November 21, 2006
Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards
By Emily Mathieu
Breakthrough work in everything from childhood education to computer programs for cattle farmers garnered top honours for women in business at the 2006 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards.
The event, in its 17th year, honours women who have made a significant contribution to the Canadian economy. It was co-hosted by journalist and businesswoman Diane Francis.
Powerpoint Group Inc., which specializes in marketing to women, produced the event. Royal Bank of Canada was the title sponsor.
“It really shows the diversity of the types of businesses that women are leading,” says Kris Depencier, national manager small business and women’s markets, with RBC.
The six winners were selected from 150 semi-finalists and more than 800 nominees. Over 25-years of teaching arts to children and adults earned Lola Rasminsky, of Avenue Road Arts School in Toronto Ont., the Bell Trailblazer award.
Ms. Rasminsky taught music at private schools before starting to teach arts to children out of her home in 1979.
Massive demand resulted in her first school being opened in 1993 with 200 students.
The school, which explores all aspects of the arts, has more than 1200 pupils. It has spun off Arts for Children of Toronto, an art and drama program for 8,000 inner city children.
She also runs Beyond the Box, a program that teaches business people to think creatively.
“We look at it as a form of cross training for the mind,” she says.
Supporting the British Columbia wine industry earned Tracy Gray and Suzanne Mick, of Discover Wines Ltd., in Kelowna, the Deloitte Start-Up award.
The Intel Innovation award went to Yvonne Tollens of ComputerAid Professional Services Ltd., in Okotoks, Alta.
Susan Niczowski of Summer Fresh Salads Inc., in Woodbridge Ont., was awarded the RBC Momentum award.
Kyle MacDonald, of Phoenix Interactive Design Inc., in London, Ont., was presented with the BDC Exporter award.
The Energy Savings Group Lifetime Achievement award went to Lisette McDonald, founder of Southmedic Inc., in Barrie, Ontario.