Women from around Portage gathered, as the Portage la Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce hosted the fourth annual Women in Business Ungala at the Canad Inns. About 140 people attended the event, which featured music, dinner, awards, and discussion. Organizers also expanded upon the Women of Excellence awards, which was started last year with a single woman recognized for her accomplishments. This year they opted to present two awards, the Woman of Excellence Award, and the Young Woman of Excellence Award.

The Woman of Excellence Award was presented to Lynne Parker, marking her work with Recreation Opportunities for Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portage la Prairie, and other community organizations. Parker says while it's always great to receive recognition, she feels rewarded everyday she works with Portage's children.

"I get rewarded continually, just from the hugs from the kids, their smiles, and their stories. Being recognized, what it means to me is that it validates for me that others believe in what I'm doing, and see that what I'm doing works."

Chamber Executive Director Cindy McDonald, Portage Family Abuse Prevention Centre's Executive Director Joyce Schrader, Woman of Excellence Award winner Lynne Parker, Military Family Service Centre Coordinator Jennifer Campbell, and PCRC Executive Director Val Garlick

The Young Woman of Excellence Award went to Portage Collegiate Institute students and PortageOnline reporter Hayley Bedard. She was recognized for her volunteer efforts both within Portage la Prairie, and abroad including her humanitarian trip to Kenya.

"Just after all of the things I've been involved with globally, after going to Kenya, you kind of learn that not everyone is born with a voice that can be heard. I think it's just really important that if you're lucky enough to have a very supportive family or you're in a good situation in your life and you can be heard, it's kind of your responsibility to use your voice to speak up for those who can't advocate for themselves."

Chamber Executive Director Cindy McDonald was thrilled to see so many come out once again to support the event, noting it's vital that women come together to celebrate the progress that's been made on women's rights, as well as those who are making our own community a better place.

"It's the only event of our kind in this area, and we just felt it was really important to celebrate how far we've come. We're celebrating 100 years since we've had the vote, that's really important and a milestone. We are people, we work hard, and we do so much for our families, so it's just a great night to say thank you to all those women and really be inspired."

McDonald adds if it wasn't for the hard work women in our community, Portage could look like a very different place.