Congratulations to all the 2021 Women of Distinction Winners. You can read more about all the nominees here.
These awards recognize local women who through their own initiative, ability and effort have demonstrated exemplary achievement in their fields. These women are outstanding role models and an inspiration. They have made substantial contributions to the social fabric of our community in unique ways.
Whether recognized as trailblazers in their field or young women on the rise, all are pathfinders, bringing forth the key issues facing Canadian women today. For more information about these awards visit Women of Distinction Awards.
Jane Park – inclusive, influential leader, a trailblazer
Jane has served in a number of roles with Parks Canada Agency including Park Warden, since 2002. For the past ten years, she worked as a Fire and Vegetation Management Specialist.
In what is typically a male-dominated field, Jane is committed to paving the way for women to find their space within the industry by providing opportunity and encouragement for women to pursue a career in fire in Banff National Park.
Her recent work includes raising awareness of gender and diversity issues within Parks Canada and the broader wildland fire community in collaboration with the Association of Fire Ecology, Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, and colleagues in various other fire agencies.
The number of women on her team has increased significantly over the past several years as a result of her dedication to hiring a diverse and inclusive team.
She created an online community to provide support, resources, networking and information to an international group of women who work in fire.
In 2020, Jane was the only Canadian woman who went to Australia to assist in battling the bush fires, and was presented an award by the Premier of New South Wales for her contributions.
Jane has made a lasting impact on the lives of women and girls by providing a source of inspiration. When women and members of the BIPOC community see people like themselves such as Jane represented on Fire Crews within Parks Canada – it shows them that this is possibility for anyone including themselves.
Soulafa Al-Abbasi – inspirational, empowering & honest
An impactful and passionate leader and a dedicated community champion, Soulafa is an inspiration and a role model to many in the Bow Valley.
As the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation’s former Executive Director, Soulafa’s innovative spirit, ‘can-do’ attitude, and passion have been fundamental to the foundation’s success.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Soulafa worked with Canmore Folk Music Festival Society, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, International Ocean Institute of Canada, Fusion Halifax and the Aga Khan Foundation. She has also served on the Canmore Business and Tourism Board, and was a member of the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership employment and social integration committees.
Soulafa led, implemented, and championed the Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation’s largest capital campaign, Feels Like Home, to support the renovation of Canmore General Hospital’s Long Term Care unit. She collaborated with a community member on a Feed the Frontline Healthcare Workers campaign.
Soulafa played an important role in the merger between the Canmore and Area Health foundation and the Ladies Auxiliary. Under her leadership and guidance, she helped the group with a more than 40-year history to see the value and strategic vision of the merger, and supported them throughout the process. Post merger, Soulafa continued to support and guide the ladies with their fundraising efforts and goals.
Soulafa promotes the importance of women’s philanthropy through engaging fundraising campaigns and meaningful partnerships with women-led businesses, by speaking with youth groups in the community, and supporting young women from the local gymnastics club with their fundraising initiative in support of the hospital’s cancer clinic.
Whether it is through her work at the foundation supporting the Canmore hospital, helping refugee Syrian families through interpretation and settlement support, or promoting arts and culture at the Canmore Folk Festival, Soulafa builds bridges between people.
Young Women’s Leadership
Meg Ohsada – passionate, driven & caring
A performing artist, dancer, competitive Special Olympics figure skater, rhythmic gymnast, painter, and a model, Meg is described as passionate, driven, and caring.
At seven years of age she started lessons at a local skating club, and has been skating for more than 17 years. After joining her local Special Olympics chapter in 2006, Meg continued to hone her skills, competing at national and international levels as a figure skater and dancer.
In 2020, Meg has won two gold medals at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games since 2012 and another at the 2015 Prince George Canada Games and has been recognized by Skate Canada for her passion and dedication to her sport.
Meg has made her television commercial debut in a Powerade sports drink campaign for the national Special Olympics. She was a featured skater in Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s final cross-country tour, Rock The Rink. Her visual art has been displayed in Hong Kong as part of a show through the Indefinite Arts Centre in Calgary.
Meg is the Inventory Coordinator for Fast and Female, a local organization dedicated to keeping self-identified girls ages 8-14 healthy and active in sports. Meg trains day in and day out towards reaching her goals, and her dedication to her sports has inspired other young women and girls to do the same.