IWAA 2016 Award Recipients: Canadian Small Business Women of the Month of February 2016



Marcia Brown  (Changing Lives Award)

Marcia Brown founded Trust 15 Youth Community Support Organization in 2011.  She started her career with the Toronto District School Board as an Educational Assistant in 2005.  She has been working diligently to educated mentor and inspire the young men and women in her community ever since.

Marcia recognized that there was a significant need in her community for a place where youth could come and feel safe and accepted, and receive much needed support.  So she decided to walk from door-to door-in the neighborhood asking parents if they would allow their children to participate in this enriching after-school program.

Earning the trust from the community and the 15 girls that showed up on the first day the program started, led to the name, TRUST 15.  Then came 3 programs that changed the community of Etobicoke.  The programs are Ladies on the Rise, Men of Distinction and Girls on the Rise.

Marcia Brown has acted as the active link between education, community and family.  She has engaged parents and community members in the success of our youth and encouraged the engagement of our youth in their own success, through education and mentorship.  The young ladies and young men have showered Marcia with praises and appreciations for her care, compassion and support.  She has provided them with better access to jobs, resources for university, and access to achieving career and life goals.

Joy Foster:    (Art & Culture Award)

 Joy Foster, an accomplished Motivational Speaker, Singer, Professional Recording Artist and Television Talk Show Host “Future Prospects” she will help unlock the invisible door that so often stands between people and their ultimate personal and professional goals. Whether its leadership, communication, change management, or stress Joy’s training is fast-paced, information-packed, interactive and guaranteed to deliver skills, techniques that can be used right away. She has a natural approach with her audience on the issues of self-esteem and motivation in the competitive marketplace. 

Close to her heart Joy has taken up a mission to empower our future generation today’s youth towards greatness. To leave the pain they may endure and pursue, discover the diamond they are born to be! Her presentations have embraced and delivered messages that leave student body and teachers wanting more! Joy pulls no punches and allows no excuses to be expected only solutions. Students are allowed to talk openly feeling their opinions are heard and not judged but listened too with an empathic ear. Sharing her own real life stories students are touched, empowered and inspired towards their inner greatness.

Joy shows great compassion with students and also holds a very safe, supportive, respectful and inclusive space for the training and learning to take place. She is able to perform with students and not lose them in the process. She also has a unique presentation delivered to parents titled “Parents Curtain Call Please!” Joy grew up in a home where her parents had not known how to communicate to their children that contributed to a concrete wall for all her siblings including herself. Joy endured pain, loneliness and confusion throughout her childhood. Constant arguments and a dysfunctional home life she decided enough is enough and found the strength to overcome her adversities. She knows the importance of love that parents today MUST employ to their children everyday. Communication is vital to the improvement of our youth today. They need their parents not media but parents whom love them unconditionally. “Parents Curtain Call Please” is an eye opener for all parents to attend and learn the true meaning of parenthood.

Yvette Thakurdial: (Women In Business Award)

Yvette Thakurdial was born in Kingston, Jamaica. She migrated to Canada in 1987. Yvette is a graduate of Centennial College, where she receives a diploma in Automotive Technology in 1994. Yvette launched her career in Automotive Sales and Customer Service, she is currently the Co-owner of Meineke Car Care Center, an Automotive Franchise here in North York.  Yvette has over 20 years experienced Sales and Customer Service industry.

Yvette believes it is the responsibility of business owners to give back locally and internationally as much as possible to those in need.  She currently lives in Maple with her husband, 3 daughters, 2 grandchildren and 3 cats.

Grace Nakajje: (Humanitarian Ambassador Award)

Grace Nakajje is a Ugandan Health Advocate. Nakajje founded Grace Works Initiative, a not-for-profit organization promoting healthcare for less-privileged women and children in Uganda. Nakajje Authors a book “Voice in the Jungle” that brings to light the depth of Africa’s cultural crisis of Female Genital Mutilation, child marriages, and girl education.

