faces of wellness
Grand prize recipient
Ufuoma Muwhen is the grand prize recipient of our third annual Faces of Wellness program. Her story of determination, resilience and dedication to her community makes her a champion for wellness.
Ufuoma lived with the emotional and physical challenges of sickle cell disease for 18 years. Cured after a bone marrow transplant, she wanted to be an advocate and positive light for others with sickle cell disease. She now focuses on creating hope and advancing knowledge.
Ufuoma created NotJustYou, a nonprofit sickle cell support organization that provides a platform for individuals to connect, share experiences and access support. Her work as a community builder and her positive outlook showcases her dedication to wellness through meaningful change.
“It's important to recognize and celebrate the joy and fulfillment I find in life's simple pleasures, promoting a balanced and positive outlook.”
By utilizing her background in biological sciences, psychology and diverse research projects, she advances knowledge of sickle cell disease while addressing gaps in the health care system. Her passion for enhancing health care for marginalized communities is demonstrated through her active engagement in public health boards and advocacy for Black health.
Ufuoma’s inspiring work and story granted her an all-expense-paid weekend wellness experience in Banff.
Evan James Mudryk
In 2011, Evan James Mudryk suffered a massive brain hemorrhage that led to a stroke. After surgery and a 10-day coma, he couldn’t speak, eat or walk. He worked through various forms of therapy during the 11 months that followed. Thanks to his positive attitude and strong will, Evan regained his mobility and much of his speech; although, he still sometimes struggles with words due to aphasia.
Despite the many challenges, Evan continued to push himself. He completed his university degree and now informs and inspires students at the University of Alberta as a guest lecturer. He also shares his story on his YouTube channel Stroke How To and to various groups at the Halvar Jonson Centre, Brain Care Centre, Networks Activity Centre Society of Alberta and more. He educates others on the signs of a stroke and stroke recovery, and shares messages of positivity.
“Happiness is everywhere but sometimes just in little bits of progress.”
Shawna Rose Goss
After facing abuse, human trafficking and confinement, Shawna Rose Goss turned to her community. To help with her healing and personal wellness, she developed relationships with those around her at work and within her community. Both Shawna and her husband were active community members, but Shawna’s world was shattered in 2016 when she lost her husband in a workplace accident.
Shawna felt lost and alone. She suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and found she needed more support than what her manager and co-workers were able to offer. She tried counselling services, but this resource didn’t fully fit her situation.
After years of navigating her mental health needs and wellness, Shawna reached out to her manager and started a peer support group at her organization. Now, she holds seminars in various departments and encourages her team members to contact her whenever they are in need.
Michelle Williscroft loves her rural community in Fox Creek. The scenic, forested area is beautiful, but it was missing a way for community members to actively enjoy the space. She noticed her community struggled with chronic disease and sedentary lifestyles and sought a solution. To address these problems and encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature, Michelle started the Fox Creek Nordic and Trail Club, a non-profit group focused on promoting and developing multi-use trails.
After creating keynote presentations and applying for grants, Michelle helped raise $1 million to build trails and a bike park. Now, countless members of her community—from seniors to kids—take advantage of these bike trails. Walking, biking and skiing in the area have increased and the bike racks are in constant use.
“In addition to the physical gains seen, the mental and emotional gain from being outside in nature is one of the greatest mental health assets.”
After fighting breast cancer at a young age, Sundas Shamshad noticed her city was missing resources and supports for people like her. Throughout her diagnosis, she felt lonely and wanted to make an impactful change.
She founded the only cancer support group in Fort McMurray—Sisters in Cancer. This support group offers peer-to-peer programs, alongside financial and mental health aids, for cancer patients. Sundas is also an advisory board member for EXercise for Cancer to Enhance Living well (EXCEL). Through her work, she helps support cancer patients and survivors through mental, physical and emotional aids.
Sundas advocates for mental health as a board member and ambassador for the Compassion House Foundation and through many aspects of her work and volunteer roles. She is currently the interim executive director of Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta where she works to create positive change for girls to break free from gender stereotypes.
After 10 years as a sheriff with the Alberta Government, Wayne Scouten hit a traumatic turning point. In November 2022, he suffered a traumatic work incident involving graphic violence against women that left him off work for 3 months. His experiences with childhood trauma were magnified due to the incident, along with his daily exposure to violence in the workplace.
