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This award ceremony is aimed at recognizing and rewarding fifteen women for their great contribution to the development of the African Caribbean community in Alberta


Our Story

We are excited to announce our upcoming award ceremony where we will be honoring 15 exceptional women for their great contribution to the development of the African Caribbean community in Alberta. These remarkable women have made significant strides in various sectors, and its time to recognize and celebrate their achievements.

Join us at the ceremony as we acknowledge their hard work, dedication, and positive impact in our diverse and inclusive community. It will be an inspiring event filed with heartfelt  speeches, uplifting, stories and sense of unity. Lets come together to show our appreciation and support for these incredible women who have made difference in the lives of many

Meet our Afro-Caribbean Award Recipients 

Nnenna Nwaribe


Nnenna Nwaribe who also goes by Mary, is a Nigerian business owner who lives in Red Deer, Alberta. She grew up in Nigeria, where she met her husband and shortly after, moved to Canada. Mary is a God-fearing woman and a mother to 7 marvellous children, who were all raised here. She spent her days at home watching them and would work nightly at her healthcare job, in order to help furnish their basic needs. With that being said, she was never really given the time to focus on her own personal goals, as she always saw other priorities.

Mary has always had a passion for helping others in her community. She volunteers regularly in her church and throughout her town. Living in Red Deer for over 15 years, she noticed the shortage of resources specifically made for African residents. At the time, there were little to no stores offering authentic food or hair care products for black people, which is something she’d hoped to change. The moment she saw an opportunity, she knew she had to take charge of it. She became the founder of Chi-Buking International Store and from there, her business took off.

Karen Barrameda-Cameron

Karen Barrameda-Cameron, of Red Deer, Alberta, is a Service Coordinator and has supervised multiple programs for Catholic Social Services, a non-profit Organization. She has been in this position for almost 12 years.

Ms. Barrameda-Cameron is a proud Graduate and alumnus of the Social Work Program. She has a background in Health Care and Rehabilitation. She longed to pursue a place within the Human Services field where she could follow her passion and give back to the community. Ms. Barrameda-Cameron works with the vulnerable and at-risk sector. Her passion for helping people comes through from her many years of service.

Ms. Barrameda Cameron started her career by volunteering at Wetaskiwin Regional Hospital in the Pediatrics and Seniors departments at fifteen. She has offered her time to many non-profit groups over the last 20 years by volunteering, as listed below.

-Volunteered for Meals on Wheels in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, from 1998-2000

-Volunteered as a Cub Leader and Communications Officer with Scouts Canada from 2015-2019

-(Ms. Barrameda-Cameron and 25 and Family Scouts' team fundraised over $30,000 to bring 17 children to Europe for Jamboree, Paris, France and England)

-Volunteered with Education for Somali - Girl & Boy Foundation - 2012- 2014

-Volunteered with the Philippines-Canadian Association of Red Deer & District 2021-present date.

Cassandra Hinnegan


She a is single mom and seasoned administrator, embarked on a transformative journey into the world of film after discovering her passion for storytelling. With a solid foundation from the Toronto Film School and valuable experience at Shaw, Cassandra has become a versatile filmmaker adept in all aspects of the craft. Since 2018, she has dedicated herself to capturing the untold stories of individuals, recognizing the fleeting nature of time.

Specializing in working with female entrepreneurs, Cassandra strives to create a non-judgmental and empowering space for them in the film industry. Her commitment to collaboration and empathy ensures that each project becomes a unique and magical representation of the stories that might otherwise be lost. Cassandra Hinnegan's narrative is one of resilience, versatility, and a profound dedication to preserving the essence of the human experience through the lens of filmmaking.


