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Celebrating women for all that they do

 COLD LAKE – “We all influence somebody’s life at some point, it could be big or small.”

Although Sandra Evans doesn’t see herself as influential, someone in Cold Lake certainly does. She was among the dozens of local women who had their names put forward for the 2020 Cold Lake Women of Influence (WOI) Awards.

“There’s a lot of ladies that I know that are also nominated, and I want to champion them because they’re all so powerful… and what they continue to bring to our community is amazing,” Evans expressed.

Over 60 names were submitted this year in the six categories recognizing the women who go above and beyond in the City of Cold Lake. The eighth annual awards ceremony will be taking place on Friday, March 6 at the Cold Lake Agriplex to mark International Women’s Day.

“It’s an opportunity to acknowledge women for their strength and ability in the community,” explained Candice Sutterfield, Cold Lake WOI committee member. “Some people go above and beyond, and it’s an opportunity to really acknowledge and support the women who support our community in all aspects.”

 Arts and culture, business and professional, community and volunteerism, health and wellness, science and technology, and older women are among the areas people can be recognized in. An overall woman of influence is also chosen from all of those who had their names suggested.

Sutterfield said she’s glad not to be on the judging committee because “I don’t think I’d be able to pick.”

“We do so much as women, we don’t realize that, and I think that a lot of it goes unnoticed. But, at the same time, it’s really nice when you sit back and see how many women in this community were acknowledged,” she continued.

When Evans got the call telling her she was included in this year’s list, she asked if they had the right person. She believes the Stockings 4 Seniors program she started in the Bonnyville and Cold Lake area, which brings Christmas cheer to local seniors, may have been what prompted her nomination.

“This isn’t something that I set out to achieve. I was just doing what my heart told me to do, so I did it.”

Offering a photography session for parents who experience a loss is one of the reasons Ashley Hempel thinks she’s among the list of nominees.

“I had a baby that was stillborn in 2014, who would be five now. I was very public with my pregnancy on (social media), so I had to be public about the loss,” she recalled. “Since then, I go to the hospital and take photos of babies who are stillborn for no charge.”

Like Evans, Hempel doesn’t see herself as an influencer and was completely blown away when she was notified her name had been put forward.

Nominated in the health and wellness category is Danika Desaulniers, owner and founder of Wheel Fit Co. Although this is the third year she’s been up for the award, she still described the nod as “unexpected and humbling.”

“I think it’s important for Cold Lake to recognize anyone who is making it their mission to better the community and to create platforms… to create accessibility for people to celebrate who they are and make themselves a priority. I think it’s awesome that women get to have an event, but I think it’s bigger because it’s about the people,” she expressed.

Joining the long list of influential women is Crystal Zaugg. She works mainly behind the scenes in the arts community in Cold Lake and was glad for a chance to be included this year.

“It’s a great way of giving back to those who are involved and volunteer their time to do all these extra things. We don’t do it for the recognition, we do it because it’s a passion,” she expressed. “That’s where you put your time and energy, into things that you’re passionate about. But, it’s nice when you see someone is recognizing that you put in that extra time. It makes you think that, even on the hard days, it’s worth it. It’s nice to know that people out there see that you’re helping and it help inspire them.”

For more information about the event, visit


Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle