2022 Nutrien Women of Distinction Awards Finalists

Category: Education, Training & Development

Cindy Lowe

Cindy Lowe believes that every child deserves equitable access to financial education. In a country where 1 in 4 people have to borrow money to afford basic needs, she believes that financial literacy is more important than ever. Starting her career as a banker, Cindy saw first-hand the impact of poor financial health on young people, and pivoted her entire career to do something about it. She became a teacher, and helped ensure Financial Literacy is offered as an official elective to all students in the province. Cindy sets her students on the right path for the future with financial skills, critical thinking, and confidence. Cindy currently teaches personal finance, accounting, and business education at Swift Current Comprehensive High School. Cindy considers herself a Saskatchewan girl through and through, and also operates a ranch with her family. She also dedicates her time to volunteering with local organizations in South Saskatchewan, improving her community a little bit, every day.

Jana Sasakamoose
Jana Sasakamoose is unstoppable – a mother of 4 and step-mom to 2, She is completing her Masters of Science in Mathematics and Statistics while working 4 jobs. She is the first ever First Nations woman accepted into the Math and Stats Graduate program. Jana is the only female Indigenous tutor in the fields of Mathematics and Statistics, and she’s been breaking down barriers as an Indigenous mother her entire education journey, raising her kids without ever stopping her learning. Hailing from Ahtahkahkoop First Nation, Jana experienced the impacts of generational trauma and colonialism, faced abuse, and watching addictions and violence impact her family and loved ones. She vowed to use her education and ambition to ensure her kids never face the same hardships. Despite all she has gone through, Jana always finds a way to give back – whether it volunteering or paying it forward to her community by donating each time she receives a scholarship, Jana is uplifting her community and breaking the cycles of trauma to create a better future for all Indigenous Peoples.

Lacey Weekes
Lacey Weekes believes that education is the key to a more equitable society, and she embodies this belief in all the work she does. As the chair of the Organizational Culture and Diversity Committee of the Regina School Board, Lacey has worked tirelessly to ensure anti-oppressive and gender and sexual diversity training is available for educators to foster safety and acceptance in schools. She is also passionately defending Saskatchewan’s natural habitats and creatively connecting children, newcomers, and more with nature as the Conservation and Education Manager at Nature Saskatchewan. Lacey is dedicated to forging a better world for all through education.

Shyanne Lavallee
Shyanne Lavallee has come full circle serving Regina’s North Central Neighborhood. Growing up in the neighborhood, Shyanne first heard about North Central Family Centre from a friend, as a nice place to grab a snack and see friendly faces. She loved it, and kept coming back, and at 15, Shyanne was hired as a youth worker. She has now built her career at the Centre, giving back to the community that helped her achieve her dreams and helping make the Centre what it is – a safe and fun place for families to thrive. As the Employment coordinator at the Centre, Shyanne helps Indigenous youth in her community gain skills and employment, and has brought great success to this program. From a young teen finding mentorship and guidance at the centre to the one providing that guidance to the next generation, Shyanne is a true champion of education and leadership in her community.

Category: Indigenous Resurgence in Action

Alicia Morrow
Alicia Morrow is using her voice loudly and proudly to advocate for Indigenous peoples and culture. She is the founder of The Comeback Society, a grassroots organization and podcast. Alicia is a Cree Woman from Peepeekisis First Nation, and she understands the difficulties of navigating access to Indigenous culture. That’s why she wanted to create space for Indigenous people, especially youth, to share culture with each other and tell their stories of resilience. The Comeback Society is doing extensive work in the community with the podcast, cultural events and workshops, and giving back with a weekly meal for those in need through the Soup bowl Sunday project.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Indigenous Studies and a Certificate of Reconciliation and is a fiercely dedicated community champion, who has turned her dreams into active programs to better her community and uplift Indigenous youth.

