CULTURE

A Night to Remember at the 2023 Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala 

We were recently invited to attend an evening dedicated to both elegance and achievement – the 2023 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala at the “ritzy” Ritz-Carlton in Toronto. This stunning venue was the perfect backdrop for the symphony of success that unfolded. 

About the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards 

“As we celebrate our 31st year, we’re particularly inspired by this year’s winners who’ve made a significant impact,” said Rumeet Billan, Ph.D., CEO and Owner, Women of Influence+. “This year’s award recipients represent what influential leadership looks like in business and in the community, and we’re proud to spotlight and celebrate their achievements.” 

The 2023 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are presented by Women of Influence+, an award-winning global organization dedicated to advancing women in the workplace. The program recognizes the country’s leading women entrepreneurs and organizational leaders who have made impressive and substantial contributions to the local, Canadian, and/or global economy. The judging panel of the awards program is comprised of 15 judges, some of whom are Canada’s top business leaders, and the official Due Diligence partner for the program is Deloitte. The official gift sponsor of the event is Bulova, returning for the fifth year. 

Celebrating the evening 

The evening commenced with the VIP reception, where nominees, special guests, partners, and VIPs gathered to toast to the grand celebration to come. The energy in the room was palpable, as nominees anxiously chatted away while wondering if they would be taking home an award. Conversations sparked, and the connections forged laid the foundation for a night of empowerment and recognition.  

Zahra Hemraj and Victoria Hui enjoying the VIP reception

Throughout the reception, we discovered Nikki Nordick’s passion for providing a loving environment for dogs through her business Airdrie Puppy Pals; we chatted with Dr. Sukaina Dada about SMILE Canada — Support Services, a Canadian charity that she founded to provide racialized children, youth, and their families with disabilities and critical illness support; and we learned about the incredible impact of Action Against Hunger Canada through the leadership of Onome Ako in her role as CEO. It was hard not to feel personally attached to each of these nominees, and we wished that all of them could leave with an award.  

Dr. Sukaina Dada, SMILE Canada – Services and Nikki Nordick, Airdrie Puppy Pals

Once the doors to the main ballroom opened, we were left in awe. We knew that the Ritz was spectacular, but this was truly an extraordinary set-up.  

And the award goes to…  

The evening was hosted by CTV News anchor Marcia MacMillan, and awards were presented by RBC, TELUS Business, Brescia at Western University, Bell Media, Deloitte, and Bulova.

Zahra Hemraj presenting the Start-up Award

The partnership between Bulova and Women of Influence adds another layer of significance to the occasion. This collaboration reflects a shared commitment to empowering women in business. Bulova’s presence as the Official Gifting Partner is not just about watches; it’s about amplifying the voices and achievements of women entrepreneurs, aligning seamlessly with the event’s ethos of celebrating the triumphs of women who redefine industry standards. As Zahra Hemraj, Director of Marketing and Data Integration at Citizen Watch Canada (the parent company of Citizen, Bulova, Accutron, Frederique Constant and Alpina) stated in her remarks, “Rooted in a legacy that celebrates empowered feminity, Bulova shares a common purpose with Women of Influence, whose mission is to empower and inspire women to achieve their goals. Just as our watches symbolize audacity and fearlessness, we are proud to celebrate all of the entrepreneurs who, like Bulova, embody the spirit of being “Bold at Heart” in their visionary pursuits, contributing to a landscape where the empowerment of women naturally intertwines with the fabric of success.” This year Bulova, presented the Start-Up Award to Laura Suen of Fire & Steel Inc.  

As the program progressed, we got to hear more about each nominee’s personal story – and even though there were, of course, “winners”, it felt like the entire evening was a collective celebration of each of their successes. To further add to their celebration, each finalist was gifted with an incredible desk clock from Bulova and each winner was gifted with a personalized Bulova Duality timepiece. 

Onome Ako from Action Against Hunger Canada being gifted with the Bulova Duality timepiece.

Attending the 2023 Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala was an evening unlike any other. It left us feeling invigorated and inspired – after all, each one of us is capable of being a trailblazer like all of the women who were celebrated tonight.  

Celebrating Excellence: The 2023 Award Winners:   

  1. Micro-Business Award: Jolene Johnson, Wabanaki Maple, Tobique First Nation, NB Start-Up Award: Laura Suen, Fire and Steel Inc., Mississauga, ON 
  2. RBC Momentum Award: Jennie Coleman, Equifruit Inc., Montreal, QC 
  3. Social Change Award: Regional Impact: Ginny Becker, Child Advocacy Centre of Kelowna, Kelowna, BC 
  4. Social Change Award: National Impact: Onome Ako, Action Against Hunger Canada, Toronto, ON 
  5. Innovation Award: Shamira Jaffer, Signifi Solutions, Mississauga, ON 
  6. Excellence Award: Aisha Yang, Herbaland Naturals Inc., Richmond, BC 

Interested in reading more about women that are making an impact on their community? Read more here.

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