The 30 Women Being Honoured

Meet our 30 women! Don't forget to share your own stories of the women who inspire you using #30yrs30women

Andreia Moretzsohn

Nominated by: Joshua Benard

From the age of 15 and 12, Andreia and her brother were raised by their single mother in Duque de Caxias, a rural suburb of Rio de Janeiro Brazil.
In November of 2009, at the early age of 23, Andreia was one of the youngest to graduate as a general practitioner from Fundacao Tecnico Educacional Souza Marques in RJ BR. Only one month after graduating medical school, Andreia packed up her bags and said good-bye to her family and friends.
In December of 2009 Andreia immigrated to Toronto, Ontario Canada. At first Andreia was unable to work as she was waiting for her permanent residence application to be processed. Instead of sitting around, Andreia decided to get involved in her community.
Andreia enrolled and was accepted to participated in two observership programs. One  program was at Providence Care Mental Hospital in Kingston, Ontario and the other at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health in Whitby, Ontario. 
Despite being successfully granted permanent residence, Andreia was unable to find work in her field in Toronto.
Andreia decided to pick up again and this time landed in Edmonton, Alberta. After a couple of interviews, Andreia was hired at the University of Alberta in the department of Psychiatry.
Since being hired, she has seen her career flourish. She has been quickly promoted from a research assistant to research coordinator within her first year of employment. 
At the U of A, Andreia has worked on a multitude of important projects that greatly impacts the everyday life of Canadians. After only 4 years since she first moved to Canada, in the spring of 2013, Andreia bought her first home in Edmonton, Alberta.
Additionally Andreia volunteers six hour a week.
She volunteers three hours a week at the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation in the paediatric oncology ward and the other three hours at the sexual assault centre as a crisis line volunteer.
Andreia is constantly looking for ways to further her education in order to better serve the people she works with. 
Andreia has taught me a lot in the past 7 years we have been together. 
  • She pushes her comfort level in order to help others. 
  • She has taught me to be more caring.
  • She has taught me to be more compassionate.
  • She has taught me to be more loving.
  • She has taught me to be more selfless. 
  • She has taught me to not be afraid of failure.
  • She has taught me to work hard. 
  • She has taught me to never give up.
Andreia's dedication to life and helping other is a constant reminder of what I aspire to.

Angela Sterritt

Nominated by: Lawrence Angecone

  • An artist whose works express an indigenous viewpoint that imparts pride and critical thought about our present day issues.
  • A single mother that manages living on her own in the north while accomplishing a successful journalist career at CBC North news.
  • A talented model whose courage, strength and inner beauty are visualized in amazing self-portraits.
  • A diverse individual whose resilience against many obstacles is demonstrated through her accomplishments.
  • A woman rooted in Vancouver, British Columbia and also was dedicated to community improvements both indigenous focused and woman on the downtown eastside.
  • A great communicator and story finder and translator using many mediums for wonderful tales to be shared with many others.
  • A beautiful woman in spirit, mind and body.
  • A skilled writer who effectively communicates to access grants and other supports to realize impactful projects.
  • A wonderful, committed mother of one adorable son.
  • A very good candidate for this award; she will make an excellent role model to others when the awards are publicized.
  • An Indigenous, Aboriginal woman from the Gitzxsan Nation,
  • A contributing documentarian to ground breaking shows that deal with breaking down Canada’s barriers to respecting Turtle Island original people.
  • From the following photos Ange is a great artist, mother, model and creative, beautiful individual who can be a great recipient for this years award.
  • 15 Photos
  • A very deserving person of this award from these 30 and far too many more!

Ashley Wiles

Nominated by: Michelle Houle

Ashley is a young woman who started Sole Girls to support girls to learn to run, and to encourage them to love themselves. She gives me hope. She inspires me.
Nominated by: Caithlin Scarpelli, Jake Abbott
My Granny is the best Granny. She is smart, strong, brave, humble, funny and beautiful. she loves without judgment and forgives without condition, but most importantly she is mine! - Kiki

My Granny is amazing. She always has a smiling face for our family. She has the power to mediate any argument. Her creativity and humour always put a smile on my face. Her continued passion to see the world continues to inspire me. And no senior understands sarcasm and Skype better than my Granny! - Jake

Nominated by: Shawna Baylis
Chris Morrissey is a woman whose support changed the trajectory of my life and is worthy of recognition.

