After 20 years of Women of the Year Awards hosted by Quota International of Weyburn, the YF Wives have taken on the annual event and made it their own.

On Friday evening, the group kicked off their first-ever Women of Distinction Gala event, presented by Weyburn Credit Union.

The night, held at McKenna Hall, kicked off with quick speeches from both the YF Wives and Krista Hubrick, representing Weyburn Credit Union. Those were followed by supper, courtesy of the McKenna Hall Staff, served by members of the Weyburn Young Fellows. 

Arlene Dobson was the guest speaker, presented by Prairie Sky Co-op. Dobson, who has been teaching for over 20 years and won an award for Outstanding Principal in 2012, spoke of what a woman of distinction is to her and how these women come to be by the relationships they forge.

"My gratitude tonight is to all the women who have come before us," she said in her speech. "My own mother is here tonight and my relationship with her lead me to the woman I am today."

After Dobson's speech came the awards portion of the evening,

The first award handed out was the Weyburn Credit Union Workplace Excellence Award, presented by Krista Hubric. Terra Hartley-Ortman, Anne Phair, Tamara Seghers and Tana Torkelson were all nominated in this category.

workplace excellence awardLeft to right: Anne Phair, Tana Torkelson, Tamara Seghers, Terra Hartley-Ortman

Terra Hartley-Ortman was nominated for her work with Aaron Well Servicing and her trail-blazing a predominately male industry. Anne Phair was nominated for her work with the Weyburn Red Wings and how she went from being a player's mom to an intregal part of the club. Tamara Seghers was nominated as local manager of Fletcher's Funeral Chapel and Crematorium and how she not only gives back to the community but is the first face many see when dealing with a loss. Tana Torkelson was nominated for her role at Weyburn Credit Union and her tireless campaigning and development of the Credit Union rebranding and community initiatives. 

It ultimately was Tamara Seghers who walked away with the Workplace Excellence Award. 

"I would just like to thank my family, my friends and my staff for their continuing support," she said. "It's just amazing. Thank you."

The next award of the night was the YF Wives Community Service Award, presented by YF Wives president Emma Carpentier and Past President Kristen Iversen.

June Fletcher, Terra Hartley-Ortman, Sandra LaRose, Monica Peterson, Anne Phair and Jordan Szczecinski were all nominated in this category.

Community Service AwardLeft to right: June Fletcher, Anne Phair, Jordan Szczecinski, Sandra LaRose, Terra Hartley-Ortman and Monica Peterson

Terra Hartley-Ortman was nominated for her work with the Weyburn Oilwomen and the Weyburn Wildlife Federation. She has been a member of the Weyburn Oilwomen since 2013 and holds many different positions on different committees within the organization. She has also been serving the Weyburn Wildlife Federation since 2018, currently holding the position of Treasurer/PR/Communications. June Fletcher was nominated for her work with Rotary Music Festival and the Weyburn Care-A-Van Society. While she is currently a secretary for the Music Festival and chair for the Care-A-Van Society, she has also worked with Girl Guides, Christian Youth Crusaders, the Rebekah Lodge, Weyburn Quota Club and the change over to Communithon. Monica Peterson was nominated for her role with Weyburn Minor Hockey. This past year she was the Director of the U5, U7 and U9 Divisions as well as holding a seat on the development committee. Anne Phair was nominated for her role with the Weyburn Red Wings. She initially got involved in volunteering with the team as a parent but has since become a predominant figure in the organization, including her role on the board as treasurer. Jordan Szczecinski was nominated for her roles with the Weyburn Oilwomen, the Weyburn Beavers and the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce. She became the first female VP for the league when she moved into that role with the Weyburn Beavers and is also a board member for the Weyburn Oilwomen, Director for the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, and coaches two minor hockey teams. Sandra LaRose was nominated for her work as a Road Safety Specialist. Since the passing of her daughter, she has launched a non-profit called Sharing Kailynn's Sunshine, which has supported a number of different charities and has become a public speaker.

