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Asima Vezina winner of ATHENA Leadership Award

Asima Vezina winner of ATHENA Leadership Award

Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce

SAULT STE MARIE, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~ March 8, 2021  (LSN)  The ATHENA Leadership Award was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment.  The Award is unique in both scope --- local, national and international --- and is presented to a woman --- or man --- who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

This year, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce received seven nominations for this award.  All nominees are very talented, deserving women.  All are true examples of professional excellence, community service and tremendous leadership skills.  And all are deserving of their nominations.

Today’s ATHENA recipient has been described as always engaging and encouraging, and not hesitant to praise others for their good work and achievements… as someone who leads with integrity and honesty… as someone who communicates in a way that makes you feel included and valued, a skill many work a lifetime to develop, yet she does so with ease.

In addition to her professional role, this year’s ATHENA Leadership Award recipient is engaged in the community, as a member of:

  • the newly formed Mental Health Working Group (HEARTS)
  • the Council of Ontario Universities Government Relations Committee, and the Universities Canada Education Committee
  • the Future Sault Ste. Marie Community Development Mayor’s Round Table
  • the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre’s Board of Directors
  • the Northern Policy Institute’s Board of Directors
  • the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
  • the SSM Police Services Planning Committee focused on SHIFT Training, with the goal to provide cultural sensitivity training to over 250 police personnel
  • the Local SSM Immigration Partnership Table and Racial Harmony and Social Equity Committee

She has been a member of the Board of Directors and Past President of the Lake Superior Figure Skating Club and has worked with Skate Canada on leading athlete development in Algoma and Northern Ontario. 

In 2016, she was vice chair of the Council of Chairs of Ontario Universities.

I’m certain that many of you have already deduced who our recipient is, but it is my pleasure to announce that the recipient of this year’s Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Leadership Award, sponsored by Sault College, is Asima Vezina.

Asima is President and Vice Chancellor of Algoma University. 

In her time at Algoma University, Asima has taken leadership role:

  • to advance action and commitment within the University and wider community to Truth and Reconciliation, as well as Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • and to advance a comprehensive community-based strategy to deal with mental health and addictions - one that focuses on prevention and intervention

More recently, she has helped guide Algoma University thorough the pandemic, helping students and staff transition to remote learning and working with community partners to build out state-of-the-art e-learning platforms which will serve the university, not just during this time of COVID, but into the future as enrolment continues to grow locally.

Dr. Paulette Steeves tells us that in her position as an Assistant Professor of History and a nominee for the Canada Research Chair Tier II in Healing and Reconciliation, she has come to know Asima as an outstanding supporter of healing and reconciliation at a local, provincial, and national level. She describes Asima as a strong and committed leader who is focused on supporting the special mission of Algoma University in Healing and Reconciliation.

Quote: “In the time I have known Asima, she has created safe spaces, bringing together Indigenous scholars, elders, and educators to build capacity and create new cultural training programs for instructional and community members of Sault Ste. Marie. Asima has focused on equality and diversity and in building a campus where ALL members of society may see themselves represented in professional positions. Under Asima’s guidance and leadership, Algoma University has created very strong programs where reconciliation moves beyond discussions, into realities of permanent visual memorials of history, creating paths to acknowledging the past and working towards healing and reconciliation.”


Paulette continues: “Asima’s excellence in leadership moves beyond the campus and is woven through the community in many ways. She is a rare individual who creates opportunities for women, in all areas of academia, research, and leadership, in the arts, business, and science. She is a visionary who has successfully created a strong program of growth and capacity building at Algoma University and she is a dedicated leader within academia and the community.”

Asima has been recognized for her work in many areas. Among her additional recognitions, she is the recipient of

  • the Chamber of Commerce President’s Award
  • the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre - Women in Leadership Award
  • the Canadian Education Association (CEA) - Ken Spencer Award
  • the Tourism Sault Ste. Marie - Tourism Ambassador Award
  • the Reader’s Digest - National Leadership in Education Award “in recognition of teachers who make an extraordinary contribution to Canadian society through their work… with students in classrooms and schools across the country.”
  • The Centre for Addiction & Mental Health - Community Achievement Award – Timmins, Ontario

On behalf of Sault College, it gives me great pleasure to present Asima with this year’s ATHENA Award.

#LSN_SSM  #LSN_Econ 


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