Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration Presented by Syncrude
Dr. Mary Gerosa
Mary Gerosa was born in Toronto and completed her education in Montreal. She graduated Dentistry from McGill University. Having a great sense of adventure, when Mary saw an advertisement for a dentist in Fort McMurray, she thought ‘why not?’ Mary was attracted to the position because it was one week on and one week off and this gave her the opportunity to travel – something she loves to do.
Dr. Gerosa fell in love with Fort McMurray and has made it her home of choice. She still talks about how welcoming everyone was. She describes McMurray as “a diamond in the middle of the woods.”
Mary helps make that ‘diamond’ shine brighter by helping others as she was helped. She volunteered for Brownies for many years and taught Sunday School at Saint Thomas Anglican Church. She helped organize the County Fair and became their vice-president. She served as President of the Cheerleading Society and helped them raise over $20,000. She volunteers for the Chess Club and loves to use her creative skills in decorating their Christmas float. She is a strong advocate, supporter, and donor for everything that enhances the quality of life for people in the region.
People who know Mary admire her dedication and hard work. She tackles everything with a passion and a welcoming smile. Mary and her husband raised their two daughters in McMurray and her home was always open to children. Mary would spend her time providing opportunities to children, be it art projects or a fun filled sleepover. They always found comfort, acceptance, and food at the Gerosa home. Her house was always full of children who loved the care and attention they received. Mary’s girls are grown with one sharing Mary’s artistic skills and who is pursuing a career in the trades and the younger one is very athletic. Mary encourages her daughters to follow their dreams and has taught them that they are capable of anything and that there are no barriers. Mary has spent her 25 years in McMurray mentoring and encouraging young girls to never give up and to try and try again. Mary still follows the lives of the young people whose life she has touched. She takes pride in their accomplishments.
Dr. Gerosa discovered her talent in art and is one of the local artists who participated in the ‘fox project’. Her painted fox can be seen on the trail down by MacDonald Island and the name of this piece of art is Athabasca River Fox. Mary encourages young people in art, as it is one way for them to succeed and feel they have accomplished something.
Dr. Gerosa’s ongoing passion is for human health and she currently is studying Functional Medicine. She is looking forward to helping others by sharing this knowledge. Mary believes and encourages ongoing education for everyone. She has supported many a not for profit with donations of artwork and her time. She has contributed to the community that she calls home and has mentored many a young girl.
Teresa is Ojibwe from the Whitefish River First Nations in Ontario. She and her husband moved to Fort McMurray in 2006 for the work opportunities. Teresa is the third oldest of 9 children. Up until the age of 13, she was raised by her paternal grandparents. Her grandparents had moved off the reserve after two of their sons were taken away to residential schools. Her grandparents moved in the hopes that their other children wouldn’t be sent away as well. Teresa and her grandparents were the only Aboriginal people in town. Her grandmother instilled in her the importance of responsibility and being “a good Indian woman.”
At 13, when her grandmother died, Teresa moved back to the reserve with her parents. She had a hard time fitting in but with the help and support of her many cousins, she was accepted.
Teresa attended Conestoga College and became a Personal Support worker after graduation. While raising her two daughters, she went back to University. She met and married her husband and relocated to Fort McMurray. They both found jobs with ATC (Athabasca Tribal Council) and developed an Employment Training Program, soon after they branched out to the Paudash Group – where she worked with Indigenous People in the area and helped them become employment ready. Teresa found her passion in helping others and loves to work with youth and adults.
Teresa became active in the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre as she recognized its potential for being a hub for all aboriginal people and for the community as a whole. Teresa worked hard to make the Nistawoyou inviting for everyone, for example, the homeless who come in to get food and to feel welcome. To Teresa, the relationships built with people and other organizations can only make life easier for those in need. The Friendship Centre became a great source of pride for Teresa and after the fire and evacuation, she and her staff worked to make it a port of re-entry, a distribution centre, a place to host the Red Cross efforts. Whether it was hosting barbeques and partnering with the Metis Local 1935 to house their Youth Summer Employment Program. Teresa loves the challenge. She is a source of inspiration and a positive mentor to the staff and to everyone who walks in the door. She thrives on helping people in a concrete and hands-on fashion. Promoting youth and her culture are what keep her going despite losing her home to the fire and dealing with her husband’s health issues. The Strengthening the Next Generation Program, tutoring, arts and crafts and even chess run weekly at the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre. Getting involved and helping others and making a difference in lives is part of her core beliefs. Being a part of a great organization and building on its community impact has been a privilege for Teresa. Honouring her culture through programs such as vigils for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, promoting the Moose hide Campaign, sharing Aboriginal culture and traditions with people from all backgrounds are Teresa’s mission. She has shown genuine leadership and compassion and strives to be an example of what can be accomplished if you try hard, never give up and care for others.
The Women of Inspiration Series 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 our website at www.girlsincofnorthernalberta.org or contact the Girls Inc. office at 780-790-9236.