Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta 11th Woman of Inspiration 2015-2016 Presented by Syncrude Announced

April 2016

(Fort McMurray) Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude are proud to announce the 11th nominee for the Women of Inspiration series 2015-2016:

Valerie Parks

Ms. Parks who was born and raised in British Columbia now is proud to call Fort McMurray home. She has taken on many careers in her life: school teacher, human resources assistant, adult educator and career counsellor. Whatever she is doing she tackles it with energy and enthusiasm. A passion for Valerie is volunteerism. As a child she lived the commitment to helping others and watched her mother work with and helps homeless youth in their community. As a teenager, she joined her mother in feeding the homeless. Valerie believes that there is a greater chance that you will undertake voluntary work if you have watched your parents doing so. She has lived most of her life following in her mother’s footsteps and leading the way for others.

Ms. Parks has been a dedicated YMCA volunteer since 2010. She has a passion to help newcomer women acquire basic English conversational skills. As a long-time resident of the RMWB, she has witnessed the struggles of newcomers as they try to communicate with teachers, cashiers and bank tellers and has seen their frustration in not being familiar with what items to buy or to feed their families. Valerie helps with the practical issues like what laundry detergent is best or by explaining what that strange vegetable or fruit is and how to cook it. Ms. Parks makes it easier for these women and makes a difference in their lives by breaking down the barrier of communication.

The English Conversational circles is one of the YMCA’s programs that provide women with a place they can go to practice English speaking, allows them to socialize and to learn about Canadian culture. “In these sessions we speak about what women want to learn for example which activities they can do in the winter time or questions they want to be answered.” She believes it is not so much the topic which matters but the interaction going on.

Valerie believes strongly that teaching English to immigrant women educates the whole family. She believes that by providing women with the much needed survival skills like communication will result in their happiness. Some topics can be very lively – things they need to know like the bad words, disgusting gestures and acceptable actions are but a few of the discussions. The women’s conversational circles helps the women gain self-confidence and allows them to integrate into the community much faster.

One of Valerie’s clients credits her with breaking down the barrier of loneliness and isolation and also providing reassurance that there is someone there to call. Valerie works to boost personal growth for those she works with. Ms. Parks has given countless hours at the YMCA community programs. She is quick to say that “I get much more than I give when I volunteer.” When an immigrant women learns a new word, understands the meaning of joining the community, is a source of joy for Valerie.

Ms. Parks also contributes her time to the Salvation Army and assists job seekers with resume and cover letter writing. She is also an avid volunteer at MacDonald Island. Her generosity in giving of her time and expertise has benefited many people in the region and made Fort McMurray a great place for them to live, work and play.

Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude will honour Valerie and 11 other nominees, at the Women of Inspiration Celebration which will take place in June, 2016.

The Women of Inspiration is a partnership between Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude, with a goal to recognize women throughout the Wood Buffalo region who inspire others, break new ground or old barriers and help create change. The series also aims to show local girls positive role models who live right here.

To nominate a woman of inspiration, please visit our website at or contact the Girls Inc. office at 780-790-9236.

For more information, please contact:
Ann Dort-MacLean
Executive Director – Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta
Phone: 780-790-9236