The 3rd Annual Grand Gala
October 29, 2016

Pearson Convention Center

2638 Steeles Ave E, Brampton, ON L6T 3L7

Ticket Price $150

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To purchase tickets please email: or call 905-380-3597

Click here to view BMW Sponsorship Package Brochure

Gala Video


“Tanya has the unique ability to get people excited about taking ownership for making positive changes in the workplace as well as their personal lives. I have seen over 500 different speakers in the last 25 years and Tanya is the best I have ever seen. Tanya’s training has been instrumental in transforming our Customer Service department into our biggest asset as a company.” – Bob Herzog – President, Bullet (Miami, FL).

Tanya Chernova is an accomplished, inspiring and passionate professional speaker and coach who has presented before audiences in over 30 countries.

On December 4th 2013, Tanya was awarded Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada as a trendsetter and trailblazer for her proven track record for transforming companies and people with the mindset, skill set and systems to succeed. Click here to see Top 100 Business savvy, analytical and street smart, she understands how to help people be their best and what it takes to make business work. Her engaging and insightful breakthrough presentations are in the area of Business Growth, Emotional Intelligence and Empowerment. Over 30 topics that include: Embracing Change, Communicating with Diplomacy, Leading with E.I., Power Speaking, Resilience under Pressure and Vision for Success are timely, pertinent – and known for having a direct impact on bottom line results.

Click here to read more about Tanya

Tanya combines her honors degree in business and psychology with her experience as an entrepreneur and industry executive. Her amazing career began in 1989, when she worked as a skin specialist and manager of a leading clinic in Winnipeg. In 1995, she joined a top Canadian skin care distributor as account representative and national educator, she hired and trained staff, secured new clients, established product lines and drove sales 316% above target.

In 1999, she moved to France to join an international manufacturer and distributor of seaweed cosmetics and spent four years overseeing a worldwide distribution network. As an international educator, Tanya wrote 3 books advancing the aesthetics industry in the areas of stress recovery, immune system and lifestyle therapy. She also created a winning formula to turn sales teams into consultative business representatives and transformed the relationship between distributors and salons to be partners in profit. She was acclaimed as one of the top 10 speakers in Europe.

Upon her return to North America Tanya founded Time Reverse Inc, a manufacturer and distributor of a non-surgical facelift and anti-aging cosmetics. She formulated a winning product line and branding strategy to bring in over $1 million in sales in the first year. While in this role, she was a live presenter on more than 50 prime-time sell-out shows on shopping channels in the US, Canada, Australia, UK and Russia.

Currently Tanya is a professional speaker, NLP strategic business coach and co-founder of Courageous Living; a company committed to providing experiential education, tools and resources for a life of unyielding passion, purpose and boundless creativity. She is a regular contributor to magazines and sought after guest on radio and television. More than a dynamic leader, top producing sales executive and highly successful product innovator, Tanya is a master at emotional intelligence, communication and vitality. She is a people motivator with a reputation for consistently delivering cutting edge principles in down-to-earth content with a sense of urgency and – most important – a focus on bottom line results. You’ll love her warm and engaging style. And you’ll get excited about the lessons she shares – valuable lessons everyone can easily apply and quickly benefit from.

Brilliant Minded Women Foundation Scholarship Ambassador (click here to play video).

Yvonne Bogoria - Buczkowski

Dr. Yvonne Bogorya-Buczkowski was vice-president of the Canadian Polish Research Institute for many years. She was also president of the Polish Canadian Womens' Federation and vice-president of the Provincial Council of Women. Dr. Bogorya was appointed by the Canadian Polish Congress as a delegate to the Board of Canadian Ethnocultural Council where she served as director for three terms. She is a long standing member of the Canadian Ethnic Media and Artists Club (CEEMA) and author of many articles published in Canada, US, England. Currently she works for the Ontario Government as an Inspector at the Private Career Colleges Branch, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. She also teaches part-time at the University of Toronto and was Associate Professor of Management at the Canadian School of Management in Toronto. Active in the community for the past 25 years; Yvonne is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Award and the Order of "Polonia Restituta".


Christopher Mei

I specialize in medium to grand-scale events. Working closely with organizers, planners and committees, I see to it that all of your planning, budgetting and timing is exectued with the finest level of professionalism, energy and impact. ...

My Career So Far....

1997 – 2000 : I worked for 4 years on board cruise ships within the Royal Caribbean International fleet. During this time I hosted literally thousands of live and television broadcast events to audiences ranging in size from 10 to 1500!! There is no forgiveness in the eyes of those paying big money to enjoy a vacation that they may never get the chance to experience again; for this reason I was counted on time and time again to deliver the “big show” that no one would ever forget.

2000 – 2006 : I worked as the Marketing and Promotions Director for commercial radio station Wave 94.7fm in Hamilton. With a very small on-air staff and having already established myself as an accomplished public speaker, I was counted on as the station’s primary On-Location Personality . During this time I hosted concert festivals, world class equestrian competitions, international polo tournaments, high profile charity galas for major hospitals as well as dozens and dozens of movie premiere screenings and various client functions.

Click here to read more about Christopher

2001 – 2005 : I worked as the television host for Cable 14 ’s daily magazine show: “South 905” . This is where I really began my school of hard knocks into the world of broadcast television. I spearheaded the hosting of that Monday to Friday program for the majority of my 4 years at Cable 14, TV Hamilton . I was also counted on as their live-location representative to host events anywhere in the community.

2006 – Present : I continue to work as a live National On-Air Host for Canada’s “The Weather Network” .

Commercial Theater

For 10 years I have played host/moderator for a collection of performances each season at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts . In advance I am given the list of shows I will be attending and then lead in discussion afterward. It is here that I begin preparing my lines of questioning. These post show "Artist Chats" normally take place at the nearby Paradiso Restaurant Wine Bar where guests are invited to a complimentary glass of wine with delicious hors d'eurves while I host a very spirited and interactive talk-back session. Playing on some of my most influential journalists and entertainment hosts, I drive each session the way a television show would run, therefore really making the artist/group feel respected and accomodated while also entertaining the audience in attendance.

I have interviewed a wonderful collection over the years that include: Sloan, Kim Mitchell, Dave Thomas, Ian Thomas, Colin Mocherie, Jacob Moon, Joe Bonomassa, Jim Cuddy, I Mother Earth, Daryl Streumer and many many more. My challenge is always to research deep enough to have questions that will not take away from what an audience member might potentially ask. I run a fast paced, intriguing and fully audience involved evening that everyone enjoys.

2009 – Present: Ontario Arts Council’s “Dance Outreach Coordinator” for the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts – For this I am formally contracted to assume the role of coordinator and facilitator for all Ontario Dances events that take place in Oakville through the theatre. I build, from the ground up, a program that is designed to best profile each act or artist while they visit the community. I coordinate, through direct marketing and multimedia initiatives, a promotional package that involves community groups to take part in a variety of different “Outreach” events with each touring group while they are in town. This culminates in being invited to the actual scheduled performance at the Theatre where, afterward, I host an interactive talk-back information session between the artist or group and all in attendance. This program includes 2 Outreach Projects per year.

2015 - Ontario Arts Council’s “Dance Outreach Coordinator” for the Milton Centre for the Arts - After 6 successful years working with the akville centre on this project, I have been contracted to take on the same role in Milton. Milton Centre for rhe Arts is only 5 years old and a beautiful facility in a very fast growing multi-cultural community. I have already set in motion the components for a very progressive Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 Outreach Program.

2015: Oakville's “Charity of Hope” Fundraising Dinner, Concert & Fashion Show Gala at the Oakville Conference and Convention Centre.

2015: Enrico Gallante and Friends concert event at St. Michael's College Theatre, Toronto, ON.

2015: Mohawk College Fall Convocation DAY "Graduate Name Announcer", Hamilton, ON.

2015: Special Dance Outreach Spring Series with "GADFLY", Oakville On.

2015: 2015 PanAm Games Town of Oakville Oakville "Torch Relay Ceremony", Centennial Square.

2015: "Cause for Paws" Fundraiser Gala Dinner, Appleby College, Oakville, ON.

2015: Mohawk College Spring Convocation WEEK announcer. Hamilton, ON.

2015: Grenville Pinto and Friends Concert Event. Mohawk College, Hamilton, ON.

2015: Hamilton's “Charity of Hope” Fundraising Dinner and Concert Gala at the Carmens Banquet Centre.

2015: Hamilton Welcome Wagon Bridal Showcase, Michaelangeo's Banquet Centre.

2015: Cogeco Cable Canada's Social Committee Dinner and Dance at Michaelangelo's Banquet Centre in Hamilton

2014: CFUW Christmas Dinner at the Oakville Harbour Club

2014: Oakville's “Charity of Hope” Fundraising Dinner, Concert & Fashion Show Gala at the Oakville Conference and Convention Centre.

2014: Mohawk College Fall Convocation DAY "Graduate Name Announcer", Hamilton, ON.

2014: Grenville Pinto and Friends Concert Event. St. Michael's Centre for the Arts, Toronto, ON.

2014: Habitat For Humanity's Charity Fundraising Gala "1954 Sock Hop". Oakville Conference Centre.

2014: "Chef Wars", Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conferene Centre, Mississauga,. ON.

2014: Hamilton Welcome Wagon Bridal Showcase, Michaelangeo's Banquet Centre.

2014: 2-day "Super Crawl Festival 2014" Performing Arts Stage. Hamilton, ON.

2014: Pan Am Games 2-day "One Year Countdown Festival. Pier 4 Park, Hamilton, ON.

