Skip to content

Algoma University president presented with ATHENA Leadership Award

Asima Vezina received nod during the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce's Women in Business event
This year's ATHENA Leadership Award recipient is Asima Vezina, president at Algoma University.

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – March 8, 2021: March 8 marked the 20th anniversary of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce’s annual Women In Business event. As with many events, however, COVID-19 necessitated shifting the event to an online format, so on March 8, the SSMCOC kept with its long-standing tradition of recognizing International Women’s Day by hosting its first virtual Women In Business Celebration.

The online event attracted more than 100 participants and included a panel discussion featuring local business and professional women from a variety of industries, who shared experiences, success stories and advice to help inspire and support business women in Sault Ste. Marie. The panel included:

  • Dr. Laura Stone, an emergency doctor at Sault Area Hospital;
  • Asima Vezina, president and vice-chancellor of Algoma University;
  • Gail O’Connor, entrepreneur and principal of River Rock Gifts and The Voyageur Lodge & Cookhouse; and
  • Erica Hogan, entrepreneur and principal of Hogan’s Homestead.

‚ÄčThe panel discussion was led by Jasmyn Rowley of Village Media and During the discussion, panellists opened up about some of the challenges of being women business leaders and entrepreneurs, and of operating in a pandemic economy during her last year. They each related personal stories of times that they had to “Choose to Challenge” – the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day.

Event emcee, and Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Board member, Gabrielle Sarlo, human resources and communications manager with S&T Group, said of this year’s theme that a challenged world is an alert world.

“We should be choosing to challenge and call out gender bias, and we should be doing it every day, not just on March 8," Sarlo said. "But we also need to remember that the challenge also starts with ourselves. We should all be endeavouring and making a conscious effort to rise to the challenge of creating a better and more equal world for everyone."

The Chamber of Commerce event included the presentation of the Chamber’s ATHENA Leadership Award. The ATHENA Award is recognized internationally and has been sponsored locally by Sault College for 13 years. It is presented to a woman (or man), who is honoured for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

The recipient of this year’s award is Asima Vezina.

Vezina was recognized for her extensive community involvement and her leadership role at Algoma University, including her commitment to openness and inclusivity and to the advancement of healing and reconciliation.

The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce wishes to thank our Women In Business Celebration presenting sponsor, TD Bank Group; our ATHENA Award sponsor, Sault College; and our partner sponsors, OLG, Bell, Kevanna Fine Photography, YMCA Sault Ste. Marie and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

About the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization comprised of 700-plus businesses and agencies in Sault Ste. Marie and has been serving the needs of this community since 1889. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will lead the way as the voice of business, advancing economic prosperity for its membership and the business community. Learn more about the SSMCOC at