Nakajje Nakajje is an alumni of the International Leadership Institute. Currently, she is pursuing a degree of Master of Science Public Health at the International Health Science University, Uganda. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Journalism, an experience that paved her way for recognition at UMAC Annual meeting in USA as the best female UMC Communicator from Africa. Nakajje wants to see a free world where women will have right to healthy life with dignity.

Salina Khan: (Positive Impact Award)

Salina Khan is an ambitious recent graduate student from the University of Toronto with an honors degree in Health Sciences.

She has devoted her time, energy and education in hopes to improve Clinical Research studies within the realms of Cancer. Having worked as a Clinical Researcher in Thoracic Surgery within Oncology at UHN, she hopes to work toward bettering our understanding of different causes, developing strategies for prevention, diagnoses, treatment plans and cures for Cancer. Presently, she is working on her publication on various techniques that can be used to better identify cancer antigens suitable for testing in vaccines.

Her hard work and dedication have been appreciated by The University of Toronto, JYI, The Peel District School board, Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and the Premier of Ontario.

Alongside her research, she spends her free time volunteering with Let’s Talk Science – a national charitable organization who aim to engage children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She is also a member of Canadian Helping Arms –a non-profit organization currently working on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Furthermore, she is apart of SMILE- another non-profit organization whose mandate is to develop awareness of the limitations faced by children with disabilities and critical illnesses.

 Sophia Findlay: (Media Award)

Sophia Findlay is a Toronto-based journalist and advertising executive. She is currently employed to The Gleaner Company and G98.7 FM Radio.

Sophia has written for print and online publications, which includes The Jamaica Observer Newspaper and its magazine, All Woman; The Toronto Star Newspaper and its glossy magazine, Sway, as well as, Huffington Post and The Globe and Mail.

She also specializes in content branding, marketing and promotions. But before all of her prestigious appointments and job roles, she describes her journey as “cut my high teeth” at Contrast Newspaper, Canada first Black newspaper, where she did her internship.

Sophia studied the Arts at The University of Toronto at the beginning of her post-secondary education but later changed to Ryerson University when a placement became available in their journalism programme. During those years, she maintained a regular part-time position at the main branch of The Royal Bank of Canada, downtown Toronto.

As a businesswoman in the country of her birth, Jamaica, which she had returned to in 2003,  after living in Canada for over 17 years, she owned and operated a franchise as an authorized dealer of one of the island’s largest telecommunications firm, LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment), formerly Cable & wireless Ltd.

Nina Hallie Dixon: (Youth Leadership Award)

Nina Hallie Ruth Dixon is the Founder, Producer and Host of In the Loop.

She made her mark as a producer when creating the online interactive program in 2010 which transitioned to television shortly after. Dixon has been a successful correspondent with Rogers TV since 2011. Her area of special interest is helping youths and other members of society become their best selves personally and professionally by bridging the gap between community’s members regardless of their age, race, gender or economic strata. Known for her devotion to volunteerism and hard work Nina has established herself as a woman who cares about her community and she brings that unique talent to In the Loop, as it continues to break borders and blaze paths through communities and within the entertainment industry.

At a young age she surrounded herself with mentors and leaders in her community which opened the doors to much of her success in print and the world of entertainment media. Since then she has graced the sets of movies such as 16 Blocks starring, Bruce Willis, Four Brothers starring Mark Walberg, Tyrese Gibson and Andre Benjamin and Ice Princess starring Kim Cattrall. She has conducted exclusive interviews with (but are not limited to): Toronto Maple Leafs’ Alumni, Johnny Bower, Bill Derlago, Dave McLIwain; Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist, Brianne Jenner, CNN Strategist, Roland Martin, CBC News Anchor, Ann Marie Mediwake, fashion designer, David Dixon, Lead Reporter of ET Canada Rick Campanelli, renowned singer, Percy Sledge, member of Parliament, Senator Don Meredith, artist Beress Hammond and many more.

