A month ago, the corner of Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave. was adorned with large and colourful portraits. The intriguing part of the art instillation is that it wasn’t on a building or a billboard, and it wasn’t placed in a park. The portraits were all hung on the hoarding covering construction of a new podium.
The buildings on the corner of Yonge and St. Clair are owned by Slate Asset Management, who have a total of 10 properties in the area. The company saw an opportunity to engage with the community during the revitalization process, and chose public art as its catalyst.
“One of our first moves at Yonge + St. Clair was to collaborate on the eight-storey mural by acclaimed street artist, Phlegm,” said Katie Fong of Slate Asset Management. “The reaction to the mural confirmed our assumption that there’s an enormous appetite for public art in this city. Incorporating public art at Yonge + St. Clair allows us to add meaning and value to what has traditionally been an overlooked area. It’s our goal to shift this perception and we see art as one of our major avenues for doing so.”
Part of the construction includes the creation of a two-storey podium at 2 St. Clair W., which will feature a new BUCA concept. Fong said it didn’t make sense to keep a blank canvas up for a few months at such a well-walked intersection.
“The art adds a splash of colour and vibrancy. We’re working towards re-establishing the neighbourhood as a destination with our investment in art and prominent tenants like BUCA. The mural sparks a sense of curiosity, and a conversation of what’s to come and it’s helping us continue to build buzz.”
The artwork was created by Daniel Mazzone, a local artisan described by the Toronto Star as the next Andy Warhol. Each portrait is made of a collage of different images, with various colours and textures, coming together to create the face of one of his icons. Each piece took roughly 200 hours to make.
“What we liked about Daniel’s work is the colour and vibrancy that it brings. We really wanted to brighten up the corner. Also, his subject matter is relatable. Everyone can look up and recognize the various personalities. We wanted something that was going to be accessible.”
In August 2016, Slate partnered with StreetARToronto, a city program that finances public art in an effort to revitalize and engage neighbourhoods. They fund a single international project a year and chose to invest in the Yonge and St. Clair community. The mural was designed and painted by international street artist PHLEGM, whose work can be found throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Slate said there are plans for more public art at St. Clair and Yonge, but they are waiting to perfect opportunity to implement them. It will be interesting to see this neighbourhood grow.
Alexa Samuels is the founder of Mercartto.com, a Toronto-based, female-led e-commerce startup that helps connect people with handpicked artwork based on their personality type. With a background in Latin American art and an MBA from Rotman School of Management, Samuels knows what it takes to run a business. Her idea — to offer original art to those who may not know what to look for — sprang from her own personal experience and desire to fuse technology with culture.
Samuels responded to some questions from Women’s Post about how she founded Mercartto.com and what advice she has for young entrepreneurs looking to run a startup:
Question: Your background is in Latin American studies and art – when did you decide to make the jump into business – and what was your interest in Latin America specifically?
Answer: I went to McGill University not having a clue what I wanted to do. When we had to declare a major, the cross-disciplinary nature of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program intrigued me. I’ve had a long-term inexplicable interest in Latin America since I was young, perhaps stemming from the region’s history/archaeology, art, music, food and languages. As for jumping into business, it just seemed like the thing to do. My grandfather built a successful toy manufacturing business, so perhaps entrepreneurialism is in the blood.
Your career is a bit all over the place – marketing, social media, non-profits – what drove you towards entrepreneurship?
Initially, my career began after completing my Master of Arts degree when I joined Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. I stayed there for over a decade until taking a Global Executive MBA that stoked my interest in going independent. In 2009 I felt the time was right to make the change.
How did the idea for Mercartto come about?
The idea for Mercartto literally sprouted from an “aha moment” when out with a friend for lunch.
Years ago, shortly after I moved from a tiny home with no wall space to a house with a two-storey front entrance, I knew I wanted a significant piece of art to make a great first impression. But, I didn’t want to spend extensive time searching for art, especially wading through art that was out of my price range or art that just didn’t resonate with me. I had also spent a lot of time (and continue to do so) contemplating my own art decisions: Why am I drawn to certain types of art? What are the common elements? Finally, I wanted to create an experience which surprises and delights the user, but within a selection of art that she is more likely to enjoy. Mercartto’s been evolving ever since that lunchtime epiphany.
In terms of your personality quiz – is there a kind of art that is most popular?
Our data set is still small, so it’s hard to make generalizations this early, but if I had to narrow it down I would say that landscapes have the edge. What’s more interesting to observe is how diverse our users’ tastes are. I can tell you that at current, out of the 31 different personality types, the most popular are the Sensory Collector, the Social Collector, the Visionary Collector and the Closet Daredevil. I’m also happy to observe that so far we have one Nonconformist.
How has the company evolved in the last three years?
