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2013 FIERCE Awards

2013 Fearless winner Pat Zwartjes

Capture0017-94104What you should know:

In 1992, Patricia founded and was the first president of the Alberta Registered Nurses in Independent Practice

She founded the first dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors, titled “Breast Friends,” and is currently battling a second cancer diagnosis that is incurable but treatable.

Patricia sat on a subcommittee evaluating wheelchair bound services within Strathcona County and as of Sept 3rd, most of the committee’s recommendations will have been adopted

Fun fact: Patricia’s parents are now 102 and 95 years young!

“Joining a clinical trial involves much more than standard treatment. I have been in two clinical trials with the understanding that, if it doesn’t help me, it will help someone else. My children and grandchildren can live in a better world if I make the effort to improve what I can.”

2013 Influence winner Nadia Houle-Lepine

Capture0150-107425What you should know:

Nadia is the owner and founder of Women’s Balance Health in Edmonton, a multi-disciplinary holistic health business that provides acupuncture, placenta encapsulation, massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, craniosacral therapy, doula services and baby-wearing education

She has incorporated her knowledge of Chinese medicine to help many women, from fertility, pregnancy, birth and through into parenthood with a blend of traditional techniques, energy work, a thorough knowledge of western treatments including In-vitro-fertilization and other assisted reproductive therapies, and an intuitive spirit into all of her treatments

Nadia has created the Doula Team at Women’s Balance Health, the only team of its kind in Edmonton. Each doula on her team possesses a passion and credentials in the field of holistic health and wellness (including certifications in acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, reiki, reflexology, and more). They combine to offer more than 25 years of experience in holistic health to offer their clients.

Fun fact: Nadia homeschools her 4 children with an approach that allows them to discover their strengths and their passions

“Birth had transformed me into a woman who felt strong, confident and that anything was possible”

2013 Empower winner Sharon Morin

Capture0093-101716What you should know:

Sharon volunteers at a rehab centre coming in once a week to do crafts and remind people that there is always something to smile about.
She works at the Métis Heritage Museum in St. Albert sharing her knowledge of the Métis community and history.
She has Lupus but has never let it bring her down. She lives each day as though it was her last she is a great mother to 4 boys and an amazing friend/confidant as well.
Fun fact: She was involved with the Metis Nation from a young age helping with Banquets and making sure that the Elders had what they needed.

“If you have the opportunity, knowledge and the voice to do it then you SHOULD be out there making a difference

Capture0024-948062013 Resilient winner Laura Ulmer

What you should know: 

After high school, Laura joined a local running club that welcomed disabled athletes. Over the course of the next five years, she trained and persevered to eventually rank number five in the world for the 1500 metres, hoping to qualify for the 2012 Paralympics.

She also participated in fundraising runs and marathons for The Running Room, running solo most of the time and wearing a bib with the word “BLIND” on it much to the admiration of fellow runners and onlookers. She remembers hearing things like, “If she can do it so can I!”

Laura has also found a passion for music, performing solo songs by Whitney Houston and Shania Twain.

Fun fact: Laura is also a YWCA Woman of Distinction for Athletics

“You don’t have to have SEE to have vision!”

Marty Forbes

2013 Champion winner Marty Forbes

What you should know:

Marty has been involved with fundraising for numerous charities including the Graves Disease Foundation of Edmonton, Santa’s Anonymous, The Jerry Forbes Centre, The Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree, The Bear Children’s Fund, The Stollery Children’s Hospital, Youth Empowerment & Support Services and The Make a Wish Foundation.

He started up his own company, Radio Wise Inc. and takes time to meet with various charities in the city who need help getting their fundraising bucks up or the word of mouth out to the community, always at little to no cost to the organization

He informed himself about his daughter’s rarely-mentioned disease and told others about it at any chance that he got. He has written countless specialists offices from all over the world to see if they could help her and flew her to Boston to attend a conference about Graves Disease so she wouldn’t have to feel so alone.

Fun fact: Marty’s Father started Santas Anonymous in 1954

“A ‘healthy’ community benefits each and every member of the City – and being able to give a ‘hand up’ instead of a ‘hand out’ is huge.”

