Thanks to everyone who made the Launch of Soulful Encounters Successful and Memorable!


There are moments in life which are captured in our memories forever.  As Rosa Parks said:  “Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.”

Mags Birthday best

The launch of Soulful Encounters, on May 25th, along with my birthday celebration is a memory that will live in my mind forever because I know for sure, that I am contributing to the works of many great souls who have graced the surface of this earth, long before I was born.  I am equally certain, that the memories which are created in the souls who are being touched by our work, will in turn, continue to play their part in creating more soulful encounters in this lifetime, to grace the planet with more love and care, as we all thrive to live with both PASSION and PURPOSE.

I want to thank everyone for their wonderful contributions towards the launching of the Magazine – whether this came through sponsorship, purchasing a magazine, sending messages to wish us a successful launch, sharing or liking on social media, making a telephone call or turning up at the launch. I want to specially thank Wilson for uncovering the box of dreams and giving me the support which I needed to bring life to these long, buried dreams. Our contributors to the Magazine, our graphic designer Mila Gerstentien and photographers Nyamulola Kambanji and Kores Musuni were critical to the Magazine production.  Each adventure has forced us to step out of our comfort zones.  Some moments have not been easy but I would not exchange the experience for anything else.


When we started on this journey Magsthree years ago, I had no idea where it would lead, who we would meet or what the results would be.  What I knew then, was that I was being placed in a soul space which needed expansion and the voice in my head kept on saying: “Don’t die with your passion inside of you.” Talking about the soul is not something which is an everyday conversation, yet, SOUL is my everyday experience with life and with people.  I have spent many sleepless nights wondering how I could create a simple way to help others understand the journey of the soul and to also make the connection between the every day ordinary, routines and the SOUL.  I have thought long and hard about how I can help others take meaning from their day to day encounters and to be more aware of the blessings that are exchanged – whether it is a positive or negative soul encounter. I believe that as we make these connections and see that our paths are connected to a force which is so much greater than ourselves, then our fears are also released and we are able to commit and embrace our unique path with greater grace, gratitude and acceptance.  As we receive more and more testimonials about Soulful Encounters and the events which we have held, I am convince that we are on the right path.


Each of our speakers  shared soulful encounters in their lives and I am truly grateful that they allowed us to have a glimpse of how their experiences have shaped their lives today.  It was inspiring to listen to how Laura is using her gifts as a psychic to help others; how Rima got fired from Willis College in one moment and the next moment, she was the owner of the College.

MengsWe were all deeply engaged with Mengis’s story as he walked us through his life journey and how he got freed from prison and walked through a jungle with a total stranger for eight hours. His journey to Canada is a true testimonial  of the journey of the soul across many continents.

Trevor speaking

We were inspired by Trevor’s deep love for Dale and how this translates into their everyday existence and shows up in their coaching others to live great lives.  He recited his poem, CLOUD 9, which is  featured in Soulful Encounters.

Emily speaking

Emily touched all of our hears as she spoke about her relationship with Roger, how they met and the small and big things which he does every day to make her feel loved and safe in their relationship. She surprised him by giving him an AWARD for being the  BEST HUSBAND.





Very moving and touching was the personal story of  Margeret from Uganda who spoke about putting back the pieces of her life post Idi Amin.  Her desire to LIVE and not be DEAD is a true testimonial to how she LIVES her life and encourages others to do the same.  Her shared experiences of UGANDA is on our list of travelling destinations!



Thanks to Soophia for bringing greetings from the High Commissioner of Kenya and her own testimonial to the inspiration from Mags Magazine.


Thanks to  my long standing friend Angela for speaking from her heart about our soulful relationship over the years.  Our encounter from 13 years ago, as two total strangers, have become a beautiful and soulful relationship.

13256334_1608419406153099_1025084674582389575_n[1]Thanks to my friend  Lisa Anna Palmer who never ceases to amaze me for her energy and support towards my work and who best to talk about helping us all to LIVE our PASSIONS! Her donation of a book ‘365 Ways to Connect to your Soul’ was won by the son of Ranjith Mathews who has been extremely supportive of my work and publishing in Social Media.


