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Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration Presented by Syncrude

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Diana Noble

Diana Noble moved to Fort McMurray over eight years ago and hasn’t stopped.

Diana is very astute in identifying gaps in service and then finding creative ways to fill those gaps. After being a paralegal for a time, Diane decided to open her own business Noble Services Inc., a process serving company providing delivery of legal documents throughout the RMWB.

This business venture was her first success but not her last. Diana’s other talents include freelance journalism and she became the publisher for Snapd Wood Buffalo. Diana loves to use Snapd to shine a light on the amazing programs and events in the RMWB.  Still not finished, she next became the owner and broker for the newest real estate franchise in Fort McMurray. (Seller Direct) Diana has been described as a ‘serial entrepreneur.’

She enjoys being a role model for young aspiring entrepreneurs especially to young female entrepreneurs. She is a long-time volunteer and business advisor with Junior Achievement of Northern Alberta and NWT. She mentors youth who want to follow in her footsteps and start their own business. Diana’s commitment to the community includes her role in being a Board person on a number of community organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, the RMWB Land Planning and Development Advisory Committee and the Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Noble believes in giving 100% and this includes her commitment to making the community a great place and helping others reach their dreams.

Diana balances her home personal life with her community activism.She is an inspiration to all women who may want to make a difference. She encourages everyone to take the leap and start something new – to not to be fearful of failure. Her life and mentorship demonstrates her sense of adventure, her astute business sense and her community awareness.


Jina Burn

In 1997 Jina Burn made Fort McMurray her home. Ms. Burn has always broken barriers and was off to a good start by earning not one but two Masters Degrees in Bulgaria – a Director of Photography and a TV and Cinema Directing. She worked in the industry for 20 years as a TV Director for the Bulgaria National TV before relocating to Canada in 1999. Ms. Burn started her own Video Production Company – Snow White Productions. Jina has created many documentaries and training programs throughout the RMWB and has worked for years as a freelance correspondent for CFRN, Global TV, CBC, and Discovery Channel.

Ms. Burn has generously donated her video production services to many non-profit organizations such as the Cancer Society, YMCA, Victim Services and others. She is a strong believer in support her community.

Ms. Burn continues to be very involved in her community and served on the Board of the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce for two terms, advocating for small business. She works well as a team member and worked diligently to move the Chamber forward by promoting long term strategic planning.

Snow White Productions was nominated for Small Business of the Year in 2002. Ms. Burn’s commitment extends to the non-profit sector as well. She has served as a Director of the Wood Buffalo YMCA since 2004. She is actively involved in their fundraising efforts and is a strong advocate of the services that the YMCA provides.

Jina has served as a member of the Fort McMurray Chapter #137 of the Order of the Eastern Star for 14 years. In her capacity as the leading officer (The Worthy Matron) Jina has brought creativity and enthusiasm for fund the organization. All money raised by the local Chapter of the Eastern Star goes back to the community sponsoring projects that involve women and children Jina’s ability to make everyone feel like an important part of the group is much appreciated by everyone she works with and is an asset she brings with her through life. Jina’s commitment to the Oder was recognized by the Alberta Grand Chapter by her being designated as the Grand Representative of the Province of Alberta in Utah in 2011.

Ms. Burn gives hundreds of hours of volunteer service to the community each year. Her energy is endless and her humour and hard work have benefited many people in the region. Jina rekindled her passion for chess and in 2012, she founded the Fort McMurray Chess Club. She started by starting a chess club in Ecole DickinsfieldSchool and since has forged many partnerships with other non-profits to offer chess classes to their client base. Jina is currently the President of the Fort McMurray Chess Club and sits on the Board of Directors of the Alberta Chess Association as Chair of the Coaching Committee and Chair of the Children Education Committee.

Ms. Burn believes in ”Go Big or Go Home” and to demonstrate this, she organized the Fort McMurray Open Chess Tournament. She brought the top players of Alberta to Fort McMurray in July 2013 and started the Alberta Women’s Chess Championship. She organizes regular youth Chess Tournaments including the Regional School Chess Championship and the Alberta Youth Chess Championship. Jina is a dedicated fundraiser to raise money to support the chess club and to cover travel costs. Jina earned the support of the Parks Department of RMWB to develop the Chess Park in Dickensfield. The park provides free space for everyone in the community to play outdoor chess throughout the summer.

Jina graduated from Wood Buffalo Leadership Program and was nominated for a Leadership Award in 2014 and 2015 as well as a Citizenship Award in 2015.

Ms. Burn is a “get it done” woman, who is a strong asset to whatever she participates in. She has strong governance and leadership skills and her actions and accomplishments are an inspiration to others.


Cathy Payne

Cathy Payne has been a resident of Fort McMurray for over 30 years. She has raised her two children here and considers Fort McMurray to be a great place to live, work and raise kids. It has always been one of her goals to foster the ‘volunteering spirit’ in her children at an early age. She believes strongly that everyone should see the value of volunteerism and understand that a helping hand goes a long way. Her family has been involved with the Salvation Army, Santa’s Anonymous, the Fort McMurray Football League and the Slave Lake fire relief. Volunteering has been a family tradition. Cathy has also been a Guide Leader and has been involved with Sparks as well as being involved in ringette.