Nina can be found volunteering with various charities and speaking at events geared to youth who she encourages to participate in charitable work and contribute to their communities. She is an active member of the Rotary Club of Brampton Flower City Centennial; an international group compiled of over 1.2 million leaders who work together create change and positively impact communities around the world.

ALMAS JIWANI: (Lifetime Achiever 2016)

A global voice for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment “People often ask me why we choose to focus specifically on women. My answer is simple – we focus on women and girls because evidence accrued over decades of international development work has proven that the status and role of women is the best clue to a nation’s growth potential, and is a key factor in determining a society’s standard of living.” UNWNCC President Almas Jiwani, HSBC Canada, November 2012 Almas Jiwani, President of UN Women Canada National Committee and CEO of Frontier Canada Inc, is a fiercely vocal champion for gender equality. She is internationally renowned for her efforts to encourage women’s social, economic, and political empowerment. She spearheads initiatives where corporate growth intersects with humanitarian development.

A model of perseverance and determination, Ms. Jiwani’s efforts to strengthen women’s economic capacity as entrepreneurs and producers have earned her accolades. She plays a crucial role in building networks among charitable institutions and socially responsible businesses. Ms. Jiwani is a powerful and influential speaker and she continues to travel across the globe to deliver keynote addresses, speeches, and presentations on improving the status of women. She addressed over 400 parliamentarians from 42 countries on the benefits of economically empowering women and the roles and responsibilities of parliamentarians at the International Assembly in the Dominican Republic and Quebec City. More recently, she addressed the Pan Africa Media Conference, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, World Bank, Women in Leadership Forum in Abu Dhabi, African Development Bank conference, and the World Forum alongside Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and holistic health/New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

She is CEO of Frontier Canada, a communications and marketing company based in Toronto, Ontario. In 2013, Ms. Jiwani was appointed as a member of Magna Carta Canada honorary committee alongside with former Country Prime Ministers and high level political dignitaries. She was also appointed as good will Ambassador of the World NGO. 2 In 2012, Ms. Jiwani made history as a state visitor in Pakistan when she addressed one million women on gender inequality. In June 2012, she was appointed as a Global Ambassador of Peace by the Universal Peace Federation. She is a member of the Global Advisory Board of Women in Leadership – NASEBA Corporation in the Middle East and Dean, Faculty of Law at Istanbul University in Turkey, Pamoja Kenya Mentorship Alliance, Enerdynamic and Global Warming Prevention Technologies. Ms. Jiwani has gained international recognition and commendations from governments and the media: •

 Tylaine Duggan: (Diversity Award)

Tylaine is a driven and passionate entrepreneur with an ambition to conceptualize, operate start-ups, and has created winning solutions and profitable organizations under her unique management.

As an only child raised in Europe by Corporate Executives, she wrote her first business plan by age 8, formed her first company at age 11 in a foreign country, and has not stopped since – now into her ‘50’s.

In 1995 as CEO she sold the Canadian Profit Magazine “Top 100 Profitable company ISDN” (a 24/7 newswire sending Press Releases for Publicly Listed Traded Companies to the Stock Exchanges, Governing Authorities, Financial Brokerage Firms and Media).  It later merged with BCE Emergis (Bell Canada), and she is noted in the “Canadian Who’s Who” for her telephony and IT expertise.  Ms. Duggan continues to operate 4 companies in myriad genres including natural body care products, an import export construction company, plus concurrently for the last decade YOUTH DAY Global – a free family festival celebrating the positive achievements of young aspiring artists to enable them a place of expression and find their passion to build self-esteem towards a bright future.  The Volunteer driven event now attracts over 32,000 people in one day each summer in Toronto.  Her 4th is poised for market.

Having lived and travelled from Europe to Dubai to North America, her 6 languages have served her well in International negotiations and diplomacy to meet the goals and objectives of her entities to improve social, solutions driven companies – while driving their financial operations without outside investment.

