Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration Series Presented by Syncrude
Vicki was born in Fort Chipewyan and moved to Fort McMurray as a teen to finish her education. She is a proud First Nations woman who has always taken a keen interest in promoting the rights of indigenous women. Vicki was a single parent to her daughter Waverly and she raised her daughter to be a strong, independent woman. Her daughter is a source of great pride for Vicki and she is encouraging her in her career goals of becoming an RCMP officer. Waverly like her mother wants a career where she can help others.
Vicki started her career at Suncor in December of 1989, just out of her teens. She worked in the Upgrader in those days, a male dominated workplace. The job was physically demanding and being the only woman on shift was difficult at times. Her determination and strong work ethic kept her focused and she trained and qualified in several areas throughout the upgrader. Today Vicki is a Unit Leader in the off
plots and is well respected by both supervisors and co-workers alike.
Vicki became involved in the Suncor union in 2004 and joined the Women’s Committee. She freely volunteers her time to a variety of activities in the committee and in 2013, she became the committee chair. Vicki is a strong supporter of other community organizations and works well with them to highlight issues facing women today. She attends as many of the Enbridge Famous Five Speakers events as she
possibly can and is generous in providing tickets to other organizations, so that they can send their members to these events. Educating people about the accomplishments and barriers that have been overcome by women through history is important to Ms. Gillingham.
Vicki with others in the Women’s committee has organized many events around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The committee recognized the Montreal Massacre as a very sad instance of violence against women. Vicki is also deeply troubled by the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada. She has been involved in organizing events that address this issue. She is aware of how close to home, this particular issue is as there are local aboriginal women who are missing. She sees the impact that the uncertainty has on families and wants to see an end to their anguish and suffering. Vicki is aware of several local women who are missing and she sees the anguish that the families endure year after year.
Ms. Gillingham is supportive of several local non-profits and has a rescue dog from the SPCA. As well she helps with fundraising events for Unity House.
Vicki follows her cultural traditions and after losing her dad to cancer last summer, she is observing a year of mourning. She like most of McMurray residents is working to put the bad happenings of 2016 behind her and is looking forward to tackling 2017. She will focus her energy and enthusiasm on making her community a great place to live, work and play. She draws on the support of her sister and family who live here and who share her love for this community.
Ms. Gillingham continues to advocate for equality in both the workplace and in society. She has broken many barriers and is a strong voice for women being they indigenous or not. She has raised a strong daughter who aspires to be a leader just like her mom.
Ms. Mian moved to Fort McMurray with her husband and children in 2007. Originally from Pakistan, Fatima speaks four languages Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and English. Her knowledge of languages is very helpful in her career as a realtor. Her clients also appreciate her understanding of different cultures and her cultural sensitivities.
An avid volunteer and sponsor for many events around town. Fatima is an agent for change through her generosity. She sat on the United Way’s Community Investment Committee for one year. As well she volunteers for the Food Bank along with her children, often in sub- zero weather. The Centre of Hope is also a recipient of her commitment to her community. “I’m raising volunteers. My children are 14, 12 and 10 and they need to give back too.” Ms. Mian is committed to her community and loves the fact that Fort McMurray is so connected with so many resources.
Fatima’s biggest challenge and hardest decision was to leave an abusive relationship. After 13 years of verbal, physical and financial abuse, she found the courage to leave. This was a very difficult decision because of the cultural stigma of divorce and her fear of what the consequences would be to her family. She experienced first-hand the vicious cycle of abuse but her love for her children finally gave her the courage to break the cycle. Ms. Mian is a strong advocate for women who are experiencing abuse. Her advice to women and girls facing domestic abuse is “Don’t wait too long. Get out.” She willingly shares her story and cautions against overthinking the situation and staying in an intolerable situation. Today Fatima has overcome this barrier and emerged as a strong, smart and bold woman. She is an amazing mother, community leader and volunteer. She takes strength from the happiness of her children and the support she gets from her community, and friends. She wants to be a resource for others and willingly shares her experience. “I broke the circle, I work, I see friends, I have a life. I appreciate that Fort McMurray has helped me achieve this with a work/life balance. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Giving back the support that she has been given by others and demonstrating to her children the importance of being connected to your community makes Ms. Mian an inspiring leader for others and a shining example of courage.
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.
To nominate a woman of inspiration, please visit www.girlsincofnorthernalberta.org or contact the Girls Inc. office at 780-790-9236.