2014: Halton Environmental Network 10th Anniversary Gala at Oakville Conference Centre

2013 - Present: Ancaster Wedding Show at the Ancaster Fairgrounds

2013: Fotografia Boutique "Colours Of Love" International Night of Music VIP Party Night and Concert Night at the Rose Theatre in Brampton.

2013: Purolator Courier "Top Chef" Corporate event at Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Resort Spa.

2012 - Present: Region of Halton "Physicians Appreciation Night" Gala Dinner, Oakville Conference Centre.

2012 - 2013: Hamilton Sheraton Hotel's Corporate Open House gala

2011 - Present: Otello's Banquet Hall: Open House Invitational Dinner gala

2010, 2012 - Present: Rotary Club of Oakville West’s Annual "Oakville Awards for Business Excellence" Dinner Gala

2009 - Present: Oakville Chamber of Commerce Annual “Presidents Dinner” gala.

2009 - Present: Town of Oakville “Sports Recognition Awards”

2008 - Present: Town of Oakville: “Community Spirit Awards.

2009: Cogeco Cable Canada’s “State of the Union” dinner and gala

2005 - 2013: Welcome Wagon Canada’s Bridal and Baby Shower Showcase and Fashion Shows (8-10 showcase events per year)

2010: “Charity of Hope” Fundraising Dinner, Concert & Fashion Show Gala at the Oakville Conference and Convention Centre.

2008: Downtown Oakville BIA “Fashion Week” Fashion Show.

2008: Laidlaw Trucking Corporate Summer Picnic.

2008: Siemens Canada Corporate Summer Picnic.

2008: September Wedding Show at McMaster University Convocation Hall, Hamilton

2008: Sunshine Foundation: “Dreams for Kids” Charity Fundraiser and Auction.

2008 - 2009: “Children of Christmas Past” Holiday Fundraiser and Concert Event.

2007: Entertainment Coordinator and Host for the Entertainment Lounge at the “Toronto Wine and Cheese Show”, International Centre, Toronto.

2007 - 2008: Suzuki of Oakville seasonal new car launch event.

2007 - 2008: Dover Industries Corporate Summer Picnic.

2007: Paddock Trucking Corporate Summer Picnic.

2007 - 2008: “Lakeside a La Carte” Fine Wine and Food Charity Fundraiser in association with Rotary International.

2007: Bell Canada Corporate Summer Picnic.

2007 - 2008: Geneva Centre for Autism Annual Fundraiser.

2006 - 2008: “Fortinos Summer Jam” at Confederation Park, Hamilton, ON.

2006: “Bonk” the Game show Road show with Brian Michaels Entertainment (3 performances)

2006: “Ontario Wine Awards” Gala Dinner, Niagara on the Lake.

2005: In-Stadium Announcer for the 2005 Season: “Mississauga Ice Dogs” Hockey Club of the American Hockey League.

2001 - 2008: City of Hamilton: “Bridges to Better Business” part of Canadian Small Business Week.

2001 - 2007: Coordinator and Instructor for “Cruise Training Centre”, in association with Cruise Services International, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Mohawk College, Hamilton, ON (6 Sessions) & Durham College, Whitby, ON (5 sessions).

2000 - 2007: Canadian National Autism Foundation’s Annual “Spring Brunch and Auction” and “Fall Dinner Gala and Auction”.

To read more about Christopher Mei please click here



Anna Wojcik is a seventeen year old Polish-Canadian soprano born in Toronto. She is currently a senior in Cawthra Park Secondary School’s vocal program. At the age of nine she started taking vocal lessons with Mrs. Kinga Mitrowska who readily nurtured her talent. With the help of her vocal teacher, she is developing her craft and cultivating her musicality.

She has been improving throughout the years by participating in and winning countless festivals, competitions and concerts in the GTA especially throughout the Polish community. Some of them include the International Festival of Religious Song, the Festival of Polish Song, the Annual Carol Competition, the Young Talents Competition, the CNE Rising Star Competition, and the Talent Nation Rising Star Showcase. Anna’s classical repertoire consists of arias like Adele’s Laughing Song (Strauss,) Je Veux Vivre (Gounod,) and Les Oiseaux Dans La Charmille (Offenbach.) She sings in English, Polish, Italian, French, and German.

Anna had the chance to perform during the “Summer Serenade Concert 2015” in the gardens of the Polish Consulate in Toronto. In 2015, she won first place in the American Protégé Competition and had the honour of singing in Carnegie Hall in New York City for the Winners Recital. Anna performed in the gala concert, “Dotyk Milosci” with the choir Quo Vadis and chamber orchestra Camerata directed by Krzysztof Jedrysik; she sang Una Furtiva Lagrima. They performed this concert in various churches, basilicas and cathedrals in many cities including Brampton, Buffalo, Chicago, and Warsaw where her performance received standing ovations and moved the audience to tears. Anna has been rewarded for her hard work by receiving the Emerging Music Artist MARTY Award 2016. Anna loves being on stage and sharing her passion with the world. She continues to pursue her dreams of becoming a known singer.


White Eagle Polish Song and Dance Ensemble perform, it presents a colorful tour of Poland's diverse culture and history through song and dance. Each performance is flavoured with a veritable tapestry of art through music and movement. Throughout its 40 intensive and successful seasons, the award winning White Eagle Polish Song & Dance Ensemble has worked hard in developing authentic and artistic Polish cultural entertainment. This colorful and energetic folk group was incorporated into the Canadian Multicultural mosaic in 1966 out of Paweł and Maria Dubicki's dedication to the preservation of Polish folklore, dance, song and costume. Their deep affection, respect and honour for the heritage of our homeland has been reflected throughout the many generations of the ensemble's performers. Since 1996 Artistic Director Ted Zdybał has brought the ensemble into a new technical and creative era. Click here to read more about Bialy Orzel

With the same values as its founders, he has instilled in the youth a dedication to the professional interpretation, presentation and expression of historical and contemporary Polish cultural traditions and values. The 120 member strong ensemble is comprised of individuals who devote themselves to the cultivation of their ancestors' folk culture through song and dance. The representative group consists of students at the high school and university levels as well as young professionals; while two children's performing ensembles train and develop to continue the legacy as the future representatives of White Eagle. The White Eagles have traveled internationally and performed extensively for audiences throughout Canada, the continental United States, Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, Peru, Puerto Rico, Poland and Macao, China. The ensemble has also countless radio and television appearances to its’ credits. One of the ensemble’s most memorable performances was during the Papal visit to Toronto in 1984 when they had the privilege to perform for His Holiness Pope John Paul II. In 2003 the group's travels were highlighted by the honour of meeting, performing and praying with Sister Lucia of Fatima. This private audience was held in the closed chambers of the Carmelite Sisters Convent in Coimbra, Portugal.

Throughout the generations, the immense dedication, love & tireless efforts shared by young artists, teachers, and parents has contributed to Biały Orzeł’s mandate of presenting the rare treasures and exquisiteness of Poland, is realized. The creative synergy of both the Administrative and Artistic Teams enthusiastically strive for a balance, dedicated to opportunity and imaginative development with an unmistakable focus on highly theatrical values.

The Biały Orzeł Polish Song and Dance Ensemble takes great pride knowing that it retains and saves heritage by breathing new life into an art that is quickly dying. In doing so, the ensemble showcases the unique beauty of Poland's rich folk ancestry and enhances the colours of Canada's cultural mosaic.

Anna Leszonska

Ania Leszonska is a Polish-Canadian soprano from Toronto. She has been singing from a young age; her passion was discovered in the children’s choir “Nazareńskie Nutki” from her parish, Our Lady Queen of Poland. She then joined MAVO Academy where she was taught under the direction of Magda Papierz and later, Kinga Mitrowska, who has been developing Ania’s voice for the past 6 years. Ania has been singing in different events in Canada and even in Poland, where she sang for the celebratory heritage “Days of Lidzbark Warminski”. She has won the Pastor’s Award at St. Eugene de Mazenod’s Festival of Christmas Carold, and the “grand prix” at the 10th Festival of Religious Song. Ania shares her love for music by singing every chance she gets. She performs at many Polish events, and is a regular performer for “Kabaret Pod Bańką”. Ania continues to grow as an artist and aspires to share her music with people worldwide.

Pawel Szczepanek

Paweł Szczepanek is a 19 year old baritone singer from Toronto. He started singing at the age of 9, and then joined MAVO Academy, where he was taught by Kinga Mitrowska & Magda Papierz. He attended Cawthra Park High School where he graduated as a drama major. Pawel took part in many musical events, such as, the lead role in the musical Ragtime, being a regular performer for Kabaret Pod Banka, the Festival of Religious Songs, the Festival of Christmas Carols in Brampton, Charity events, and many other events where Pawel was able to share his love for music. Pawel continues to grow as an artist and aspires to share his music world wide as a part of his career.

Natalie Castro

Natalie Castro is a Canadian artist she is 17 years old and was born in Toronto, Ontario.

From an early age she had a great passion for singing and music.

Despite her short career, she has managed to the share the stage with great singers like: Gabino Pampini from Panama, Yan Collazo from Puerto Rico, Miles Pena from Cuba, and also had the opportunity to share the stage with Sonora Dinamita of Colombia, El Puma from Venezuela and also the great honour of opening for Group niche in the Latin Expo festival in Calgary

Natalie has worked with different music producers in Canada, and the Dominican Republic, such as Jose Antonio Hernandez (winner of multiple Latin Grammy's) and managed to record successful songs such as Mr. Postman (style bachata) and its latest: Amor Mio (Original Song in bachata)

Natalie currently has her own singing coach Ms. Paula Griffith, one of the most recognized coaches of Canada. She is currently in her last year of high school in the prestigious Art school St.Elizabeth C.H.S for the vocal program.