Tylaine has also been recognized as the recipient of the International Women’s Achievements Awards for Arts & Culture; is a regular invited Speaker at the United Nations; is known for her relentless and dedicated Community work; her International efforts; and has received numerous Proclamations for her creation of an “Event of Municipal Significance for the City of Toronto” for the unique YOUTH DAY platform festivals designed for our young people.

Stella Ebere Opara: (Woman of Distinction Award)

My name is Stella Ebere Opara from Imo State Nigeria. Born 8th January 1981, I am married and blessed with two beautiful girls. I am a graduate of Federal Polytechnic Oko from the department of Business Administration and Management. I have worked with the following organizations; NAL Bank Plc (now Sterling Bank Plc) 2004 – 2005 Industrial Training Staff Michael Imodu National Institute for Labour Studies 2007 – 2008 National Youth Service Corps Staff Standard Alliance Life Assurance Company Ltd 2009 – 2011 Financial Planner I currently work with these following organizations in various capacities; Managing Director Moniseed International Limited Stellamaris Cooperative Thrift and Credit Society Ltd registered in 2012 Founder and President Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN). Coordinator Imo State Chapter since 2013 till date Women in Agriculture & Entrepreneurship Cooperative Thrift & Credit Union, as the Founder and President since 2014 till date. Association of Non-Bank Microfinance Institution of Nigeria (ANMFIN) Vice Chairman Imo State Chapter National Banana/Plantain Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NABPAN). National Treasurer Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) State PRO & Organizing Secretary

Through my participation in these organizations and working hand in hand with the State and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment and members at the grassroots, I have gotten the opportunity to promote the interest of women in Agriculture and farmers in general who live in remote areas and have no access to agricultural assisted programs by the Nigerian Government. I look forward to recording more progress in all my endeavors.

Dwania Peele: (Entrepreneurship Award)

Dwania Peele is the founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women, a website and blog that aims to provide aspiring small business women of Canada a place to find all the resources required to start a business. It also provides marketing tools for current business owners who wish to take their businesses to the next level.

Kemi Amusan: (IWAA Volunteer Award)

 Kemi Amusan lives in Toronto, Canada. She is the Executive Director of Global Women Ambassadors. The Organization celebrates women leaders, empowers women through life skills training, mentoring, family mediation, referrals and counseling. She is a voracious advocate for eradication of violence against women. Madam Global as she is fondly called volunteers a huge percentage of her time supporting women based organizations, planting unifying community-based groups and also promoting stability in homes, with the ultimate aim of having stability in our communities.

Andrea Tabnor: (IWAA Role Model Award)

Andrea Tabnor was born at Kingston Jamaica in1970. She migrated to Canada at age seven to be reunited with her mother and father.  Tabnor and her family moved to the Jane and Finch (J-F) area in 1978 where her mother known as “Mama Ivy“ resides to this day. Tabnor grew up in the J-F and attended Yorkwoods Public School, Oakdale Junior High, and Westview Centennial Secondary School.  Tabnor became a mother at age fifteen and a grandmother at age twenty-nine. English was Tabnor greatest strength but attendance was her weakness so she decided to drop out of school in grade nine and took her educational skills to the streets.  While out of school with no job and financially unstable she made a decision out of desperation and no sense of direction to live a life of crime to gain financial stability. She became a notorious shoplifter, sold drugs (cocaine), walked with gang members, (Bloods and Crips), exposed to guns,  and lived a lavish lifestyle in dancehall with a girl crew called Lushus Crew.

In August 2010 she sat down in a backyard in the Firgrove community and she said to some community members that she was tired of the gun violence, funerals, and separation within her community. She said we need to stop keeping BBQ’s that separate us and instead try to do something in the name of “Unity”. With just a thought she brought her idea to the J-F Community Ministry and executed it on August 28, 2010. She had the Fire Department bring out their Fire Truck to talk about safety and for the children to explore, an experience they never had. The police were not involved because she never understood the concept that police also engage in community events. She thought they were only there to arrest criminals and with her background she had much fear in going to the police. Toronto Community Housing never gave me permission to access space so a community member named Kerri without hesitation gave me access to space which was her home.  She sent a promotional flyer into the community that had a poem on it called GUNS. Tabnor is a Spoken Word artist and the poems that she writes can relate to people that have walked in her shoes. Through her poems she delivers a message to a community that doesn’t engage but can relate to her.