2014 Essence winner Morenike Olaosebikan

Capture0166-109026What you should know:

For the last 7 years, “Nikki” has been organizing Ribbon Rouge – a HIV/AIDS funds raising initiative which brings together the African community, friends of the African community, local Edmonton fashion designers and artists under one roof.

She is a pharmacist and owns a Shoppers Drug Mart in Edmonton

Nikki contracted Tuberculosis from 2002-2003, and her monthly visits to the treatment centre in Nigeria stirred up a strong desire to help patients help patients dying of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis co-infections.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to touch the lives of people around me with these gifts that I have been blessed with.”

2013 Nominee Choice awards

April Weins

April Weins

April Weins

What you should know: 

April has spent a good portion of her early career as a caregiver to special needs adults/children, watching her make them smile, taking them on outings, and accepting them for who they are.

She and her husband have fostered 30 kids in the past 14 years, helping them work their way through healing, find their own voice, and keeping them safe.

April runs 2 online businesses and offers guidance and answers questions continually about how she balances it all. She’s a wife, mother, foster parent, advocate and entrepreneur.

Fun fact: April was 12 years old when her parents first fostered two little girls.

“I want people to look in the mirror and see just how awesome they are in spite of the crazy around them.”

Ginger Auger

Ginger Auger

Ginger Auger

What you should know:

Ginger has struggled through poverty and pain, losing her mother to suicide and her sister to mental illness. In recent years, she has worked in group homes, woman shelters and with the homeless. Having grown up in these institutions she wanted to teach others not to give up. “I wanted to tell them, ‘You are not alone. You are not a victim, you can change your path.’”

To give back, she started “Ginger’s Bannock House” to feed people and has fed Christmas dinner to hundreds of people in the inner city.

“Maybe I didn’t choose this path that was given to me, maybe it could’ve been different. Honestly though I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”

Monique MacDonald

Monique MacDonald

Monique MacDonald

What you should know:

Monique created the Saint Paul Award for Archbishop Jordan High School. An annual award that is not based on grades, school participation or athletic prowess. Instead, it is awarded to the student who has turned his or her life around; who has come through a difficult time and picked him or herself up.
She organized Sherwood Park Appetite in 2012 that had 5,000 attendees, raising over $20,000
As a member of the Canadian Federation of University Women, Monique was able to champion the cause of a hot meals program for school children in Alberta
Fun fact: Monique was a Sparks, Brownie and Girl Guide Leader for 6 years

“My accomplishments involve making someone else happy, helping them accomplish things they didn’t think they could, doing something for someone else. That, I am proud of.”

Kiana Chouinard

Kiana Chouinard

Kiana Chouinard

What you should know:

Kiana has tirelessly promoted the right to equality of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) persons, despite being in high school.

She volunteers her time to help the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (ISMSS), at the University of Alberta, with initiatives such as the website

Kiana has been a keynote speaker at workshops for the Public and Catholic school divisions and other venues. She has also championed the rights of LGBTQ persons in local and national written, radio, and television media.

Fun fact: Kiana is the youngest FIERCE nominee ever!

“Raising awareness is the key to any movement; without an understanding of the problem, people can’t find a solution.”

Michele Charles Gustafsom

Michele Charles Gustafsom

Michele Charles Gustafson

What you should know:

Michele was the youngest female president of Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce

A certified image consultant, Michele is also a salsa dancer instructor who often gives keynote speeches on image and confidence

Michelle believes in key building blocks to life: 1. remember who you are 2. do what you are 3. praise yourself to success 4. share your gifts and talents

Fun fact: Michele turned a poem she wrote to her daughter into a self-titled book “Angel in Your Heart”

“I am a girl who believes in giving people confidence for the rest of their life.”

Poonam Madan

Poonam Madan

Poonam Madan

What you should know:

Poonam was nominated to join, and currently serves on, the Family Care Council at the Stollery Children’s Hospital after her 18-month old daughter Priya passed away

She and her husband have set up a fund in honour of Priya where funds go to support the Pediatric Expansion and the Critical Care Unit at the Stollery

Her two boys have raised over $5000 in two years to support the Stollery, and her family has raised more than $25,000 all together for the Stollery “

“What I hope to inspire is that we should support our community through difficult times – that is what being a part of a community is truly about.”