Jordan Szczecinski was the YF Wives Community Service Award Winner.

"I often get asked something along the lines of 'how do I do it all?'", she said after winning, "And the answer that I love is because this is what fills my bucket and because I've never had to don any of this alone. I've always had the best people around me and I've kept my north star being the quote that 'no one who achieves success does so without the help of others and that the wise and competent acknowledges with gratitude'."

The Access Communications Exceptional Entrepreneur Award, handed out by Ron Irvine, was next on the agenda with Alyssa DeMarchi, Whitney Johnson, Sandra LaRose, Mandi Mazer, Lori McIntosh and Kendra Sutherland all nominated. 

Exceptional Entrepreneur AwardLeft to right: Mandi Mazer, Alyssa DeMarchi, Kendra Sutherland, Sandra LaRose, Lori McIntosh and Whitney Johnson

Alyssa Demarchi was nominated as owner of Root Hair Lounge and co-owner of Flawless Nutrition. She is noted as being a support for young women coming out of hair school looking to start their careers and has broken new ground and overcome barriers in the field of fitness. Mandi Mazer was nominated as founder and Head Chef of Lunchbox. That is her latest venture though as she has also successfully launched and sold several businesses in Weyburn, including Iron Bar Fitness and Ignite Fitness. Sandra LaRose was nominated follow the launch of her career as a Road Safety Speaker. She had previously been approached by SGI and other organizations to speak on road safety and distracted driving and has since turned her presentation into a public speaking business with the goal to reach youth all across Canada. Whitney Johnson was nominated as owner of Barre Star Fitness and Co-owner of Chase Johnson Construction. She uses her position as owner to give back to the community and is an intregal part of the Weyburn and District Hospital Foundation and co-founder of the Borderline Ladies Fastball League. Lori McIntosh was nominated as the owner of Twine and Twig and as a Pampered Chef Senior Director. She also created "The Giving Box", a custom gift box featuring all Canadian products with a portion of the proceeds from each box going to a local charity. Kendra Sutherland was nominated as the owner of the General Store in Weyburn and Estevan. She started out with "Make Scents Soy Candles" in 2016 and has since added the General Store in Weyburn and recently opened a second location in Estevan.

The winner of the Access Communications Exceptional Entrepreneur Award was Kendra Sutherland.

The final award of the evening was the Weyburn Oilwomen Young Woman of Distinction Award, presented by Kate Gateman and Carmen Sterling. 

Jola Bell-Erb and Alex Clarke were nominated in this category.

Young Woman of DistinctionJola Bell-Erb (left) and Alex Clarke (right)

Jola Bell-Erb was diagnosed with cancer at a young age and spent much of her youth in many different fundraising efforts. When old enough, she began emergency response training and is currently an active volunteer firefighter. She also works full-time, splitting her time as a continuing care assistant at Tatagwa View and working at Pharmasave. She is also working to complete the rest of her volunteer firefighter training and actively taking her EMR course. Alex Clarke has been officiating hockey since 2015 and, in 2021 she became the first female official in not just the WHL but the CHL as a whole. She also was one of the first 10 females in the AHL and was selected as a lineswoman for the Beijing Olympics. She is also a mom and works at Farm Credit Canada and teaches spin classes at Barre Star Fitness.

Alex Clarke received the Weyburn Oilwomen Young Woman of Distinction Award. 

"I'm a big believer in the fact that representation matters," she said after thanking the YF Wives and the Weyburn Oilwomen and applauding all they do in the community. "Seeing all the men and women here, supporting women and celebrating women, a lot of whom are not related in any capacity to any nominees, that just shows me how much support we have for females in this community and it makes me feel really hopeful fo all of the women, like my daughter, who will be raised in this community."

The Gala event was the first of it's kind for the YF Wives and it is being applauded as a success.