Click here to read more about Natalie Castro

This year, Natalie was chosen to be , Ambassador for Youth Day which takes place in the city of Toronto, where thousands of young people participate in the different branches of art and culture. She received an award from the Latino Magazine, as Latin artist revelation of 2016. She also participated in the CBC Glen Gould Studio Showcase for two consecutive years. Natalie also won the youth award for The Caribbean Music and Entertainment Awards. She also performed in the International concert of Colours of love where she represented Ecuador and the Latin music and culture.

Natalie Castro has her own latin band (Nueva Sensation) composed of 10 highly experienced musicians.

Life Time Achievement
Yvonne Bogoria - Buczkowski

Educator, civil servant, community activist
Yvonne as a child was a survivor of the Second World War. She was born during the Warsaw uprising in German occupied Poland. Her father, Zbigniew Wodzinowski, was killed by Germans in Buchenwald and her mother was sent to Ravensbruck camp and then saved by Red Cross and taken to Sweden. Later she immigrated to Canada. Yvonne discovered the true story of her parents at the age of 16. Her parents who brought her up were her aunt and uncle so at least she was raised by her family. She reunited with her mother Alice Paulsson- Mytkowski in 1968. She earned her Master's degree in English at the University of Warsaw just before she left Poland.

The spirit of survival made her er and motivated to lead others to achieve. Her passion for education, learning, new challenges and serving community were visible in all her endeavours. She started her career with teaching at York University and Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. For 20 years she worked as a Senior Trainer and Regional Administrator at the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Province of Ontario. All this time she was active in the community. Last year, Yvonne received a Provincial Volunteer Award for 30 yrs. of community service.

Click here to read more about Yvonne

She was Vice-President of the Canadian Polish Congress and National President of the Polish Canadian Women's Federation (12 yrs), Vice President of the Provincial Council of Women and Vice-President of the Canadian Polish Research Institute in Toronto. A long standing member of the Canadian Ethnic Media and Artists Club (CEEMA), she was an author of many articles in professional journals published in Canada, USA and England. For her achievements she received a designation of Fellow of the Royal Academy of Arts in England.

She graduated with PhD from York University in 1979. She became Dean and Vice President of the Canadian School of Management, private college for adult learners. Later on she was teaching " organizational behaviour" at the University of Toronto, Continuing Education. She was running corporate training programs in management and leadership programs for women. She earned her second doctorate in strategic planning from the Union Graduate Institute in Ohio in 1987. It is amazing that Yvonne had not only completed two doctorates but also gave birth to two wonderful children: Christopher ( 1979) and Julie (1980). They are both well accomplished professionals who earned their degrees at the University of Western Ontario.

She earned many distinctions and awards " Woman of the year", Gold medal, Canadian Polish Congress, Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals ( 2002, 2013), Knight's Order " Polonia Restituta" from Poland. She was involved in political life- campaigning for Jean Augustine, MP, Etobicoke-Lakeshore and her successor, Michael Ignatieff, organized a farewell banquet on Senator Stanley's Haidasz departure from the Senate, acted as elected delegate for several Liberal Party conventions in Ottawa. She worked as a volunteer on the Board of the Riding Association in Etobicoke Lakeshore. As a community leader, she maintained good relations with many politicians who represented other parties in order to work well with representatives of Provincial and Federal Government for the benefit of her community. Always pushing issues of importance to women and families and mentoring younger women leaders. As a Board member of Canadian Ethnocultural Council she has always supported multiculturalism and diversity in Canada.

Her outstanding achievements were " Leadership for women" programs delivered in Africa and Asia with assistance of CIDA, her motivational programs for women offered at various women conferences ( Women on the Go show), and her strategies for career development explained in her publications. She contributed to youth development in Poland through two community programs led by her: " Education and Training for Poland" -; teaching English in Poland during transition to democracy and Youth Internships" which provided with the help of HRDC to place young people in companies in Poland and in Canada. Another achievement was creation of the " Polish Spirit " exhibit which demonstrated life and successes of 60 Canadians of Polish origin who contributed to the Province of Ontario. This exhibit is a lasting document of archival value. It was done with cooperation of the Board of Polish Canadians Women Federation and with the assistance of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. All these projects were successful owing to the initiative and entrepreneurial ability which stimulated others to achieve. They involved many volunteers who developed their skills and used their talents.

Business Development and Growth Award
Rinku Deswal

Rinku Deswal is a lawyer and the owner of RD Law Professional Corporation, a law firm located in downtown Mississauga. Before her career in law, Rinku completed her Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology. Primarily a litigator for over a decade, Rinku maintains an active practice in solicitor's work in concert with her civil litigation practice, where she sustains a niche practice in aviation law as well as corporate, family, employment and risk management. She is also general counsel to a number of businesses in the GTA. Rinku's life outside the law has been an active one as she has participated in and contributed to various community organizations and charitable causes in the community, such as St. John Ambulance (Peel). Rinku is an Ambassador for the Mississauga Arts Council. Rinku currently also sits on the Board of Directors for Crime Stoppers (Peel) and is Chair of their Fundraising Committee. Rinku co-hosts a national TV show featured on Rogers and OMNI television called 'Kitty Talk', which focuses on currently trending issues in the South Asian community. Rinku is also the Vice President and creative head of Colors of Asia Inc, which among other initiatives, provides event management services in the GTA. Rinku is the recipient of the 'Entrepreneur -; Law Industry' award by Women Achievers Canada for 2016.

Business Development and Growth Award
Meni Mancini

Meni Mancini is a seasoned executive with over 20 years of International Trade experience specializing in helping companies understand the legal implications of cross-border trade.

Through her proven business acumen and strategic direction, Ms. Mancini was responsible for the management of business development and marketing activities for a leading North American consulting firm, setting up the firm for unprecedented growth and leadership positioning in the market place. Her portfolio of clients included consulting assignments for various industry groups including large multinational firms such as Detroit Diesel, DuPont, General Electric, Chrysler, Hallmark, Kellogg’s, Research In Motion, Maple Leaf Foods, Shell, and Criterion Catalyst, to name a few.

Click here to read more about Meni

Ms. Mancini has participated in trade missions to promote trade and has been involved with various trade groups and industry associations in Canada and the United States. She has lectured extensively on the topics of customs compliance, NAFTA, Border Security and risk management. Most recently, she participated as a Key-note speaker at Harvard University speaking on, “Fostering Innovation through Public Policy”. Along with a team of accomplished business entrepreneurs, lawyers, scientists, strategists, engineers, and accountants, Ms. Mancini has established a Boutique Consulting and Private Equity Firm offering services to businesses in the area of innovation support and development, global marketing strategy development, strategic planning, public and private financing options, financial recovery opportunities and venture funding. She is passionate about fostering innovation and mentoring young entrepreneurs. Ms. Mancini is also a serial entrepreneur incubating and investing in several start-up ventures and has travelled extensively to Europe and Asia to expand opportunities.

For more information contact her at: Meni Mancini Founding Partner TradeWorks Consulting Services Inc.

Business Development and Growth Award
Lena Guirguis

Lena Guirguis is an innovative power house who specializes in connecting people with their final destination. She is a Wealth and Asset Management Advisor, Real Estate Investor, and author. Lena is a partner at New Venture Management, a full service Real Estate Consulting firm, and co-founder of NV Property Management, a boutique-style firm offering its clients unique asset management solutions across Eastern Ontario, Hamilton, and the GTA.

A Toronto native, Lena began her real estate journey in 2003 at the age of 21 with the purchase of a mismanaged triplex in Eastern Ontario to buy, fix and hold. By the age of 25, she had acquired a multi-million dollar portfolio and was running one of Ottawa’s premier asset management firms. Through her experience, Lena is proving to be a leading authority on Real Estate Investing and Asset Management. She is a regular contributor to Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine, has made guest appearances on several Television Programs like; Your Money and Real Estate with Mark Vosylius, The Everyday Investor with Rav Toor, Kapilaris Talk TV, as well as the Nikki Clarke show, and has spoken on stage at the Property Show alongside Scott McGillvary, Amanda Lang, and Don Campbell.

Click here to read more about Lena

In 2013, Lena recognized a major gap in the support and Financial Education provided to women both in the Real Estate world as well as the Wealth management world, and she decided something needed to be done! With that, Lena founded Stilettos & Hammers™, an investment network focused on educating women and providing them with resources needed to help them take control of their finances and, assist them in selecting the correct investment strategies to meet their short and long term goals. Her goal is to not only help women achieve financial stability, but help them educate their families and their children so that the wealth will be managed and preserved long term.

While buy, fix and hold of multi-family properties will always be Lena’s preferred investment strategy, she believes that Investing is not a one size fits all game, and that strategies need to change as one grows through life. This view has led her to expand her focus not just to alternative strategies like land severances, Rent-to-Owns, as well as development, but she is also actively investing in short term flips in select US markets, and this viewpoint has allowed her to guide her clients to plan for long term financial success, with minimal stress and maximized results.

Best Community Service Award
Theresa Dugwell

Theresa Dugwell, co-author of the book, Power Source for Women: Proven Fitness Strategies, Tools, and Success Stories for Women 45+. It is based on the idea that fitness provides a way for women to gain a sense of control over their attitudes, body, and life. Her recently released book is called, Love Your Body, Embrace Your Life teaches women of all ages how to connect with who you are and come from a place of self-compassion and love. It’s a journey that helps woman of all ages come from a place of power when taking on their health or fitness rather than struggle.

Theresa is a Results Coach for one of the leading Transformational Companies in the world. She coaches men and women on how to get results in all areas of their life from business and health to accomplishing a big goal.

She is a member of the Canadian Fitness Professionals Association, and is a Certified Life Skills Coach and Facilitator, a Certified Spinning and Pilates Instructor and a Fitness Instructor Specialist.

Click here to read more about Theresa

Theresa Dugwell is a 3x Guinness World Record Holder in the category “greatest distance run in 12 hours on a treadmill”, establishing a Women’s Record, and the Overall Record for that timeframe.

An avid runner, she has completed 21 marathons, and has coached and trained numerous former non-marathoners into becoming full-fledged marathoners. She was the 2010 YMCA Volunteer of the Year at Canada’s largest YMCA, and served two terms as Chair of the Board, coordinating hundreds of volunteers and helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Y’s charitable activities, by conceiving, organizing, and executing many of its successful multi-participant programs, including Catch the Spirit, the Breakfast of Champions, Celebrating Our Y Women Workshop Series, International Women’s Day for all the YMCA’s of GTA and the Megathon that grew throughout the entire GTA as a 12 hour event taken from Theresa’s first 12 hour treadmill event. Thousands of individuals have participated, raised money, been energized and truly inspired by these experiences. Theresa has made a major impact on building communities and helping family and children have access to the many programs the Y offering them opportunities to expand and grow as individuals.

She is a founding member of the North York YMCA Women’s Fund, a program that assisted women and children in shelters. This program provided YMCA memberships to women during a critical life-transition, giving them access to a place of community, health, and support for personal growth. Later the fundraiser became known as Buy A Brick, Build A Life and was quite a success.

She has given workshops on The Impact of Stress on Peak Performance, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, Creativity and Self-Esteem, Start Running for Fitness, and the Psychophysiology of the Stress Response.

In addition, she is the Associate Producer for the independent Canadian feature films Blueprint & Freedom.

Best Community Service Award
Iwona Malinowski

Iwona Malinowski works for the O.C. Tanner Recognition Company and has been with the company for the last 25 years. O.C. Tanner helps thousands of the world's most respected brands reward their employees for their achievements. Iwona is also a teacher. Before coming to Canada, she taught Polish language in Poland and now continues teaching in Canada. She teaches children and adults.

But what separates Iwona from others is her volunteer accomplishments outside of her workplace.

Iwona serves in a volunteer capacity as the President of the Polish Teachers Association in Canada. In this position, she represents approximately 70 Polish Heritage Schools across Canada. Iwona is also a volunteer member of the Board of Education Council appointed by the Minister of National Education in Poland. The Council consists of representatives of the Polish community education system from around the world, as well as educational experts dealing with the challenges of education of Polish children abroad. Iwona attends meetings in Poland where the Council discusses issues pertaining to Polish education abroad and other related matters. She is also a volunteer member of the Board of Congress of Polish Education.

In 2012 and 2013, together with Fahrenheit Center for Study Abroad, Iwona organized the Polish University Fairs in Toronto to promote Polish universities and their offer of studies to young Canadians.

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In 2013, she founded the organization Polish-Canadian Education Centre. The organization takes action on the integration of the Polish - Canadian support for Polish universities, as well as the promotion of Polish culture, art and science among young people. These activities are focused on both the Polish community and other ethnic groups who live in a multicultural Canada. For the last few years, Iwona has organized a summer voluntary service called "Summer with English." The initiative was created and organized by the Polish-Canadian Education Centre, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto and the City of Cracow. During each summer, a group of young Canadians teach English as native speakers of this language. The main aim of the volunteering is the integration of Canadian youth with peers in Poland.

To promote the Polish language among young Canadians, Iwona organizes the Polish Song Festival, and together with the PTA Board of Directors, organizes the International Competition about knowledge of Poland. She is also one of the curators of the Canadian-Polish Millennium Fund. The foundation serves the whole Polish-Canadian community in an effort to promote the Polish culture in Canada and to preserve the Polish language.

Teresa Klimuszko

Teresa Romanowska-Klimuszko was born in Lodz, Poland. The Polish community received once nicknamed "Toronto's Nightingale". In Canada he lived since 1961. She started taking singing lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Then there was the student of prof. Bernard Deamond, Faculty of Music at the U of T, and in Poland, where the development of her talent directing doc. Adam Duliński, dean of the Academy of Music in Lodz, MA Maria Foltyn, artistic director of the Festival Moniuszko, where Teresa Klimuszko participated.

She has performed in many Polish cities, recorded recitals in Lodz television programs nationwide. From the beginning of his stay in Canada he was looking for contacts with Polish culture.

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She sang in the youth ensemble and a Polish churches. For the Canadian audience sang m. In. Cosmopolitan Opera Co., the Operetta Theatre, Scarborough Choral Society, Mississauga Opera Co., and guest-Brampton Symphony Orchestra. In 1980. She was awarded the Silver Cross of Merit, in 1987 and 1988 received the Volunteer Service Award Province of Ontario, and in 1988, received the Gold Medal of Honour Society "Polonia". She also received the award Polish Consulate and the Canadian Polish Congress. He has 5-recorded tapes: "25 years", "Carols," "Czar Waltz", "Polish Flowers" and "This Is Your House". He is an Honorary Member of the Polish Singers of America. She sings in the choir "Echo" in the church. Cecilia, and in the Parish of St. Stanislaus in Toronto.

For many years she also sings for the sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. The concerts are given heart, for which she receives no gratification. Always care about the purity of Polish language and today, after over thirty years of residence in Canada, she says, beautiful, careful Polish. In 30 years of her artistic work he was honored by many important Polish community celebrations. She received many diplomas and letters of thanks from various organizations and individuals.

Art and Entertainment Award
Agata Wisniewski

Agata Wisniewski was born in Poland in the town of Lodz, she moved to Canada when she was 14 years old. Wisniewski went to York University and completed double major in Fine Arts Degree and Psychology. She also decided to finish a Graphic Communications program at Ryerson. Wisniewski enjoys themes such as nature, horses and “spirit art”. In general her spiritual journey plays a great role in inspiration for her art themes.

Flowers - Agata is fascinated with illumination from within, to her it exemplifies the soul shining through. Light symbolizes “God” energy. Wisniewski uses flowers which’s shape remind her of “Angel Wings” or “boat gliding on the water”, the sense of movement reminds her of our journey through life.

Horses - Agata sees animals as spirit forms in physical bodies, she feels great love and connection to them, whenever Agata paints a horse she always connects with the horse spiritually, and most importantly meets the horse in order to feel it's energy-which she portrays in the painting. Furthermore Wisniewski has experienced horses showing themselves to her in dreams as spirit guides.

Spirituality - This area of her work is extremely exciting, it exemplifies Agata's spiritual awakening, soul searching and various out of body experiences. It also illustrates the awakening process. She works with various energies in the deep state of meditation, those experiences are truly ecstatic but also informational so she uses them as inspirations for her art.

Art and Entertainment Award
Kinga Mitrowska

Kinga Mitrowska born in Montreal began her musical studies at the Faculty of Theatre in Marianopolis College in Montreal and then traveled to Poland, where she graduated with a master degree from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. She made her debut, which turned out to be a great success, as Despina in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, staged by Polish State Opera. She was engaged by the Warsaw State Opera as a solist. Among her roles were: Susanna in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Musetta in Puccini's La Bohème or Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata. During her stay in Poland, she also recorded for the Polish Radio and TV. When she returned to Canada, she continued her acclaimed successes with lead performances with the Toronto Operetta and Opera in Concert. She also devotes her time sharing her knowledge with her students . The last four years she has been staging shows with her students, "Magical Broadway" "Variete". Kinga is a recipient of many awards of vocal competitions and festivals. Many of her students are following in her footsteps by also winning in voice competitions "American Protege" "NATS Voice Competition" "Hall Leonard". In recognition of her talent, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television nominated her in 2005 for the 20th Annual Gemini Awards in the Best Performance Category. In 2007 she was decorated with the Medal of Merit by the Polish Ministry of Culture for her artistic achievements. She is the recipient of the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards that was given to her in 2008. In 2013 she was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit from the President of Poland for her propagation of Polish culture in Canada. Kinga is a member of RCM, Equity and National Association of Teachers of Singing.

Art and Entertaiment Award
Keya Bayramova

Keya is a native of Turkmenistan and is the daughter of the renowned artist Durdy Bayramov. Keya followed her father's footsteps and acquired a degree in fine arts from the Shota Rustaveli Turkmen State College of Arts. Always with a keen interest in economics she then acquired a degree from the Turkmen Institute of National Economy followed by graduate studies at Moscow Institute of Economy and Humanitarian Sciences. On completing her studies Keya immigrated to Dubai where she became a serial entrepreneur and founded four successful enterprises employing over 2700 people and servicing the highly competitive and male dominated construction sector.

Today, Keya is residing in Canada with her husband and three children running the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation (DBAF) in Toronto. Keya's late father, Durdy Bayramov was the first person to open a school for female artists in Turkmenistan. Inspired by her late father's passion for education and love of art, Keya founded the Foundation with a mission to celebrate the life and legacy of Durdy Bayramov through inspirational, educational programs, which cultivate cultural exchanges and stimulate the vitality of the arts. With Keya's leadership, in just under 2 years, the Foundation held multiple successful programs introducing Turkmen culture and arts to people of North America. Some of the events organized by the Foundation included exhibitions, cultural workshops and concerts series titled Turkmen Music Days in Canada. Keya is dedicated to running a successful organization, which empowers others, while continuously raising the bar on foundation's impact in the art world. She is also actively involved in the Foundation's exhibition and research projects and is an author on multiple publications. As a philanthropist, Keya provides support to multiple people and organizations among which is Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Program, and many others.