The last three years have seen the evolution from idea to a product. The most significant milestones have been:
Narrowing down the Mercartto differentiator and refining the art personality quiz;
Launching the beta as an iOS app in 2016; and
Integrating tester feedback into an updated web version launched end of 2017.
Tell me about the scholarship aspect of Mercartto?
When considering who is going to be drawn to Mercartto, we think of someone who is interested in introducing original art into their space, whether for the first time or to build upon a small collection, but might be unsure about “the whole art thing”. Our mandate is to help people learn more about art, both from general concepts and from things related specifically to Toronto. We want Canadians to learn about themselves, and others to learn about us. Our blog serves as an ongoing repository of this information, and once a month we send our subscribers a curated newsletter summarizing the best content of the month.
What advice would you have for budding entrepreneurs? Did you experience any drawbacks or challenges in the creation of Mercartto?
Ha! There are days (weeks!) when you’re an entrepreneur and everything you do feels like a drawback, challenge or learning experience. It’s especially difficult taking on a technology project when you don’t have the technical skills to build the platform yourself. If I had to narrow down my advice to a few points, I would say:
There will be rough patches. Lots of them. You will make mistakes. Expensive, painful mistakes. If you want stability and predictability, work for someone else. But if you love the challenge of creating something the world has never seen before, you believe in what you’re doing and you accept that the buck stops with you and you alone, entrepreneurship can be very rewarding.
It’s okay to change. Don’t be so rigid with your idea that you’re not willing to change. Really listen to others and not just hear what you want to hear.
Listen to your gut. If something is gnawing at the back of your brain, there’s probably some truth to it. Honour your misgivings.
Be very, very careful with whom you do business. As much as possible, set expectations up front. Deal directly with issues.
Tell me about #artistsneededhere.
#artisneededhere is our inaugural promotion to help build awareness. We’re on a mission to make your walls happy! Until Feb. 28, we’re giving people a chance to enter to win one of two prints by Toronto artist Jane Murdoch Adams’ wonderful Frida Kahlo series. Entry is done by sharing a photo of your sad, bare wall on a public Instagram account with the hashtag #artisneededhere, posting a comment to our #artisneededhere thread in Facebook, or signing up to receive our monthly curated newsletter. More details at http://ArtIsNeededHere.com.
How do you help women?
I knew I wanted to build my business if not directly targeted at women, at least in a way that women would feel like it was made for them, but not at the expense of excluding men. It’s a true “feminist” approach: one that believes in equality for everyone. I am particularly interested in ensuring we have female artists represented on the site – again, not to the exclusion of men, but by at least making an effort to be consciously aware that female artists are being approached on an equal basis to males.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I don’t understand the question (just kidding.)
If I’m not working, my time is generally spent with my husband, daughter, and extended family. Now that my daughter is getting increasingly independent, I’ve realized that I need to invest in spending time with myself, particularly doing creative pursuits like painting, writing, piano playing. And on Sunday nights you can find me playing hockey at my local rink.
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I’m currently looking for hotels in New York and I saw this term “boutique hotel” listed. To me, a boutique is a small, independent shop often found in a quaint neighbourhood that sell handmade items you can’t find anywhere else.
A boutique hotel is similar in a fashion. It is not operated by a large chain or brand. Instead, it is independently owned that provides individualized and custom service. Most have less than 100 rooms, meaning the experience can be quite intimate. At the same time, boutique hotels usually have a lot of character. The building may have a theme that seeps into every room.
Don’t be fooled though. This doesn’t mean the hotel is tacky. Most boutique hotels are actually quite luxurious. Because they are smaller than the typical hotel, it means more care is taken in the decor. Designer furnishings and unique pieces of art are common in each room. The best part is that, unlike your typical hotel, no two rooms are alike. Some rooms may have a quirky sense of humour while others may have a warm and cozy ambiance.
Because of the size of boutique hotels, owners are usually able to find prime locations to build upon.. This can result in some truly breathtaking views.
Each room will also have some luxury, hand-made and unique items available for use, like organic soaps, bath pillows, or even a linen selection. Prepare to enjoy some locally-grown foods as well as some art by local artisans.
There are also a few different kinds of boutique hotels. Historic or country boutiques, for example, offer accommodations with rustic charm — think stone walls, big fireplaces, detailed wood carvings, and homemade comfort food. These buildings often have some sort of historic significance and rooms are designed to feel homey, yet still rich in culture and comfort.
Urban boutique hotels are often found in a city’s centre and caters too younger travelers looking for a tech-savvy and comfortable place to stay. They are generally located in neighbourhoods with lots of culture and nightlife. The rooms themselves use Smart technology and there are common areas for people to mingle.
Then there are the luxury boutiques. The rooms in this accommodation use high-quality materials and exclusive designer furnishings. They may have infinity pools, skylights, or even spa services available. Luxury boutiques pride themselves on personalizing your vacation experience, and ensuring you have the most fine wining and dining available.
