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Women of Distinction 2016 Nominee, Community Champion: Marie Christian

Each year, the Winnipeg YMCA-YWCA honours Manitoba’s most extraordinary women with the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg’s Women of Distinction Awards. Among the nominees of 2016, Marie Christian, Equitas Winnipeg Coordinator of our Young Women Young Leaders program! Equitas has had the honor of knowing, collaborating, and working alongside Marie Christian for the last 8 years. We first worked with Marie as a key partner in her pivotal role as the go-to person facilitating Children’s Rights Workshops in Winnipeg. She provides resources and participatory workshops for community organizations in Manitoba wanting to learn more about Children’s Rights and encouraging people to become part of a wide networking advocating for Children’s Rights. She has collaborated with Equitas, first as a participant in our Play it Fair! and Speaking Rights Training program and quickly became a facilitator and then the local coordinator. For the last 3 year, as the local coordinator of Speaking Rights in Winnipeg, Marie has provided invaluable coaching and follow-up to a dozen youth-serving organization promoting youth participation and social change in the community. Marie’s work is pivotal in sector strengthening and providing opportunities for organizations to share their challenges and lessons learned in the promotion of Children’s Rights. As local coordinator for Speaking Rights, Marie has coached the implementation of 12 youth-led community action projects involving more than 200 youth. She has also provided training, coaching and support through skills-building workshops to youth leaders to ensure human rights education spreads exponentially across Manitoba. This year, Marie continues to collaborate with Equitas as the coordinator of Young Women Speak Up in Winnipeg and will inspire the young women leaders of Winnipeg by her strength, knowledge, caring and advocacy. Marie has dedicated her life to helping other people. She is kind, compassionate, and wise well beyond her years. As Program Coordinator for Voices: Manitoba’s Youth in Care Network for the past 11 years, Marie has dedicated her mind, her heart, and her soul to young people in care of the child welfare system throughout Manitoba. For Marie this is not simply a job, or even a career, this is a calling. Wearing multiple hats she hosts retreats; provides outreach and engagement opportunities; facilitates workshops; holds fundraisers; and mentors young people. In short, Marie provides hope for those who need it the most, and through her work she creates compassionate, skilled leaders for Canada. Beyond her official roles in the community, Marie is the heart and soul of Voices and is truly that safe space that youth in care so desperately need. Never really off-duty, Marie can often be found late at night working away, securing funding, planning events, offering a shoulder to cry on to a child in crisis; whatever is needed Marie is always, always there. Whenever I meet someone who has also worked with, or has been mentored by Marie there is an instant connection and trust; a sense that anyone who is ok by Marie is someone worth knowing. Marie is a natural networker and she does this all simply by being herself – wise, loving, compassionate, and accepting of all people. She is a strong community leader, a mentor and an example to the children and youth she serves of what can be achieved through passion and hard work. Simply put she is one of those rare people that you feel truly lucky to know. Marie works tirelessly to ensure that the children and youth she serves have every opportunity, are well equipped and are motivated to become agents for positive change in their communities and confident advocates for their rights and the rights of other, especially those in care. Children and youth in care face complex and multiple challenges; Marie in her love, dedication and commitment shows these children and youth that someone believes in them, that someone has high expectations of them and that someone is, and always will be, there for them. – By Ruth Morrison, Equitas Program Officer, Canada + To learn more about the Women of Distinction Nominees 2016: bit.ly/229DoKF