Piwapan honours 30 years of running the Women’s Shelter

Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan. Donna Banach presents an award for Sports to Emma Smallwood.

In honour of the Piwapan Women’s Centre’s 30th anniversary, the La Ronge Native Women’s Council (LRNWC), who operate the shelter, held a Celebration of Women Gala on Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre (JRMCC).
Thirty-two (32) women were nominated for awards under different categories; they were honoured during the event.
Aleisha Charles and Margaret Bird, members of the New Dawn Drum Group, offered an Honour Song to begin the event.
Sue Carriere, a member of the Council’s board, spoke about the history of the Council established in 1978. The council took a leadership role in creating the local detox, daycare and Friendship centre. They maintain the Piwapan Women’s Shelter, a shelter for women leaving abusive situations from across the north, Second-Stage housing and many outreach programs.
Anita Jackson, who was involved with the Council at the beginning, shared the history and growth of the LRNWC over the years, to the present day.
“Over these 50 years our community really has come a long way in so many ways on cross cultural relationships, resources for one, facilities for another, education,” she said.
Jackson was presented with the first Louisa Sanderson Memorial award, for her years on the board and subsequent support.
The Late Louisa Sanderson was a member of the LRNWC from its inception till her death.
Women were nominated by people around the community.

Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan
Donna Banach presents an award for Leadership to Geraldine Frank.
Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan
Aleisha Charles and Margaret Bird, members of the New Dawn Drum Group, offer an Honour Song to open the Women’s Gala.

Minnie McKenzie received an award for her long-time work in promoting Cree culture and language. “She has been very instrumental in preserving the language and leaves a legacy.” She was nominated by Tammy Robinson.
Pam Sanderson received an award for her tole in cultural knowledge and education. “Pam is continually exploring ways to Indigenize curriculum and validate Indigenous ways of knowing.” She was nominated by Laura Nagy.
In education, three women won awards. Melissa Cromarty received an award “as a high school teacher who goes above and beyond for her students, she helps in every way she can.” She was nominated by Polly Halkett. Rebecca Slater was honoured for putting in “all the effort to help everyone succeed.” She was nominated by Brittany Hoeft.
Marlina Ballantyne was recognized for “her dedication to her profession is apparent in the countless hours she puts in to run a school efficiently which helps to meet the needs of our students in all aspects of their well-being and by supporting their learning. She is an inspirational leader.” She was nominated by Tammy Robinson.
The rest of the winners are listed below.
Vivian Charmaine Charles – for her work alongside her husband and staff at Cravings late night food, to help the community in a many healthy ways. Nominated by Shaylyne Charles.
Justice and Activism – Janae Brownley, as a Transgender woman, serving as Minister at the La Ronge United Church throughout the Pandemic, “has involved herself with Roots of Hope, Piwapan, and La Ronge Pride, and most importantly, with youth, and courageously sharing her own journey.” Nominated by Valerie Barnes Connell Jordan.
Kara Schneider Ross and Shirley McLeod – “Both are teachers who take the time to educate their students in the important cause of MMIW.” They educate and advocate for the importance of remembering and honouring those lost and share the injustice of those missing through their advocating in educating youth and “MMIW, Indigenous issues and finding their voice.” Nominated by Karen Sanderson.
Geraldine Frank – “shows leadership, compassion and empathy to those we serve … she works hard for the community is always giving of her time and expertise ,,, in the workplace she has an open-door policy allowing us time to talk over any concerns and gives guidance to ensure we feel good about our work and impact in the community.” Nominated by the CFS staff serving under Geraldine Frank. (John Sanderson, Korbin Parada, Sara Ewert, Lena Stonechild, Tahir Younis and Lorna Misponas).
Jolisa Ballantyne – “We are nominating our supervisor for her caring, funny and selfless nature. She leads by example with her heart” … she makes us feel like we are all working together.” Nominated by Cindy Headley, April, Flora, Doreen, Jennifer, Elizabeth, and Connie.
Music and Art:
Dara Schindelka for her love for music and dedication to sharing her music with the community through many initiatives. Nominated by Karen Sanderson.
Emma Smallwood – “In addition to performing her job at the JRMCC … Emma takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support to people who are interested in fitness and sports. She quickly discerns their individual needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations, or direction.” Nominated by Ginny Chen.
Wanda Ratt – She helps anyone, even if she is struggling herself. Even if she doesn’t have much, she shares food and shelter … she keeps trying every single day to be the best mon and person she can be. She is my mentor and hero.” Nominated by Cheryl McKenzie.
Joanne Dickson – “She is the founding member of Northern Animal Rescue and has devoted hours and endless care to building the organization, working with people and helping thousands of animals in need,” nominated by Genevieve Candelora.
Carla Frohaug – “She is a passionate advocate and shares her knowledge of inequalities to marginalized groups with her community to improve the lives of everyone. She humbly endeavors to make a difference for those who have been overlooked or fallen through the cracks.” Nominated by Mel Norris.
Camille Galloway – “Is an unsung hero … involved in many initiatives focus on engaging people in the arts… she is a passionate writer and through this talent has secured funds of organizations … she creates with heart.” Nominated by Genevieve Candelora.
Alaysia Ratte-Franks – Alaysia faced many obstacles in her young life, but through it all she is always smiling, trying her best and doing what she can for her family. Her strength and perseverance at this young age demonstrates the kindness she has in her heart to grow into a caring adult and the potential leader this community needs.” Nominated by John Sanderson.
Pandemic Heroes:
Tammy Cook-Searson – As a leader, Cook-Searson brought in supplies for the community to ensure “band members had access to those supplies. When the homeless issue arose in the winters of 2020 and 2021, she had buildings made available to meet their needs, saving time and lives with her quick decision-making skills. She put others needs ahead of her own.” Nominated by Eva Sanderson.
Piwapan Shelter Workers – Alex McKenzie, Sharon McKenzie, Lena Bird, Cherise Chrispen, Courtney Charles, Dolapo Onadare, Melissa McNeil, Emily Sanderson, Harmony Tait, Kayla Natomagan, Payton Franks, Tanis Ratt, Tracey Flicek – “The Pandemic of 2020 brought many new challenges and despite the fear, insecurities, and lack of information, you showed up with your hazmat suites and were there for women who needed you. You are all extraordinary individuals who went above and beyond to serve our community. By doing your job in a time of crisis, and accepting a degree of personal risk, you totally fulfill the definition of being a hero. Thank you.” Nominated by Shauna Nagy.
The evening included a roast beef dinner created and served by Cravings late night foods, and much laughter and visiting.
We will have more about the history and work of the La Ronge Native Women’s Council and Piwapan in the January edition of the Northern Advocate.

Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan
Donna Banach presents and award for Perseverance to Wanda Ratt.