Dr. Manaswitha Ajila


Manaswitha is affectionately known as Mana, is a dynamic individual whose journey transcends borders and encompasses a rich tapestry of experiences. Born in India and embraced by the vibrant landscapes of Canada, Mana has emerged as a distinguished professional in the fields of healthcare management and community service.
With a stellar academic background, Mana holds PhD in Business Management and an MBA in Healthcare Management. Her intellectual pursuits have resulted in the publication of numerous articles, notably in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management, addressing critical issues such as Changing Organizational Performance, Improving Patient Safety in Hospitals, and an Analysis of Intensive Care Units in India. These articles are readily accessible on Google, and showcase Mana's commitment to advancing knowledge in her field.
Mana's professional journey in Red Deer began as a Mental Health youth counselor, where she demonstrated her passion for making a positive impact on individuals' lives. Later, she joined the Central Alberta Immigrant Women's Association as a Program Coordinator, spearheading various projects and successfully implementing programs to support immigrant families in the region.
Currently, Mana stands as the proud owner and director of Stepping Stones Montessori preschools and Happy Start Innovative Child Care in Red Deer and Sylvan Lake. This venture stems from Mana's personal experience as a mother facing challenges in finding quality childcare and preschool services for her two young children. Driven by this need, Mana embarked on a mission to establish affordable, high-quality, education-based Montessori centers in Central Alberta.
Through her unwavering dedication and hard work, Stepping Stones Montessori has earned the distinction of being the top-rated preschool, garnering hundreds of positive testimonials from grateful families. Mana's goal extends beyond business success; she is deeply committed to serving the community and making a lasting difference.


Adele Poratto 


Adèle owns Beauté Décor & More – Special event Planning, Redesign & Staging and has 24 years’ of experience in planning organizing and executing premier in-person events. Rev. Adèle Poratto is also a wedding officiant & funeral celebrant. She is the President and owner of French Please/Français SVP offering translation services, and tutoring French as a second language. Since 2005 she has tutored FSL classes to Government & City employees, RDC College & UOL Continuing Education as well as several private clients.

Adèle is bilingual and holds a BA degree majoring in French Literature and minoring in Education from the University of Lethbridge and holds a diploma in Marketing Management & Sales from Ryerson University and a Masters in Practical Ministry from Wagner Leadership Institution USA.

For over 2 decades, Adèle has been involved in numerous volunteer positions including several community & international boards.

In addition to her various volunteer positions, she is a board member of UCP Red Deer North & Cowboy Kicks Committee RD. Adèle is currently Chair of Cycling Without Age RD Society. Adèle is also a member of the International Association of Ministries, Womanition and the Chamber of Commerce. Past President of Rotary Club of Red Deer, past co-chair of Community Housing Advisory board & past CPC Red Deer North-Lacombe board member, and Past Vice-President of the ACFA French Association of Edmonton. She and her husband Darrel Mullen are proud parents of 5 adult children and 10 grandchildren.

Elaine Spencer


ACCoCA wants to introduce you all to Elaine Spencer, a member, founder and founder president of ACCoCA. Elaine is among 15 local women who are recipients of the 2024 Afro Caribbean Award on Feb 1st, 2024, at The Color Purple, a private movie screening at the Galaxy Cinema please get your tickets today. Elaine is Zainab's mentor, former professor, sister, friend, supporter, role model and many more.


Elaine Spencer had the honour of teaching Zainab in the social work diploma program at Red Deer Polytechnic. Elaine recognized the opportunity to be part of grassroots action, when Zainab started the Somali Girls and Boys Education Foundation and decided to get behind this powerhouse of positivity and hope after attending the first gala. As a lifelong social worker and feminist, Elaine believes that education is the seed of hope that blossoms into the flower of powerful change. As an immigrant herself, Elaine finds the Somali Girls and Boys Education Foundation board a joy to be a part of. After a school was built, and continued fundraising for teachers’ salaries, we decided we needed to also support the local community in further celebrating cultural diversity and rich knowledge exchange. The African Caribbean Centre of Centra Alberta (ACCoCA) was imagined by a small group and has now grown into a multi-room agency, with kids camps, nature and ecology learning, women’s leadership work, employment and English classes, and who can forget the first Amazing African Caribbean Festival in Red Deer in the summer of 2023?! I am so grateful for the sisterhood and sharing of those early days of planning to build the African Caribbean Centre of Central Alberta, and was proud to serve as the Founding President, and now continue to support this wonderful addition to the central Alberta diaspora and human services and celebration for all.


Hanna Kidane
My is Hanna kidane. I was born in the city of Addis Ababa Ethiopia. I am a wife and a mother of two boys. I have always had a dream of becoming a business woman; although I had a lot of barriers owning my business when I was in my home country.

However, I was lucky to open an Internet cafe there because I was one of the few people who had their own Internet cafe. Therefore, I wanted to achieve my passion by pushing myself forward by opening another business which was my owned company that pro
duced construction material input like crushed sand. Since I come to Canada nine years ago I was fortunate to work with Catholic Social Services, where I was helping newcomers to settle in Central Alberta.

