Women of Inspiration


“We listened. We laughed. We applauded and we celebrated each other’s unique contributions and accomplishments until the early hours of the afternoon.”
That was the summary note of a very special event.

More than 400 women inspiring women and a few inspiring men gathered at the Women of Inspiration Awards Breakfast held on Saturday morning, October 1, 2016, to celebrate the 40 finalists nominated as Women of Inspiration.

The Women of Inspiration Awards are the brainchild of Monica Kretschmer. In Monica’s words, “The event setting at the WinSport Centre in Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park is most appropriate as we are, after all, celebrating champions—women who have been on epic journeys that often rival those of Olympic athletes.”
What if you weren’t there? Picture a dining room all dressed up like a Gala waiting to happen complete with glitz, glitter, gifts and swag. Listen to the lively music of the Laurie Parent and Barb Mitchelle duo “dual-ling pianos” channeling the energy of excitement and anticipation. Visit the Media Wall and have your picture taken by Toni Nicole Photography. Instead of a selfie, let Toni photograph you with your cheering team and the visiting Celebs. Allow the atmosphere to expand your spirit.
This year’s overall Woman of Inspiration is Tamara Jones. Tamara is a strong voice for change when it comes to addressing the issues that surround violence in the home. Tamara will tell you she is unrelenting in her cause. She will leave you feeling that her endeavours count; her endeavours matter.

The Women of Inspiration 2016 Award recipients are Teresa de Grosbois – Game Changer, Elizabeth Lewis – Difference Maker, Aretha Greatrix – Cultural Ambassador, Lana Wright – Mentorship, Kim Deep – Boss Chick, Mackenzie Murphy – Millennial Leader, Jacqueline Cameron – Health and Wellness, and Donna Dahl – Lifetime Achievement. All the Award winners were presented with the Calgary symbol of honour, a traditional White Hat, Beauty Gram, professional portrait by award winning photographer Mark Laurie, make-up session with Mira Pucchi and signature Hillberg and Berk sparkle ball jewellery for the Peacock Collection.

Dr. Shawne Duperon, the founder of Project Forgive, Six Time Emmy Award Winner and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee delivered her inspirational address following the presentation of the awards. Dr. Shawne, as she likes to be called, described a Woman of Inspiration as “A woman who speaks her truth, especially in the most courageous circumstances. She allows her passion to be bigger than any fear.”

Additional speakers at this year’s event included Maggie Mackillop of HomeFront, Shauna Walker from The Spa Ritual, and Rachel Mielke, CEO of Hillberg and Berk. Monica often says, “Every woman has a story.” These women shared a powerful piece in their story that has contributed to their current success.
Brett Wilson’s sharing about his family roots and his participation in the growth of Rachel Mielke’s company was a clear example of how a supportive hand up accompanied with faith in making things happen can make all the difference. Brett Wilson is a former member of Dragon’s Den, a CBC production in support of Canadian entrepreneurs.

Also attending the event were Olympic Gold Medalist Erica Wiebe, Canadian Business Chicks Ambassador and 2018 Skeleton Cassie Hawrysh and actors Graham Wardle and Michelle Morgan of CBC Television’s Heartland. Michelle emceed the event.

No event of this magnitude of significance takes place without a huge supporting wall of sponsors, contributing partners and helping hands. Sponsors of Women of Inspiration 2016 included Hillberg & Berk, The Spa Ritual, PSAV, New West Video, Made by Upper Cut, Candy Event Management, Toni Nicole Photography, Penny Breedon Photography, and INNERSPIRT photography, Business in Calgary, Business Link, AWE and Capital Ideas. In total, more than 30 sponsors and community partners contribute to the Women of Inspiration Awards program.

This is the second year that the Awards have been given. Last year’s Woman of Inspiration was Diane Harms Q.C., the woman who became Monica’s pillar in a time of great need. Monica attributes Diane with holding her hand as she made her way through the murky labyrinth of mayhem that goes with suddenly being a homeless, single-parent mom with a baby. Monica also recognizes the agencies of HomeFront and Legal Aid of Alberta as being difference makers throughout the bleakest of her personal challenges.

Article by: Donna Dahl – 2016 Women of Inspiration – Lifetime Achievement


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