All five women entered the room in a short procession, lead by a bagpipe player decked out in a full kilt and regalia. Later on each woman was welcomed on stage to give her speech.
Marilyn Young, winner of the Education award had to stop her speaking halfway through when she could no longer talk for the tears in her eyes and the audible, high-pitched strain in her voice.
She tossed her speech aside with a joke about how she was not reading it anyways and told her story and how she came into her work as an educator late in life, after being a bank teller and then a stay-at-home mom.
All the women were asked to mention one woman who had inspired them as part of their presentation. For Young it was her 7-year-old daughter.
“At seven years old, she got leukemia. She is my inspiration. Crystal.”
She recalled how her daughter acted unfazed by he situation, and remained determined to got to school every day she was not in the hospital.
“’Well hurry up and get those treatments over with. I gotta go to school,’” Young recalled.
“I thought, ‘well if she can do it, I can,” Young said.
That is when Young went back to school and became a teacher. Now she inspires other young people in the Carlton Connections program, where she teaches youth with disabilities in learning.
“I thought, ‘well if she can do it, I can,” Young said. -
Young carried on the lesson she learned from her daughter, by showing up to teach everyday last year, while she herself was going through cancer.
She said, in a previous interview, that she wanted to show her students that life goes on when you have cancer, that it’s not such a dirty word and it can be beat.
Lynda Monahan, winner of the Arts, Culture and Heritage award, spoke of her passion for writing and instructing others to find their own voice.
“Writing and teaching writing is what I do, it is an essential part of who I am,” she said.
Saskia and Darrel, a singer-song-writer duo, performed music in the middle of the evening. They featured contemporary and original music with prairie roots and a folk music twirl. Saskia kept the show on point by telling stories of her own grandmother, the woman who inspired her.