I discovered things about each person that I never knew before and it reaffirmed to me, the power of our stories beyond our everyday job titles and responsibilities.  There is something deeper: something is at the core of our being. I went home thinking, “This was such a powerful experience to connect so many experiences and countries in one evening, through stories and soul energy.”  Our voices and experiences matter. Our stories matter.  Understanding the part which we have to play in our life journey matters and being able to share these with the world matter.  I feel really honoured and blessed to have shared that experience with everyone.

I want to say a special thank you to my colleagues, Gemma, Fouzia, Chinelo, Peggy and Aparna, who are wonderful friends as well and who came out to support and volunteer their time at the event. Thanks to Ross and my children Jelan and Dawn for also volunteering.  Their support was priceless.  Thanks to Ranjith for his work in photographing and social media that evening as well as Zoran for his vidography.


NabilaA  special thank you to Nabila Islam who volunteered countless hours of work in pulling together the technical aspects of the production.  She did great a great job, especially with the introduction to each of our speakers.

Through this blog, I want to publicly thank everyone and acknowledge their support in helping me to live my life mission… and I hope that by doing so… I am also helping each one to live their life mission as well.

The Magazine is a new product and I also want to ask for your feedback on how we could improve for future events; on how we can continue to market the Magazine so that it reaches the right audiences and how we can continue to build on what we have started.  I am learning to ASK for what I need and this is for my personal growth as I step out to embrace both my soul work and being an entrepreneur at the same time.

The photo below was taken just a couple of minutes after they stopped the show half-way to sing the first round of Happy Birthday to me and Rima made it so special with this huge bouquet of flowers and a gift.  To simply have all three of those great speakers on the stage with me, was the a wonderful gift in itself. Magdalene, Rima, Laura, Mengis, Wilson

From left to right:  Rima Aristocrat, CEO and President of Willis College; Mengistab Tsegaye, Executive Director of World Skills Employment Centre, Emily Cattelan-Legace, one of our featured speakers on love; Laura Traplin, Medium and Psychic in Ottawa; myself and Wilson Jn. Baptiste, CEO of Gems of Saint Lucia.

Friends below:  Lisa and her husband Andrew with Ranjith Mathews; Gemma and Ranjith’s son; my friend Barb with Angela, Rima and Laura; my friends Mussie, Mercy and Josephine with her other friend.

Thanks to my friend Leonetta who travelled from New York to be there for the launch!  This was a very special treat.  with monica

My writing journey to making myself more visible, started in 2011 after my mom’s death.  My motivation for indulging as much as I did was to ensure that when I died, everyone who knew me, could say that I lived my passion to the fullest.  My top passion in life is writing and since I made that decision, many other pieces in my life has fallen in place.  Lao Tzu said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and truly, that is a fundamental truth in life.  Since that decision, we have traveled many miles across countries and cities, written many articles, published two Magazines, held five inspirational events in Ottawa and met people whom I would not have otherwise met on this journey.

So… here’s wishing all of us ALL WONDERFUL BLESSINGS as we embrace our soul journey and LIVE OUR BEST LIVES.

Thanks to our wonderful SPONSORS and Mr. Felix Grande for featuring me on CHUO before the Launch of Soulful Encounters.

WIth Felix Grande 2

Hani 2

Thanks to Hani Rached from Auto Paradise for being one of our sponsors, Rima Aristocrat, Willis College; Mengistab Tsegaye, World Skills Employment Centre; Myrna Schmitt from  Piton Villa;  Paul and Sherrine Clifford from  Cast Away Tour in Saint Lucia!



Read more testimonials for Mags Magazine

Purchase your copy of Mags Magazine








World Skills Logo

Auto paradise repair

Cast Away Tour 2

Magical Kenya - July 1-October 31, 2016


Entrepreneur – Newcomer – Hani Rached – Building a Successful Enterprise in Ottawa

In 2005, I bought an old, 1997 Oldsmobile. THAT car gave me more trouble in getting it fixed, than I had bargained for.  My savior at that time, was Hani Rached, the owner of Auto Paradise Repair 2004, who was recommended to me by a friend, who thought that Hani was the best mechanic ever!  After meeting Hani and seeing how efficient he was with taking care of my car, I too can attest to his reliability, honestly, and flexibility  in fixing my car.  It was not only that the car was old, but back then, I was barely making ends meet and the financial pressure of fixing the car, (which I needed),was huge.  Hani never turned me down and he ensured that I always had the best service.

