Posted by: Kerri Johnson

At Balsom, we proudly call our process of planning and hosting events “making magic” and the VOICES: Women of Inspiration Celebration in support of Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta was exactly that!

We’ve partnered with Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta over the past few years as they’ve celebrated the Women of Inspiration, and were absolutely thrilled to do it once again this year.

 In 2020, Girl’s Inc. and the women in attendance at the event hosted at the Fort McMurray Golf Club ‘shattered’ the (in)visible barriers surrounding the everyday life of girls and women. Then, in 2021 we virtually brought those broken pieces together to celebrate the rich mosaic they create. In 2022, we used our VOICES. 

Our voices are our instruments for change. They allow us to tell our stories, to advocate, and to empower one another. Listening to the voices and stories of others is as important as using your own voice. Together, we can amplify. 

Celebrating strong, smart and bold women across our region hits us right in the feels here at Balsom!


The weekend started with a busy Friday working with Cass & Nat Event Décor and MacDonald Island Park to set up the Shell Place Grand Ballroom to welcome over 300 guests to help celebrate the six women of inspiration nominees.

 The room came together quickly with beautiful silver, purple and black décor. A huge thank you to Cass & Nat as well as Chaos Creations for the custom welcome sign and table numbers and Balloons by Melanie Bruneau for the beautiful floral “VOICE” stage piece.


Saturday morning was all about tech! Thank you, Neville Video Productions, for playing the videos and live streaming to our virtual guests. We had a quick walk through of the evening and sound check for the Keynote speaker Sarain Fox, local entertainers Mychela, Dan Gillies and Jamie Malbeuf. Thank you CNOOC for supporting the local artists!

 It wouldn’t be an event day without a little chaos! Nothing like the adrenaline rush of a power outage two hours before doors were expected to open for the gala. Luckily the power was restored just in time and we are sure the cheers from MacIsland could be heard across the region.

Doors Open

Champagne was poured and Cosmo martinis were ready as guests started to trickle into the Welcome Reception presented by Stahl Peterbilt, as the amazing Jamie Malbeuf welcomed guests in the lobby with her beautiful voice.

 The “Ooos and Ahhs” of the Grand Ballroom had us buzzing! (Ok, maybe the champagne had us buzzing too). Printing Unlimited made the VOICES brand and partner support shine! Thank you! We love to work with their creative and technical team of experts to make events come to life. 

 As guests entered the Grand Ballroom they were greeted by the talented Emily Gale Photography who snapped photos in front of a beautiful sparkling back-drop. Guests then could shop the six women-in-business booths that featured clothing, home décor, candles and blankets. Thank you to amazing local vendors Lights Apparel, Nesting Den, Mud and Motherhood, Ivory and Oak, Simply That Boutique and Evermore Cookie.

 As the formal program got underway, we were enchanted by the charismatic emcees of our very own CEO and President Krista Balsom and local artist and entrepreneur Helen Killorn who helped bring the energy of the event alive. 

 The Regional Recreation Corporation’s head chef prepared a delicious meal and even better a candy bar for dessert. Thank you, Chef O’Shea Dunning. Thank you to Mychela and Dan Gillies who serenaded us throughout dinner and the intermission.

 The six women of inspiration nominee videos produced by Matt Lorenz Productions captured each nominee and told their story beautifully. We laughed, we cried, we felt immense pride to have so many incredible women living in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.

 So much fun was had during our live auction as we watched Jordan Hertner absolutely kill it! It was her first time as an auctioneer and she should be making it a full-time gig.

 Thank you to CEDA who sponsored the live, silent and virtual auction, as well as all of the donors who contributed!

 Sarain Fox, a Canadian Anishinaabe activist, broadcaster and filmmaker was the keynote speaker and told an incredible story that captured the audience. She performed a dance called “The Missing” that left us all speechless and in awe of her talent. 


We heard directly from the Women of Inspiration nominees during the Q & A panel. They shared what using their voice meant to them, changes they’d like to see in our community and difficult conversations they have had and offered one piece of advice to their younger selves.

 DJ QPID closed the evening for us as some of us danced into the night feeling very inspired for next year’s event. 

Photo by Emily Gale Photography.

 It was a remarkable evening celebrating some incredible women who will continue to use their voice to ignite change in the region. 

See you at the next event! 

-Jenna Hamilton 

Photography by Emily Gale Photography.


Thank you to the following partners for making VOICES so successful!

CLIENT: Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta 


EVENT DECOR: Cass&Nat Events and Decor 

LIVE STREAMING and PRODUCTION: Neville Video Productions 

VENUE AND HOSPITALITY: Shell Place Ballroom at MacDonald Island Park, Regional Recreation Corporation 

PHOTOGRAPHY: Emily Gale Photography 

VIDEOGRAPHY: Matt Lorenz Productions, Twisted Gears Studios 

PRINTING SERVICES: Printing Unlimited LP 

EVENT EMCEES: Krista Balsom & Helen Killorn 

AUCTIONEER: Jordan Hertner 

WOMEN-IN-BUSINESS VENDORS: Lights Apparel, Nesting Den, Ivory & Oak, Evermore Cookie, Mud and Motherhood and Simply That Boutique. 

DECOR ELEMENTS: Chaos & Class Creations, Balloons by Melanie Bruneau, The Flower Studio, Plants, Home Décor & Gifts

COAT CHECK: Parents of 868 Rotary NorthStar Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets

TREAT ENHANCEMENTS: Joly’s Your Independent Grocer, Candy Floss Boss, Chocolates & Candlelights