However, I was so determined to passion of becoming a business owner then I followed my dream as an entrepreneur. Finally, I successfully opened my owned and operated store in Red Deer Alberta, where I called home now. My business name is Abissinia Village Market; which I am proud of myself for achieving my dream to become a reality and I am super grateful for god. My store provides mostly Africa and Asian populations. 


Mercedes Messinger
Mercedes Messinger has a heart to support strong communities in Central Alberta. She
created the "Year of Charity" in Red Deer, a program where a portion of proceeds from lunches sold
went to support a different charitable organization each month. During the COVID pandemic she
continued to support organizations with charity BBQs.
She was a Central Alberta Soroptimist International member for years. and honoured as a
Woman of Excellence in 2012. She also received a Diversity Magazine Award. She has supported
children’s sports programs and prepared meals at Ronald MacDonald House in Red Deer.
Mercedes immigrated, with her husband and three children, from Germany. They opened
Messinger Meats in Mirror, and distribute meats to shops in Edmonton and Calgary. She has a love for

the environment, is non judgmental, humble and has the best interest for everyone around her at


Abhigeyl Cabrera

She’s a model, performer and aspiring doctor  She’s one of the co host during The Voice of Red Deer 2023
* Advocate for Inclusive Education *
She’s one of the Organizer during a Fundraising Initiative: Beauty with a purpose! Called The TRIUMP by Multicultural Productions last December 2023
* She is the reigning Queen of Multicultural Productions
“Miss Teen Multicultural Beauty Universe 2023”

Emanuelle Rei Cariño Llarenas

⁃ Founder and Chief Operating Officer of The Kabalikat Initiative- a PH based non-profit youth organization that acts on the needs of the marginalized whilst educating the youth. ⁃ Chairman of NNARA-Youth- an organization in University of the Philippines Manila that pushes for National Agrarian Reform the rights of Filipino Farmers. ⁃ General Secretary of UP Manila Belle - an all women’s cultural organization in University of the Philippines Manila that promotes artistry, femininity, and heart. ⁃ Miss University Belt 2020, 2nd Runner Up representing University of the Philippines Manila ⁃ Lead Organizer - A Fundraising Initiative: The Triumph by Multicultural Productions ⁃ Miss Multicultural Beauty Grand Winner 2023 Title “ Miss Multicultural Beauty Universe 2023” held last October 21 here in Red Deer.

Donna Purcell

Donna Purcell is the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Donna Purcell QC Law; a hybrid cloud-based law firm advocating for digital transformation of the legal system to improve accessto justice. The firm is based on the priorities of: Planet, People, Partners, with the belief that when one supports and puts their planet and people first, success will follow.

Donna has a passion for mentoring internationally trained lawyers to become practising members of the Law Society of Alberta. The firm has had lawyers, legal innovation students and articling students from around the world, including Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, and Pakistan.

Donna and her firm, along with her daughters’ newly founded Breaking the Mould Foundation, support a wide array of events with dozens of community organizations. To support the firm’s social impact endeavours, the firm started a Social Impact Hub at the Market held at Red Deer Polytechnic to provide an outreach platform for local charitable and other organizations.

Donna and her firm have appreciated the opportunity to build a relationship with ACCoCA, including promoting the Inaugural Afro-Caribbean Festival to community leaders and at the Social Impact Hub; hosting a booth at the Festival with some of the firm’s Afro-Caribbean lawyers; and being a guest speaker and sponsor of the Power of a Girl Conference. She also arranged and sponsored Dr. Madison Ngafeeson, a global leadership speaker originated  from Cameroon, to present at the Leadership Conference in December, 2023. Donna looks forward to continuing the relationship with ACCoCA throughout 2024.

Sherri Smith

Sherri Smith has been a resident of Central Alberta since 1988 and professionally is a Chartered Professional Accountant.
Sherri has volunteered with the United Way of Central Alberta since 1988 as a campaign volunteer, an employee campaign chair, member of the Citizen Review Committee, current Campaign Cabinet member and in 2011 was a Co-Chair of the yearly campaign.
In 1995 Sherri became a member of Soroptimist International of Central Alberta, a worldwide member organization that helps women and girls with the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. We invest in women’s education because it transforms lives and communities.
She is currently the club president and is passionate about the club’s projects such awards for women and girls, Power of a Girl conference, International Women’s Day celebrations and the Purple Light Nights Domestic Violence Awareness campaign which was brought to Central Alberta in 2016 by the club. In 2021 she was also principally involved with Soroptimists partnering with the United Way of Central Alberta, who together started the award winning Period Promise Pilot Project in 4 Red Deer Schools and brought the Period Promise campaign to Alberta. Based on this pilot, more schools, libraries, businesses, organizations and municipalities are now providing barrier free tampons and pads in washrooms, and working to end the shame, silence and stigma around menstruation.
She has since become a fierce menstrual equity advocate to end period poverty, participating in a Gender Equality symposium on Period Poverty, and participated in many other advocacy events across Canada.