File Hills Qu’Appelle Women’s Council
(Pictured on behalf of the group: Cathy Stonechild + Joyce Keepness)
The File Hills Qu’Appelle Women’s Council began as an annual Women’s Assembly with the objective of listening to the women who live in the communities of Treaty Four/File Hills Qu’Appelle First Nations, in order to gather information to mobilize individual First Nations women to organize. They provide leadership based on traditional First Nations culture and values, working hard to strengthen cultural knowledge within First Nations families and communities and advocating for First Nations women, youth and children, hosting various workshops and conferences on important topics like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, suicide, drug awareness, anti-bullying, and empowerment of women and youth. This group of women lead action and advocacy for their communities, fostering resurgence, change, and bright futures for all.

Sarah Longman
Sarah Longman is passionate about education, and has worked tirelessly to further reconciliation efforts in her community.  She has made significant contributions to education in Saskatchewan, working to broaden the learning opportunities for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, encouraging them to have a deeper understanding of Indigenous history and the incorporation of Indigenous methodologies into Saskatchewan’s education system.
Sarah is the Board Chair of the Regina Indian Industrial School Site, where she advocates for the protection of the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery, promoting learning opportunities about residential school history and commemorating the children buried there through public events, ceremony, and online awareness.
Sarah dedicates her time, work, and heart to increasing and celebrating Indigenous resurgence in all facets of society.

Category: Leadership in Business

Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin
Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin is Farm Credit Canada’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Risk Officer, only the second executive leader to hold such a position at FCC. She has been instrumental in creating an industry-standard Risk Management function at FCC and has been recognized by Saskatchewan Business Magazine as a Woman of Influence. As a member of the National Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, she also supports the organization with its affordable housing goals.
Corinna is passionate and devoted to her responsibilities as a leader, mentor, colleague, builder, expert, mom, and community citizen. She is, to the core, a dynamic people-focused, present leader with an aim for positive progress, standing for the success of others, and rallying together to achieve meaningful results.

Katherine Tebb
Katherine Tebb has been uplifting women and Indigenous people by being an industry leader in a field whose doors have not always been open to these groups. She is the co-owner of Xtended Hydraulics & Machine Inc, manufacturing and supplying products to the mining, oil and gas, and agriculture sectors.  At Xtended, Katherine always encourages inclusion and diversity, working to create opportunities for Indigenous people and women in her business, with a 50% Indigenous staff and women in major leadership roles. She is the recipient of the 2019 National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association Indigenous Business of the Year Award. She has not only used her platform to uplift others, but she has used her innovation and ambition to be an industry leader in the sector, too.
Katherine is a motivated and hardworking role model for others, and proves that women can be successful and thrive in whatever ambitions they have.

Nicole Akan
Nicole Akan is a proud Cree Woman, entrepreneur, model, actress and makeup artist. She is the founder of Daybird Beauty, an Indigenous cosmetics company offering products with an aspiration of empowering Indigenous women in an industry they have traditionally been underrepresented. She uses her business intentionally in uplifting Indigenous women – her Resiliency Collection is made of lash products each named after a woman that she admires for her ability to persevere and thrive through life’s difficult challenges. A portion of sales from this line go to initiatives that support Indigenous community. When not running her business, Nicole works as the Community Research Coordinator for the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council Health Services, and loves spending time with her son, and in cultural and ceremonial spaces.

Category: Research, The Sciences & Technology

Dr. Holly Bardutz
Dr. Holly Bardutz is on a mission to make Saskatchewan a leader in Brain health. She has dedicated her career to researching neurogenesis, aging and neuroplasticity, all with the goal in mind to help all people age well, and maintain healthy cognitive function through their lives. Holly has a passion for people, and has dedicated her research and development of education for students at the University of Regina to finding the most innovative and cutting-edge methods in brain health research. She has developed neurolinguistic courses for the University, designed, developed, and executed a Brain Health and Fitness course for adults, and is currently developing the Brain Health Hub – a regional hub for the advancement of brain health to challenge the high prevalence of neurological diseases. On top of being a leader in this world, Holly shows kindness, compassion, and care to all in her world.