Mind, Body and Spirit Award
Gabriela Nowak

I do what I do because I believe I “Can Change The World One Life At A Time!” Ever since I opened my mom's beauty bag when I was a little girl, I fell in love with the power all those products had. I loved the fact that they could transform the way you look in minutes. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a part of that transformation. From the beginning my dream was to make a positive change in people's lives. Everything I’ve been through growing up from activities I was involved in, to my education, and the people I’ve spent time with, has inspired me to launch my own Spa and be the woman I am today.

How You Look Defines How You Feel...

...became a motto of my business.
But everything I believed changed in February 2009 when I learned my younger son was diagnosed with a life threatening disease. The nature of my son’s disease was robbing him of the ability to live a normal life. After exhausting the help modern medicine had to offer, I decided to broaden up my search to include new possibilities. This led me to become increasingly curious about alternative health care.

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No matter how ludicrous or far-fetched it seemed I was willing to try it all. The perfect solution arrived in a form of therapy that subscribes to the notion that the human body innately has the ability to heal itself, no matter how complex the problem is. And although I wish I never had that experience, and hope no one else ever has to go through that, I will be forever grateful that my mind was open to new possibilities. I made it my mission and passion to learn everything I could about that therapy. Then after witnessing the results time and time again over the past few years, I decided to add this therapy to all the treatments at my Spa. It was at that time I decided to change the motto of my business to...

...How You Feel Defines How You Look

It is because of this therapy I get to see men and women become inspired, healthy, and empowered. I wake up everyday thankful and grateful for being able to create a positive impact on everyone around me. How lucky am I to be able to see someone arrive in pain, help ease that pain, and then see them leave with a smile. I am surrounded and supported by the most amazing and passionate people I know. I do what I do because I believe I “Can Change The World One Life At A Time!” Back in 2014 I met with Oprah Winfrey. She told me:
"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you."
What an incredibly powerful statement, and an excellent way to live. Making a positive change in people's lives has made my dreams come true.

Mind, Body and Spirit Award:
Shirley Wu

An iconic figure in make-up & beauty artistry, Shirley Wu is one of the most sought after make-up artists in North America. She is a true believer in the power of beauty - inside and out. Shirley’s passion for creating a glamorous experience for her clients, from brides to models or regulars at the salon is what creates that luxurious feeling of being Wu'd - one unlike no other. And it is that which sets Shirley Wu and her team strides apart from the competition.

For over three decades, it has truly been a family affair with the Wu's working to develop a brand parallel to none - Beauty Concept by Shirley Wu. Shirley’s portfolio boasts an array of countless magazine covers, editorial features and more brides than one can imagine! Shirley's beauty journey began while working in her mother’s salon in Lahore, Pakistan. Many years later, she has mastered the artistry of beauty, offering services ranging from bridal hair and make- up, hair styling, custom blend foundation and airbrush to nutrition & lifestyle coaching, facials and spa services. In addition, Shirley is a certified make up instructor offering classes for basic and advanced make up techniques and applications, as well as an ambassador for the international line of Motives Cosmetics and products.

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Her larger-than-life personality and reputation as a trendsetter in the industry have made her the beauty stylist of choice for thousands of brides. To have Shirley Wu as the stylist for your big day is to have the very best. Beyond brides, Shirley and her team are also highly reputable in the media industry, styling for the most style savvy and distinguished publications in North America. On the cutting edge of beauty trends in wedding & fashion, Shirley’s work has been featured in countless magazines including: Kismet Wedding Magazine, Suhaag, Lavish Dulhan, South Asian Bride, WedLuxe and Fusia Magazine amongst others. She has worked as a celebrity stylist for many, including the likes of Lisa Ray and Nindy Kaur. Garnering many accolades throughout her career, Shirley was most recently the recipient of the 1st Annual Master of the Craft Award by the Multicultural Beauty Group.

Shirley Wu - A woman that defines her craft and brings out the beauty in all.

Mind, Body and Spirit Award
Klementyna Rys

Klementina Rys was born in Poland in a little town Chrzanow near Krakow. She moved to Germany at the age of 14 and came to Canada at the age of 16. Klementina has been fascinated with health and fitness from a young age, but it wasn't until she was coaching a young girl to achieve her personal health and weight goals when she stumbled upon yoga. She fell in love with yoga practice "from the first breath". After about two years of regular practice she has decided to complete a Yoga Teacher's Training while working full time as a Service Manager at an automotive dealership downtown Toronto. Once the company which she worked for closed it's doors right before Christmas in 2011 and she found herself unemployed from a job that was unfulfilling, stressful with long hours and prevented her to live the life she always dreamed of, she decided to turn this into an opportunity to change her life around. She completed her yoga teachers training and when her teacher and mentor offered her to take a new studio over, scared and excited at the same time she jumped into stormy and deep ocean waters and never looked back. Her life did turn around. She has given up and sacrificed many things, to stay afloat but the drive to help others kept her going.

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Today she owns and operates two hot yoga locations and runs classes and different workshops to help people achieve a healthy way of living on all physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. She is described as compassionate, patient, honest yet firm as she guides her clients in their journeys to become their authentic selves and to believe that everything is possible when you believe. Her presence, compassion and daily support make her a mentor. She gently, yet firmly opens up her clients to a new way of thinking, perceiving themselves and the world in a more positive way. Her strength and persistence walks with those she coaches on their journey to wellness.

Klementina vision is of creating many my locations to help as many people as possible.

Please visit... to learn more

Charity of the Year Award
Enza Tiberi-Checchia

Enza Tiberi-Checchia is the President and visionary innovator of Decorenza, the only independent decor studio serving multiple builders simultaneously. Decorenza provided Dècor Services as well as Designing of model homes/suites, sales offices and amenity spaces to some of the finest builders and developers in the GTA.

Enza's accolades include BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Asssociation) Professional Services Member of the Year Award, OHBA (Ontario Home Builder Association) Award of Distinction for Best Design Studio and the BILD Stephen Dupuis Community Builder of the Year Award, for her philanthropic contributions to the community.

Enza's unwavering commitment to the new home building industry is evident in her many roles. She is a Director on the BILD Board of Directors serving her second consecutive term, Past Chair of the BILD Decor and Design Committee, Member of both the Low & High-rise Programming Committee and Party for Humanity Committee. Enza is a Freelance Columnist. Her monthly columns appeared in Homes Publishing Group and Metroland Media. She was also a contributor to Ontario Home Builder Magazine.

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Enza's commitment to changing the way we see and treat people with mental illness is her life's purpose. She is the CVO (Chief Visionary Officer) of Hats on for Awareness, a charity she co-founded in memory of her late father. Hats on for Awareness raises awareness to eradicate the stigma of mental illness & addiction and funds to further the reach of mental wellness programs across the GTA. To date over half a million dollars has been raised. Benefactors include CAMH (Center for Addiction & Mental Illness), Humber River Hospital and

Charity of the Year Award
Lucy Stec

Lucy Stec -; a wife, mother and grandmother, a public persona, an individual of extraordinary sensitivity. Lucy is a modern woman, always elegant, clever and resourceful, skilled to deal with different life situations.

For the past few years she has been a president to a non profit organization, Canadian Polish Women's Heritage Fund, which undergoes a renaissance under her presidency. She describes herself as "overworked" and it is her who gives an example of how to be a modern but a traditional woman at the same time. She acts with passion, devoting every moment of her personal time to those in need. She opens her heart and ears to the voice of others. She is a living example of woman with a huge potential and passion to create extraordinary things - combining diligence and optimism in fight because she realizes that any attempt to action is a message to the world.

Lucy Stec is a living proof of a person living abroad(a Polish immigrant), and having enough potential to build a "home" of deeply rooted traditions as her own, and simultaneously act in favor of Canadian society, caring for those in great need of help.

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Thanks to the support of this exceptional woman who is undoubtedly full of energy and ideas, on many occasions we saw smiles on the faces of children or even tears of joy in adults or seniors.

Her work is based on a co-operation with many foundations, children's homes or the organizations delivering assistance to the most needy. A laureate of numerous awards for her charity work, these however are not the only things which distinguish her amongst modern women.

Lucy Stec is truly a Polish woman of success who lives in belief that if one has a desire and works very hard towards it, then anything is possible. Fully aware of the challenges and realistic chances for success, she is always ly determined to improve even a little piece of our world.

Political Leadership Award
Teresa Berezowski

Teresa (Wojciechowski) Berezowski was born in Edinburg, Scotland to Romuald, an officer of the First Polish Armoured Division, and his wife, Halina, a survivor of the Siberian deportations. Teresa's brother, Bohdan also survived the Siberian deportation along with their grandmother. Her grandfather died in Kazakhstan, her uncle was murdered in Katyn. Her family chose not to go back to post-war Poland and emigrated to Canada. Teresa finished her teaching degree and has 30 years teaching experience in the elementary schools in Toronto - mainly at the Grade 7/8 level. She began to be active in the Polish community as a member of the Polish Scouting Association of Canada, progressing from a Brownie to Instructor. She later held many senior positions in the organization - among them, as the Chair of the Executive Council of the Polish Scouting Association in Canada for 6 years. During this time she helped to organize many camps, leadership courses, and International Jamborees. These organizational skills lead to organizing events for other organizations, among them 3 Debutante Balls for the Polish Engineers Association in Canada. While Chair of the Executive Council of the Polish Scouting Association in Canada, she became involved with the work of the Canadian Polish Congress and initially served as Vice-Chair of the Executive Council of the Canadian Polish Congress for 4 years. Teresa was Recording Secretary of the Head Executive Board of the CPC for 2 years and later Vice-president of Canadian Affairs of the Canadian Polish Congress. In October 2010, Teresa was elected President of the Head Executive Board of the Canadian Polish Congress at the Annual General Meeting held in Montreal. She was re-elected President of the CPC in October 2012 at the AGM held in Edmonton and once again at the AGM in Thunder Bay in 2014, both times by acclamation.

