Cristina Scarpellini started the organization Angels for Hope Against Human Trafficking eight years ago from her kitchen table.
The organization provides free, long-term support to survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and their loved ones in both official languages.
A certified addictions counsellor, she uses her lived experience and empathy as a model and as a driving force in her desire to support others on their paths to recovery.
“It definitely is a tough area to work with, just because of the trauma that you hear every day,” Scarpellini said. “You care so much, but you try not to let it affect you. But I wouldn't change what I do for the world. I absolutely love what I do.
“Every survivor and their loved ones that has come across since I started the organization has taught me something, especially on how to be resilient, because survivors are so resilient.”
Scarpellini has been named one of the award winners in the upcoming 2023 YWCA Sudbury Women of Distinction Award Gala.
Asked how she feels to have been named a Woman of Distinction, Scarpellini said, “I was filled with gratitude that I won this award, because I feel this award represents women empowerment, and to be amongst so many amazing women is an honour.”
The Women of Distinction event, which is in its 17th year, will be held Oct. 21 at the United Steelworkers Hall. Tickets to the event are available through Event Brite.
The awards “recognize and highlight women in our community who are groundbreakers, role models and leaders who open doors and make a difference in the lives of women and girls,” said Julie Sauvé, media and special events co-ordinator with YWCA Sudbury.
“They are sisters, colleagues, grandmothers, friends, daughters, neighbours and mothers. They are unsung heroes, whose compassion, generosity, skills and strength impact us and benefit us every day.”
Marlene Gorman, executive director of YWCA Sudbury, said there has certainly been no shortage of women doing amazing work in our community for her organization to recognize through its awards program.
“They're doing this work not for any accolades,” she said. “They're doing this work because they want to make a difference.”
Proceeds from the gala go to violence prevention conferences for girls and boys.
“It's to teach Grade 7 and 8 girls and boys to think critically about the message they receive, including around media and body image, messages around relationships, and how we treat one another,” Gorman said, referring to the Power of Being a Girl Conference and its male counterpart.
Another woman who has been named a Woman of Distinction is Adolphine Mukamanzi. She is currently the diversity, equity and inclusion officer with Conseil scolaire du Grand Nord in Sudbury.
She uses her knowledge and experience to facilitate anti-racist workships that aim to educate and strengthen intercultural competencies to bring diverse communities together.
Originally from Rwanda, Mukamanzi is also the co-founder of Le Chemin de la lumière, a charitable organization supporting children’s education in Rwanda by raising funds and building a school in the community of Kavumu.
She said she feels “honoured and humbled” to receive the award.
“It’s very meaningful for me, because it’s a cause I have that I have at heart — the inclusion of women, the support of women and all women of all backgrounds,” Mukamanzi said. “For me, it’s important work, and it’s important that we all be involved in empowering women, especially vulnerable women. So I fear I feel I inspire younger women, young girls, especially immigrant francophones just to feel like they can do anything.”
The full list of 2023 Women of Distinction award winners is as follows:
Kerry Yang (Young Woman of Distinction)
Yang is currently studying to complete her bachelor of health sciences at McMaster University. In high school, she founded PENS, a charity that collected more than 3,000 school supplies and distributed them to far-north communities. She published her Canada-Wide Science Fair research in the Journal of Medical Microbiology. Yang has also worked with Future North to improve the education experience of BIPOC youth, which has resulted in funding to implement 11 BIPOC libraries in local schools. She currently sits on Future North’s board of directors.
PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise (Group - Women of Distinction)
PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise supports women entrepreneurs from planning and start up, helping to secure funds, to industry workshops, networking events and peer mentoring to ensure success throughout their business journey. The Sudbury team is made up of Carole Perrin, Kayla Soomer and Luciana Palotino.
Adolphine Mukamanzi (Woman of Distinction)
Mukamanzi is a champion for social justice in both her professional and personal life. She is currently the diversity, equity and inclusion officer with Conseil scolaire du Grand Nord in Sudbury. She uses her knowledge and experience to facilitate anti-racist workships that aim to educate and strengthen intercultural competencies to bring diverse communities together. Mukamanzi is also the co-founder of Le Chemin de la lumière, a charitable organization that has supported children’s education in the woman’s native country of Rwanda by raising funds and building a school in the community of Kavumu.
Blaire Flynn (Woman of Distinction)
She is currently the senior education and outreach officer at SNOLAB, where she creates accessible science outreach opportunities. Flynn strives to improve supports and opportunities for women in STEM by leading science programming and workshops in the community, including at the WISE Science Olympics, the Greater Sudbury Public Library and in classroom visits with SNOLAB.
Cristina Scarpellini (Woman of Distinction)
She is the founder and executive director of the organization Angels for Hope Against Human Trafficking. The organization provides free, long-term support to survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking and their loved ones in both official languages. A certified addictions counsellor, Scarpellini uses her lived experience and empathy as a model and as a driving force in her desire to support others on their paths to recovery.
Natalie Parent (Woman of Distinction)
She is the human resources manager at Pioneer Construction, but truly shines in her volunteer work. Knowing what it’s like to struggle through life’s challenges, Parent is passionate about advocating for and uplifting marginalized groups. She sits on the board of directors for several community organizations, including the Sudbury Women’s Centre, Sudbury Métis Council, Sudbury and Area Victim Services, Meals on Wheels and the Advisory Board for the Coalition to End Violence Against Women.
Patricia Orozco (Woman of Distinction)
Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Orozco settled in Sudbury in 2006. She is a researcher, educator, and global speaker in Laurentian University’s Faculty of Management. Advocating for immigrants, she extends support to those facing adversity.
Heidi Ulrichsen is a journalist with Sudbury.com.