BY: KRISTINA RAMCHARRAN
The Woman Abuse Council of Toronto held its Soul Of A Warrior awards ceremony on International Women’s Day to recognize women in the community helping curb domestic violence.
The Woman ACT’s Soul Of A Warrior awards offered five awards to five special recipients who have excelled in their work in the community and helped to curb violence against women and children. The awards were divided into five categories regarding work with children, work with housing, work within the community and more.
Monica Amenya was the recipient of an award for her work as a transitional, outreach and housing advocate at Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter. She said she wants to use this opportunity to even further her efforts in finding safe housing for women who have been in abusive situations.
Amenya said the biggest fulfillment of her job is “to support women to move forward, put them in a center of their own situation, work with them to make their own decisions and see them move on into a positive life free of violence.”
The event was hosted by Cynthia Mulligan of CityTV. This is her second time attending the Woman ACT’s Soul Of A Warrior awards.
Mulligan made an opening speech and thanked the Woman ACT for involving her for the second year in a row. She said she was stunned to hear of all the hard work the recipients completed to achieve their awards.
“I’m blown away. They take a hard job and do a great job, and then turn it into something absolutely spectacular going above and beyond,” said Mulligan.
The awards gala featured a silent auction, where those attending could bid on various unique items, with the proceeds going to benefit the Woman ACT.
For the entertainment, the gala featured performances by Toronto’s very own all-female Cecilia String Quartet. a live DJ was also present, spinning the ones and twos for the after party.
Monica Amenya, Carol Hines DaCosta, Esel Palanqui, Erica Fisico and Stella Osagie were the five women honored at the awards ceremony. The five lucky awards recipients were all in active services to help women fight against abuse, whether it was childcare, housing, community awareness or local health initiatives.
The Co-Chair of the Woman ACT Carla Neto said: “it’s absolutely crucial that we recognize the work that frontline staff does to support the many families that we see in our shelters day in and day out.”
“It is about giving back because the staff are members of the community,” said Neto. “We appreciate the work that they do on behalf of the many organizations that are within the violence against women sector.”
On the discussion of International Women’s Day, Neto said that the day serves as a reminder to all, that the efforts of women should be appreciated every day. “I think that women’s accomplishments, women’s struggles and women’s efforts are lived every day of the year, but it is nice to have a day where we all come together to recognize the work and accomplishments we have achieved.”
“We will continue to work very hard to achieve what we want to do in life,” said Neto.
Executive Director of Woman ACT Harmy Mendoza said the awards recipients were chosen through a rigorous nomination process. “We have a nomination process, and members of the community, agencies, service providers submit their nominations to our nominating committee and they have the very difficult and hard task of choosing the winners.”
Mendoza said she is overwhelmed by the response to the Soul Of A Warrior awards and is grateful to have the support of the community and the board of directors.
She also said that the initiatives of Woman ACT are just the beginning and there is more progress to be made. “We all need to stand together. We need to be united. There’s a lot that needs to be done for women in Toronto.”
Mendoza said she hopes the public can become even more aware of their initiatives and do their part to help the cause. “You can make a donation, just go to our website…and you can volunteer, you can help in many different ways,” she said.
The Woman ACT plans on holding more events to recognize the efforts done in the community to curb violence against women and children.
Mendoza’s advice to women on International Women’s day was to uplift and continue to praise women for their hard work inside and outside of the workplace. “Let’s honor each other,” she said.