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Our annual Women of Distinction Awards are designed to celebrate the achievements of women and give them a platform to share their stories in a way that empowers, inspires and motivates others to learn, achieve and participate. 

Women of Distinction Awards are presented locally by YWCA’s across Canada to recognize the leadership of women who contribute to the development and well-being of other women and to the overall improvement of the community.  Women of Distinction Awards are recognized across Canada as one of the most prestigious awards for women.  We reinstated these awards in 2015, held in March to coincide with International Women’s Day.  

Nominations for the 2020 Women of Distinction Awards are Now Open! Interested in Making a Nomination? Click Here for More Information.

Women of Distinction Award Categories

  • Young Woman of Distinction: This woman, aged 18-24, is already making significant contributions to her community. She demonstrates leadership, maturity, innovation and inspires others to follow her example. 

  • Mentorship & Education: This woman guides, teaches and supports others to grow and to attain the skills and success required to make a difference in the world. She inspires, encourages and leads by example. 

  • Arts, Culture, & Heritage: This woman enriches lives through her contributions to the arts and cultural activities of our community. She plays a key role in ensuring our continued rich and vibrant artistic and cultural heritage. 

  • Health & Wellness: This woman directs significant energies to the well-being of people in her life and/or community. She provides leadership in fields relating to physical, spiritual and/or mental well-being. 

  • Community & Social Development: This woman is helping to build a strong community by making positive change and advocating for enhanced quality of life for all, including those who face disadvantages/challenges. 

  • Public Sphere: This woman has shown leadership in public affairs, media, communications, or through political involvement. She has shown commitment to public service excellence and to improving the life of citizens.

  • Science and Technology: This woman has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Breaking down gender barriers, this woman has carved a path not just for herself but for generations to follow.

  • Business: This woman has achieved successes in the corporate or entrepreneurial arenas. She is an innovator and has contributed to a thriving business/industry and the economic vitality of our community. 

  • Lifetime Achievement: This woman, aged 60 or more, has made significant contributions to her community in various ways over the course of her life. She has shown exemplary commitment, courage and leadership and her wisdom and example is an inspiration to others. 


We are proud to announce the recipients for the 2019 Women of Distinction Awards! 

Top row from left to right: Mary O’Keeffe (Arts, Culture, & Heritage), Emily Bland (Business), Linda Ryan (Health & Wellness), and Nabila Qureshi (Community & Social Development). MIddle row from left to right: Noreen Bridget Lewis (Lifetime Achievement), Delores Mullings (Mentorship & Education), Allison Chaytor-Loveys (Public Sphere), and Bethany Downer (Science & Technology). Bottom row from left to right: Leah McDonald (Young Woman of Distinction).

Past Recipients

Women of Distinction 2018 Women of Distinction 2017

Kimberly Orren (Mentorship & Education) Ann McCann (Mentorship & Education)

Corina Walsh (Business) Gail Hickey (Business)

Gobhina Nagarajah (Community & Social Development) Heather Modlin (Community & Social Development)

Sharon Warren (Public Affairs) Joan Dawson (Public Affairs)

Jennifer Crane (Wellness & Active Living) Lindsey Hynes (Wellness & Active Living)

Jennifer Deon (Arts & Culture) Margaret Walsh Best (Arts & Culture)

Joanna Barker (Young Woman of Distinction) Sarah Brown (Young Woman of Distinction)

Mary Keiley (Lifetime Achievement) Linda Ross (Lifetime Achievement)

Women of Distinction 2016                              Women of Distinction 2015

Mackenzie Dove (Young Woman of Distinction)                                              Dr. Fern Brunger

Holly Foley (Wellness & Active Living)                                                              Rosemary Hedderson

Clara Rendell (Public Affairs)                                                                              Kyra Rees

Jillian Hand  (Mentorship & Education)                                                             Joan Aucoin

Helen Murphy (Community & Social Development)                                        Lois Brown

Andrea Maunder (Business)

Ruth Lawrence (Art & Culture)

To learn about all of the amazing 2016 nominees, click here

Women of Distinction 2002

Elizabeth Penashue

Deborah Fry

Karen Alexander

Zoiey Cobb

Women of Distinction 2003

Dorothy Robbins

Linda Rimsay

Lucy Stoyles

Candace Critch

Women of Distinction 2000

Laura Jackson

Debbie Powers

Grace Sparkes

Lisa Saunders

Women of Distinction 2001

Susan Shiner

Shannie Duff

Melba Rabinowitz

Krysta Rudofsky

Women of Distinction 1998

Margo Reid

Susan Knight

Debbie Prim

Women of Distinction 1999

Andrea Gillies

Norah Browne

Carol Devine

Women of Distinction 1996

Elizabeth Davis

Marie White

Marcella Gregory

Women of Distinction 1997

Shirley Newhook

Donna Jeffrey

Barbara Barrett

Jacinta Sheppard

Women of Distinction 1994

Susan Capps

Nancy Creighton

Dorothy Riach

Women of Distinction 1995

Jane Green

Paula Buckle

Marilyn Pike