The first J-F Unity event was so successful she was asked if she would be interested in doing it again. Tabnor is now the founder of the J-F Unity BBQ and J-F Unity Soccer Tournament and President of the Jane and Finch Unity Organization, a non-profit organization that has been created to decrease gun violence between the Bloods and the Crips, engage community relationships with the police, and to bring an impact around cultural diversity within the community. Her partner Ironman owner of Ghetto Entourage Sound is the one that takes care of entertainment and stage management. His motivation and dedication has brought J-F Unity to an impact level. Since then the J-F Unity org has been sponsored by business, organization, politicians, and community members. J-F Unity BBQ now has the yellow cruiser, mounted police unit, police on bicycles and the community engages with them at this event to promote decreasing of gun violence through unity.  J-F Unity org has collaborated in events such as Kiddie’s Caribana Flags and Colours Parade, which Tabnor was the organizer of the Jamaican float that was featured on Cp24. Also Bright the Night BBQ with Enbridge Gas, Oakdale Toy Drive with City Councilor Anthony Perruzza, Harriet Tubman Track-Field, and J-F Culture Village Unity Festival that was organized to welcome the Pan Am /Parapan Am Games 2015 coming to J-F by the Culture committee which Tabnor was part of. She was also a member of the Host Committee, Economic Working Group, and the Torch Relay representing the Pan Am Games.  She has performed her spoken words at Youth Day in July 2012 at Dundas Square, Mayfair event at Yorkwoods Library, Churches, and at her J-F Unity BBQ.

Jessica Ama Oppong: (Academic Award)

Jessica Ama Oppong . My hobbies consists of soccer, basketball and also like playing the alto saxophone. My favorite subject is math and I love debates. I plan to be a lawyer when I grow up. I do have a great role model which is my mom.”

Janet S. Fearon: (Academia Award)

Samantha Fearon has been making a significant contribution to Jamaica’s education system for fifteen years.  She loves working with children and believes there are myriad lessons to be learnt from them, including forgiveness. She took charge of the Kiwanis Club of Hopewell sponsored K-Kids Club in 2008. Their first major project was the beautification of the wall at the entrance of the school. The students and Miss Fearon decorated the wall by painting letters, shapes and words. Since then they have done many other projects such as: visit to Blossom Gardens Children’s Home, painting of the school bathroom; as labour day project, they have cleaned up beaches as Saturday projects, visiting  basic schools in their local community and offering assistance to the teachers. They have helped the Sandy Bay Methodist Church in their labour Day Projects to paint walls and create a garden. Under Miss Fearon’s dedicated leadership the K-Kids have done a Christmas Concert to raise money for the club. They have also done a lemonade sale to raise money for the Kiwanis International Eliminate Project.

Miss Fearon received an award from the Principal of Sandy Bay Primary School for outstanding contribution to K-Kkids, award from The Kiwanis Club of Hopewell in recognition of outstanding service, a certificate of appreciation on the occasion of Kiwanis International’s 100th Anniversary and award for Outstanding Leadership of the grade 2 classes at Sandy Bay Primary School.

Miss Fearon’s most recent act of selflessness and significant contribution to academia is her stewardship in guiding twenty-five students in the Kiwanis Sponsored Bring Up Grades (BUG) Program that encourages students to improve their grades from one grading period to the next. All twenty five students improved their grades and will be awarded with their BUG Certificates at the start of the new school year.

Naomi Ackerman: (Community Leadership Awards)

Naomi  Ackerman  the founder and executive director of The Advot (ripples )Project was born in the United States and then immigrated to Israel in her childhood.

