River Cree Resort-Entertainment Centre, 300 East Lapotac Blvd, Enoch, AB
Friday May 13, 2022 at 4:30pm-9:30pm


The Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) is a non-profit organization that recognizes the role, value and achievement of Aboriginal women in society and raises awareness about the challenges and obstacles they face. IAAW projects, services and programs are developed by and for Alberta’s Aboriginal women and are open to all First Nations, Metis and Inuit women and their families. 


Esquao is the stylized version for the Cree word for woman and is copyrighted.

The Esquao Awards is the largest gathering to honour Aboriginal Women in Canada. It is unique because it the community nominates the women, and the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) coordinates the ceremony to honour them.  The Esquao Awards highlight the significant role Aboriginal women hold in their home, in the healing and development of their city/town/hamlet/reserve/settlement and in the building of Alberta. To date 493 women have received Esquao Awards, from over 90 communities.

The Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) is a non-profit organization that delivers programs and advocates for systemic changes that support the inclusion, skill development and recognition of Aboriginal women in Alberta. Current programs include financial literacy, healthy relationships, employment, training and supports to women coming out of correctional institutions.The Esquao Awards is an integral part of outreach and support to Aboriginal women across Alberta. IAAW is based in Edmonton with reach to several outlying communities to provide training, host gatherings and action planning.


Business – success in business development or ownership
Rhonda Janvier, Cold Lake

Culture – practicing and preserving cultural practices and way of life
Dorothy (Dot) Anderson, St Albert
Skye Durocher, Sputinow
Elena Gould, Fort McMurray

Children’s Future – planning and promoting services for children to help them live their dreams
Marie Borynsky, Calgary
Candice Calliou, Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
Shannon Lust, Spruce Grove
Denise Rathbone, Wabasca

Lifetime Achievement – lifetime commitment of helping others in their community
Jackie Davis, Cardston

Community Involvement – striving for community wellness
Wilma Cardinal, Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
Doris Churchill, Edmonton
Jo-Anne Packham, Fort McMurray

Health & Medicine – advocating for staff or administrators in the health system
Dr. Dayle Poitras-Oster, Drayton Valley

Education – achievement in the education system
Dr. Florence Glanfield, Edmonton
Dr. Evelyn Steinhauer, Saddle Lake

Muriel Stanley Venne, C.M., A.O.E., B.A.(Hon.) will be welcomed into the Circle of Honour.

This year we are expecting approximately 350 people from across Alberta. Many corporations, government departments and Aboriginal organizations support these awards to recognize the accomplishments of Aboriginal Women. This is the 26th annual event. We are expecting Ministers, Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Métis and First Nation leaders, other dignitaries and media to attend.

The Esquao Awards are unique in that there is no competition between nominees.  When communities submit a nomination with three letters of support, the nominee is then deemed to be a ‘community champion’ in one of the categories below and presented with an Esquao Award.  

IAAW is based in Edmonton with reach to several outlying communities to provide training, host gatherings and action planning. If you have meal requirements or have any other ticket questions, please email esquao@iaaw.ca

Doors open at 4:30pm

Opening ceremony starts promptly at 5:00pm in the Entertainment Centre, as the event is recorded. Presentations are given in groups with entertainment intertwined throughout the night. Event concludes at 9:00pm.


Local media are expected to cover the event. If you don’t want to be in promotional pictures, please identify yourself at the main reception.

Gifts/Door Prizes/Silent Auction/Artisans

Recipients will receive a gift bag of donated items and door prizes are drawn during the event.  There will also be a silent auction and 50-50. Women from our programs will sell their crafts at the event as well.


The River Cree Casino has parking in the rear of the building close to the arena. The closest door is on the west side of the hotel. Click here to view map of area.


River Cree Resort is offering special rates for room bookings made before April 12, 2022 for those attending the awards. Please call River Cree for all room reservations at 1-844-425-2733.


Tickets $149/each or $1200/table (+GST) and are available with credit cards here. Payment is possible by cheque or e-transfer prior to the event. Refunds are possible until April 13, 2022, less a $50 administration fee. Tickets are mailed out for those purchased prior to April 15, 2022. Tickets purchased after April 15, will be available for pickup at the River Cree Entertainment Centre, starting at 4pm on May 13, 2022. Tickets can be picked up at the IAAW office during office hours, upon request, prior to May 9, 2022.


Please email esquao@iaaw.ca if you have dietary restrictions.


Sponsorship Opportunities

The Esquao Awards would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. IAAW directs all proceeds raised through the 26th Annual Esquao Awards to support our programs. Learn more about Sponsorship Opportunities here.
Thank you to our Sponsors for you support!
For further information, please contact Rachelle Venne, Chief Executive Officer
at 780-479-8195 | rvenne@iaaw.ca.

Stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates

Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women
18104 – 102 Avenue, Edmonton AB T5S 1S7
Phone 1-877-471-2171 | Toll Free or 780-479-8195 | Fax: 780-471-2169,
Email: esquao@iaaw.ca | Facebook: www.facebook.com/esquao