Sabrina Samuel

She graduated from U of C with a BA in Anthropology and developed a deep love and respect for cultures through travelling the world.Sabrina was named Emerging Artist of the Year in 2022 by the Red Deer Arts Council and published She Was, a chapbook of poems honouring women in support of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre.She supports gender equity and ending period poverty and wrote her first short play on the topic. In 2022, her Soroptimist International of Central Alberta group won a Mayor’s Recognition Award for the Period Promise.She is now fundraising for the club’s cash awards supporting women, girls, and non-binary children by plunging into Sylvan Lake at Winterfest on February 17.Sabrina received a 2023 Friends of Diversity Award for her anti-racism and GLBT advocacy work. She was happy to be part of the FIRST Afro-Caribbean Festival EVER in Central Alberta. The Writer’s Union of Canada selected her as one of just 30 Canadians for a BIPOC mentorship to develop her personal memoir.She currently serves on the Red Deer Public Library board and works in harm reduction with her rescue pup, Mango. Living out loud with a mental illness has been her most significant accomplishment to date. 


Georgette Madja

I have a bachelor's degree in commerce, majoring in Accounting from UNBC, Prince Georges, and an MFA (Master of Financial Advice from Knowledge Bureau. I am the owner of MSF Bookkeeping and Taxes and work at the hospital as a nurse assistant. I have three grown boys and two grandsons, a family I’m very proud of.

When I first arrived in Red Deer in 2015, I was impressed by posters in town showing diversity in the population. I started looking for a job in my field and couldn’t get hired, so I started my own business and began filing people's taxes from home. I moved from home to an office when my business grew.

In the meantime, I worked at Olymel for three years. My goals working at Olymel were first to get an accounting position, second to promote my tax business and 3rd to get a mortgage approval. 2 of my goals were achieved.

At the same time, I have been involved in community activities and events for almost 20 years as a board member for CAIWA and RDHS since 2017.

Jean Stinson

Jean was born in Holland on September 6th,1943, she immigrated to Canada, Ontario, with her family of 8 on May 5th,1959. She married and adopted 2 children. She remarried and moved to Alberta in 1980, then to Red Deer in 1996. Jean volunteered for 2 charities and worked for Catholic Social Services.


Jean was educated in Holland to Grade 9 and completed 2 years of evening courses in English and Math in Canada. She continues updating all courses for Catholic Social Services.


2007- 2023 Present- Disability worker for CSS

2003-1992 Gave 24 hours care for my granddaughter Alyssa, who had a severe brain injury/medical fragile until she passed.

1980-1992 Supervisor at Swan Industries in Grande Prairie

1960-1980 worked in Ontario in the following: Housekeeping in hotels/ Tobacco farms/ Christmas tree farms/ Davidson McCord / Cloudfoam Industries.


1997- Ongoing, President of Central Alberta Brain Injury Society

1998-Ongoing, President of Red Deer Action Group Society

1996-1999 Board member, Diamond Willow Provincial Board

2008-2022 Manager/Treasurer at Gold Court Condo Board

2016-Ongoing member of 100 Women Who Care

2022 Ongoing Red Deer Royal Purple #389 board member


I have been given the opportunities and abilities to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable individuals through caregiving, compassion, humility and advocacy.