One day, he told me that it was time to let go of the old car!  I listened to him and by that time, I was able to get a brand new car.  However, I have never let go of Hani because he is the best mechanic and one of the most genuine, down to earth persons I have ever met.  He hears from me mainly when I have a car problem but over the last two years, we have started doing some fun, inspiring and creative small ventures.


Hani and Magdalene - couch

Over the years, Hani has grown his business to a leading edge garage which provides a full, professional service to clients at a competitive price. What is very inspiring for me, is that he is a newcomer and a great role model to help other newcomers see the possibilities that they can rise to… with some focus, clear goals and determination.

In 2013, Hani sponsored the launch of  Gems of the Caribbean in Ottawa. In 2015, he sponsored Inspiration 2016.  He was one of our featured guest speakers and his story of building his enterprise will be featured in the 2nd Edition of Mags Magazine – Soulful Encounters.  At inspiration 2016, he shared one of the most important tips that he has learnt in running his business and which I can also say that I have experienced with him.

 “I don’t see my customers as numbers. Every customer is important and I pay attention to their needs. It is important in our profession that we communicate effectively with our customers and that they leave our garage feeling happy and satisfied.”  Hani Rached.

Hani and team











(Hani with his staff above.)

Thank you Hani for being one of the sponsors for Mags Magazine.  We appreciate your business and your contribution towards Ottawa.  Look out for Mags Magazine – Soulful Encounters for the full story.

Hani and Magdalene

Hani below with myself and Lisa Anna Palmer, our 2nd guest speaker for Inspiration 2015.

Hani and Lisa



Auto paradise repair

It takes determination and focus to keep your business running successfully.  Tune in to the experiences of others to keep yourself motivated.

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Strong Message to End Violence Against Women, from Rima Aristocrat, Honorary Chair for IWSO Gala 2015,

_DSC4961One of the highlights for me in 2015 was meeting this amazing woman, Rima Aristocrat, at my son’s graduation from Willis College.  He had spoken to me about her before I met her, and would say things to me like,  ‘Mom, I have never been to a school where there is so much love!  Rima comes into our classroom and chats with us about everything!”  When I met her, I understood his respect for her because she is a remarkable woman who is very humble even though she has achieved great things in life! She has received numerous awards for her contribution to education, including recognition in the Who’s Who of Canadian Women, named as one of Ottawa’s 100 most influential leaders, listed among 2000 of the world’s respected individuals by Who’s Who in the 21st Century. Read more about Rima here.

Rima was the Honorary Chair of the 2015 Gala for Immigrant Women Services Ottawa.  She accepted the role with great humility and delivered a very strong address to the audience to end violence against women.  Here is her speech in full which I think makes a great read.

“Before I begin, let me ask you to take a moment, look around, make eye contact with every person at your table. Every person you see at your table has special role to play in eliminating all types of abuse against women and children.

Let me ask you this? What is your role!

Good evening!

And thank you all for joining us tonight for the 2015 Immigrant Women Services Ottawa Roses and Candles Gala.

I am truly honored to be the Honorary Chair of this year’s gala.

Now, Look around you, I know that you are surrounded by the family and friends who are serious about issue of women, children and abuse.

This year, the IWSO Gala falls right within the time of the 16 days to end violence against women.Audience

I would like to applaud Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO) for being that beacon of light in the community for immigrant women and their children. I am humbled and privileged to express my gratitude to IWSO for selecting me to be the Honorary Chair for the 2015 Gala.

  • I would like thank The Chair Magdalene Cooman and members of the Board of Directors of IWSO;
  • The Executive Director, Lucya Spencer; The Acting Executive Director, Mercy Lawluvi; staff of IWSO, funders, clients, supporters and YOU, all of YOU – thank you!

