by Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – Time is running out for residents to nominate exceptional area women for some special recognition. For the past 18 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 through 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. 8 but the deadline for nominations is Feb. 8.
Committee member Elaine Tahririha said the committee is once again looking to recognize female youth and women who demonstrate generosity of spirit, courage, creativity, determination, steadfastness, enthusiasm, love, care, leadership, or other qualities that enrich lives in their communities.
“These women are so inspiring,” Tahririha said. “The women that we’ve honoured over the years are truly, truly amazing, and I would say one of the characteristics that they all share is they all have this humbleness. They all are making a contribution, whether it’s in business or motherhood, work, arts or volunteerism; they’re all passionate bout what they are called to do. They don’t think they are doing anything. They’re very humble, and you are just inspired. Every year for the past 17 years everyone comes away truly uplifted.”
But there is more to the event than being uplifted after a ceremony and a meal. Tahririha said there is a teaching in the Bahá’í faith that holds peace cannot be achieved until true equality between men and women is achieved. “We take this one day and one event honouring local women [as a way to] connect with women and men around the world. Because it’s not just women achieving equality; it’s men and women achieving equality. We don’t even know what it looks like yet.”
Open to women and youth
Past honourees have included Morinville residents Lynne Rosychuk, who was recognized as a champion of the vulnerable, and Sarah Hall, who was recognized as a supporter of mothers and community life. Once again this year, the committee will select five recipients from the nominations submitted.
“I think the youngest one we’ve ever honoured was 15 or 16,” Tahririha said, adding nominees are accepted from high school age and on up. “I think that boys and girls can begin contributing from a very young age if they have the right kind of guidance or modelling from significant adults in their lives,” she said. “I think by the time a young woman gets to high school age, she can be making huge contributions already. All over the world you are seeing youth movements and a lot of emphasis and energy among the youth.”
The recognition, in addition to covering women of all ages, also covers a wide variety of categories. There are multiple categories again on this year’s nomination form: health, education, multicultural, Aboriginal initiatives, unsung heroine, science, arts and youth empowerment. However, the form provides an open option to identify exceptional women who do not fall into one of the identified categories, a place Tahririha hopes people will use to start thinking about other areas of community life in which women are making contributions.
In order to be considered as an award nominee, the woman must be a resident of St. Albert, Morinville or Sturgeon County. The nominee’s contribution may be current or may have taken place at any time; however, the contribution should have a positive impact on their community.
“This is a really important event that is not possible unless people let us know who the remarkable women are in their lives,” Tahririha said. “The event really starts with the nominations, and we thank everybody so much for taking the time to submit nominations.”
Tahririha said individuals and groups of individuals, organizations, and community groups are welcome to submit nominations. Nomination forms are available online at www.stalbertbahai.org, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, phone either Mitra at 780-458-5214 or Elaine at 780-460-2151. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 8.