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Women feted for contributions in northwest.

About 220 men and women came out to Thunder Bay's Old Fort William on May 24 to celebrate the two women selected as this year's Influential Women of northwestern Ontario.

Sandy Dickson and Margaret Thomson, for their dedication to Northern Ontario and its economic growth and wealth, were handed the awards during a special luncheon in their honour and in honour of their fellow nominees.

Dickson, along with her husband, Bud, owns and operates Canoe Canada

Outfitters in Atikokan. She is also the president of the local chamber of commerce, and is a major organizer of the Atikokan Entertainment Series, which enriches the community by bringing professional entertainers, symphony orchestras and theatre performances to the stage.

In addition, she has sat on the Fisheries and Wild life Advisory Board and the Ontario Parks Board, ensuring the community had a voice in decisions regarding the area.

But Dickson, as she accepted her award, still could not help but ask herself "Why me?"

She says being selected for the award gave her cause to stop and ponder what influence is to others, and what she had done to be considered a woman of influence.

"We must ask ourselves who are we influencing and in what way," she says. Noting that only 17 per cent of the board members of Fortune 500 companies are women, Dickson says more women need to go beyond being role models and instead be mentors.

"As a role model, you inspire by being observed," she says. "Mentors inspire by doing (things) and interacting.

"Today can be the beginning of a massive helping hand to those who need encouragement."

No woman can be successful and realize her dreams all by herself, she adds.

Thomson, who was given the title of Influential Woman for her work with First Nations and Northern Ontario forestry companies, says she was "truly honoured" by the recognition.

"Together we have taken the first steps toward sharing our forestry resources and I share this award with those who have worked with me," Thomson says.

Thomson, who has spent the past eight years working exclusively with forestry companies and First Nations across northwestern Ontario, has helped to create new economic development and employment opportunities in the North. She has worked in various capacities with First Nations and major forestry companies in the development of partnership initiatives for economic co-operation.

"It's been a privilege to work alongside (the First Nations)," she says, with a thank-you to her nominator, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation Chief Ruben Cantin Sr. and others who supported her nomination, including Bowater, Weyerhaeuser, and numerous other First Nations chiefs and councils.

An inaugural Special Recognition Award was presented during the luncheon as well.

For her promoting the IW awards program since its inception four years ago, Maggie Milne was selected as the recipient of this inaugural award.

"I'm totally speechless," Milne said as she accepted the award. "There are so many people who have helped me out and made opportunities happen. I also had mentors and role models going back to my grandmother and my mom and dad who taught me what business was all about."
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Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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