And now, allow me to share FACTS provided from the United Nations on the 16 days to end violence against women:

  • A staggering one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime—a pandemic of global proportions.
  • Unlike an illness; however, perpetrators and even entire societies choose to commit violence against women.
  •  They can make the choice to stop!
  •  Violence against women is not unavoidable – it can be prevented.
  •  But it’s not as straightforward as eliminating a virus.
  • There is no vaccine, or medication for a cure.
  •  And there is no one single reason for why it happens.
  •  As such, prevention strategies should be holistic, with multiple interventions undertaken in parallel, in order to have long-lasting and permanent effects.
  • Many sectors, actors and stakeholders need to be engaged.
  • More evidence is emerging on what interventions work to prevent violence —from community mobilization to change social norms, to comprehensive school interventions targeting staff and pupils, to economic empowerment and income supplements coupled with gender equality training.

RIma and Lucya

 (Rima and Lucya Spencer, Executive Director of IWSO) 

Prevention is the 2015 theme of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign’s 16 days call for action!

This year’s official commemoration at the UN Headquarters in New York, is where the first UN Framework on Preventing Violence against Women will be launched and discussed.

  • The framework develops a common understanding for the UN System, policymakers and other stakeholders on preventing violence against women and provides a theory of change to underpin action.

     “16 days to “Orange the world”

  • This year, from November 25th through December 10th, the UN Secretary-General’s aim for UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign is to raise public awareness and mobilize people everywhere to bring about change.

 “Orange the world,” invites you to organize events to decorate your streets, schools and landmarks in orange to symbolize a brighter future without violence.

  • Tonight, I am proud to announce that all three Willis College campuses, Ottawa, Smiths Falls and Arnprior are coloured in Orange and will be until December 10th.
  • We are organizing fundraising events for this worthy cause and 100% will be donated to IWSO.

 Immigrant Women Services Ottawa has made a huge difference in the lives of countless immigrant women!

 They have been removing barriers in the everyday lives of newcomers to Canada who are going through the settlement and integration process including survivors of violence — women who want to take back control of their lives.

With Olga

(Rima above with one of the staff from IWSO)

 Immigrant Women Services Ottawa is a community based agency serving immigrant and visible minority women. They create opportunities for women as they integrate into a new society, rebuild their lives free of violence and achieve their personal goals. Every year, over 2000 women and children are helped by IWSO’s dedicated staff and volunteers.

       I would like to quote Isabell Allende here:

Women have always been courageous… They are always fearless when protecting their children and in the last century, they have been fearless in the fight for their rights.


(Above – Magdalene Cooman, Chair of IWSO Board, Kim Rudd, MP for Northumberlnad, Peterborough South, Sandra Tislot, MC for IWSO Gala and Mercy Lawluvi,  Acting Executive Director)

_DSC4887Immigrant Women Services Ottawa provides a place of nurturing, listening ears, child-care, translation, crisis counselling, housing support…all the vital services that women and their children who are faced with challenging situations most desperately need… and now can have that welcoming place for support and encouragement.

I was born in Georgia, former USSR, I was one of three daughters raised by a remarkable mother and grandmother who became my mentor. In fact, the July 2015 issue of Mags Magazine wrote an article about my grandmother. Imagine a 60 year old woman becoming a medical doctor back in the early 1900s. This was the my grandmother’s way to showing me that it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.

In 1974, I immigrated to Toronto, Canada to start a new life. Blessed with  four beautiful daughters, four  granddaughters, one grandson, I, too, have worked hard, learned many things along life’s path, met many amazing women from around the world all which have shaped me, my mission in life.

It was in Toronto where I established the Canadian Association of Immigrant Professionals organization.

I have had opportunities to work with abused women and women on social assistance before arriving to Ottawa.

In 1998, I became the first immigrant woman to lead Willis College.

As the President and CEO of this 120 years old establishment, I have developed many best practices models in skills training,opened Willis College campuses in Smith Falls and Anrpior, established sister-city partnerships, founded TeKnoWave Inc., created Canada’s first national Aboriginal IT training organization and Women in IT initiative.

However, I’m most proud of the last 8 years I’ve been working with a very special program called Courage to Soar in partnership with Minwaashin Lodge that unites abused and homeless First Nation’s women.

As of today, over 120 of these women have gone through skills training at Willis College Ottawa campus with tremendous success. A couple of these graduates has even become Canadian Ambassadors to Africa.

But I would not be where I am today without the unconditional love and support of my family and friends.

Tonight, I am surrounded by my four daughters and daughter-in-law, Lali, Medea, Rima J. Michelle and Selina– Medea and Michelle arrived specially from Toronto.