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Her motivation to work in Polonia is simple - it's all about being Canadian. Teresa feels that maintaining our heritage, traditions, culture, faith, and language is something that Canada promotes through Multiculturalism and why not take advantage of it. This is what makes Canada unique and allows us to show pride in who we are and what we've accomplished. Polonia's "raison d'ètre" is to showcase how Canadians of Polish descent have contributed to the growth and development of Canada. In 2017, when Canada celebrates 150 years in Confederation, Teresa is hoping that Polonia will proudly showcase its contributions in helping Canada prosper industrially, artistically, and economically over a century and a half. She has organized a committee to gather materials and information about Polonia and its role in Canadian history so that in 2017 all of Canada and Polonia's future generations can learn about and be proud of our achievements.

Teresa feels that one thing lacking in Polonia is financial support for various initiatives such as the display for the 2017 initiative. We don't seem to have developed a culture of giving money to let the Congress or other organizations function at the level other ethnic groups have managed to achieve. It is something that Teresa has been trying to promote and encourage in the community. Besides being involved in Polonia, Teresa sits on the Board of Tribute To Liberty, established to build a monument in Ottawa to Victims of Communism, worked on a committee that established the Canada-Poland Youth Internship Society and continues to sit on its Board, and is also a member of the Central and Eastern European Council of Canada as well as the Canadian Ethnocultural Council. Teresa feels that it is important for Polonia to interact with other ethnic groups to learn from them and to have a er, united voice in multicultural affairs. She was honoured to be among the first 60 recipients of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal at Rideau Hall in February 2012. Outside of her work in the Polish community she was President of the Parent's Association of the school attended by her children, President of the Women's Section of her curling club, and has volunteered for several charitable institutions. In her spare time, Teresa loves to curl in the winter and travel to her far-flung family who reside in Australia, the USA, Mexico, Western Canada and Poland. Teresa is married to Zbigniew, a fellow member of the Polish Scouting Association in Canada and also the Treasurer of the Canadian Polish Millennium Fund. They have 2 grown children, Sarah (Michael) and Zachary (Marlene) and 4 grandchildren, Sebastian, Echo, Tomas, and Vincent.

Political Leadership Award
Iqra Khalid

An avid believer in building strong communities and giving back to society, Iqra Khalid is a young Pakistani-Canadian woman who has lived in the riding of Mississauga-Erin Mills for the past decade. She immigrated to Canada in the late 1990’s from England, where she began her formal schooling. Iqra graduated from York University in 2007, with a double major in Criminology and Professional Writing. She later obtained her Juris Doctor.

Throughout her life, Iqra has been a strong advocate for equality and fairness. She has proven her dedication to the community and her leadership capability time and again. Iqra has held numerous volunteer positions including President of the Pakistani Student Association, Media Relations Ambassador for the York University Student Alumni, Communications Coordinator for the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, and a Director on the Board for Breaking Free Foundation.

Iqra’s primary objective has always been to strengthen the ties among Canadians. She is capable and determined to bring forward solutions, offer a fresh, progressive perspective, and help bring our nation to greater heights

Volunteer of the Year Award
Sheri Majdpour

Sheri is Vice / President & Sales Representative of Sans Souci Executive Realty, She is a National Marketing Manager and Branch Manger of Sans Souci Marketing Alliance , She is Vice / President and Exclusive Representative and mandate of IBG Group Inc. in Canada, Unites State and China. Also She was Executive Director and owner of Manufacturing of Medical Device. Sheri has also been actively involved in her community by volunteering and has served as a Treasurer, Fundraising committee, membership Chair, President Elect and president of Soroptimist International of York since 2009 to support university student "single mother's education."

Sheri has been Volunteering as a Silent Auction Chair for McMicheal Canadian Art Collection ( Moonlight Gala ) for past five years. To support Art and culture of Canada and art student education. She had been volunteering as Fundraising committee and silent auction chair for Joy of Aging( Mackenzie Health Hospital) for past 3 years to purchase an additional MRI machine. Sheri is Volunteering as a Board member and fundraising Committee for MENA Art Foundation. ( helping visual Art student education) Sheri believes, Putting smile on people's face is priceless She has a heart to teach young adult how to succeed in life. She believes Helping a women is helping a family, community, city, country, and Helping the world.

Volunteer of the Year Award
Anne Balaban

Anne Balaban is the acclaimed author of the book "Common Sense is Uncommon" a renowned motivational speaker; corporate trainer; and psychology instructor. Anne has been recognized as an international expert in human potential and she has a wonderful ability to inspire audiences toward increased levels of self-esteem and peak performance. Anne is active in the community, through speaking engagements, adult education, as well as leading book and movie reviews. My volunteers experience:

1. Paralympic Movement: SUMMER 2015 Sport for athletes with a disability has existed for more than 100 years. It was not until after World War II, however, that sport for athletes with a disability were widely introduced as a way to assist in the rehabilitation of war veterans and civilians who had been injured during wartime.

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TORONTO 2015 was the fifth edition of the Para Pan Games and featured 1,500 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports. All sports will be Paralympic qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. I was a volunteer, as part of the NOC/NPC Assistants Program. Hosting the US VIRGIN ISLAND. Promoting Toronto, Learning new cultures, Motivating and Assisting all the participants on the team. Experiencing the opening and closing ceremonies with all the athletes and coaches, singing, dancing and always learning. 2. The Ontario Command of the Royal Canadian Legion is the largest service oriented organization in Ontario, which has 400+ branches throughout the province.

OVER TEN YEARS, its main focus is to remember those who gave their lives for freedom, to look after the needs of veterans, their dependants, and those still serving in the Canadian Forces. It also sponsors a variety of community programs such as sports, seniors programs, youth programs including an annual provincial- wide public speaking contest. The goal of the Public Speaking Contest, part of the Legion's Youth and Education program, is to give young people an opportunity to speak in public. As a Public Speaking Judge, I had the opportunity to judge children from grades 1 to 12, and assist them in developing one of the greatest skills one can learn. As a speaker, what an amazing way to share your knowledge and experience.

3. The Corsage Project, Helping high school students in financial need to attend prom. (THREEYEARS) Working in partnership with the Children's Aid Foundation, a non-profit program, in Toronto, the Corsage Project is dedicated to giving the authentic prom experience to young women and men who would not otherwise have the opportunity to celebrate with their peers due to the high cost of formal wear. As a personal assistant to each young lady I, actually, helped her pick out her dress, shoes, jewellery and purse. Imagine the impact, of each young lady, when she looked in the mirror and smiled with wonderful confidence!

4. Presenting Psychology Lectures (PSYCHOLOGY MATTERS) throughout the GTA to various groups, at local community centres (seniors), libraries (children’s book clubs), schools (Parents Advisory Council meetings), arenas ( hockey, baseball and soccer banquets) for the last twenty years. The impact in the educational community regarding Seniors Education has been an amazing and welcome change. The lectures and research on ‘Redefining Ageing‘ have made an impact in our older populations. 5. Out of the Cold program is a non-denominational coalition working to ease the plight of homelessness and socially isolated people in Toronto, during the winter months. From its humble beginnings, Out of the Cold has evolved into a city-wide coalition of religious and charitable organizations, over 50 in the GTA, participating in a program run entirely by groups of dedicated volunteers. Each site operates independently providing food, shelter and clothing to those in need and in a manner which respects their dignity and self-worth. As volunteers, for over ten years, our family has made this volunteer experience an annual event. It redefines our priorities and teaches us what is really important.

I think volunteerism means seeing yourself as part of the community. The community is an organism, and we are all part of its working parts. Charles Dickens said that our spirit needs to walk amongst our fellow man. This means we need to give ourselves to others, and help where we can. I ly believe this. Find some way to contribute, and you will make the world a better place starting at your doorstep.

Self Development Award
Ilona Girzewska

In October of 1992, Ilona immigrated from Poland to Canada with her 2 children. Working in various manual labour jobs over the years, she always knew that she wanted to do more for herself and her family. In 2006, she started working for PMA Canada as a Sales and Promotions Account Manager. This job opened up many new doors for her as she gained new skills working alongside amazing individuals. In addition to her current job at PMA, Ilona is also a journalist for a Polish newspaper "Wiadomosci." She has been part of a Polish Cabaret for many years where she shares her creative side in live singing performances as well as comedy skits. She loves being busy and working with others and that is why she decided to open up her own business. Ilona's new company "Unique and Creative" offers a variety of services for various types of events. She creates amazing decorations, village tables with Polish food, candy bars and visually appealing centerpieces for her clients. She takes great pride in her work and its very evident in the final results. Lastly, Ilona was offered an exciting new opportunity as an Accredited Wedding Officiant and being the adventurous type, she took it on. She is truly one of a kind so its no wonder that her 3 grandkids call her super grandma.

Self Development Award
Meggie Stoch

Magdalena Stoch Broker at Re/Max Realty Specialists Treasurer of Polish Association of Highlanders of Canada Former Vice President of Canada Poland Chamber of Commerce of Toronto

She was born and raised in the winter capital of Poland, Zakopane. Rich and strong culture of Polish Highlanders has always been a main component of her DNA, and helped in shaping her personality today. Maggie has always enjoyed sports and folk life as important pillars of everyday life.

