There is a strong Western feel to this year’s YMCA of Western Ontario’s Women of Excellence award winners, announced Tuesday at London’s Central YMCA on Waterloo Street. Hosted every two years by the YMCA in London, the awards honour extraordinary women in the community who are inspiring for many in their chosen field. Honoured this year, in the category of Education, Training & Development, is Mary Lou Smoke.
Driven by sincere generosity and a courageous ability to overcome hardship, Smoke’s success in education and the Native community has been outstanding. A member of the Ojibway Nation, Smoke, along with her husband, Dan, teaches Native Spirituality and Representations of First Nations Issues in the News Media for the First Nations Studies Program at Brescia University College and Western’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies.
Also receiving accolades are Western director of Sports and Recreation Services Thérèse Quigley (Sport, Fitness & Recreation category), arguably the most respected and decorated athletic administrator in the Canadian university system; and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor Cindy Mary-Lynn Hutnik (Health, Science & Technology category), whose research on a laser therapy for glaucoma has gained international recognition by providing sound evidence to change the way glaucoma is managed worldwide.
Western alumnae Erin Rankin-Nash (Community, Volunteerism & Humanity category) and Jaclyn Miles (Young Woman of Excellence category) were also recognized.