YWCA Women of Distinction Awards: Live Blog

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

For the fourth year in a row, as the Social Media Sponsor, I am live blogging the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards. As honoured nominees and guests arrive for a reception and dinner at the Westin Bayshore in downtown Vancouver, I will be setting up my laptop at the side of the room to provide live commentary, quotes, and of course results of this 30th annual awards evening.

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2013

Live Blog

Update Live blog to begin around 7:30pm. Please check back at that time. Follow the tag #VANWOD2013 on Twitter for live updates from attendees as well.

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2013

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2013

Update 7:45pm Dinner at the Westin Bayshore is wrapping up and the awards are about to get underway. I’ll be filling in each of the categories below with the names of winners as they are announced.

Update 7:50pm Our emcee for the evening is once again Global BC’s Sophie Lui. Bringing a plant (centrepiece) on stage with her, she explains that these are all edible herbs sponsored by Vancity and Tradeworks. If you would like to take home the centrepiece plant home, your table can host a raffle (with a donation) to see who gets to keep it.

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2013 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2013 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2013

Update Before we get to the awards, there are a few housekeeping items to take care of and some words from supporters like Scotiabank who is the presenting sponsor of the awards evening.

As the official Social Media Sponsor I am thrilled that the event is already trending in Canada.

Update 8:00pm: Before the awards are handed out, we are reminded why we are all here today — to celebrate women in the community and most of all to support the work of the YWCA in Metro Vancouver.

Founded over 100 years ago, YWCA Metro Vancouver has grown and flourished because of the energy and commitment of our community.

Today, we are one of the largest and most diversified non-profits in Metro Vancouver, reaching tens of thousands of people annually. Through our work, we touch lives and build better futures for women and their families through advocacy and integrated services.

We are committed to fostering economic independence, wellness and equal opportunities. We continue to adapt to changing social complexities by developing and maintaining programs and services for the health of our community.

Update As with previous years, a video is shown featuring the very personal story of an individual or family that has used the YWCA, specifically Crabtree Corner.

Today, Pamela Nesbitt shared her story through a very moving account on the video. After a standing ovation (and remarking: “Sophie was right, this is like the Oscars!”) she has taken to the stage to share more about her life, addiction, pregnancy, motherhood, and why she now volunteers with the YWCA.

“The most important thing I got from the Y was structure. In hindsight (which is always 20/20) this was the missing ingredient in my recovery. If only I had known this 20 years ago, you might not have had to see that video tonight.”

Award Recipients

Arts, Culture & Design

Sponsored by TD Bank Group
Goh Ballet Academy, Goh Ballet’s The Nutcracker
QUOTE: “I feel so enriched to be in your presence and I am very privileged to be able to do what I do.” – “I will do all that I can to train the future ballerinas and ballet stars of tomorrow and to make sure that the arts have a very important place in our society.”

2013 YWCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Awards
Photo credit: John Bollwitt for Miss604

Business and the Professions

RECIPIENT: Lois Nahirney
Executive Vice President, Corporate Resources, Teekay Corporation
QUOTE: “I was so stunned, I didn’t even put lipstick on!” – “Congratulations to the YWCA for their amazing programs and the difference they make in the community.” – “This award really goes to my team.”

Community Building

Sponsored by Industrial Alliance
RECIPIENT: Kamal Dhillon
President, Black and Blue Sari
QUOTE: “I receive this award on behalf of all victims of domestic violence. Finally, your voice will be heard.” – “For far too long we have lost too many, too soon and I ask that you join me in this fight to end domestic violence.”

Education, Training & Development

Sponsored by Port Metro Vancouver
RECIPIENT: Elizabeth Croft
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, UBC
QUOTE: “I am incredibly grateful for this award and very surprised.” – “Thank you to all of the nominees tonight. You inspire all of the young women in universities, in high schools.” – “Engineering needs women. We need these leaders, these visionaries, these women that can serve the world and make it a better place. We need these women in engineering and in science.”


