Wow! What a night!
On Thursday evening, we welcomed over 800 households and more than 1,000 to YWCA Hamilton’s first-ever virtual Women of Distinction Awards. We celebrated the accomplishments of our 97 nominees with an evening of fun and celebration (and even a little dancing by our emcee extraordinaire, Juno-winning musician Terra Lightfoot).
We knew that our Women of Distinction Awards would look a little different this year, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With that in mind, we decided to pivot our event to shine a light on the women of Hamilton and Halton who faced the many challenges posed by Covid-19. Our reimagined awards celebrated the accomplishments of women in six different categories: Frontline worker; Heath Care Hero; Pandemic Innovator; Community Champion; Young Trailblazer; and Lifetime Achievement.
Guests at Thursday evening’s gala were treated to an inspiring evening featuring addresses from YWCA Hamilton CEO Denise Christopherson and Board President Charaya Thach, performances by Terra Lightfoot, and heartfelt acceptance speeches from our winners – each one tuning in from their own home.
The evening also included a special tribute to our Honourary Woman of Distinction, Abrar Mechmechia. Each year, this award is given to a woman who has accessed our programs and services and subsequently gone on to inspire and lead women in our community.
Abrar spent years living in Aleppo, Syria, finishing her psychology degree and offering trauma counselling to children during the civil war. After arriving in Hamilton in 2017, Abrar participated in YWCA Hamilton’s Woman Alive program in order to help her mental health while she made the transition from Syria to Canada.
Since then, Abrar has started her own trauma counselling practice here in Hamilton, and led two different programs during Covid-19 aimed at helping newcomer women and youth protect their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. To learn more about Abrar and her journey, watch her video here. Congratulations, Abrar!
Thanks to your generosity – and with the help of our guest, Layne the Auctionista – over $60,500 was donated during the event, bringing our total raised to over $230,000 to power life-changing programs for women, girls and families.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone who made our 2021 Women of Distinction Awards such a huge success – particularly our event sponsors. We couldn’t have done it without you! If you couldn’t join us for the gala, you can watch the entire ceremony here:
Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Women of Distinction Awards!
Honourary Woman of Distinction
Hamilton Winner: Olivia Mancini
Halton Winner: Christina Mulder
Health Care Hero
Hamilton Winner: Dr. Elizabeth Richardson
Halton Winner: Andrea Pohl
Hamilton Winner: Andriana Lukich
Halton Winner: Lisa Lunski
Community Champion Hamilton
Winner: Lisa Nussey
Halton Winner: Julia Hanna
Hamilton Winner: Joëlle Kabisoso
Halton Winner: Ashwini Selvakumaran