"Seniors’ advocate, humanitarian, human rights activist: Chris Morrissey is a powerful force in Vancouver’s queer community and last month was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work helping queer immigrants and refugees reunite with their partners and find sanctuary from oppression, discrimination and possible death." - Shauna Lewis, "The Daily Extra", December 5, 2012


Dalannah Gail Bowen

Nominated by: Irene Wotton

She found the strength to recover from addiction and homelessness, and the vision to create therapeutic
artistic programmes to heal others. Her vision creates opportunities for others to heal their lives.
  • 30 words are not enough
  • 30 sentences would be filled with superlatives that, while warranted, would create too long a letter.
  • She is a gracious, talented, powerful, and determined woman with a vision of building and giving back to the community in a big and remarkable way.
Dalannah Gail Bowen is a musician/vocalist/artist, fund raiser, and visionary who founded the Downtown Eastside Centre for the Arts and started arts programmes to offer healing opportunities to others.
She has experienced the cycles of physical and sexual abuse, addiction and homelessness. She has come back through all of this intent on helping others and building community.
She is now at a pivotal point in negotiating critical funding with philanthropists that will establish a permanent home base and facilities for DECA so that residents of Vancouver’s downtown eastside can learn, practice and express themselves through visual and performing arts and to benefit from the healing effects of these forms of expression.
This proposed centre will be a cultural focal point that will help people to help themselves grow and develop and heal.

Dana Bass Solomon

Nominated by: Joel Solomon

Dana is Ceo of Hollyhock. She is a brilliant manager, steward, mentor, and leader, dedicated to empowerment of people and dedicated to higher purpose. Mom to 4 happy capable adults. 


Devona Stevenson

Nominated by: Candice Quesnel, Dawn Armstrong, Heather Woolley, Amanda King

 A woman of wisdom, strength and courage; Embraces and conquers life's challenges; An inspiration to motherhood; A gentle soul, teacher and student of life; Our friend, our colleague, our peer.