Jenna Wiesner
Jenna Wiesner has been using her skills and passion for patient care to better her community for nearly a decade as a registered psychiatric nurse. As the Director of Operations and Community Services at William Booth Special Care Home, Jenna’s leadership has been vital in leading the home through the pandemic, prioritizing patient care and staff safety and mental health.
As a hospice nurse, Jenna saw that long-term and palliative care were overlooked, underfunded, and underappreciated – and she set out to do something about it. She is an advocate for palliative care, working with the Saskatchewan Hospice Association to bring education and research to the community, and dedicates her career to ensuring patients receive compassionate care at the end of life.
Despite the immense challenge of leading a long-term care home through the pandemic, Jenna has been steadfastly dedicated to her work, her staff, and doing it all with kindness that has resonated with all who know her.

Dr. Shela Hirani
Dr. Shela Hirani is a true advocate and leader for the health of women and their children. Her research and work in improving access to breastfeeding supports, education and guidance helps ensure the health and well-being of all mothers, but especially those who face barriers and gaps in services, like newcomer and refugee, Indigenous and homeless mothers, and gender-diverse parents. She works to challenge gaps in services, dispel myths, and make our entire world more breastfeeding friendly.
She is a world-renowned leader in this work. And during the pandemic, she recognized the gap in services that would impact vulnerable mothers, and worked to develop accessible resources to ensure mothers could access the support they need. Her e-resource, “Breastfeeding During Covid-19: An Information Guide” has reached hundreds of mothers in Saskatchewan.
For Shela, her research is about more than the science – it is about uplifting, advocating for, and supporting those who need it most.

Category: Social Action & Advocacy

Donna Pasiechnik
Donna Pasiechnik is a tireless public health advocate whose passion is social justice and equity for vulnerable groups. During her career at the Canadian Cancer Society, her leadership, hard work and determination led to changes in provincial legislation, municipal bylaws, and new policies to protect public health. She was responsible for the passage of many cancer control laws, including Saskatchewan’s public smoking ban, Canada’s first asbestos registry and regulations to protect youth from the danger of indoor tanning.
She’s an expert in communications and government relations and is a skilled team builder, negotiator and speaker with a passion for getting things done. Donna is now a self-employed visual artist and furniture restorer, using her art to support mental health charities and vulnerable populations. Donna loves a challenge and wants to make a difference in the community.

Jamiy Moran
Jamiy Moran is a Two-Spirit Métis woman with a passion for working with Indigenous peoples and gender and sexually diverse communities.
Jamiy believes that through education, empowerment, and a collective voice, racialized and marginalized peoples can be honoured and uplifted. As the Program Director at North Central Family Centre, she works closely with elders to facilitate cultural and family literacy programming, work with youth, and facilitate employment programming.
Jamiy honours her passion for reconciliation by being a leader in her community. She is a passionate, knowledgeable, and gentle leader, providing public education through facilitating KAIROS Blanket Exercises, and together with her brother facilitating conversations with students, community, and employees about Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ experiences.

Muna De Ciman
Muna de Ciman, or “Aunty Muna” as she is lovingly known, has been a staple in Regina’s activism world since her family settled in Regina in the 90s, immigrating from Sierra Leone. She has been a source of strength and inspiration to newcomers and youth in Saskatchewan through her 19-year career with the Ministry of Justice as a youth facility worker and through volunteering her personal time. Muna supports youth who have come into contact with the justice system, serves on the boards of both the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum and the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, and acts as the union representative for workers of colour with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. She is always advocating for newcomers, helping people find work, homes, funds for education, and more to help families.
Wherever there is a way to create community, Muna is there, giving her time, wisdom, food, home, and more. Leading by example, she encourages others to join her in making Regina a wonderful place for all.

