by Stephen Dafoe
For the past 21 years, the St. Albert Bahá’í community has sponsored an annual celebration of United Nations International Women’s Day by recognizing the contributions women make to society.
These contributions include their generosity of spirit, courage, creativity, determination, steadfastness, leadership, enthusiasm, love, caring, and other attributes that enrich the communities in which they live. This year’s celebrations will take place in St. Albert on Mar. 4 and the committee has selected five women to honour.
These include Morinville residents Jeanine Chalifoux and Misty Featherley, Alexander First Nation resident Sage Arcand, and St. Albert residents Nancy Watt and Moriganagh McNally.
Volunteer organizer and Morinville resident Sarah Hall told Morinville News during the quest for nominations last month that it was important to recognize the passion and dedication of area women.
“I truly believe that by recognizing women’s contributions within our communities, whether it be through motherhood, education, innovation, politics, industry, charity, activism, volunteerism or any other way,” She said, noting it reminds us all of the important roles women play in the world around us. “Though the struggle is still very real for women’s rights in many places on earth, it is getting easier in the western world for women.”
Morinville resident Jeanine Chalifoux will be recognized under the Community Building category.
Chalifoux, who was recently profiled in a Morinville News Community Champions story, was raised in Donnelly, Alberta and moved to Morinville in 1959. Chalifoux is an active member of the local Catholic Women’s League and recognized as a “devout and responsive member of the the St. Jean Baptiste parish.”
In 1978, Chalifoux identified a need and interest in the community and became a founding member the Art Club. Now the Morinville Art Club’s treasurer, she was club president for 30 years.
As a volunteer, Chalifoux is recognized for the Frontier Days Festival which ran from the late 1960s until the 1980s, a five-year member of the Morinville Festival Society, and an eight-year volunteer with the St. Jean Baptiste Festival. Additionally, her work with the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society since its beginning in 1971 has been noted.
“I am interested in working with people who are reliable and hard working,” Chalifoux said in a media release on her award.
Morinville resident Misty Featherley is to be recognized in the Service Category.
Featherly is recognized for her efforts as a foster and adoptive parent. Misty and her husband have been foster parents for 11 years, specializing in infants and toddlers. Over that time, they have helped raise more than 20 children, three of whom they have adopted.
Featherly’s award bio states she understands the need for the children to have involvement of their biological family and the need for a connection between the biological family and foster family.
“The more people you have in your loving circle, the better life is,” Featherly said in the release.
Featherly, in addition to her advocacy and involvement in fostering and adoption, is noted for her background support for the creation of a public school in Morinville and subsequently becoming its first trustee. Additionally, she co-founded and remains involved in the Morinville’s Marvellous Moms Adopt-a-family Christmas program.
Alexander First Nation resident Sage Arcand will be awarded and recognized under the Aboriginal Initiatives category.
Arcand’s began dancing when she started walking. Dancing and the traditional spiritual/ceremonial way is part of her family culture. She and members of her family have taken Powwow dancing to the international level. The 2013 Esqua Award winner has been involved in fancy, jingle, and traditional dance, but currently, specializes in traditional.
Presently pursuing B.A. studies at Grant MacEwan with the goal of entering law and ultimately becoming a judge to turn the tide on justice for First Nations peoples, Arcand said she plans to continue dancing into her adulthood.
“I am passionate about uplifting and representing my culture because our culture dies a little bit every day,” Arcand said.