Nominated by: Chris Thomas
My wife, Dona Cadman.
She inspires me every day, with her quiet selfless contributions to her community.
Dona has been working for Surrey and her Country since 1993. She’s not the type to “blow her own horn” so she would never ask for or expect any “special notice”; so I must do it on her behalf.
Please consider this special woman in your thoughts, love and tributes to inspiring Women in your 30th Year.
Dona Cadman served the residents of Surrey North as their elected representative to the House of Commons, from October 14, 2008 through May 2, 2011.
Dona was born into a Canadian military family in Chilliwack, BC. In addition to residing in Germany, Dona lived on eleven different Canadian bases from coast to coast during her first 18 years. Living in so many different areas of our country has given Dona a coast to coast love for Canada.
Dona married Chuck Cadman (1948 - 2005) in 1969 and they had two children; a daughter Jodi, born in 1973 and a son, Jesse (1976 - 1992). In 1992, Jesse was murdered in a random act of violence, by a group of young offenders. The Cadmans turned their personal tragedy in a positive direction.
In 1993, Dona, Chuck and a small group of friends, founded CRY (Crime Responsibility and Youth). CRY was dedicated to strengthening the Federal Justice system and helping youth at risk, in the hopes of preventing future senseless acts of violence. CRY organized a nationwide petition of 500,000 signatures, resulting in important amendments to the Young Offender’s Act. Dona ran her own daycare and worked for Canada Post while helping launch Chuck’s political career.
The Cadmans became strong advocates for victim’s rights. Chuck became a Member of Parliament (1997-2005) in order to take their struggle to the next level, while Dona remained active in victims’ rights organizations and criminal justice reform groups.
Dona is an active member of the community. She’s a member of Surrey Mayor's Crime Task Force and the Victim’s Advisory Council to Correctional Services Canada/National Parole Board-Pacific Region, The Newton Advocacy Group Society, a Director on the Board of Surrey North Conservative Association and a staunch supporter of SOS Children's Village of BC, Covenant House, Surrey North Lions Club, plus other service organizations and charities.
Dona is active giving talks on Victim’s Rights and Restorative Justice, to both front line Law Enforcement and Correctional Services providers coast to coast.
Dona lives her life by the Margaret Mead quote:
"Never underestimate the power of a small but committed group of people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Nominated by: Elaine Morrison
Dorothy Nepinak Betz was born at the Pine Creek Reserve, Manitoba on June 26, 1929.
She lost her parents at an early age and was raised by her grandparents. She attended Pine Creek Residential School until the age of 18 and worked in various places before moving to Winnipeg in 1948. 
She married Elmer Betz on Dec. 2, 1950 and raised six children. Betz was moved by the hardship suffered by native people which led to a lifelong career in aboriginal law and community service.
She pioneered the first Native Court Communicators Program with the Province of Manitoba, where she used her Ojibway language to help aboriginal people to understand the law.
She was appointed as the Canadian delegate to the Fifth United Nations Congress in Geneva, Switzerland and spoke on the topics of women, youth and aboriginal people. She was a board member, worker, or volunteer for such organizations as:
• The Indian and Métis Friendship Centre • Manitoba Society of Criminology • Manitoba Correctional Institutions • Native Clan Organization • Juvenile Review Board • Juvenile Corrections Child Welfare Government Board • Main Street Project • Police Natives Committee • Aboriginal Health Wellness Centre • Human Rights Committee • Native Alcoholism Council • Kekinan Centre (Aboriginal Seniors Residence) • RCMP Aboriginal Advisory Committee • Pathway Children’s Home • Marymound School • Manitoba Association of Rights Liberties • Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre • Native Women’s Transition Centre • Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development • Keteyatsak Elders and Seniors.
In recognition of her contributions, Dorothy was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt and honoured with the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Woman of the Year Award, Manitoba Good Citizenship Award (1977), and the Joe Zuken Award for citizen activist.
My beautiful and inspiring Aunt Dorothy passed away in Winnipeg September 9, 2007.

Esther Strauss

Nominated by: Tamar Cherniawsky

My mother is my inspiration. Though she is not with me anymore, her words and her fighting spirit live with me every day. She was gracious, hard working and she loved with every part of her soul. She was a beloved friend, loving wife and mother, dedicated scholar and an exuberant laugher. Above all, she was my teacher, my confidante, my advocate and my rock. Her struggle with illness never stopped her from living life to the fullest, working, travelling and laughing up until the end. She fought everyday for her family, her friends and for herself. Her courage, ambition, devotion and her adoration for all those who were around her inspire me every day.  

Nominated by: Janice Abbott
  • Bold
  • Honest
  • Inspiring
  • Beautiful
  • Tall
  • Frank
  • Funny
  • Brilliant
  • Amazing
  • Pioneer
  • Strong
  • Tenacious
  • Fearless
  • Awesome
  • Leader
  • Visionary
  • Substantial
  • Powerful
  • Mentor
  • Mother
  • Friend
  • Faithful
  • Thoughtful
  • Generous
  • Candid
  • Audacious
  • Unrelenting
  • Indomitable
  • Compelling
  • Formidable
Nominated by: Heather Woolley
My friend Georgina Rankin. She is a 90 year old “Scot” and still going strong! 
She has provided me with counselling and support and a lot of laughs for many years since the loss of my parents. 
She has a” HEART OF GOLD” and a “TONGUE OF STEEL!” (And does not suffer fools gladly.)
She is a long-time breast cancer survivor and has spent much of her time helping counsel others as they go through the process.
She still attends Kiwanis regularly and continues to help fundraise for the Community and is always ready to fight for the underdog. She swims regularly at the White Rock pool and told me yesterday that she can’t wait until she is 100 because then she can swim for free!!
She is a wonderful role model for all women.