Refugee Care Team
(Pictured on behalf of the group is Dr. Razawa Maroof)
The Regina Community Clinic is the only health care co-operative in Regina, and their Refugee Care program was created by Dr. Razawa Maroof in 2004, who saw a need for culturally aware and trauma-informed refugee care in the community. Dr. Maroof saw that a unique model of care was needed to meet complex needs – so she built a team of physicians and nurse practitioners with these skills.   The Refugee Care team passionately embraces their role in the refugee community as a primary healthcare provider, advocating for vulnerable refugees in Regina, working in difficult situations, adapting and shifting to meet the unique needs of every patient. The Refugee Care team is made up of physicians and nurse practitioners who refer to the Community Clinic’s nutritionist, counselors, and other medical team members and work with translators in many languages to ensure the best care for their patients. This team contributes to building a healthy community that benefits from cultural diversity.

Sarah Cummings Truszkowski
Sarah Cummings Truszkowski is an educator, artist, and activist using her gifts to make her community a more equitable place.
Her art focuses on the lives of women, motherhood, environmental activism, and social change. Sarah teaches visual art to students from her home studio, inspiring others to use their artistic voice and passion for good, encouraging individuality, unique perspectives, and personal voice.
Sarah is an incredibly active volunteer in her community, dedicating her time to organizations like the Girl Guides, Cathedral Arts Festival, Regina Open Door Society and Connaught School Community Council.
Her drive to improve her community extends in all facets of her life – including as a school board trustee: Thanks to her advocacy and the passion of the newly elected board, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is now supported financially and purposely throughout public schools in Regina.
Sarah truly cares about vulnerable and marginalized people and passionately speaks up at all turns in the face of adversity.

Category: Women in Non-Traditional Roles

Bernice Richard
Bernice Richard is breaking down barriers in agriculture and beyond. She is a Nigerian-Canadian author and a business professional in the Agriculture Industry, the Chief Operating Officer of Custom Agricultural Intelligence Inc. The quest for sustainable solutions to various agricultural challenges led Bernice and her husband to co-found this company to research and formulate solutions aimed at balancing soil nutrients and improving crop health. Within her company, Bernice works to encourage and uplift other women, and always celebrate cultural diversity.
On top of this, Bernice is a talented and passionate author, a love that began when she was just 13. Bernice has published five children’s books that promote diversity, with more writing on the way.
She demonstrates effective leadership and is dedicated to her team, works hard, and takes a hands-on approach with a listening ear, taking every opportunity to recognize and motivate her team members. She is passionate about her work and passionate about making her world better.

Carolyn Turner
Carolyn Turner’s career in aviation started with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, where she obtained her glider and fixed-wing pilots licenses. She then achieved a Commercial helicopter license, and at the age of 19, was one of the youngest women in Canada to do so. Carolyn has spent over 25 years in aviation. She has worked in flight operations as a pilot, for two international airports, with aerial forest fire suppression, and in business roles with Bombardier and CAE Military Aviation Training.
Carolyn was nominated as the inaugural President of CAE’s global employee resource group, “LIFT” which supports women in aviation, engineering, and technology.
Carolyn also started her own aviation and business management company, Whirlybird Business Services.
Carolyn is blazing a trail in aviation and setting an example for other young women to follow in her footsteps.

Kim Delesoy
Kim Delesoy started her Martial Arts journey in 1990 when there were not a lot of women training and competing. At tournaments, she would opt to take part in the men’s division whenever she was allowed, quite often placing in these divisions! Kim co-founded Spirit of the Dragon Martial Arts School, where she’s worked hard to promote women in Martial Arts by providing many confidence building programs for girls. By hiring female staff and mentors, summer camp enrollment has changed from roughly 1% girls to 25 to 45% enrollment of girls.
Kim started the Play Like a Girl website and continues to provide woman-driven programming to give girls a chance to try new things in a safe space.
As the president of the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association, Kim has worked hard to encourage women’s participation at all levels. She has dedicated her career to providing a strong and motivating environment for women and girls, roundhouse kicking the glass ceiling for the next generation of women in martial arts.

