Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta 8th Woman of Inspiration 2013-2014 Presented by Syncrude Announced

January 2014

(Fort McMurray) Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude are proud to announce the 8th nominee for the Women of Inspiration series 2013-2014:

Louise Cooke

Louise Cooke, born in Northern Quebec and raised in Kingston, Ontario, travelled to Fort McMurray in 1977 after attending Queen’s University and the University of Alberta, with a one year plan, and has remained here ever since.

One of her jobs was as a social worker position with Alberta Social Services. She served in this role for over 7 years, where she would spend time each month in Fort Chipewyan. These travels allowed her to experience the true warmth and generosity of those living in a northern community in Canada. Her passion and enthusiasm for the well-being of Aboriginal communities got her to support the Youth Justice Committee in Fort Chipewyan in the early nineties. It was the first community in Alberta to organize and hold Youth Justice Committees (comprised of local citizens) to make sentence recommendations for young persons convicted with criminal offences.

A few years ago Louise started volunteering for the Nanny Network program at the Hub. This program helps nannies to understand their legal rights and responsibilities. She guided, supported and encouraged these hard working women to become active, healthy and happy members of our community. Talking to them and sharing life stories made her realize that there is a huge need for free legal information for all immigrants and refugees in this community, and so she took action and initiated a partnership between Legal Aid Alberta, YMCA and most recently, Edmonton Community Legal Centre to organize an Immigration Seminar in Fort McMurray. The seminar was big success and is hoped to be a regular event.

Louise is presently retiring after 24 years of work as Regional Administrator with Legal Aid Alberta. In this role, she was a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and access to justice. “As I look back,” Louise explains, “it has been a truly humbling experience to serve those whose lives have been more difficult than mine; to have walked with them through their trying times; and to share their joys.”

People who know Louise admire her dedication and hard work as well as her modesty. Her actions and accomplishments are an inspiration to others within the community. Amy Kassa, a social worker with YMCA Immigrant Settlement Services described Louis’s attitude to her clients as always ready to help with passion and a genuine care for people. “It doesn’t matter how busy she is, she has always a very welcoming smile on her face.” Jacqueline Schaffter, Provincial Court Judge and Former CEO of Legal Aid Alberta has this message to share with Louise when she heard of her retirement; “I wish you the very best in your retirement from LAA. … The people of Alberta owe you a great debt of gratitude for your service. You have always shown empathy and compassion for those people who are very vulnerable. On my own behalf I certainly want to say thank you.”

Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude will honour Louise and 11 other nominees, at the Women of Inspiration Celebration which will take place June 14th, 2014 at the Sawridge Hotel.

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 www.girlsincofnorthernalberta.org 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
Email: girlsinc@telus.net