I am accompanied by both colleagues and friends who have been promoting this event and who have been with me every step of my journey and who have made a huge impact in my life – thank you.

I am reminded of a quote by Cody Kennedy in Slaying Isidore’s Dragons,   “Don’t try to be brave all at once. Take – it- in – steps.”

So, I offer a final ‘thank you’ to all of you here tonight for supporting IWSO and all immigrant women and children.    

Your generosity and kindness will go a long way in simply looking out for women. 

God bless you all!”  Rima Aristocrat.

I hope that you enjoyed this!  Continue to support great initiatives, work towards elimination of violence against women… live your future now by taking small actions to create positive changes in the world.

Join Mags Magazine and Gems of Saint Lucia in its next great event which brings travel, music, writing and inspiration all together!

Inspiration 2015!



How my small blog brought international exposure to St. Lucian athletes through the BBC World News…



It is heartwarming when small gestures done with love and passion blossoms into more significant opportunities.

In February, I profiled 10 St. Lucians on my blog whom I picked randomly and I knew were making a difference in the lives others. Two of these great St. Lucians were Martina and Martial Charlery who run the Rockets Club in St. Lucia, where they train young athletes to compete on the global stage.

Martina and Martial

A few days after the blog was released, I was thrilled to hear that a BBC correspondent had contacted them to do a documentary on the athletes.

“Good morning, Martial and I would like to thank you for the article that you wrote about us and the work that we are doing. It gives great pleasure seeing the athletes develop from one stage to the next. We very shocked when the BBC correspondent contacted us, seeking to do a short documentary on the club. The correspondent indicated that they read your blog and would like to do a short story on the athletes and what we are doing to prepare for the Commonwealth Youth Games which will be held in 2017 here in Saint Lucia.”  Martina Charlery

Please see the BBC documentary below – let us support our young athletes in St. Lucia.

Nevin Kester Bryan

Martial and Martina are very excited and so are the athletes and the parents.  Since the documentary was first aired on BBC America, they  have received many calls from all over the world. The comments are very encouraging and the love and support is felt.  Most of the athletes have told us that people who meet them at school and on the streets, compliment them. Most of them have indicated that the comments have all been very encouraging, and very supportive.

“We never anticipated that such a great opportunity would have come our way, and we are truly thankful, and wish to share our deepest thanks to all the persons who continue to support our efforts.”  Martial Charlery

Sports participation and development in Saint Lucia, is an important part of our county’s development. Sport has the unique power to attract, mobilize and inspire. It is about inclusion, it teaches values such as respect for opponent, acceptance of rules and regulations, teamwork and fairness, all of which play an important aspect in helping the young athlete develop socially. Sports participation provides the children with the opportunity to express themselves, to share their opinions and ideas, to contribute their voices and become agents for change and contributing to a more peaceful society.

“The Government of St. Lucia  has seen the need and importance of sports and have taken a proactive role in ensuring that all schools have a sports programme with Physical Education  teachers at every school. Over the years we have seen greater participation and involvement. The major challenge is financing. Sponsorship for programmes such as ours have been a major challenge. For the athletes of the Rockets Athletic Club, participation involves not only the track performances, but their academic and social participation. It is our view that not all the athletes will become Olympians but some will become administrators and business owners. Thus,when a letter seeking sponsorship comes to them, they would be inclined to assist because of the experiences they had as a member of the club.”  Martina Charley

“We are grateful for the publicity that this opportunity has given us. The public now has a greater insight into what we do as a club, thus has a greater appreciation of the work and effort that the athletes are putting in. We hope that through this experience, more business owners and more of the private sector will play a greater role in providing the financial assistance in helping develop our athletes and thus making sports a bigger part of our daily lives. Scholarships, and funding for programmes such as camps, clinics, workshops, and cultural exchange programmes can and will help our athletes and our nation by extension.”  Martial Charlery

They  would like to see more financing for coaching and the inclusion of coaches in the schools at all levels of sports participation. The technical expertise they provide can improve on the performances by the athletes thus having a domino effect on the level of competition  they participate in.

Look out for the Youth Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017 in St. Lucia!

