Photography by Ryan Emberley
10 outstanding women were celebrated at this year’s event.
Rabiah Dhaliwal’s glowing presence at the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Awards Gala in Toronto almost didn’t happen. That’s because 4 years ago when she was 16, Dhaliwal attempted suicide and was very nearly successful.
She spent months in a coma before awakening with a renewed mission: to conquer her own mental health challenges and advocate for others. Both are a work in progress, but she is learning to turn trauma into triumph. The Surrey, BC native is studying science at the University of British Columbia and aiming for med school. Last spring, she helped introduce a National Mental Health Parity Act in the House of Commons in Ottawa. And after the death of her beloved grandfather who required numerous blood transfusions for cancer, she founded the One Blood for Life Foundation, which works to increase the ethnic diversity of the national stem cell registry so patients have a higher chance of a successful donor match.
On Sunday, Dhaliwal and nine other remarkable women from across Canada had many reaching for the tissue boxes on every table in the Crystal Ballroom of the Omni King Edward Hotel. Their stories of overcoming adversity ranged from a runaway who created safe homes and programming for at-risk girls in Calgary to a volunteer in a tiny Nova Scotia community who pushed for tutoring and scholarship programs that would help more young people maximize their potential. Each received $10,000 for the charity they support.
See the winners of the 2020 Women of Worth Awards below:
Even emcee Aja Naomi King, from the show How To Get Away With Murder, had trouble holding back the tears before announcing that Gloria Meldrum of Edmonton, Alta. was the 2020 Women of Worth National Honouree. Meldrum received an additional $10,000 for Little Warriors, the charity she founded to address awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse. Meldrum, who was abused by her grandfather when she was between the ages of 8 and 10, opened the Be Brave Ranch in 2014, where close to 400 children have received therapy to address the trauma they have endured.
“We are all beautifully broken,” Meldrum declared in a video. “But it is in that brokenness that we can build beautiful things.”