She is a leader in her community, who rarely sticks to the norms. Annelies van Oers is one of this year’s YWCA Women of Distinction, an honour aimed at recognizing women for community leadership and enhancement.
“Annelies is so deserving of this award not only because of her dedication to her community and the time and energy and expertise that she gives to various groups that she is involved with, but also because she really gives us an example of how to build strong, caring, resilient communities,” Sheila Rogers, one of van Oers’ nominators, said.
“She gives her all into everything that she does,” Wendy Osborn, another nominator, said.
“One-hundred-ten per cent in everything she gets involved with.”
van Oers said community leadership and enhancement are two things she has an abundance of passion for.
“What I try to do is – and most of the work that I was nominated for and won for is – work where I try to complicate things,” she said. “To try and have the hard conversation about gender, race, colonialism and sexuality.”
van Oers was the head of OUTreach Southern Alberta for a number of years and has been involved with LGBTQ activism in the city of Lethbridge. She hopes to be the role model that she never had growing up.
“I feel very strongly that we have to have role models in this community,” van Oers said. “Our community is very young and we need different role models from different ages doing that kind of work and I think the work that really is important is that community building.
“It’s that building of our own families.”
van Oers will be recognized at an awards ceremony on March 10 at the Lethbridge Lodge.