The Women’s Executive Network (WXN) awarded four women known for their contributions to water solutions through its 2016 list of Canada’s Most Powerful Women.

Launched in 2003, the Top 100 Awards celebrate the incredible accomplishments of Canada’s leading female executives who have raised their voices, overturned obstacles, empowered the voiceless, and paved a path for the next generation. The 2016 winners included:

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Dr. Erin Kelly, assistant deputy minister, corporate & strategic planning, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories 

Dr. Erin Kelly has worked as an educator, water steward, academic and government scientific researcher and a consultant /contractor. During her six years with the GNWT, she has led the implementation of Northern Voices, Northern Waters: the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy, maintaining strong relationships with the aboriginal steering committee, and is also the lead GNWT negotiator on trans-boundary water management agreements. Dr. Kelly was also central to the vision of the Mackenzie DataStream community-based monitoring program. Her work has been recognized with a Deputy Minister Special Recognition Award and a Premier’s Award.

Dr. Kelly told WXN, “I would like to encourage young women, particularly indigenous young women, to consider education and work in the environmental sciences with a focus on linking Western science and traditional knowledge. I am hoping that through WXN there may be ways to improve the availability of made-in-the-North mentorship and learning opportunities for women in the Northwest Territories.”


Dr. Imogen Coe, dean, Faculty of Science, Ryerson University
A renowned researcher and spokesperson for equity and inclusivity, Dr. Imogen Coe turned a life-long passion for science into a remarkable career of groundbreaking research into cancer chemotherapeutics and advocacy for the role of women in the sciences. Her passion and commitment to support girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics education), along with her strong evidence-based arguments, has made Coe an in-demand keynote speaker.

Dr. Coe said, “Academia and science need to acknowledge that there are systemic issues (implicit bias, cultural conditioning) that limit full engagement by girls and women in STEM. [We need to adopt] best practices from other countries (like the Athena SWAN program in the U.K.). More men need to become vocal allies and advocates for increased equity in STEM. Institutions and organizations need to be held accountable.”

To read Water Canada’s interview with Dr. Coe, see

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Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst, professor in the Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba and the Prairie NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) Prairie region.

Annemieke Farenhorst—one of North America’s leading experts in the environmental fate of organic chemicals in soil and water—was named a WXN Most Powerful woman in the ‘trailblazers and trendsetters’ category. Farenhorst is a trailblazer on three fronts: for the advancements she has made in her science; for the leadership she provides in advancing women in science and engineering professions; and for her dedication to strengthening strategies for the recruitment, retention and success of Indigenous students in university programs. She is among the most celebrated soil scientists in Canada, and her pioneering work includes the application of digital terrain modelling and near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy in assessing the spatial variability of pesticide retention and transport in soil-landscapes. She holds the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) Prairie region.

She also leads the CREATE H2O program, funded by NSERC, for First Nations water and sanitation security that is designed to address research science and training gaps that are preventing effective, culturally appropriate investments in water and sanitation security on First Nations reserves. It is the first science-engineering research training program in Canada that combines technical water and wastewater management training with Indigenous theory, law and methodological skills training.


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Dr. Ann Dale, professor, Trudeau Fellow alumna, Canada Research Chair (2004–2014), Royal Roads University
Dr. Ann Dale has received national and international recognition for her research of sustainable community development, serving as the Royal Roads’ Canada research chair in this field for 10 years. She is an environmental activist and innovator who leads MC3, a climate change adaptation and mitigation research program studying best practices and innovations throughout British Columbia.
Ann Dale is a professor with the School of Environment and Sustainability, Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences at Royal Roads University and holds a Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Community Development (

She chairs the Canadian Consortium for Sustainable Development Research (CCSDR), a consortium of all the heads of research institutes across Canada, and is active in the Canadian environmental movement. Dr. Dale chairs an organization she created, the National Environmental Treasure (the NET) and is the Executive Co-ordinator, Research and Public Policy for the Canadian Biodiversity Institute. Dale was an Executive with the Federal Government, and was one of the two public servants behind the creation of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE).

She is also a Board member of the World Fisheries Trust, and the Advisory Committee to the Montreal Institute for the Environment. Dr. Dale holds degrees in psychology and public administration from Carleton University, and a doctorate in Natural Resources Sciences, McGill University. An active researcher, Dale leads MC3, a climate change adaptation and mitigation research program studying best practices and innovations in community responses throughout British Columbia. She keeps a personal blog and a Canada Research Chair blog.

The WXN awards are co-presented by Scotiabank and KPMG.


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