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Three Scholars Selected for Women of Inspiration Education Award presented by Syncrude

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Fort McMurray, Alberta (October 12, 2021) — Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta (Girls Inc.) and Syncrude are thrilled to announce this year’s scholars of the Women of Inspiration Education Award presented by Syncrude. The three scholars are: 

  • Areebah Mansoor for the Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship
  • Denna Flett for the Elsie Yanik Memorial Scholarship
  • Laurell Pallot for the Ann Dort-MacLean Scholarship

These three scholars join the 24 women whom Girls Inc. and Syncrude have proudly assisted since 2013. 

The three scholarships recognize young women in the Wood Buffalo region who are breaking barriers and igniting change through their post-secondary studies. These women are role models for girls in our community, so that they are all inspired to become strong, smart and bold women in the future. This year, the committee chose three recipients out of 15 applications.

The three awards are selected based on the financial need, academic achievement, and extracurricular and community involvement. They are awarded to those who identify themselves as women who pursue post-secondary studies in, but not limited to, college or university. Technical or Trades studies are also eligible.

“Syncrude is pleased to recognize women who make a profound impact in Wood Buffalo’s communities. This is why we are proud to support the Women of Inspiration scholarships.” – Roslyn Darroch, Syncrude’s General Manager, Maintenance.

The scholarships have been named after two former Women of Inspiration. 

The Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship is awarded to an applicant who demonstrates a sincere commitment to volunteerism and community activism.

The Elsie Yanik Memorial Scholarship is awarded for an applicant with demonstrated commitment to Indigenous advocacy and community engagement.

The Ann Dort-MacLean Scholarship is awarded to an applicant with demonstrated passion for youth empowerment and gender equality. This award is named after Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta’s founder to honour her legacy. 

“Together with Syncrude, Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta thanks everyone who applied for these scholarships. We wish them all the best as they pursue post-secondary education and find their own strengths, voices and possibilities. We trust all applicants, particularly the three chosen scholars, will continue to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold in the Wood Buffalo region and beyond. Together, we can see more powerful girls in an equitable society.” Nanase Tonda, Executive Director, Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta

Areebah Mansoor has been awarded the Barb Jewers Memorial Scholarship, for extensive community volunteering engagement in developing and using youth’s ‘voice’. Mansoor is pursuing a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta with a goal to attend a pharmacy school to directly help patients through necessary medications and assistance. She hopes to influence other women to pursue careers in STEM fields. Mansoor is involved in many initiatives including events with her local Mosque. She volunteers with the annual World Hijab Day event in the region and has worked as the Markaz-ul-Islam summer youth coordinator. She is a Girl Guides Unit Leader, a role that includes planning and implementing activities for girls to learn, grow and feel empowered and is also a VP-Events through her university’s Jack.org chapter, which focuses on removing the stigma surrounding mental health. Other involvements include Director of Outreach for Team Up Science where she works to expose students to STEM initiatives, participating in a Reading Circles program to help children improve their literacy, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator for STEM Fellowship and is also a part of their mentorship program. Mansoor says her parents and school have always encouraged volunteering and being involved in the community. 

“I’ve worked with a lot of women, different youth, and mentorship programs because I think it’s so important. Those resources were useful to me when I was in their position and my desire is to give back to the community as much as I can.”

The Elsie Yanik Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to Denna Flett for her demonstrated commitment to Indigenous advocacy and community involvement. As a member of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), she is working towards medical school by pursuing a Bachelor of Science with a major in biology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Flett hopes to become an Indigenous physician who intertwines culture and medicine to provide medical care in Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan. Joining her high school’s social justice organization “Teens for Change”, she worked with a team towards both local and global initiatives including food drives for the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association and hosting the Fair-Trade Market in support of adopted villages in Sierra Leone and Ecuador. Flett traveled to the Amazon at the age of 15 to assist in preparing school for the year and helped to assemble a community water tower. During high school, she was also a member of her student council and the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Youth in the region. Since high school, she has been Membership Vice President and Assistant New Member Educator for an all-women’s organization. As a member of this organization, she has contributed to annual philanthropy events. At the end of her second year at UBC, she took on the role as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the UBC Haas Lab in the Brain Research Center. Flett assists on a project which primarily studies the genes associated with autism. In May 2020, she started a position as a project assistant with UBC’s Faculty of Science Indigenous Advising around the development of an online mentorship platform for Indigenous high school students. During the pandemic, Flett was able to be mentored by Dr. John O’Connor, who provides primary care to the Indigenous communities in our region. She calls the experience “eye-opening” and says it confirmed her aspiration of becoming a physician.

“I really appreciated just watching him [Dr. O’Conner] interact with the community and seeing these long-standing connections. He was talking with mothers who he treated as a child. I thought that was so wonderful to be able to be a part of their entire life, or at least a lot of their life. It was inspiring to have that sort of connection with the community while also working to bridge the gap in healthcare for Indigenous communities.”

Laurell Pallot has been awarded the Ann Dort-MacLean Scholarship for a demonstrated passion for youth empowerment and gender equality. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Keyano College. Having always wanted to go into nursing, Pallot looks forward to helping people and working closely with patients while hopefully one day holding a leadership position in healthcare such as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. She hopes “to be a vessel for representation and someone to create the safe spaces” — something that she did not have access to growing up. She hopes to practice with a trauma-informed approach and further learn the complexities of intersectionality and to advocate when other professionals may not know how to respond to sensitive circumstances. Her relationship with queerness has and will continue to shape what she hopes to accomplish in life. During high school, Pallot was a part of Leadership Club and was planning a Down Syndrome Awareness Day before COVID-19 caused shutdowns. She promoted kindness through her school’s Spark Club and took a leadership role in the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. For nearly five years, she volunteered through Alberta Health Services at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre. Due to COVID-19, she was unable to attend her school’s prom. This led to the creation of Alberta Pride Prom which was attended by over 100 youth from across the province. Now in post-secondary, Pallot holds the role of Student Director, which involves attending the Students Association of Keyano College board meetings and sitting on committees to better the experience for students. Pallot says during the pandemic she spent a lot of time reflecting on gender expression and wants to redefine what it means to be a woman. She is committed to advocating for all kinds of women and women-adjacent folks in order to “represent and stand with people who may not be in a position to be vocal about living outside the binary”.

“Your voice doesn’t have to be vocal. You could start petitions, do other things. I think a big part of it is the actions. Being the change you want to see.”

To read about past recipients visit: https://girlsincofnorthernalberta.org/women-of-inspiration-education-award-recipients/

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