Esquao Awards Gala The Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) is best known for its Esquao Awards Gala which has become the largest event to recognize the achievements of Aboriginal Women in Canada. The Awards are unique, there is no competition. When the community nominates an Aboriginal woman and provides three letters of support, she will be honoured. This policy has worked miraculously to bring all women together to recognizing our special women, the ‘Angels Among Us’. The wonderful event reaches out to the women who may never be singled out for an award and allows others to celebrate with them. Aboriginal Women are nominated by their communities in the categories of Arts, Sports, Business, Education, Health & Medicine, Trades & Technology, Service to Country and Community, Community Involvement, Justice & Human Rights, International, Culture, Children’s Future and Lifetime Achievement. At the event a dignitary such as a major corporate sponsor, a Chief, Métis leader, MLA or MP, presents the recipient with the Esquao Award. This is a very touching part of the event where sponsors and community leaders are able to personally congratulate the women. The recipients then respond with a short speech and the whole event is focused on making their evening special. The nominations are accepted year-round and efforts are made to match presenters with a recipient from their home community. Although a great deal of promotion is centered on the event, it is part of ongoing Esquao Leadership Program to strengthen the capacity of rural and urban Alberta Aboriginal communities. It builds on the self-determination of Aboriginal Women, their strength and perseverance, as role-models for their family, their co-workers, other community members the make positive changes. This is the 21st Annual Esquao Awards Gala coordinated by IAAW. To date 400 Aboriginal women have been recognized from over 90 communities in Alberta. Each year 15-18 women are honoured including one Aboriginal woman who will be welcomed into the Circle of Honour to receive the Dorothy McDonald Leadership Award. This year Dr. Cindy Blackstock will receive this special Award. We expect Members of Parliament (MP), Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA), City Councilors, Corporate Executives, Métis and First Nation leaders and other dignitaries. The Lieutenant Governor, Her Honour Lois Mitchell has confirmed her attendance.  

2016 Event Details

Friday, April 15, 2016 Ramada Edmonton Hotel 11834 Kingsway Ave Edmonton   4:00 pm Cocktails (VIP Reception), 5:30 pm Grand Entry, 6:00 pm begins with plated dinner, followed by award presentations and Aboriginal entertainers, 9:30 pm conclusion. Esquao-poster jan 25 2016  

Download the Nomination form (PDF)


The event will be recorded for television and aired on ShawTV. News releases about the event and a short bio on the recipient is sent to the local newspapers.  


The cost of the ticket is $179.00 each and tables of ten are available for $1,700 + GST. Purchase is available by credit card on our website or by cheque prior to the event. Link to ticket purchase:  

Links to previous year event info:

Part 1 Esquao Awards 2015


Part 2 Esquao Awards