Heather Knox

Nominated by: Ginette Nielsen

Heather Knox is my incredible friend who is taking her love of kids to Guatemala to create a Children's Village for orphaned and abandoned children, her love knows no boundaries.

Jackie Ellis Mackin

Nominated by: Jackie Byrn

  • Unyielding
  • Generous
  • Kind
  • Steady
  • Brave
  • Polite
  • Brainy
  • Athletic
  • Patient
  • Friendly
  • Funny
  • Wise
  • Knowing
  • Insightful
  • Loving
  • Precise 
  • Shrewd
  • Understanding
  • Strict
  • Artistic
  • Coordinated
  • Disciplined
  • Insistent
  • Strong
  • Organized
  • Methodical
  • Fair
  • Musical
  • Hard-working
  • Diligent
Nominated by: Dave Mowat, Angela Sealy and Myrna Cranmer
She is a courageous person who is very likeable, even loveable who has no need to be liked. This is probably not how she feels inside but it gives her amazing strength and credibility. She is a spokesperson for the needy and a conscience for these who have plenty. Arbitrage at its best! She is awesome. - David Mowat
She has created a successful organization to house women no one wants. - Angela Sealy

Leah Cohen

Nominated by: Jill Hightower

Leah Cohen (deceased ) was an early Canadian feminist writer whose book ”Small Expectations: Society's Betrayal of Older Women” inspires me in my old age to continue reaching out and advocating for elderly women.


Leticia Sarmiento

Nominated by: Lara Maestro

Leticia Sarmiento  had the courage and bravery to stand up in court to an abusive employer in a new country. Stories like Leticia’s are unfortunately too common for overseas Filipino workers, who must often endure long days in brutal conditions in their jobs for fear that their employers will get them deported, and that their abuse will not be believed.

In an unprecedented and historic decision on June 26, 2013, the BC Supreme Court jury found Leticia’s employer guilty on charges of human trafficking. Leticia’s victory is a strong public statement that charges of human trafficking for forced labour can be pursued in the courts, that victims like Leticia Sarmiento can find justice and that violators will be punished.

I admire Leticia for standing up for her rights in court and for speaking out on behalf of migrant workers everywhere.


Katrina Pacey

Nominated by: J. Stewart

It is no small feat to straddle the distance between the streets of the Downtown East Side to the floor of the Supreme Court of Canada. The gift that Pivot Legal Society Litigation Director, Katrina Pacey has of tying these two worlds together is simply awe inspiring. Her ability to transition from sympathetic ear into ferocious advocate is a transformation that is humbling to witness.

The tenacity required to fight uphill battles, against large systems, and challenge well heeled institutions is, at times, confounding and causes one to wonder how all that brilliance, commitment, and vision fits into a singular human being. She has a gift; one that invites you in, and makes you want to follow. And that, may be her secret: the ability to move plain old regular people from apathy to action.

At her 2012 Pecha Kucha presentation, Katrina concluded with a brilliant encapsulation of what one could argue as being her own methodology on how to do it, by quoting the American author and social activist, Howard Zinn.

“History is full of instances where people, against enormous odds, have come together to struggle for liberty and justice, and have won -- not often enough, of course, but enough to suggest how much more is possible.  The essential ingredients of these struggles for justice are human beings who, if only for a moment, if only while beset with fears, step out of line and do something, however small.  And even the smallest, most unheroic of acts adds to the store of kindling that may be ignited by some surprising circumstance into tumultuous change.”

It was as if Mr. Zinn was speaking of Katrina herself.

  • Optimist.
  • Genius
  • Fighter
  • Mother
  • Ally
  • Friend
  • Visionary
  • Leader
  • Daughter
  • Litigator
  • Unifier
  • Advocate
  • Hero

It has been a joy to witness her in each of these capacities, and she inspires us daily.