She specialized her undergraduate degree in Business Management and continued her studies at the University of Economics of Cracow, obtained her Masters Degree in Marketing & Management. She also has a minor degree in Arts. Upon completion of studies, her ambitious energy, led her to own and run her own tourism business in Zakopane. After a few successful years of entrepreneurship, she realized that this career had limited growth opportunities. Maggie heard for years about Canada from her mother's numerous visits, of this great country of opportunities, and decided to expand her horizons, and go to Canada not knowing if success would follow.

Positive approach, detailed planning, open mindedness, persistence, hard work and determination has continued to shape her way to success in Real Estate. Her career started over 10 years ago in a clerical position and continues to this day as a Broker at Re/Max Canada.

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"It is very important for me to support Polish organizations within my adopted country."

Maggie has worked with key Polish Organizations within the Greater Toronto Region over the past years. Maggie held the position of the Vice President of Canada Poland Chamber of Commerce of Toronto, and currently holds the position of Treasurer at Polish Association of Highlanders of Canada.

"Limits in Life are only those created by ourselves. Our passions are Limitless!".

Motto: Limits in Life are only those created by ourselves. Our passions are Limitless!

Self Development Award
Freda Iordanous



For designer Freda Iordanous, fashion design is not just a career... it is a passion! When Freda immigrated to Toronto in 1971, she brought with her a solid design background, an unerring eye for detail, and a distinct European flair.

She began as a couturier for a private clientele and was encouraged by this loyal following to open a haute couture shop in 1973. As her reputation flourished, so did her business. With a degree in Fashion Design and the experience of owning a couture shop, Freda soon fulfilled her immediate goal to reactivate the business she had left behind in Greece. She set up "house" as a couturier for small private clientele, which soon grew rapidly into a manufacturing and fashion company.

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For more than 30 years, Freda's has been specializing in designer wardrobes for the demanding lifestyle of today's busy women. Freda's offers a unique shopping experience unlike any other boutique. The collections are designed produced and manufactured under one roof in downtown Toronto. Her state of the art 3500 square foot boutique offers customers the widest selection of fashionable pieces they won't find anywhere else in the city. Best of all our experienced sales associates work with our clients to achieve a complete wardrobe for day and evening.

Freda's, offers a complete selection of ladies garments from casual, suiting to evening wear made from the finest European fabrics and available from sizes 4 to 20. In addition to their private collection, Freda's also carries many imported lines from Europe and the United States including, Beate Heyman, Nicole Miller, Vince, Clover Canyon, and many more.


  • Pooja Handa, CP24
  • Singer and performer, DEBORAH COX


In 1991 Freda's won the CABE AWARD (CANADA AWARD FOR BUSINESS EXCELLENCE) by the Federal Government of Canada in recognition of her remarkable talents and business achievements. As a business person, Freda is highly recognized by both her colleagues and private sectors for her achievements and was chosen as Canada's Best Employer for Women and was included in Chatelaine's Who's Who of Canadian Women. In 2004 - Freda Iordanous, received the WEC (Women Entrepreneurs of Canada) Phoenix Award for business recovery.

Freda's is proud to be selected as Jeanne Beker's top 100 stores to shop in Toronto -; 2010-2016 (post city magazine) Freda's has appeared on local television programs such as CTV News, Cityline, and Global Television. Her designs have also been featured in local fashion magazines, such as Chatelaine, Hello Magazine and The Women's Post.

Over 40 years of experience has given Freda's a solid foundation for continued growth and success. Her passion for the industry and fashion is exempted in her glorious collections season after season. It's no wonder Freda's is known as the "BEST KEPT SECRET IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY". (Valerie Gibson, Toronto Sun).
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Global Excellence Award
Tanya Chernova

Tanya Chernova is a voice of inspiration, empowering people worldwide as a celebrated speaker, author, mentor and business expert using her guiding principles "know your power, live your purpose, ignite your passion and fuel your profits".

With an honours degree in business and psychology and a fluency in English, French and Russian, Tanya has traveled over 50 countries as a sought after educator to some of the world's largest brands such as L'Orèal Professionnel, Polyconcept, Cisco, Henessy, and NASA. Working with savvy business leaders seeking to sharpen their edge and reinvent their culture, Tanya transforms companies and people with the mindset and skill set to succeed.

Tanya began her career in the skin care industry. At the age of 14, she became Canada's youngest government licensed esthetician and passionately worked her way to becoming an international industry expert. At 21, she worked for Canada's largest skin care distributor as a sales representative and business development agent, exceeding her targets by 300% year over year. After growing into her role as national educator for 5 different brands, she moved to France as an international educator, travelling 22 countries each year, and wrote 3 industry books on emotional intelligence and the spa industry that were translated into 11 languages. She was listed as top 10 industry speakers in 2001 by Professional Magazine, South Africa. At 27 she became a trailblazing entrepreneur and formulated the award winning Time Reverse "non-surgical facelift", setting records of over $1million in first-year sales through her appearances on over 50 shopping network shows worldwide. Over the last 10 years, she has contributed over $350,000 in donations to the United Way.

Click here to read more about Tanya

In 2003, Tanya focused on her passion for education and business success with North America's largest corporate training company, SkillPath Seminars. She travelled 280 days per year for 3 years teaching 30 soft skill topics on leadership, management, communication, sales and more. She had a 98.6% participant feedback rating. And in 2007, she launched her own training company, educating organizations to build the power of their brand.

A fierce advocate for women's empowerment, Tanya has been the co-founder of the global women's personal development organization Courageous Living for nearly a decade. She teaches and leads thousands of women through the 6 stages in the lifecycle of a goal and helps them discover their purpose and live their dreams. In 2016, Courageous Living became the country representative for the All Ladies League, a global organization fostering equality and empowerment for women in over 75 countries.

After a decade of study in the field, in 2012, she harnessed her passion for the neuroscience of success as co-author of the #1 Amazon bestseller, "UnderMind". The book reveals a breakthrough in Neuroplasticity that allows people to permanently overcome the negative subconscious beliefs that sabotage their lives. Her book introduced a new emotional healing therapy called PNRT or Progressive Neural Resolution Therapy, which has now been turned into a certification program by the Psychotherapy Association of Canada. She is a popular guest on radio and television.

Awards and Acknowledgements:

2013 Tanya Chernova is on of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada in the category of trailblazer and trendsetter by the Financial Post and WXN.

2016 Tanya was awarded Iconic Women Leaders of the Decade Envisioning a United World by the Women's Global Economic Forum

2016 #1 Rated Speaker for the Global Leadership Conference Entrepreneurs Organization

Tanya is a master at maximizing human performance and potential and a fierce supporter of both her local and global communities.,,,

Global Excellence Award
Michelle Peavy

Michelle is a firm believer that success is not given but rather earned. She is often described as a Sassy, Jazzy, Classy Master Connector. A woman who has a way with words, red lipstick, high heel shoes and making a grand entrance.

She is the Owner of Rimi and Company, an executive recruiting firm in Houston, TX and Calgary, Canada. A GET OFF YOUR ASK Expert and Linkedin Traffic Cop. These talents go beyond business. She is an Inspirational Speaker, Motivator, Mentor, Salsa Performer, and a singer of the National Anthem for the NBA Houston Rockets. She is the producer of her CD, called MY VOICE, Online GET OFF YOUR ASK eCourse, and her book, The Freeway of Life.

Her latest accomplishments is hosting Workshops and Consulting privately with Individuals and Corporations on how to ASK and then using Linkedin as the GO TO Resource/Tool to get what you want.

Today Michelle will share some of her tips, trick and secrets. Get Ready - Fasten your seatbelt. Welcome Michelle

Global Excellence Award
Malgorzata P Bonikowska

Malgorzata (Margaret) P. Bonikowska is a Polish-Canadian journalist, broadcaster, community activist, educator, author, and cultural entrepreneur. In all her work, she has been motivated by the objective of building bridges between her two homelands, Poland and Canada.

Educated in Poland and Great Britain, Margaret came to Canada 26 years ago as a visiting professor from the University of Warsaw, where she had obtained a Ph.D. and held the rank of Assistant Professor. She soon fell in love with her new country and decided to make it her permanent home. Ever since, Margaret has been a proud Canadian, promoting Canadian values around the world through her work as a journalist, cultural ambassador, and Polish TV correspondent. As the editor-in-chief of the leading Polish-Canadian newspaper “Gazeta”, which has been operating for 28 years, she has ensured that information about Canada and its Polish community reaches people all over the world. Treated as an authority on all things Polish in Canada, she has been featured in numerous media interviews, and has accompanied the Canadian Prime Minister’s delegation during its official visit to Poland.

Building on her past experience as a radio personality and taking advantage of her fluency in both Polish and English, she and her colleague Tomek Kniat recently launched POLcast, the first-ever English-language podcast about Poland and Poles around the world. The program has quickly become a hit worldwide.

Click here to read more about Malgorzata

As a passionate English language teacher and linguist, Margaret has been helping Polish immigrants master the English language, both through her articles in “Gazeta” and her popular book, Demystifying the English Language. Prior to her immigration to Canada, she had been an active academic researcher in Poland and the UK; some of her research publications are still cited by linguists around the world.

Margaret is an accomplished public speaker and has been a sought-after bilingual host of concerts, educational and cultural events, film screenings, theatre performances, and educational programs. For six years she was the artistic director and host of the Toronto Polish Film Festival, and has worked with other Canadian organizations to promote Polish film in Canada. She has also organized and hosted numerous public events featuring prominent figures in the fields of film, literature, and the arts.