“I know it can be difficult for working families to find time to volunteer, but the time spent certainly pays off in the end for me and my family.”

Cathy is a graduate from the nursing program at Keyano College and has studied at the University of Alberta. She worked for the Alberta Health Services for 20 years and personally contributed over 500 hours of volunteer time over the years.

Currently Cathy works for Primary Care and she loves her job there. In 2006 every family physician in the community joined together to form the Primary Care Network in order to develop and deliver additional programs and services to provide comprehensive care. Primary Care Network’s team includes nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, mental health therapists, exercise specialists and respiratory therapists as well as physicians. This team based approach to primary care ensures every patient can get the right care from the right provider at the right time. This philosophy on health care is very important to Ms. Payne.

One of the important lessons that Ms. Payne has learned from her career in nursing has been that “there are no guarantees” and that you shouldn’t put off what you have a burning desire to do. She tries to live this and recently hired a guide, boated up a fiord in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and climbed a mountain in Western Brook Gorge. She said it was exhausting and she is sure that she slowed down the other climbers but she finished the climb in 10 hours and it was well worth the effort. Her next goal is to fly in a helicopter.

Cathy works in the outlying First Nations communities as well as in Fort McMurray and loves working with the residents and goes above and beyond by working to provide to the community things that will benefit one and all. She will work to bring in other organizations to provide programming for children as she believes that children deserve support and the opportunity to flourish. She is an advocate for “growing Strong Girls” and is the first to encourage girls to go outside their comfort zone and try new things. A comprehensive approach to helping others is a big part of her life and she is an excellent at connecting others.

Ms. Payne is a strong advocate for girls and an excellent role model in demonstrating what you can accomplish if you give it your all.


Yvonne Ormson

Ms. Ormson moved to Fort McMurray seven years ago from the West Coast of B.C. She was raised in Gibbons B.C. and raised her family in Powell River. Yvonne enjoys life in Fort McMurray and attends as many of the arts/events/ galas as possible.

Yvonne believes that “those of us in a better situation have an obligation to assist those of us who may be in need. In truth it is an honour and a privilege to serve others and to give them a hand up.”

Yvonne lives her belief and is a strong advocate for people in Fort McMurray.

She has a BA inpsychology and a diploma in Development Disabilities and an Associate degree in Sociology. She is currently the Educational Program Manager for the Wood Buffalo Food Bank. She facilitates Basic Shelf, Financial Literacy, Slow Cooker and many other programs that are offered by the Food Bank.

As a former worker at the Centre of Hope, Yvonne brought her compassion and enthusiasm with her to the Food Bank’s clients. Yvonne believes that everyone deserves to be heard and to be treated equally. She always manages to create strong relationships with the clients that far exceed the instructor/ student dynamic. She creates confidence and a sense of trust for her clients. Yvonne creates an engaging and welcome atmosphere where everyone learns together.

Yvonne is committed to having all of her students succeed. Long after the clients have finished the program, they continue to visit and let Yvonne know how they are doing. Recently an aboriginal man graduated from her Basic Shelf class and in appreciation and celebration he sang her a traditional song a sign of the respect he has for her. One of Yvonne‘s clients describes her: “She is a very warm and inviting person and makes you feel like you have known her forever, and if you had a personal moment that you could turn to her for advice and it be kept between you. She is always interested in knowing about how we are doing, and remembers to ask about how things are going the next time she sees you. I feel that the classes she teaches in Basic Shelf as well as the Slow Cooker class are very essential not only in the context of budgets and cooking but it opens your eyes to other walks of life and you find yourself being more open minded because of her accepting attitude of people regardless of who they are or where they come from. I would take the class a hundred times if I could because she is such a compassionate person and you want to be more like her by just being around her.”

Yvonne like many others lost her home in the wildfire. Instead of going home to save her belongings, she remained at her post at the MacDonald Island ESS Centre talking to people and reassuring them. She gives her time every day. Despite losing everything to the fire, Yvonne returned to work because she believes that her programs are the support system that everyone needs.

Yvonne states, “If the last months have taught me anything, it has been to reiterate that life is fragile and precious. We need to appreciate and make the most of every day.

Yvonne passed on her commitment to her three daughters by teaching them that ‘you need to do something every single day, to make the world a better place.’

Another of Yvonne’s clients stated: “I am very privileged to know Yvonne, and to have taken her classes. She is such a devoted and dedicated person to her work, and there are not enough Yvonne’s in this world. She is committed to making our community a better place, whether she does that by improving our lives by one or six people at a time.”

Yvonne is a perfect example of a woman who is Strong, Smart and Bold. Young women of this generation have a true role model to look up to.


Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude will honour all the nominees, at the Women of Inspiration Celebration which will take place in June, 2017.

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.