Please see the previous blog written about the Rockets Athletic Club

You can contact Rockets Athetic Club at

Spread the good karma by sharing this blog! You can also FOLLOW the blog by subscribing to it (on the side bar) or LIKE our  FB page!

Contact me if you would like me profile your company or the work which you are doing. My blog currently reaches about 14,000 people across 87 countries.  You never know where great opportunities await you!

TunIn to the small deeds that you can do to make a difference in the lives of others.  StepUP…. with a little from each of us, we can indeed go a long way to making this planet a better place to live.



Congratulations to Mayank Sharma and the Asian Leadership Network, TD Canada for winning “Business Award”…

Mayank Sharma and the Asian Leadership Network (ALN),  an affinity group of TD-MBNA Canada, was the recipient of the Business Award from the Immigrant Women Services Ottawa as part of their 25th Anniversary Celebrations on March 6th, 2014.  IWSO awarded several other people with awards for  outstanding community service which has a positive impact on the lives of women.

(Mayank, centre, with his colleagues Chris and Kevin)


Mayank is an internationally trained professional from India who migrated to Ottawa in 2003, when he first made contact with World Skills. He accessed several of World Skills  pre-employment services such as resume writing and interview coaching and secured a job with TD Canada, as a customer representative.  His career accelerated quite rapidly – today he is a Business Integration Process Consultant/Analyst. As soon as he got established in his career, he returned to World Skills in 2010  to explore how he could give back to the organization which helped him get started.  By that time, he was chair of the Asian Leadership Network and worked collaboratively  World Skills to develop a Corporate Mentorship Program which was piloted in 201o and has run since then at TD Canada.  He is passionate about supporting newcomers in economic  integration. Over the last four years, through the TD-World Skills Mentorship Program we have been able to address several of the barriers which newcomers face and have achieved the following: 

  • a guide for mentorship, which  is a model to develop more corporate mentorship programs
  • 31 internationally trained individuals have benefited directly from being mentees to this program and 60% of them have been able to secure employment through the expanded networks and resume and interview coaching
  • 120 additional newcomers have benefited from training provided by the staff of TD for resume writing and interview techniques.
  • 70 TD staff are engaged as mentors, interview coaches and supports for newcomers, including supporting newcomers at a resume clinic at World Skills every Wednesday afternoon.
  • support for other initiatives such as the “Alternative Career Event” which is an annual event hosted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Hire Immigrants Ottawa and World Skills, to support internationally trained individuals to explore alternative careers in Canada

(Staff from World Skills attending the IWSO gala to cheer Mayank and ALN. From left to right Fouzia, Gemma, Atoosa, Magdalene and Lali)


In addition to working directly with World Skills, ALN also  supports  another bridge training program for accounting and IT professionals at In-Tac, another Immigrant Serving organization in Ottawa. Over the last two years, ALN has also generously provided 10 hampers valued at over $300 to 10 new Canadian families at Christmas time. They have initiated and participated in various activities in the community to do spring cleanup, planting trees, various cultural events to raise awareness of different cultures and leadership seminars to assist our members (who are mostly new immigrants to Canada and working for TD)

(With Lucya Spencer, centre, the  Executive Director of IWSO; Mengis Tesegaye, Executive Director at World Skills, 2nd from the right, and World Skills and TD staff)


Mayank is  also a member of the Indo Canadian Chamber of Commerce and have been part of forum’s to assist people who are looking to do business with people from different backgrounds (specially India). Overall, his objective is to assist people in the community who are looking for help and to develop them as leaders in the community.


Newcomers to Canada  face several challenges in economic integration, mainly  lack of professional networks and access to employment.  As the Director of Employer Engagement with World Skills, I am working diligently to create partnerships with employers to support newcomer integration.  We are looking to expand the Corporate Mentorship Programs and create greater opportunities for newcomers to network with professionals in their fields.

If you are a newcomer to Ottawa and need help in accessing employment, please contact our office at 613 2330453 x 0.

If you are an employer who is looking to hire, do contact  us because we have a pool of highly qualified internationally trained professionals  who are looking to add value to your organization/company.

If you are a professional, we also have opportunities for you to network and support our internationally trained individuals.

Do contact me:

TuneIn to the needs of people who are internationally trained and who can bring unique, global perspectives to add to your business. StepUp and make a difference in creating positive changes to the lives of those around you.



