In the previous years, the award ceremony was accompanied by a banquet and guest speakers. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

In the previous years, the award ceremony was accompanied by a banquet and guest speakers. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

Houston Woman of the Year to be scaled-back affair in 2021

A much smaller celebration with just rose-presentation

This year Houston’s Woman of the Year 2021 celebrations would be toned down to a much smaller event due to the pandemic, as well as the health of the organizer.

Debi Smith, who has organized the event over the past several years, said, “Bringing women together once a year in the spirit of being one for the common cause of worldwide equal rights is an important matter to me. Due to health issues I won’t be able to continue this tradition so I’m hoping someone will volunteer to help take the reins for whatever we face next year.”

This year, Smith is running only the part of selecting a woman for woman of the year. The call for nominations has been put out and the decision on the winner will be announced on March 8, the International Woman’s Day with roses presented to the winner, privately.

Usually, the event sees a large gathering of up to 100 women who come together for guest speaker talk series, a buffet of international locally donated foods like bannock, Vietnamese spring rolls, Greek salad, Thai pizza etc. and for the award ceremony itself. Over the years, the event has seen many prominent women speakers coming in to talk on issues important to women.

“(We had) the B.C. Lions football star JR LaRose who flew in to talk on not being a bystander and standing up to people when they put down women like in locker rooms, emails etc. and we usually get a second guest speaker from town, like the firewomen who showed us how to get into their extensive gear and answered questions about their jobs,” she said.

The event also used to have many door prizes, silent auction, sponsors and the presentation of roses to the woman of the year who was selected from several locally-received nominations.

Last year, the Woman of the Year was awarded to Margaret Murphy and approximately 75 women had gathered for the 10th annual Woman of the Year banquet. Guest speakers in attendance were Constable Debra Goble from the Burns Lake RCMP detachment and guest speaker Dr. Karen Wood, an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s sociology department and community researcher.

“I regret not being able to do more for this year, like set up a zoom or podcast meet but hopefully someone with more energy can keep this going and we can face what changes are needed together,” said Smith.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is “choose to challenge.”

“Knowledge of what goes on for women in other countries is key to helping them make change. Although Canadian women enjoy many rights compared to these women, we are still a ways away from equality for women doing the same jobs as men in relation to pay scale. All people should be paid what they’re worth,” said Smith.

Nominations for this year’s woman of the year will be accepted through March 6 and can be submitted either by calling the library or by emailing to

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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