A pediatrician for over 25 years, the past 16 in Sudbury, Dr. Elaine Blacklock has worked in Markham and, before that, as a general pediatrician at a Baptist hospital in Cameroon, west Africa. She currently commits her time to NEO Kids, the Cancer Centre, and the Regional Eating Disorders, supporting the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of children from infancy to teens. She is a tireless advocate for services for her patients and support for their families. While maintaining a busy practice and checking on patients in hospital, she makes herself readily available – even on weekends – to patients who may be medically compromised due to eating disorders. Her dedication has been credited with saving lives of young patients and assisting their families in understanding this challenging disorder. Some of her young patients have been motivated by Elaine’s commitment to seek a career in medicine themselves. Also a teacher at NOSM and a mentor to medical students, and both Family Practice and Pediatric residents, Elaine motivates future doctors.
A committed mother of two, she is active in the arts as well, playing piano, flute and cello. She is an intermittent member of the Bel Canto choir, and a cheerleader for and philanthropic supporter of Sudbury’s YES Theatre. Elaine is also working towards her Masters in Science Writing through Johns Hopkins University, hoping to inspire other women to greater action on environmental issues such as climate change through her stories. On top of all this, Elaine is active with Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada, which strives to create the political will to combat climate change through carbon pricing. Elaine is described as someone who exemplifies expertise, empathy and grit along with a strength of conviction that inspires students, colleagues, patients and their families – “a quiet warrior”.
Dr. Charlene Biggs is more than a brilliant and accomplished musician and pedagogue, although she is reputed to excel at both, in England, the US and Canada. At least one student cites her as a strong female role model, inspiring independence and compassion in her music students, as well as colleagues, at Cambrian College since 2001.
Described as providing an accepting, positive and supportive environment to all her students, she held the position as Coordinator of the Music Performance Program for several years and continues to act as the head of Piano and History Studies. She has also taught as an adjunct Professor of Piano at Laurentian University, performed with Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and the Sudbury Youth Orchestra and sits on Board of the City of Lakes Chamber Music Society, the Music Committee of the Sudbury Kiwanis Music Festival and the organizing committee of Opera for a Cause.
She is tirelessly engaged in guiding young budding musicians from elementary and high school aged children to post-secondary students applying to the highest levels of music education – and much of this on her own time. As a performer, Charlene has championed female composers by organizing concerts featuring their works. On top this, she is piano accompanist at her local church, a national examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music and has even been part of the musical entertainment at previous YWCA Sudbury Women of Distinction Galas.
Beside contributing to her community musically, Charlene is a keen advocate of animal rights, even offering to provide funds to care for dogs of women entering Genevra House, aware that worrying about beloved pets can be difficult for women and children in transition. As her nominator wrote: “We are very blessed to have an artist of this caliber living, working and volunteering in our wonderful city.”
A Chartered Engineer, Professional Geoscientist and Program Leader in Vale’s Digital Mine Transformation, mother of five, campaigner for gender equity as a member of the Mining Industry HR Council’s Gender Equity in Mining Task Force would be enough to recognize Helen Francis’ role as a leader in our community. But her passion for active living, sport, inclusion and diversity led to her nomination in the Sport and Active Living category of Women of Distinction Awards.
Helen is a committed volunteer at all levels of the YMCA. She has instructed “killer” workout classes at the Sudbury Y, been involved in the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign raising much needed resources that reduce financial barriers to children’s participation in Y programs, served on the Northeastern (formerly Sudbury) Y Board of Directors in several executive positions and was instrumental in the amalgamation of Sudbury and North Bay Ys, a move that enhanced programming at both locations.
Since 2015, Helen has been a Director on the YMCA of Canada National Board and is currently Vice-Chair, and Chair of the World Relationships Committee which provides connections to the YMCA’s World Alliance. Internationally, Helen was involved with the YMCA in Khartoum, Sudan, the former international partner of the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario, where she encouraged the inclusion of women in governance. Her efforts contributed to the creation of a women’s committee to work on education and health care issues for women and children. While in North Africa, Helen worked with youth displaced by the war in Darfur, mentored youth leaders and worked to support a cultural youth exchange between Sudbury and Egyptian youth at YMCA camps.
When she isn’t volunteering her time for the YMCA, Helen can be found training for her favourite sport: Ultra Trail Racing – a blend of marathon and cross country running. She has a long list of 1st and 2nd place accomplishments in distances up to 80 km. This year, she is planning her first 100 mile race.
Stephanie Langille always wanted to make a difference. As a volunteer at Public Health Sudbury and District’s A Breastfeeding Companion program, where volunteer moms with breastfeeding experience provide telephone support to new breastfeeding moms, Stephanie found her passion. She matched volunteers with new moms, facilitated a breastfeeding support group and eventually completed her training and certification as an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Since then she has started private practice called Breast Works.