It is a unique individual who can contextualize the law in a way in which everyone can participate and understand. She has a light and presence that draws everyone toward her, and a humility that masks how deeply brilliant she is. It has been an honour to call her a colleague and friend.

Nominated by: Jenneil Peters
Maria Kritikos, CEO and Founder of Ladies Who Lunch.
Ladies Who Lunch was founded by Maria Kritikos in 2013 to serve as a social, business and philanthropic networking vehicle. It is Maria’s desire that women realize their own power and know no limitations. It is her wish for every woman 
to live a life of freedom and dreams beyond their own expectations and everyone else’s. Women with a purpose surrounding themselves with other such like minded individuals.
”There is nothing more powerful than being around women who inspire me to achieve my goals and be the best version of myself.”
Maria supports many women's charities and believes in women supporting women.

Maria Montessori

Nominated by: Ludmila Novikova

I am very grateful to Maria Montessori, who unfortunately is no longer with us, for her talent, hard work and a true Universal unselfishness. An example of her life, her work in pedagogy and child psychology, her books have completely changed my life. I changed professions, lifestyles and attitudes. I was able to "pass" through their children's mental trauma, and now help more children and their parents. 


Marnie Crassweller

Nominated by: Sheryl Basil, Janice Abbott, Caithlin Scarpelli, Fei Wang, Michelle Houle, Tracey Draper, Sharon McLeod, Tanya Sedlacek, Nicole Charleson, Amber Prince, Niki Antonopoulou

Marnie is smart and resilient and beautiful. She laughs like no one laughs – big and deep and with unbridled passion.  She gives completely of herself, even when she has little to give. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, often for others. When she is ready, she will create world peace or find a cure for cancer or save a child from a heartbreaking path. When I say I believe, it is because I know women like Marnie.  – Janice Abbott

Marine’s laugh always cheers me up. Her strength, her courage and her amazing personality inspire me every time I talk to her. She is wonderful even in the darkest days. – Caithlin Scarpelli

Marnie to me is like a spawning salmon. No matter the time or distance and in her time will get it done!! – Sheryl Basil 

Marnie never fails to amaze me with her sense of humour and infectious laugh even in the most challenging of times. She is tough, fun, resourceful, brave and truly inspirational – Fei Wang

Three thoughts:

  • Despite the many struggles Marnie has faced, she continues to laugh her unmistakable laugh.
  • She doesn’t take any shit from anyone.
  • Sometimes when she tells me about a rough time she’s facing, I’m tempted to hug her but she’d whollop me.  - Michelle Houle
Shiny and always has a smile, she’s got a great sense of humour, which carries her through the darker of times, it’s inspirational - Tracey Draper
Marnie has a contagious laughter which reflects her vibrant spirit and is a reminder to us all that there is happiness in even the smallest life moments - Sharon and Tanya 

Marnie – powerful voice, powerful laugh, powerful woman. She lights up a room as soon as she walks through the door. - Nicole Charleson  

I  am continually amazed by Marnie's strengths and talents (entrepreneur, cook, artist, environmentalist, comedienne). Marnie is a super smart, savvy, caring person and has the best laugh that ever existed. It's hard to imagine Atira without Marnie around. We all definitely notice when she's been away! - Amber Prince

Strong willed; Always laughing; Very caring; Always to the point. - Niki Antonopoulou


MaryAnne Connor

Nominated by: MJ Whitemarsh

Most of us as we go through our lives find it difficult to exit from our comfort zone, especially when we are successful with what we are doing and what we are doing is financially rewarding.

Mary Anne Connor (Simpson) was a successful real estate marketing professional with an up and coming company whose stellar reputation in the new home market was growing. 

Mary Anne lived in a beautiful ocean view home in White Rock and travelled to her loft style offices in trendy Kitsilano every day.  But Mary Anne was neither happy nor satisfied with the plight she saw every day with single parent families, children in need and especially the homeless.

Mary Anne made huge changes in her life which over the next decade would see her move out of her comfort zone, sell her home, dissolve her marriage, winding down her business to change the way she lived so that she could improve the way others live.  