An award for me – how precious! Celebrating the Career Centre of the Telfer School of Management, Ottawa University, 11th Career Centre Successes Reception

Last night, I received a “Career Centre Commitment Award” from the Career Centre, Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, for appreciation of the work which I have done with them in supporting International Students on their path towards employment in Ottawa. I am very grateful and humble at accepting this award and I am sharing it with the amazing organization and staff I work with – LASI World Skills and the Ottawa Job Match Network, where I have learnt so much about economic integration in Canada and now this knowledge is expanding to serve international students from across the world.


The event was very well organized and brought in over 250 students, employers, alumni, professors and students who have all contributed towards its success over the last eleven years. Although I did not capture the pictures here, I do want to congratulate other Award recipients:

Julie Blais Corneua,
Jeff Drinkwater, Soctiabank
David Jones, PassionWorksInc.
Carlo Lombard, Progressive Shift

Ottawa is a small community and it is inspiring to see the willingness of professionals to volunteer their services to support those programs.  Kimberly Barclay, the relationship manager for the Telfer School of Management, approached us two years ago to explore how we could support their work with international students since we (World Skills/ the Ottawa Job Match Network) work with the economic integration of immigrants into Canada. Although international students are not our clientele, we saw the need to reach out and support the program, thereby leveraging our resources and building a new partnership. Since then we have built capacity to train one of our staff, Soophia Ahmad to also deliver the program and she is doing a fantastic job at it. She should be also sharing the award with me.  By working together, we have all expanded our networks and our knowledge into the wider community.

(With Kimberly Barclay below)


(With Caroline Hannah, Senior Relationship Manager)


(With my colleague Andy Rapoch below)


(With my daughter Dawn)


(With Wilson St. Jour)   


International students offer several strategic advantages to the Canadian workforce – mainly that they have an education in Canada, which does not need accreditation plus they are already integrated into the culture of Canada. However, since they are at school most of the time, their links to the community and employers are not as strong as it should be. Programs like the Career Centre at the Telfer School of Management works with innovative approaches to provide information, professional links to the community, networks, career advice and counselling and other tools and resources to help make an easier transition from university  to employment. Those services are critical in helping international students find a welcoming place in the community as well as employment so that they can become permanent residents in Ottawa. In the long run, it is to the advantage of employers to look at hiring this great pool of candidates, who will contribute towards labour market growth in the next few years.

About the Telfer School of Management:

Every single day, we can find opportunities to reach out to people or organizations within our communities. TuneIn today to ideitfy your skills and your experience. How can you use those to support others? To  expand your network? How can you support a student? How can you facilitate employment? StepUp and be the change that you want to see in your community.

Thanks to Kimberly Barclay and the amazing team at the Career Centre for this award and my amazing workplace for the opportunity to work on such great initiatives. I look forward to continuing our collaboration!

Spread the good karma by sharing this blog! You can also FOLLOW the blog by subscribing to it (on the side bar) or LIKE our  FB page!  Look out for a few more stories on initiatives in Ottawa which are making a huge difference in the  lives of our internationally trained individuals!

Contact me if you would like me to highlight someone or an initiative which you think is truly inspiring!


Congratulations to the St. Lucia Ottawa Association for a GREAT Independence Day Celebration!

As a tribute to observe St. Lucia’s 35th Independence Day Celebrations, I have been on a mission to feature 10 St. Lucians who are making a positive difference in uplifting the human spirit and adding inspiration and motivation to the lives of others. Well…. there are so many St. Lucians across the globe contributing the world economy, that it became hard to keep up so I decided to feature the amazing executive of the St. Lucia Ottawa Association!

Congratulations to the St. Lucia Ottawa Association for hosting a great 35th Independence Anniversary Celebration in Ottawa on February 22nd 2014.  Although the executive of the Association is quite small, you can barely find a group more dedicated to the mission of promoting St. Lucia and St. Lucians in Ottawa. Best of all they do it with class!  Below is the picture of the Executive, with Mr. Michael Willius (far right), the Consulate General of St. Lucia, based in Toronto. At the far left, we have the vice president, Ms. Noella Charles, the president, Mr. Raymond Peterkin, the entertainment chair, Ms. Natalie Peterkin, the secretary, Ms. Yvette Lubrun; floor member, Leibert Francis; Helen Glasgow, treasurer and we are missing Gisettle Jean Baptiste who is the chair of the youth and diaspora committee.


