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

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Magical Kenya - July 1-October 31, 2016


New Release: Soulful Encounters, 2nd Edition of Mags Magazine


Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another. George Eliot

Dear friends,

All of us have dreams but unless we take action, dreams remain to be just dreams.

The 2nd Edition of Mags Magazine is here after many months of hard work and it is indeed a beautiful dream come true.  What makes it more special, is that many of you who are reading this newsletter today, have been great supporters of my work in helping me to live my soul mission.  I am very grateful for this support.  Some of you have come as total strangers in my life but through kindness, love and soul connections, everyday moments have become soulful encounters to celebrate.

Soulful Encounters  is a very special edition which features inspiring people with a special feature on Gems of Kenya.  It even highlights an encounter with George Eliot, an 18th century writer and life lessons from four year old Sid St. Catherine!

This year, we will be printing 200 copies of Soulful Encounters – be one of the first to pre-order our special copy which I will autograph with a special message for you!

Click on the photo below to pre-order and remember you can also give one as a special gift to a special friend. Help me to spread the word and inspire more people to reach their own goals.


I want to express my gratitude  to my partner Wilson Jn Baptiste who is also the editor in chief for the many hours which he has dedicated towards this magazine. His faith in me and my ability to rise each time I want to give up, is priceless and I am grateful to him for being that light and strength for me. Our graphic designer Mila Gertsenchtein – your touch …is golden. Thank you for your endless hours of work. Our photographer, Nyamulola Chiboli Kambanji – thank you for your endless hours of photography and doing such a fabulous job with the cover photo. Kores Musuni thank you for the photos from Kenya – it has added much delight to the magazine. To my readers and reviewers – I cannot thank you all enough. Celene Gyles, Laura Traplin, Wendy R Pilgrim-Michael, Priscilla Lucien, Mengistab Tsegaye,  Rima Aristocrat, Doina Tibu, Ghebre Issac, Hani Rached, Myrner Schmitt, Trevor and Dale Stevenson, Emily Cattelan-Legace,Christina Sang,Jane Adam, Laurie Jaeger – your contribution towards this issue has been priceless.

Thanks to our sponsors: Willis College, Auto Paradise Repair, World Skills Employment Centre, Phresh, Piton Vacation Villa, Sea Spray Cruises and Nature Expeditions.
Lastly, I  want to thank my children: Jelan, Ohri, Dawn and Kim – thank you all for your support.

Take small actions today and steer your dreams!  YOU can do it.  YOU too can live your soul mission.








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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!



A Grandmother’s Legacy – Imagine becoming a medical doctor in your 60’s…back in the early 1900’s


(Rima Aristocrat, in her office at Willis College)

“Here, I did this for you.” Rima’s grandmother handed her the Medical degree which she had just completed.

“What is this?” Rima asked.

Rima's grandmother, Tamara

“I want you to know that it is never too late to study or to do what you want to do.” Her grandmother told her.  After raising her six children, Rima’s grandmother, Tamara,  went to university in her 60’s to study medicine although she never practiced as a medical doctor.  However, she created a lifelong impression in the mind of the young eleven year old Rima, her first grandchild – that it is never too late to follow your dreams or to learn something new. Rima fondly recollected this memory during a business lunch meeting with her. She spoke with great love of her four daughters, her five grandchildren, women, newcomers to Canada and youth who are very dear to her heart. “I want to leave something better for my grandchildren.” She said reflectively. Her grandmother had a profound impact on her life as she thinks of the legacy she wants to leave behind.

So who is Rima? Rima Aristocrat is the President and CEO of Willis College in Ottawa.   I first met her at the 2015 Graduation Ceremony of Willis College of which my son Jelan was a graduate. I was drawn to her presence immediately. She radiates light and love miles from where she stands.  Jelan speaks about his teacher, Ed Mahonny and Rima in the most positive light. “Mom, the principal comes into our classroom and chats with us about everything in life.  Her door is always open and we can always go to her.  I have never felt so much love in a school.” This is only a small description of this brilliant award-honored woman who has continued the legacy of Willis College which was founded in 1896 by Stephen T. Willis.  Ownership of the College was transferred to the Aristocrat family in 1989 and she is the 4th President and CEO of the College. Willis College is the oldest Career College in Ottawa and it is notably unique as an employer led institution which has transitioned over the years from business and language training to diversifying the College offerings in Technology, and Healthcare. Willis College prides itself in preparing students to meet the needs of employers and getting students in the workforce as quickly as possible.

(Below, the graduating class of 2015 with honoured guest, professors and Rima)


IMAG3310[1]Rima migrated to Canada  from Eastern Europe many years ago.  She came here as a concert pianist with a Master’s degree in education. Over the years, she has reinvented herself, used her transferrable skills and exercised leadership skills in several programs and initiatives which has all contributed towards where she is today.

For more information about Willis College, please visit

What legacy did your grandparents leave for you?  What legacy do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?