Guelph Y honours 30 local women with a charity gala


22nd Women of Distinction Gala held at the River Run Centre

The 22nd annual Guelph Women of Distinction Gala was held on May 4 at the River Run Centre. The event honoured local women and fundraised for Guelph Y programs: Teenage Parents Program (TAPPs), Power of Being a Girl, and more.

Tasha Falconer

30 honorees were nominated for six categories: community building, professional achievement, turning points, mentors, leaders, and trailblazers.

The award recipients were:

  • Tracy McGrath for community building,
  • Dr. Lucy Mutharia for professional achievement,
  • Ann Caine for turning points,
  • Kellie Angerilli for mentors,
  • Gail Hoekstra for leaders, and
  • Gail Woods for trailblazers.

In addition, Isobel Boyle and Dr. Eva Nagy received lifetime achievement awards while Karly Richardson received the turning point award, which celebrates the ability to overcome a challenging life event and thrive.

Tasha Falconer

Sue Smith, a 2013 recipient, was the honorary chair and emcee for the evening. Smith spoke about gender equality and explained that Canada ranks 35 out of 144 countries in gender equality, with 50 per cent of Canadian women experiencing “at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.”

“We all need to work to change these numbers,” said Smith. She added that the purpose of the night—to “celebrate, to witness, and to be inspired by women”— was one way of doing that.

Smith discussed the values that honorees deemed important, including: determination, strength, community, compassion, and beauty. Smith was later joined by fellow Ondine Chorus members Shannon Kingsbury and Tannis Slimmon to sing “You Are So Beautiful.”

Tasha Falconer

The gala celebrated the nominees by showing videos of each honoree speaking about what she had done and her inspiration. Each video concluded with the featured woman giving advice to other young women. Much of the advice given related to following your passion.

“Say, ‘Yes,’” advised Andrea Buchholz, an associate professor at the University of Guelph. Many seconded Buchholz’s advice to take opportunities. 

“Girls compete against other girls [but] women empower other women,” said Leah Robinson, a U of G student–athlete and Paralympic athlete.

Buchholz and Robinson were just two of many nominees who had a connection to the University of Guelph.

Tasha Falconer

Between the categories, the audience was entertained by two dances from Portal Dance and Guelph Youth Dance, shown a video about the Power of Being a Girl conference, and led through stretches by three Guelph Y fitness instructors.

Photos by Tasha Falconer.