The event was held at the classy location of the Westin Hotel with the aim of celebrating both St. Lucia’s 35th Independence Anniversary and also to raise  funds to help the relief efforts in St. Lucia after the damaging trough on December 24th, 2013.  The theme was “Embracing All Generations for Community Action” and it was inspiring to see the participation of St. Lucians and friends of St. Lucians across the generations. Messages were sent to congratulate the St. Lucia Ottawa Association from the Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Honorable Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Dr. Kenny Anthony and  Jim Watson, the Mayor of the City of Ottawa.  The President of the Association called us to reflect on our achievements as a small island state.

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“Thousands of our island’s sons and daughters who have migrated across the globe and who are now making our world a better place, were nurtured and educated in St. Lucia. Truly, it is remarkable that we could achieve so much with so little.  As we move forward and take our place in our new home, Canada, we should never forget our culture of caring, sharing, respect for the elderly and the friendships that bonded us together.”  Raymond Peterkin

One of the keynote speakers was a young man, Raymond Peterkin Junior, a distinguished scholar who holds a B.A.Sc in Computer Engineering, a Master’s of Applied Science and a PhD, has published numerous technical articles, has worked as a part-time professor and is working as a software engineer for Larus Technologies. He delivered a thought-provoking speech on “Giving Back and Community Building” where he challenged St. Lucians in Ottawa to think more deeply about how we use our talent, cultural roots in food and culture to create wealth, and leverage our resources within  the community.  As a young St. Lucian, he shows success and role models the value of education.

The Consulate General, Mr. Michael Willius, congratulated the Association on their efforts towards relief efforts in St. Lucia and provided an explanation on how funds and assistance is distributed on the island during such disastrous times.


The Executive of the St. Lucia Ottawa Association extended heartfelt thanks to several members of the community who  have made an exceptional contribution to the association and the St. Lucian Community over the years.  Awards were presented to St. Lucians who have provided countess hours of voluntary help to the community.

(Leibert Francis below with president, Raymond Peterkin)

Awards- Libert

(Berdeena Charles, Victoria Charles below)


(Natalie Peterkin below)

Award - Nathalie

(Berdeena Charles below)


Another outstanding community member, James John received an award but we don’t have a photo.

Toni Francis was the MC that night. She contributes her MCing skills to host several of the St. Lucia Association Events in Ottawa.


Wilson Jn. Baptiste, the CEO of Gems of St. Lucia (left below) came in from New York for the event and  presented a prize for 3 nights stay at the REX St. Lucian.  This was won by Eunice Charles who is looking forward to enjoying those three nights! Gems of St. Lucia has previously received support from the St. Lucia Ottawa Association to run a Soccer Clinic in St. Lucia. Community support was great – The St. Lucia Tourist Board donated prizes along with other businesses and there was even a 50/50 draw and raffle prizes.

(Wilson Jn. Baptiste, left below)

Mags and Wilson 2

(Eunice Charles, left below, won the 3 nights stay at the REX St. Lucian)

Raymond and Eunice

The event culminated with a night of dancing – Hypnotic Sounds carried the crowd off with music that could not keep us off the dance floor.  Here are some pictures to enjoy!  Great work St. Lucia Ottawa Association!  You keep the light shining in us for St. Lucia.


(Chad Henry and Wilson Jn. Baptise below)

Chad and Wilson

(Dawn Maxwell below, one of the young volunteers selling raffle tickets)

Dawn selling raffle tickets

(Renditions by Viviane Simon, Victor Antoine and Berlayne Smith below)


Willius, wife, lady in red

Here are some stories of more inspiring St. Lucians!

Spread the good karma by sharing this blog! You can also FOLLOW the blog by subscribing to it (on the side bar) or LIKE our  FB page!

I will update this blog later about the results of the fundraising efforts.

Contact me if you would like me to highlight someone you think is truly inspiring!

Experience One of Those Unforgettable All-Inclusive St Lucia Vacations by booking at the REX St. Lucian Hotel.