Served 2 years in the Israeli Defense Forces and then received a BA in Education and Theatre from Hebrew University as well as a special-ed teaching credential from the David Yellin Teachers Seminar. Naomi is an experienced actress, who has trained extensively in varied settings and methods.  Her credits include theater, musicals, films, television as well as being an accomplished street performer stilt walker and professional clown.

Founding member of “View Points” an Arab Jewish dialogue theater produced by the “Shimon Peres Center for Peace.” Naomi was the creator of the Jerusalem municipality children’s clown school. Writing and initiating programs that used performance art to engage the entire community .She was part of the first groups of clowns in Israel to engage in medical clowning.

She wrote directed and performs the acclaimed one woman show “Flowers Aren’t Enough” that deals with the issue of domestic violence and has been featured over 1900 times globally. Including the United Nations for the Commission for the Status of woman. (CSW). Flowers has been translated to 4 different languages.

Naomi works internationally consulting, training, speaking and creating curriculums that use drama techniques to deal with social, gender and educational issues, as well as exploring identity and promoting tolerance and dialogue between diverse participants.

In 2011 she founded The Advot (ripples ) Project that uses theatre for transformation .

Naomi is the creator of  the “Relationships 101”; “Out and UP” ;  “listen to me when I speak” curriculums. The Advot project works with incarcerated girls in the Los Angeles County probation incarceration facilities.  Naomi  is a social activist who produces events and gatherings that teach engage and call to action communities and individuals to take a stand, and find their voice to fight injustice.  But most important of all she is the mother of three beautiful girls Zohar, Ella and Hadar .

Recipient of the KCET –Link Local Hero 2014 Award, Naomi and the Advot project were featured in the Bobbie Brown giving back glam Superwoman episode 8 – 2014

Manesha Annie Persaud: (Entertainment Award)

14 years old Manesha Persaud, also known as Annie by family and friends have been singing since she was 7 years old. She has received a lot of support from her family and friends, especially from her older sister. She is a talented young woman, who is ambitious and inspiring to others. She is a caring individual and she also loves animals. Over the years, Annie has accomplished many things such as winning competitions, performing at many different events, as well as meeting many major artists such as, Lady Luscious, Vanessa Bling, Luciano, Gyptian, and many others.

Annually, since 2010, she enters a competition at the Canadian Music League of Music. She has also performed at fund raisers since she started singing. Another achievement was entering JAAMM Idol in 2013 to 2015, which was founded by Jannett Scott who is also the President of JAAMM Idol. Annie Persaud was the runner up of JAAMM Idol for 2 years in a row (2013 & 2014) and with a lot of determination and persistence; she finally won JAAMM Idol in 2015. She also won a trip to Jamaica to perform at Mini Miss Portland on July 26, 2015, which was sponsored by the President of Mini Miss Portland, Sonia Patterson. While in Jamaica, she recorded cover songs, appeared twice in the Jamaica Star newspaper, and was interviewed on CVM Television, as well as on Sun City Radio, which was an amazing experience for her. After her trip to Jamaica, she went to Ottawa to perform at Jam Day, where she met many more artists.

In 2014, Annie had the opportunity to perform at the International Women Achievers Awards on March 8th.  Recently, Annie Persaud was invited to perform for the President of Guyana, His Excellency David Arthur Granger, on September 12, 2015. She also had a chance to perform at a Relief Concert for Dominica on the 25th of September 2015. Another opportunity that Annie received was to perform at Oakdale Park Middle School’s 50th anniversary, which was on October 3, 2015. Annie was also invited to perform at the Annual Banquet & Scholarship Awards on November 7, 2015. So far, the experience has been wonderful, and she looks forward to what the future has in store and following her dreams and passion. She would like to thank everyone for all of their love and support, as well as those who have given her the opportunity to perform.

Learn more about these empowering ladies, meet them at this year’s IWAA 2016 Award show being held on March 6th.  For more information, visit their website at www.iwaawards.com

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