Throughout her life, Margaret has been deeply motivated by social activism and the importance of helping others. She co-founded and co-ran the Polish community organization “Polonia for the Future” (Polonia Przyszlości), which for many years organized social, cultural and educational campaigns and events in an effort to help children, seniors and people in need. Her journalistic work frequently focuses on topics related to social justice and activism, often resulting in practical help for other people.

Margaret has received numerous medals and awards, both Canadian and Polish, including Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland), the International Order of St. Stanislaus, the Canadian Ethnic Journalists' and Writers' Club 25th Anniversary Award in Journalism, two Awards of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (Conseil national de la presse et des medias ethniques du Canada) for “Gazeta” and for POLcast, an Ontario Volunteer Service Award, and a Parkdale-High Park Millennium Achievement Award.

Philanthropist of the Year Award
Nadine Spencer

Nadine Spencer is the CEO of BrandEQ Group Inc., a global marketing and communications agency specializing in marketing, communications and PR.

Spencer has earned a reputation as an experienced professional who accelerates strategic growth and brand visibility for clients. Through her coined "People Matter" concept, she has expanded market growth and increased revenues for various multinational enterprises by amplifying their messages to a wider audience.

Nadine has held a variety of senior positions throughout her career. Clients include Burberry, Mercedes Benz, Merchandise Mart, Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, The World Bank, The Law Society of Upper Canada, Jamaica National Building Society, and Holt Renfrew. Celebrity collaborations include Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Colin Cowie, Art Smith (former chef to Oprah Winfrey), Chef Selwyn Richards, and Padma Lakshmi.

Recent projects includes created Canada's first world class food event, the Delicious Food Show, for which Spencer secured the Food Network as media sponsor in its first year. She also managed all aspects of the show's production and strategic direction. The show was then acquired by conglomerate Informa and is now the Toronto Wine & Food Show.

Click here to read more about Nadine

Nadine has redefined every leadership position she has held, while simultaneously playing a philanthropic role across various communities. She has founded and led multiple successful businesses, and served as CEO and president of both corporate and nonprofit boards. Charitable activities include the Junior League of Toronto, YWCA Montreal, Scarborough Women's Centre, Lifelong Leadership Institute, The Jane Finch PanAm Games Host Committee, and Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs. As a dedicated philanthropist and servant leader, Spencer has devoted her life's work to battling poverty and in the advancement of women's education.

She has been acknowledged in the recent book 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women, and has received numerous awards including the Harry Jerome Award Business award, and the Junior League of Toronto Award for Excellence.

Spencer holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science with Honors from York University. She regularly participates in discussions with the White House on issues regarding anti-discrimination, equity for women and girls of color, and other relevant topics related to the uplifting of marginalized people in society.

Philanthropist of the Year Award
Marsha Pereira

When we hear about Cinderella of 21st century, we may consider Marsha Pereira.

She meet her prince –Hasson in 2005,on his business trip to her country-Jamaica, and as in fairytale story, they fallen in love from the first sign. Two years later they were able to say “I do”, but unfortunately it took another 18th month for Marsha to finally land in Canada.

Wife, and now a mother of 2 beautiful, loving children Kyle and Zoë, Marsha uprooted herself from her country and family to join her husband on a journey to make a difference in the lives of every Canadian. Little did she know that what started as a dream would become such a huge reality?

Click here to read more about Marsha

Since March 2013, Marsha alongside her husband Hasson started Sans Souci Group of Companies which has since helped over 600 Affiliates and Investors begin to realize the dream of getting greater returns on their investments with annual returns from 8 - 10% and more. As the Operations Manager, she is usually introduced as the ‘backbone’ of the company and the better half to her hubby .Her responsibilities span the 6 companies in the Group which are a Mortgage Brokerage, Real Estate Brokerage, Life Insurance Brokerage, the Educational Institute and Marketing Company and the Capital Company. Marsha is the glue that holds it all together. Stepping into unfamiliar but successful financial world that is part of her husband life, she had no choice, but to handle” the right way “on the bigger scale, then just finance. She knows that to be a great wife and mother a great daughter to her father Ezekiel, sister to Michelle, aunt too many nieces, nephews and to be a loyal friend she needs to give back to the community and help less fortunate with their needs.

In the last few years, Marsha Pereira involved herself and encourages others to raised funds for sick children hospital, helping communities in Jamaica, support local events, and together with Hasson, becoming regular sponsor for events raising funds for a good cause a charities.

Marchia Pereira is a growing business woman but most of all an amazing philanthropist.

You must be thinking wow; life is perfect for her…. But not so at all. Marsha shares that she faces her challenges head-on, on a daily basis. She makes the decision to choose her response to the storms she faces.

When she thinks of her life and who she has become, there are many things that she is grateful for. One she always talks about is the love of her husband and children. Marsha is also very grateful for the opportunity to help many Canadians realize their dreams. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the woman whose smile lights up the room and whose love you feel from a far; Marsha Pereira – Lady Sans Souci.

Student Of the Year
Olga Krasa-Ryabets

Olga is an Amsterdam-based theatre Olga is an Amsterdam-based theatre director and researcher. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine when it was still part of the former Soviet Union and moved to Toronto when her family immigrated to Canada in 1996. Olga studied acting at California State University, Los Angeles while living on under twenty dollars a week and working in theatres as a stage manager and assistant director. Later on, she transferred her degree closer to home. Despite the loss of her father during that time, Olga managed to finish school with a Theatre Specialist BA with Honours from the University of Toronto. In 2009, Olga moved to Prague to complete her MA in Alternative Theatre Directing and Puppetry at the Performing Arts Academy (DAMU). She has learned the Czech language especially in order to be able to study at the school. Her production of S.I. Witkiewicz’s The Water Hen (2010) traveled to Europe en Cies festival in Lyon and to the Czech Regional Festival in Hradec Kralove after a successful run in Prague. Olga participated in residencies and conducted workshops in Aarhus, Belgrade, Nantes and Oporto. She also presented at conferences, lectured and taught acting, movement and puppetry at Charles University, the Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozan and the University of Amsterdam. Olga directed and designed Ibsen’s Lady from the Sea (2012) and Tales from the Middle Ages (2013/14). Currently, Olga is completing her PhD at the University of Amsterdam and lecturing on research skills, literary theory and cognitive approaches to cultural studies.

Maria Martini Resilience Award
Maria Dubicki

Maria Dubicki néeTelecki emigrated from Poland to Canada in1955 and married Paweł Dubicki in 1957. In1966, out of Maria and Paweł’s love and dedication to the preservation of Polish folklore the "White Eagle, Biały Orzeł, Song and Dance Ensemble" was born. In two short years “Biały Orzeł" became one of the top performing dance groups in Canada.

As their repertoire expanded, so did the need for new costumes and props. Maria took a very active and dynamic role in the expansion of the design of the costumes, always making sure that every costume reflected the original region's authenticity. Her deep affection and passion honours the heritage of her homeland and is reflected throughout the many generations of past performers and alumni. 1972 was one of the most important years in the history of

Biały Orzeł when a long awaited dream became reality, Biały Orzeł travelled to Poland to take part in the 2nd World Festival of Polonia Folk Ensembles. To thrill Canadian audiences with Polish folk dances was rewarding, but to be able to do the same in Poland where dances originated, was the greatest reward. Despite many health issues during that time, Maria continued with resilience to preserve the authentic Polish folk culture in Canada which continues to be a foundation for the continued reverence and expansion of Polish Folklore throughout the “Canadian multicultural mosaic”.

Click here to read more about Maria

This year it is an honour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the award winning White Eagle, Biały Orzeł, Polish Song & Dance Academy. Since its inauguration in 1966, the dance group continues to be a foundation for youth in discovering and maintaining their cultural identity. Maria and Paweł passed the artistic directorship of the group to Mr. Ted Zdybał in 1996 who continues the group’s legacy as the principal choreographer to this day. Maria still comes to visit at practices, and offers her vast knowledge, valued time honoured opinions, and encouragement to students in all 3 age groups.

Thanks to Maria's passion for Polish folklore, her dedication to Biały Orzeł, the group now lives on in the lives of the community, developing and performing authentic and artistic Polish cultural entertainment. Maria and Paweł's three children all danced and participated in Biały Orzeł and now grandchildren participate and continue with the preservation of these customs and traditions. Biały Orzeł takes great pride knowing that it retains and saves heritage by breathing new life into an art that is quickly dying. In doing so, the ensemble showcases the unique beauty of Poland's rich folk ancestry, the traditions of their forefathers and enhances the colours of our “Canadian cultural mosaic”.

Maria Martini Resilience Award
Graziella Milosavlevic

Graziella immigrated to Canada as a young woman after her hometown in Italy was destroyed by an earthquake. Her challenges were similar to all other immigrants trying to adapt to a new country, she didn’t speak the language, was unfamiliar with Canadian lifestyle but she worked hard to learn English with minimal resources and learned on her own. Today although her accent is still prevalent she speaks it fluently. Graziella as a single mom raised two children and although they faced many hardships, through Graziella’s perseverance and guidance they have grown into amazing successful individuals. Graziella has always been very involved in her community by volunteering countless hours at her local Italian Club, fundraising events, and assisting political candidates in their campaigns. She has followed her passion for music by being a soloist in Coro Club Italia for more than 30 years. Her commitment to helping others is unsurpassed, at a time in her life when she could sit back and enjoy retirement she still continues to inspire and guide as she continues to volunteer regularly. Graziella is truly a remarkable woman who encourages and inspires joy in everyone she comes in contact with.





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