Mary Anne chose to live a very modest lifestyle pouring everything she could, herself, her money, and utilizing her vast list of contacts to help those less fortunate.  She became an ordained Minister, walking the talk and truly making a difference.

Not without controversy, Mary Anne began Night Shift Ministries in Whalley, never giving in to public scrutiny and maintaining her highest level of integrity to the needs of others.

Mary Anne has now written a book documenting her "shift" in living, thinking, and acting for others.

Mary Anne is truly an inspiring woman.


Mary Hein

Nominated by: Scot Hein

In the words of her grandmother, our daughter Mary is a "compassionate, substantive women" who contributes her very best each day as a registered nurse at the Dr. Peter Centre.


Niki Antonopoulou

Nominated by: Fei Wang

Niki is, in one word, unflappable. She can handle absolutely anything without blinking an eye, the rock on which everyone leans. It is something that I greatly admire and hope to attain one day!

Nina Rihal

Nominated by: J.Allan Payne

Family always comes first. The best daughter and mother.
Despite having her barriers, Nina always gives of herself.
Profit or not: healing through dance, Women Encouraging Women
The gifts and challenges that being a single mother have not daunted Nina. She has raised a fine young man who is about to graduate high school. It is only one measure of her success.
She also spends considerable time caring for her elderly grandmother and assisting her mother. She happily answers the call from extended family to help with financial and legal matters.
Nina has honed her skills over many years of working on the front lines of non-profit groups, serving our community. Appreciating what she had once endured, she brought a more hopeful attitude to her craft of assisting people to overcome the barriers laid before them.
She has had a varied career of helping those in need: from immigrants to victims of violence. The attitude she brought to her job helped many to rise above their challenges as she had.
In a new chapter in her life, Nina looks to begin a project to help children who have suffered trauma in their lives through movement and dance. She hopes to empower them in a way she found has helped herself in the past.
Nina has also begun a successful local women's discussion group that allows women to share in their experiences and help each other in their personal and professional struggles called "Women Encouraging Women".

My Aunt Enid

Nominated by: Angela Sealy

My Aunt Enid; she loved unconditionally but she was practical and decisive. I admired her ability to balance these qualities with calm expertise.


My Gramma

Nominated by: Lisa Hartley

My hero is my gramma, not alive anymore, but she lived to 103 with all her wits. After living through the depression on a farm in the prairies she and her husband endlessly fought for social justice. She kept up to date on the news, and her family. Once she sent a short-term boyfriend of mine home with a copy of "the History of Socialism in Canada" because he showed alarmingly conservative tendancies.

She adored Phillip and picked him out for my husband. She flirted shamelessly when she met him and ALWAYS wanted to know how he was!

Nominated by: Elaine Morrison

Paula Carlson has offered inspiration through her writing describing the difficult challenges she has encountered in her life, including an alcoholic upbringing, an abusive marriage, and the murder of her father in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

In her 15 years working as a reporter and columnist for The Surrey-North Delta leader, her stories about topics such as domestic violence, poverty, and the vulnerable members of society won numerous local, national and international journalism awards.

Carlson has been editor of The Surrey-North Delta Leader for the past four years.


Tess Carlington

Nominated by: Maddy Carlington

My daughter, my Tess.

Tess has taught me the beauty and heartfelt meaning of unconditional love.

  • The sunshine in your smile.
  • The pain in your eyes.
  • Your infectious spirit, that never fails to soar.
  • Your radiant beauty that seeps from your soul.
  • Your stubbornness to never bend or give up.
  • Your willingness to wander to places unknown.
  • Your values & commitment for the love of your brother.
  • Your fearlessness and courage to continually endure your heartaches.
  • Your laughter that lights and lifts up a mood.
  • Your love affairs and horrific break ups with heroin.
  • Your care & compassion for 4 legged loved ones.
  • Your heart is Magical it constantly overflows with courage, empathetic kindness and sparkles, simple sparkles with LOVE.

My darling Tess, you empower, encourage and inspire me daily to continually focus on the power of love!