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2014-01-19 at 14:52

Making a difference

By Matt Vis,
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When Dr. Annabella Zawada went away for medical school she never expected to return to Northwestern Ontario.

Yet the Thunder Bay-born physician has set up practice and her life in Terrace Bay.

For her devotion to the region, Zawada was recognized as one of the Top 20 under 40 by the SHIFT Young Professional’s Network at their Northern Ontario Visionary Awards at the Valhalla Inn on Saturday.

“When I came back I loved it,” she said of returning home after completing her education.

“I moved somewhere even smaller than Thunder Bay and more remote and there has been so much reward from my career I could have never expected it when I went into medicine initially.”

The awards are an opportunity to shine a spotlight on those making a difference in various fields across the region.

SHIFT president Nathan Lawrence said one of the primary purposes of the function is to inspire others to pursue careers at home as opposed to migrating elsewhere.

“We’re a region that has historically seen much of our young talent leave for other opportunities,” Lawrence said.

“SHIFT feels it’s very important to recognize the young talent that is doing incredible things across the region so we can showcase to those here now either attending one of our post-secondary schools, high schools or from across the region that there are opportunities.”

Nominees for the awards represent a wide spectrum of fields such as medicine, business and community leaders, as well as those making a difference in volunteer work.

The winners of the award were selected by a panel of seven judges after being nominated by members of the public. There were 72 completed nominations.

Even Zawada was taken aback by the amount of people in the room who are contributing to communities across the region.

“It’s amazing to see young people succeed and I think it’s so motivational for others to see that it doesn’t matter where or what you come from,” she said. “If you put your mind to it you can do whatever you want and make a huge difference.”

However, she wouldn’t have been in the room if it weren’t for some persuasion from colleagues and loved ones.

“I think a lot of physicians in Thunder Bay and the north do so much for their communities but we don’t necessarily like to be in the spotlight,” Zawada said. “For me to be nominated by my staff and nudged along by friends, family and my husband has been amazing.”

Full list of winners:

  • Anthony Marrelli
  • Ashleigh Quarrell
  • Chris Fralick
  • Colleen Peters
  • Curtis Hildebrandt
  • Daniel Skaarup
  • Dave Thomas
  • Derek Lankinen
  • Marcus Luft
  • Meaghan Sharp
  • Michelle Mack
  • Nadia Kurd
  • Nadia La Russa
  • Nikos Mantis
  • Robert Animikii Horton
  • Teri Joseph
  • Thomas Russell
  • Annabella Zawada (Terrace Bay)
  • Daryl Skworchinski (Marathon)
  • Jessica Lundy (Kenora)

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