Stephanie continues to promote the need for support of breastfeeding through speaking to medical practitioners, pre- and post-natal consultations in the hospital and at home for parents, providing a Newborn and Breastfeeding class and is involved with clients of Better Beginnings, Better Futures Babies’ Breath program for teen parents. On a community level, Stephanie is an active member of the Baby Friendly Initiative Network that plans an annual Latch On event (among other projects) where families take part in an international event of breastfeeding at the same time around the world. Stephanie’s drive to support breastfeeding led her to Greece in 2016 to volunteer with Nurture Project International, assisting refugee families in infant feeding and support for pregnant and nursing mothers. She returned this year for a 3 week volunteer opportunity with Amurtel Greece, an organization that serves Syrian, Afghan and other refugees seeking asylum.
Stephanie prides herself on being available to nursing moms on short notice, when they need it most. As one grateful mom put it, “Talented and selfless. Encouraging and dedicated. These words truly reflect Stephanie.”
The words “determination”, “perseverance”, and “commitment” best describe Shawna Diane Partridge, a published author, mentor, college professor, literacy advocate, and inspirational leader. A graduate of Sault College, Laurentian University, Queen’s University, and University of Windsor, Shawna is a high achiever, accomplishing honours, scholarships, and academic recognition, all while working part-time to support her studies. She brings her passion, intellect, education, and writing skills to her various roles in the community: Business Development and Communications Coordinator for Gougeon Insurance Brokers; part-time professor at Cambrian College; guest lecturer at Laurentian University; award-nominated author (Rule of Seconds published by Latitude 46 Publishing in 2016, and shortlisted for a Northern Lit Award in 2017) and freelance editor through her own business, Shawna Diane Partridge Professional Services.
Aside from developing professional and teaching communications, her fervor for writing and literacy has brought her to lead various writing workshops for young writers, women at a women’s correctional facility, and adult literacy. As lead on Gougeon’s Community Action Plan, she has been instrumental in raising over $120,000 over three years for the Northern Cancer Foundation through Gougeon’s main community initiative, Sudbury Community Airbandz. Prior to her work at Gougeon, Shawna’s work at the Sudbury Community Foundation included her development and implementation of the Emerging Leaders Program, which provides professional and networking opportunities for emerging young professionals, aged 20-35, in Greater Sudbury. Shawna is a significant contributor to young leaders’ development and community literacy in Sudbury.
Colleen Thompson has an extensive history of helping others: currently as a Psychotherapist with Morneau Shepell; previously as a volunteer at Sudbury Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, on the crisis line and accompanying women to the hospital and court; and, with her daughter, as a Pet Save volunteer. But one of her greatest and most unrecognized helping achievements is the establishment, with another bereaved mother, of Butterfly Wings Perinatal Bereavement Services. After several early pregnancy losses herself and finding no support resources for those who have lost a baby though miscarriage, still birth or shortly after birth, Colleen co-founded Butterfly Wings in 2010, receiving registered charity status in 2012. Colleen continues to take part, on a volunteer basis, in supporting women – and men – in their grief process, both individually and in group at Butterfly Wings. She is involved in ongoing advocacy to increase awareness and training in the medical community, and society at large, of the lasting effects of pre- and post-natal child loss.
Colleen is active in fundraising, starting up a lending library for bereaved parents, developing memorial packages to give to parents who have recently lost their infants and organizing the Wave of Light memorial each October to honour and remember all the babies who have been lost. Colleen has brought to light an issue and support service for women and families who previously suffered alone and in silence. As one participant at Butterfly Wings put it: “She has helped countless women feel validated in their grief and feel as though there is a way to continue… She provides a free, safe environment… She gives us hope… That is a role model. That is a woman to emulate and look up to.”
Unionists, teachers and community frontrunners, Barb Blasutti and Liana Holm have been the leadership team of ETFO Rainbow Teachers Local for many years: Barb as Vice-President from 2005 and then President since 2009; Liana as Vice-President since 2011. Barb started her teaching career in 1989, becoming active in the union when it was then the Federation of Women Teachers.
Liana began teaching in 2000 but already had the union bug from her days as a student grocery clerk active in the Retail Wholesale Department Store Union. Both have been instrumental in steering the union in a pro-social direction, assisting other unions and social organizations and donating funds to many local and international causes. They have promoted and actively supported such community causes as Take Back the Night March, The Women’s March, Walking With Our Sisters, International Women’s Day, Christmas toy drives, Tampon Tuesday, toiletries for youth at the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth, along with their union duties of supporting and representing teachers, collective bargaining and participation at the provincial level. These two women have mentored and inspired other teachers both in their role as teachers and as leaders in the union movement.
Barb and Liana have a sense of collaborative leadership that is an inspiration for their members. They represent the 636 elementary teachers of the Rainbow Local with grace, humility and passion.