Wayne realized this trauma impacted his daily life. He struggled with sleep and constantly feared his family and himself were in danger. In his mind, he was always at work.
After working with a therapist and occupational therapist at the Wayfound Organization, Wayne started Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. He now incorporates wellness practices into his daily life, including meditation and yoga. These tools help him clear his mind and operate at a normal level.
Wayne shares his journey with colleagues and passes on his knowledge to help them maintain healthy mind and body within their work. In 2023, he received the Queen’s Jubilee medal for his work on mental health within the Sheriff branch. He currently sits on the wellness board that he helped create to improve mental health resources for those in law enforcement.
“I believe that many of our members suffer in silence, and I hope my advocacy changes stigma within law enforcement.”
Dr. Kimberly Kluthe
Dr. Kimberly Kluthe is an acupuncturist and manual osteopathic therapist who lives with endometriosis and Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder. Her 20-year career in acupuncture has focused on reproductive health and fertility. Through promoting positive lifestyle changes and advocating for women’s health, Kimberly uses her knowledge and empathy to support her patients.
Her passion has a personal tie. Kimberly was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 19, which resulted in 8 miscarriages, several ovarian cysts, multiple surgeries and a near-death experience due to blood loss. Along with Hashimoto’s disease, she also lives with debilitating migraines and depression, but she doesn’t let this limit her. She uses her expertise and experience to inspire and support others facing similar challenges. Through her guidance, compassion and hope, Kimberly demonstrates how to navigate chronic illness and infertility while living a fulfilling life.
“It is my unwavering belief that everyone deserves the chance to experience the joy of parenthood, and I am committed to making that a reality for as many people as possible.”
At 25 years old, Andrea Paquette was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Instead of letting stigma hold her back, she saw an opportunity to support and educate those like her. She is now a passionate advocate for mental, emotion and physical health and wellness.
In 2010, Andrea founded the Stigma-Free Society, a charity providing education around stigma and acceptance of mental wellbeing in schools and rural communities. Over the years, the program has expanded to multiple provinces, growing to include no-cost school programing.
Andrea creates safe spaces for others to share their experiences while learning how to better support others. Her push for empowerment, compassion and lasting change inspires younger generations.
In 2021, Enessa Habib started YEG Honeycomb, a project designed to bring bees to historic locations throughout Edmonton. YEG Honeycomb works with residents at Alberta Hospital Edmonton’s Facility for Mental Health and Addiction and the Grierson Centre to help patients successfully transition out of the facilities and into the community. The bees have homes at Edmonton City Hall, Chancery Hall, Fort Edmonton Park, the Alberta Aviation Museum, Magrath Mansion, Old Man Creek Nursery and the Rossdale Power Plant.
“The journey has been healing for me and others as we care for and tend to the bees in a gentle way. This creature is more vulnerable and fragile than us. It allows us to reflect inward and look at what we need to do to take care of ourselves and where we fit within nature.”
From the thrumming of their wings, bees have a healing frequency that is known to have many benefits. Over extended periods, the frequency can retune the cognitive dissonance of a brain impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder. Through beekeeping, Enessa hopes to help vulnerable and marginalized groups benefit from positive social connections and moments of mindfulness.
Cyndie McOuat’s life changed in October 2007 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a mother of 2 kids, she knew the journey would be difficult for everyone. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, Cyndie fell into depression.
Volunteering was always part of Cyndie’s life, so that’s where she turned in her time of need. While volunteering for Run for the Cure, she found a sistership booth that was recruiting breast cancer survivors for their dragon boat team. For the first time in her 50 years of life, Cyndie participated on a sports team.
“The friends I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had—like the feeling of a medal being put around my neck after finishing in the top spot in a race—has brought me a lot of joy, the joy I thought I had lost during my journey.”
In 2019, Cyndie was designated the CIBC Run for the Cure survivor spokesperson. She joined the sisterhood in 2009 and still beams with pride when they win a race. Her focus is now on volunteering with cancer organizations to foster wellness and heighten the importance of breast health, something that has become near and dear to her heart.
At 19 years old and at the height of her speed skating career, Crystal Phillips was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Despite the news, she didn’t let it stop her or her dream. She co-founded the Branch Out Neurological Foundation, which funds research for non-pharmaceutical alternatives for neurological disorders.
Crystal inspires those around her with her story and MS patient advocacy. Thanks to her positive attitude and drive, she continues to inspire innovation for neurological disorder treatment.