New West women nominated for prestigious YWCA awards

A trio of New Westminster residents is in the running for 2020 Women of Distinction Awards.

The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards honour individuals and organizations whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the wellbeing and future of the community. The 37th annual awards recognize women in 11 categories, as well as an outstanding workplace.

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This year’s nominees from New Westminster are Courtney Daws, Lisa Langevin and Sussanne Skidmore.

Daws, vice president of governance and policy for the Castlemain Group, is nominated in the Reconciliation in Action category. A new award category featuring eight nominees, Reconciliation in Action will honour two women – an Indigenous leader and an ally – working independently and finding a new way forward.

“Courtney is … a staunch advocate and a true ally for Indigenous rights and reconciliation. At Castlemain, Courtney leads projects that build the strength of Indigenous governance, the foundation for self-determination, which is essential in reconciliation and overcoming the history of colonialism,” said a profile on the Women of Distinction website. “Courtney was one of the youngest women to serve as director of operations/chief of staff at the B.C. Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and is a key contributor to the BCAFN Governance Toolkit – A Guide to Nation-Building. The toolkit is the most comprehensive study on Indigenous governance and Nation rebuilding efforts of First Nations across Canada. During her legal academic studies (2001 to 2004), Courtney argued that Canada committed genocide through residential schools, a widely accepted view today.”

Langevin, director of women in trades for the Industry Training Authority, is nominated in the Education, Training and Development category. She’s also the president of the B.C. Tradeswomen Society, which provides support and networking opportunities for women in the trades. 

“A Red Seal electrician, Lisa secured $1 million in funding for research for a report called Enhancing the Retention and Advancement of Women in Trades in B.C., leading to the establishment of the B.C. Centre for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT),” said the YWCA website. “Lisa successfully advocated for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to start a women’s committee at the international level and encourage all local branches to start women’s committees. Lisa formed a partnership between BCCWITT and Ending Violence Association of B.C. and the B.C. Lions to implement the Be More Than a Bystander program, to change the culture within the trades.”

Skidmore, secretary treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour, is a Community Champion nominee.

“Sussanne passionately advocates for gender equity, human rights and queer rights. In her role, Sussanne focuses her work on workers’ rights, including leading the campaign for 10 days paid leave for people leaving sexual and domestic violence. Sussanne is an advocate for the Be More Than a Bystander initiative, which helps educate men on how to challenge discrimination and harassment in the workplace,” said Skidmore’s profile. “Sussanne is a spokesperson and champion of the United Way’s Period Promise campaign, resulting in free menstrual products being offered in all of B.C. schools.”

Award recipients will be announced on May 11 at an awards dinner in Vancouver.

In addition to being nominated for awards, the individual nominees are eligible for the Connecting the Community award. They will select a YWCA program area that they’re interested in and use social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to promote votes.

“From March 4 to April 24, the public can cast their votes online and the nominee with the most votes will receive the Connecting the Community Award,” said a YWCA press release. “Scotiabank will donate $10,000 to the YWCA program area of their choice.”

If successful, Daws would support efforts on reducing child poverty, while Langevin and Skidmore would put the funds toward programming aimed at preventing violence against women.

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