St. Albert Bahá’í to honour five area women this weekend

by Morinville News Staff

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 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 Saturday, Mar. 3.

In an interview with Morinville News during the nomination process, Baha’i International Women’s Day Committee 2018 spokesperson Elaine Tahririha said it was important to recognize the passion and dedication of area women.

“International Women’s Day recognizes and promotes the contribution of women to the betterment of societies all around the world,” Tahririha said. “Baha’is believe that unless and until women achieve their equal and rightful status working alongside of men in all realms of human endeavor: political, economic, social and religious, world peace can never be established.”

This Saturday’s nominees include: Anita Ferri, nominated as an advocate for children, youth and adults; Georgina Scott, nominated as an unsung heroine; Nicole Boulanger, also nominated as an unsung heroine; Billie-Jo Grant, nominated under the category of education, Aboriginal initiatives; and Lucille Mandin, nominated under youth empowerment and multicultural.

Sturgeon County resident Nicole Boulanger will be recognized as an unsung heroine with a huge heart and infectious happy energy.

Boulanger nominator said she has always been service-minded. She and her husband met as young adults while working as volunteers on a Katimavik project.

Boulanger gave birth to two children. Feeling their family was not yet complete but unwilling to risk another dangerous pregnancy, the couple explored other options. They applied to become foster parents and began training.

It wasn’t long before they were asked to foster twins. Boulanger fell in love with the toddlers and when it became possible to adopt them, the couple did. Soon after they fostered and then adopted two more babies. The couple are in the process of adopting the latest member of the family.

Boulanger is credited with having “a special way of observing and appreciating each child as an individual, building on strengths and providing concrete, bite-sized lessons to help him or her develop the life skills needed to grow into confident, functioning, productive members of society.”

In addition to caring for the seven children in their family, eight horses and fostering countless dogs Boulanger also co-founded the Alberta Pet Education Society with four other community-minded women.

Legal resident Georgina Scott is also being recognized as an unsung heroine.

Scott spent nearly 30 years cooking at St. Albert’s Youville Home and has recently retired. During her time there she got to know the seniors, families and nuns on a personal level.

The nominee is credited as being an active volunteer and an active member of The Father’s House church for more than a dozen years. As a church member, she has “cooked and baked for church brunches, funerals, youth group outings, baptisms, and fundraisers.”

Those skills were brought to the table about a year ago when she began to look after food preparation for Higher Ground coffee house in Morinville, which is supported by The Father’s House.

Scott has also spent time over the past four years volunteering with the Morinville Grandmothers to Grandmothers, helping to raise money for African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS.

Sturgeon School Division employee Anita Ferri is to be honoured as an advocate for children, youth and adults.

She helped found the advocacy group, Act Now for Adults with Autism. After 14 years of effort, the Lifespan Clinic was established with a primary goal is to improve the overall ability of adults with Autism and their families to identify and access appropriate supports and intervention options.

St. Albert resident and Vincent J. Maloney Junior High School teacher Billie-Jo Grant will be honoured under the category of education, Aboriginal initiatives.

Grant is credited for creating a special environment in her classroom, for her students as well as the school population at large.

The nomination bio says Grant has a kitchen in her classroom that she keeps stocked with sandwich ingredients and bananas.

The school’s students often drop by for a snack and to visit with Grant’s students whose challenges range from autism to developmental delays to fragile medical conditions.

“Over time, her welcoming open-door policy has helped mainstream students overcome hesitancy and prejudice to develop special bonds with students with ‘exceptionalities,’ Grant’s nomination bio reads.

Grant is recognized as someone whose cultural heritage has significantly informed her life. A proud Métis, she is a sought-after presenter at teachers’ conventions and professional development days. During her talks, Grant addresses topics including Residential Schools Experience and Truth and Reconciliation.

St. Albert resident Lucille Mandin will be recognized for youth empowerment / Multicultural.

Mandin taught at the Campus saint-Jean of the University of Alberta for 40 years with a deep commitment to students and an ability to see their inner gifts and potentialities.

The University partnered with the Me to We Foundation a decade ago to create a learning-through-service international humanitarian project. Mandin guided seven different student groups to participate in projects in Kenya, Tanzania and Togo.

Mandin kept up connections with the Africans and her students, spearheading several fundraising events.

The International Women’s Day Celebration will be held at the St. Albert Community Hall (17 Perron Street) Saturday, March 3rd. Doors open at 7:00 pm, and the program starts at 7:30 pm.

Seats can be reserved by texting Mitra at 780-238-4145.

Instead of admissions, donations are requested to support Mama Charity’s orphanage in Africa.

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