The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are Canada’s foremost women’s entrepreneurship and business awards. Hosted once again by Diane Francis, editor-at-large of the National Post, the black-tie gala awards ceremony at the Fairmount York Hotel brings together the who’s who of Canadian women innovators and leaders. This year was particularly special as it marked the 20th anniversary of the Awards. A fun fact was that this year, 1 out of every 7 guests were male, the highest number of men attending the event in the past 20 years.
The winners with Carolyn Lawrence and Diane Francis
An initiative of Women of Influence Inc., they recognize six phenomenal female business owners across categories ranging from start-up to sustainability. This year’s winners include Rain Emily (Shi Yu) Zhang, President, Willowest Enterprise Co. Ltd. (Deloitte Start-Up Award), Catherine Buckingham, President & CEO, TNR Industrial Doors Inc. (Hub HKMB Impact Award), Barb Gamey, President, Payworks (RBC Momentum Award), Jodi Glover, CEO & Co-Founder, Real Tech Inc. (TPH Sustainability Award), Michèle Boisvert, President and owner, Homeocan Inc. (Trailblazer Award) and Clara Angotti, President, Next Pathway Inc. (PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship).
“Passion, innovation and dedication are the cornerstones of the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards,” said Carolyn Lawrence, president and CEO, Women of Influence Inc. “Each finalist has exemplified these characteristics, and is an inspiration to professional women across the country.”
TPH Sustainability Award finalist, Sarah Sajedi and her family
The evening began with a cocktail reception where guests mingled and networked and nominees celebrated with friends and family. were primarily black or bold hues like royal blue and dresses were by and large short cocktail numbers with a few women in business suits. One notable exception was winner Rain Emily (Shi Yu) Zhang who was dressed in a stunning pale pink evening gown.
The reception was followed by a bagpipe call for guests to be seated. After a welcome by Diane Francis, there was a special speech by Honourable Laurel Broten, provincial Minister of education and Minister responsible for Women’s Issues, recognizing the achievement of women. The three course sit-down dinner was served and then the Award ceremony started.
Each year, the awards program spotlights three finalists in each category – one from each major Canadian region – and the winner is selected after an extensive due diligence process. The winners each gave heartfelt speeches. Rain, who immigrated to Canada from China in 2005, spoke about how her packed all her hope for the future in two suitcases and moved to Canada and this is the Canada where her dreams have come true. Jodi Glover spoke about her dream that all businesses will be sustainable and green in the future. Barb Gamey had the audience in stitches with her witty, self-deprecating acceptance speech.
According to Women of Influence, “past Award recipients now sit on high level boards and government committees, and lend their energies to countless educational and other volunteer projects. They provide valuable role models and mentors for all entrepreneurs, both male and female.”
Congratulations to this year’s winners!