Superintendent Holly Glassford

I grew up on a large family farm in Central Saskatchewan, where I learned the importance of hard work, adaptability, and teamwork. I studied at the University of Calgary and hold a B.Ed from the University of Saskatchewan and a Certificate in Police Leadership from Dalhousie University.
I have been a police officer for over 25 years, with my first posting at Maskwacis, Alberta. Early in my career, I taught the Drug and Awareness program in schools, Indigenous restorative justice initiatives, and the RCMP employee wellness program.
My career has taken me to the Northwest Territories, where I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik, and Yellowknife. Immersing ourselves in Northern culture was very impactful for both my family and I.
I have also worked in Nova Scotia as a District Commander, District Advisory officer and in Federal Policing as the Commander in the Major Case Management Unit.
My husband, 2 children and I moved to Red Deer in 2019 and I am currently the Officer in Charge of the Red Deer City detachment. Leadership is about people and excellence, and I continually strive to prioritize that as I work with my team and our community partners. I serve on the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre board of directors and hold memberships with the Rotary Club and the Albert Chief of Police Association. I enjoyed volunteering with Special Olympics and the English as a Second Language program. I am honoured to have received the RCMP Long Service medal, Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal and most recently, the Red Deer Friends of Diversity Award in 2023.
I enjoy cross-country skiing, music, mountain biking, reading, swimming and spending time with my family. Kayaking on the Red Deer River has become a favourite pastime!

Nicole .jpeg

Nicole Peterson
I grew up on a farm near Regina, Saskatchewan… My grandma was an artist, so I’ve been around art my whole life.
After attending the Medicine Hat College Visual Communications program, I took a job in television at CTV & remained there for 19+ years doing graphic design. Always painting & freelancing on the side, I joined Rotary to give back.

Art & Design is genuinely my passion & I have been fortunate to have made a career out of it and assist charity organizations where I can! After a brief year in Alberta, I have returned to Saskatchewan to raise my kids in a small town and am now a marketing manager for a great company


Malou Esparagoza

* Started her career in Canada in 2009 working in food industry and start her own business in 2012. * She loves to connect with people, volunteering is one of her specialty and helping other organizations through their events or in any way that she could possibly help. * In 2017 she started her journey in the pageantry world, she represented Red Deer in Calgary and She won her title “Mrs Pilipinas-Canada 2017 Beauty International “ She also won a lot of awards that lead her to be a product Endorser from pageant sponsors. * In 2018 , She got invited to attend the New York Fashion Show in Manhattan. * At the same year 2018, she represented Red Deer, Alberta Canada to the International stage of pageantry in Sto. Domingo ,Dominican Republic and won her title “ Lady Belleza Classic International 2018”. * With all her experience in pageantry, She became Pageant coach, National director and International pageant director in 2019. * During covid time she study and became a certified Community Support Worker. She’s one of the warrior during Covid time working as a front-liner in Isolation Unit with Homelessness and Addiction under Canadian Mental Health and Turning Point Society in Red Deer community. It was a challenging role but very rewarding. * She was the Pageant coordinator for Little Miss UFEA 2023 during United Filipino Entrepreneur Association Philippine Fiesta here in Red Deer * She is the Founder of “Multicultural Productions” that was formed and organized with Young Entrepreneurs and former Beauty Queens who are committed to challenging societal beauty standards and inspiring individuals to embrace their inner radiance. During the first year Event of Multicultural Productions for Miss and Miss Teen Multicultural Beauty 2023 they donated some funds to Canadian Mental Health and Hope Mission. * As the Founder of Multicultural Productions,She strongly believe that when individuals learn to celebrate their own unique beauty, it creates a ripple effect, plastering a society that embraces and uplifts the beauty in others.


Molly Stogrin

Molly is a kind professional with a passion for seeking equity in all forms. She is a Jack of all trades! She’s a presenter, artist, activist, musician, performer, healer, educator, and lover of all things fair. She is a journalist by trade with an undergraduate Degree in Communications from MacEwan University. She made several documentaries in school and chased stories to shine a light on communities who needed a little more recognition. Recently, she transitioned to radio to follow her dreams. As acting Promotions Director at Pattison Media, you may have seen her at several events throughout Red Deer making sure everything runs smoothly. You may have heard her informing the community of local initiatives on BIG105 and Rewind Radio with “What’s Up Red Deer”. She believes that being visible as a Black Woman in environments that are dominated by non-people of colour creates a more understanding world. She loves to be a pioneer for change and isn’t afraid of being uncomfortable to make society more comfortable with one-another. Her goal in life is to be a positive role-model; for children who look like her to see her making a difference, to be inspired to follow their dreams.

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Meet Emma, Michelle and Zainab, organizers of the Color Purple Movie.

Congratulations to all Afro Caribbean Award Recipients 

Thanks to our sponsors, guests and Galaxy Cinema Theater. 

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