RECIPIENT: Shahrzad Rafati
Founder & CEO, Broadband TV
QUOTE: “I really have been very inspired tonight, to hear all of these great stories, and to hear how YWCA is continuously making a great, positive impact in our community.”

Environment and Sustainability

Sponsored by BC Hydro
RECIPIENT: Mae Burrows
Founder, Toxic Free Canada
QUOTE: “I have to say I’ve met so many nice women tonight and especially the women in my category. I want to recognize my husband who is here representing my family who is always cheering me on from the kitchen table.” – “Sustainability isn’t just about changing lightbulbs!”

Health, Wellness & Athletics

Sponsored by Teck Resources Limited
RECIPIENT: Maureen de St. Croix
Founder & Head Coach, Ocean Athletics
QUOTE: “My first experiences with the YW were as a young girl when I got involved in local programs in trampoline and I’ve been hooked on sport ever since.” – “I have been really privileged for the life of sport and opportunities to travel the world, to meet lots of people, and I knew that I wanted to give that opportunity to other youth and I’ve been given that opportunity in South Surrey.” From our host Sophie Lui to Maureen: “And Michelle Obama’s got nothing on your arms!”

2013 YWCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Awards
Photo credit: John Bollwitt for Miss604

Pausing for a quick update on the fundraising total, we’re at $47,480 so far this evening.

Non-Profit & Public Service

Sponsored by BC Housing
RECIPIENT: Dianne Watts
Mayor, City of Surrey
QUOTE: “As I heard some of the stories today, and looking at who our inspiration is as women — I have my daughter here today (I have two daughters) — and I have to say my heart and my inspiration is my two daughters. I am blessed with so many amazing women in my life. And, as we walk along this road it really is remarkable when we can share and what we do with one another. This really is an honour.”

2013 YWCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Awards
Photo credit: John Bollwitt for Miss604

Technology, Science & Research

Sponsored by Goldcorp Inc.
RECIPIENT: Deborah Money
Vice President, Research, BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre
QUOTE: “As everybody has done, I do want to acknowledge the YWCA for the work that they have done.” – “I have the privilege to work with outstanding women and men dedicated to improving the lives of women.”

Young Woman of Distinction

RECIPIENT: Sara Eftekhar
Youth Activist
QUOTE: “I didn’t have a speech ready. Actually, today I graduated from UBC.” – “I thought to myself that this is the first graduation ceremony that my parents have attended in Canada and now this.” – “Thank you to my mom, my dad, and my brother for always supporting me and helping me to do more.” Host Sophie Lui to Sara, “So I wonder what you’re doing tomorrow!”

Innovative Workplace

The board members and Vancity leaders on stage lead the entire audience (of over 1,000) in a song– The More We Get Together — to share just a slice of their corporate culture and attitude.

2013 YWCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Awards
Photo credit: John Bollwitt for Miss604

Connecting the Community

All nominees tonight were eligible for this award and it was powered by an online vote. Scotiabank will be donating $10,000 to the YWCA Metro Vancouver program of the recipient’s choice.
RECIPIENT: Barbara Mowat
President, Impact Communications Ltd. & GroYourBiz
QUOTE: Barbara shared a touching story about how her daughters wouldn’t be here tonight if not for the YWCA in Winnipeg who put their grandmother up when she was expecting their father — ensuring he was born healthy by putting her up close to the hospital for six weeks.

2013 YWCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Awards
Photo credit: John Bollwitt for Miss604

Update 9:45pm: “We’ve had lots of inspiration and lots of money raised tonight,” says Sophie as the evening draws to a close. The final tally from fundraising tonight is over $61,000!

Be sure to follow the YWCA of Metro Vancouver for more information about their work in the community and their various programs. I will be adding photos to this post later on (thanks to John Bollwitt). Have a great night everyone!

Update John’s photos are all online in his Flickr set.

Comments are closed on this post
Also on Miss604.com