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Girls Inc.of Northern Alberta - Women of Inspiration Series

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Since the beginning of time women have been making huge contributions within their families, their workplaces, their communities and the world. Locally, there has been a real need to recognize Wood Buffalo’s hard working, critical thinking, intelligent and inspirational women.  Women who challenge gender roles in the workplace and at home, women who break boundaries for the greater good in their communities, and women who do what it takes to help the causes they’re passionate about. These are the type of women that are recognized and celebrated through the Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration Series, presented by Syncrude.

The overall goal of Women of Inspiration is to recognize women throughout the Wood Buffalo region who inspire others, break new ground or old barriers, 
and help create positive change. The series also aims to show local girls positive role models who live right here in our communities.

Vicki Dawe

Vicki Dawe’s charm and fun-loving personality make her popular among the staff and students at Westwood Community High School. Ms. Dawe is the science teacher at Westwood and has been teaching for 15 years. She specializes in teaching biology and is also the Advanced Placement biology teacher. She uses her enthusiasm in her teaching and devises fun acronyms and rap songs to teach her students about body functions and systems. Ms. Dawe is the vice-president for the Wood Buffalo Youth Science Foundation and volunteers countless hours to ensure that the annual Wood Buffalo Regional Science Fair is successful. Ms. Dawe took the initiative to begin a Science Fair club at Westwood and spends many a lunch hour helping students with their science fair projects. She is also the delegate that accompanies selected students to the Canadian Science Fair. Mrs. Dawe’s interesting approach to science inspires many young girls to pursue careers in science.

Ms. Dawe’s students feel that her compassionate attitude, warm smile and her life experiences make her a great woman to look up to. A number of her former female students aspire to be as strong and open-minded as she is. She is encouraging of different cultures and religions in her classroom and respects and promotes diversity. She is always curious to know more about where her students come from.

Ms. Dawe started a small charity in her classroom in memory of a friend who passed away from breast cancer. She has a café in her classroom that has a coffee maker, hot chocolate, etc. Students are welcome to grab a cup at any time and to make a donation in return. This money is then given to the Breast Cancer Foundation. This small step enriches the school and community and is a reminder for her students to be kind to others.

Ms. Dawe has inspired many women and girls to face challenges that life throws at them and to come out of it like a star. She demonstrates by example that women are capable of making a positive difference in their community and can be interested in science, too. Her catchphrase is “I may not know how to _________, but I sure as hell know how the heart works.”

A student of Ms. Dawe stated, “Ms. Dawe is the most beautiful and kind-hearted teacher that I have encountered in my high school years. Her opinions and beliefs about people and the world are so honest and insightful and she has the most hilarious ways of expressing them, which tells you even more about the kind of person she is. She makes people happy and her upbeat personality has always added an essence to her teaching. She has this quote that says, “I’m a better mom than I am a teacher,” and I believe it to be 100 per cent true because the life lessons that she teaches us in class are always something to reflect upon and remember as we go through life. She is such an inspiration and she will always remain in my heart.”

Sheila Chutskoff

Sheila is the owner of Oranj Fitness as well as a yoga instructor and goal coach.

After graduating from Royal Roads University in 2002, Sheila went to work for Lululemon Athletica. After six years of learning and watching the business grow from four stores to over 150 stores, she decided to venture out on her own. She chose to pursue her long term dream of opening her own studio – Oranj Fitness. Sheila has dedicated seven years to coaching staff and friends on how to achieve their own goals. Her true passion is seeing everyone succeed in life. Her belief is that a person who is achieving his or her own goals in life is a happier employee, friend and loved one.

Sheila demonstrates her commitment by getting involved in her community. She first approached the Women’s Crisis Centre to offer support to their clients. Her passion to build confidence in women and make their lives better is demonstrated by this act. The team spirit she embodies, she passes on to her staff and they have organized amazing community events , such as the biggest outdoor yoga event.

Sheila has been an agent for change by creating an attractive exercise atmosphere and by providing her Little Boogiers Day Care for young moms. Her approach to a healthier life style is holistic. She provides care for the individual and for their families. Her dedication to providing a vibrant, fun, experience is evident in her enthusiasm in all she does. She is a role model for younger girls to set goals and to work toward achieving their dreams.

For a complete list of the Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration nominees presented by Syncrude, or to nominate a woman who has been an inspiration to you, please visit: