Breakthrough Winners 2001


Ottawa, ON, . . . The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) presented its annual Breakthrough Awards recently. Five individuals and organizations, ranging from community level programs to people working at the national level of elite sports, were recognized for their activities in the year 2001, and one individual was honoured for a lifetime of work. Breakthough Awards recognize exceptional accomplishments that break through traditional barriers and pave the way for girls and women to participate in sports and physical activity at every level.

Photo: Back row: Marion Lay, Wendy Bedingfield (accepting on behalf of Peggy Gallant), Phyllis Berck, Cyndie Flett, Elizabeth Etue, Joanne Malar, Shawnee Scatliff, Alex Wilde (accepting on behalf of Connections) Front row: Lois Kalchman, Jan Cherlet

The National Award in the Organization category was presented to The Coaching Association of Canada (CAC), which is based in Ottawa, ON. Under the leadership of Cyndie Flett, the Association created a national campaign, the Women in Coaching program, designed to increase the number of coaching opportunities for women, at all levels of sport. Through a wide range of activities, Women in Coaching provides significant opportunities to gain experience, knowledge and funding. This program directly encourages and enables more women to develop as coaches in a positive, supportive environment, and will have a direct impact on women and sport for future generations.

In the Individual category at the National level, Elizabeth Etue of Toronto, ON was honoured for vigorously promoting and supporting women’s sports. In 1996, she co-authored the book On the Edge, Women Making Hockey History which covered the many issues surrounding the development of women’s hockey in Canada. She launched the first women’s sports marketing company in Canada dedicated to increasing the interest of fans, corporations and participants in women’s sports. This led to the establishment of OverTime, the Women’s Hockey Magazine, and the Women’s Hockey Heroes calendar which promoted female heroes in the game. Her latest endeavour is Chasing the Dream, a one-hour documentary on international women’s hockey.

The National Media Award was presented to Toronto, Ontario’s Lois Kalchman, who has been writing columns on amateur hockey, both male and female, since 1974. Her attention to detail, and her focus on female hockey has been a tremendous asset to the growth of the game for girls and women. Her knowledge of the game and its development, has made her a respected writer and commentator on the sport throughout the media industry. She has been the minor hockey reporter for the Toronto Star since 1977, and has also written two books on hockey, Safety on Ice and Safe Hockey.

Two awards were given at the Provincial Level. In the Individual category, Jan Cherlet, the Recreation Director for the Town of Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba, was honoured for her focus on increasing physical activities for girls and women. Her programs cover activities for all ages, including reintroducing swimming lessons in the lake – a tradition from years gone by that people now share with their children. She started an Indoor Winter Walking Club that not only helped seniors stay fit, but to also enjoy social contact through the winter months. She has inspired both leaders and participants to believe in themselves and to do every activity with pride.

In the Community Category at the Provincial Level, Connections, a unique organization targeted to ‘at risk’ teenagers in North Bay, Ontario was honoured. Connections help youth develop the skills and interests they need to become successful, productive citizens. It began as a stay-in-school initiative in 1990, and since then has grown in scope and numbers. Connections has focused on girls, encouraging them to build lifelong interests in different activities. This successful program is about to piloted in several other Northern Ontario communities where other young women will benefit from an enhanced healthy, active living lifestyle.

The Marion Lay Herstorical Award honours the long-term positive influence of an individual, group or organization whose herstorical contribution has broken down barriers to equal participation in sport and physical activity. The 2001 award was presented to Margaret ‘Peggy’ Gallant from Antigonish, NS. One of the pillars of female sport leadership in Canada, Peggy Gallant has worked tirelessly as an educator, an author, instructor and an advocate for women in sport leadership. For 15 years she has worked tirelessly to create a women’s sports program at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, where she is a tenured Professor in the Department of Human Kinetics. She diligently pursued all avenues to attain funding for the women’s sports program at the university, and by the mid-1980s field hockey, soccer and volleyball had been established for women. Married, with three sons, Peggy has also found time to pursue high calibre research, to author numerous articles and books on sport, women and leadership, and to coach in her community. Just recently, Peggy became the first woman to serve as Chair of the Board of the Coaching Association of Canada.

CAAWS established its Breakthough Awards in 1986. They honour individuals and organizations whose accomplishments push the limits and enhance the participation of girls and women. Recipients of the awards since then represent a virtual who’s who of Canadian women and men who have challenged traditions and empowered girls and women to participate more fully in sport and physical activity.