Linell Grudnitzki
As the owner of GC Powerline Construction, Linell Grudnitzki is a champion for female entrepreneurs. Throughout Linell’s background as an entrepreneur in male-dominated spaces, she honed her skills as a business owner, team leader, and a disrupter of the status quo.
Her rebellious spirit runs deep, and she consistently challenges herself professionally across a range of industries, from training in healthcare and experience in sales, to owning a successful photography studio and building a construction company from the ground up.
Also an active member of WESK (Women Entrepreneurs of South Saskatchewan), Linell Is a trailblazer for future female leaders, she is fearless in whatever she tackles, proving that gender should never stop women from going after their dreams.

Susan Ewart
Susan Ewart has been the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association since 2016 and has earned the support, trust, and respect of the trucking industry as a leader in Saskatchewan and across Canada.
Women are heavily underrepresented in trucking and Susan is the first woman to be appointed to the role. Before this venture, Susan spent her working life in the insurance industry, another male-dominated sector. However, she has never let such stereotypes stand in her way as she navigates government, supply chain shortages and concerns of transportation with a poise and finesse that belies the rugged nature of the industry.
She founded the Women in Trucking Program – Women Shifting Gear, a first-of-its-kind program to help women overcome barriers to employment in the industry. Susan is working hard to make trucking safer and more inclusive for everyone in Saskatchewan.

Tara Leggott
Tara Leggott is a proud member of Ochapowace First Nation and is passionate and extremely skilled in her profession. She became a Red Seal Journeyman in 2010, and in that same year, was the recipient of The SIIT Joint Training Committee – Aboriginal Journeyperson’s Award. Tara continuously works to promote young Indigenous women to gain the skills and abilities to make it in an industry that has been predominantly male-dominated.
Most of Tara’s work has been industrial and she aspires to provide a safe environment for young women and men to gain work experience in the trades. She embodies all the qualities of not only a first-rate carpenter in the trades, but one of the finest mentors and coaches. In her new role at Street Culture Project, Tara is overseeing the Construction Services Program, dedicated her time and skills to help the next generation of Indigenous youth gain skills in the trades, setting them up for success in their futures.

Category: Young Women of Distinction

Sophia Young
Sophia Young is an activist who leads by example to help her community overcome barriers and thrive, today and for generations to come. She is a grade 11 student in Regina who has a passion for activism, especially around environmental and poverty issues.
Sophia contributed to the City of Regina’s Energy and Sustainability Framework and is part of the Community Advisory Group, advocating for environmental action. She is also the chair of Miller4Nature Permaculture Club, encouraging youth to grow healthy food, and the Co-Chair of the Regina Energy Transition Group.
Sophia also founded “Worthy Purpose” a student vision group seeking to work in partnership to provide a community hub in Heritage neighbourhood to address structural and systemic roots of poverty.
Sophia always finds the time to give back to her community, be a role model for her fellow students, and hold leaders in government accountable for the future of young people.

Telia Lafontaine
Telia Lafontaine is an exceptional young woman who loves singing, martial arts, hula, painting and spending time with family.
When her family faced hardship a few years ago, Telia stepped up: she started Ohana Made Designs with her, an independent jewelry business to help make ends meet. Her small business grew large, and she even won the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch, a competition between Indigenous entrepreneurs in North America.  During 2018, when Cyclone Gita hit the islands of Tonga, Telia and her siblings created “Operation Clean Water Tonga” so that people in Tonga could access safe drinking water. Even at her young age of 16, Telia is constantly thinking of ways to help others and has a strong desire to serve her vision is of a united community regardless of individual differences.
Telia brings kindness, compassion, and drive to all she does to better her world.