Scores of people gathered into the dimly lit and hushed lower-theatre of Berkeley Street Theatre to see the latest production featured by the Canadian Stage, a not-for-profit contemporary theatre company. It was the opening night, on Nov. 3 of Red Sky Performance’s latest indigenous contemporary performance —Backbone. Nothing could have prepared me for the invoking performance that was presented before me.
In anticipation of the performance, I had a chat with Red Sky’s founder and artistic director, Sandra Laronde. Laronde was inspired to create Backbone using her indigenous beliefs based on the ‘spine of the Americas.’
” I wanted to show the ‘backbone’ of the Americas in dance and music, a rocky spine ( Rocky Mountains) that has life, circuitry, electricity, and impulses that are alive and dynamic—much like the human spine. For indigenous peoples, there is a strong connection between the earth’s backbone and a human one, we are inseparable.” Laronde said.
Laronde’s connection to indigenous culture and interest in indigenous mapping inspired the core of Backbone. Indigenous mapping sees the land as a live and spiritual space. Instead of seeing the mountains (Rockies and Andes) as divided by borders, as traditional western mapping does, Indigenous mapping marks it as a continuous fluid. Many characteristics of Indigenous mapping lays respect to Mother Earth and speaks about the meaning of the land instead of naming an area after a person or a discoverer.
Laronde asked herself how she could translate this concept into movement? With a team of nine dancers and one live musician, Laronde partook in collaborative choreography training with Jera Wolfe, Ageer, and Thomas Fonua to create the contemporary aesthetic of Backbone that visually and audibly appeals to the viewers.
The sounds that accompanied the dancers movement on stage was crucial to create visuals and situations that allows your mind to imagine and feel the moment. In the opening sequence of Backbone, dancers present themselves as a spine, with each movement in cohesion with the cracking and popping sounds of human bones. The spine coming to life, unfolding, separating, and eventually merging together again.
This stunning performance was only possible through the use of talented dancers using every bit of their intense training. On average, the dancers trained from 10 AM to 6PM, Monday to Saturday, their training is akin to a high-level athlete, with many training since childhood.
With music being such a big component to this performance, Laronde turned to percussionist and composer, Rick Sacks, a long-time collaborator with Red Sky. Sacks was the 10th, but most crucial performer on stage, delivering sounds to accompany the dancers.
“Most of the music was performed live except for about 10 ambient cues from a computer in a booth. Rick played and/or triggered all the music. He triggered sounds from an electronic drum set and an electronic MalletKAT. The composition is made vital by ornamentation and punctuation that he could change each night depending on the dancer’s movements and the energy of the performance. This could only be the result of a live performance— it keeps it spontaneous,” said Laronde
Backbone marks the third back-to-back Toronto premiere that Red Sky has had since August. This is also their first collaboration with Canadian Stage, where Red Sky will be in residence for two years — the 17/18 and 18/19 seasons. Red Sky Performance was founded in 2000 and for the past 17 years they have focused on highlighting different traditional areas of indigenous dance theatre and music in a contemporary form.
Backbone runs from Nov 2-12 at the Berkeley Street theatre in Toronto. Red Sky Performance has also been invited to perform Backbone at Live Art Dance in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Nov 17. they will tour to Europe and Asia in January and February 2018-19. For more information visit redskyperformance.com.
Always dreamt of reliving Expo 67? Until Sept. 30, as part of Montreal’s 375th celebrations, you can do just that! Step in to a unique film experience, with five-storey colourful images and spatial audio that will be projected on to four walls surrounding the Place des Arts. This is an innovative story telling at its best and created with more than thousand clips of archives.
Who is the mastermind behind it?
Meet Karine Lanoie-Brien, Montreal resident, the creator, writer and director of Expo 67 Live, an innovative film experience that recreates what the atmosphere would have been like at the 1967 Montreal World’s fair. Expo 67 is widely known as one of the most successful world fair of the 20th century. The theme — man and his world — was showcased through 90 different pavilions representing various countries around the world.
Lanoie-Brien began her career in 1997 as an animator and researcher in television. “I am excited about the launch and I want people to feel a physical or emotional experience from it,” she said.
This free event from September 18 to the 30th and will showcase four 27-minute screenings nightly.
I asked the humble artist if there is anything people should know about the screening prior to showing up. Her suggestion? Wear comfortable shoes!
The stage is set and the curtain is about to be opened in reliving Expo 67. There are still a few days left to see it. It is a piece of history, a journey in time of the greatest moments of Expo 67 which the Lanoie-Brien notes actually all began in the 1960’s.
Will you venture out for this once in a lifetime experience? Let us know in the comments below!
Life doesn’t always goes as planned. Imagine being a young mother to two children and losing your husband. As painful as that reality is, Dr. Naira Velumyan lived this ordeal. Living in her homeland of Russia at the time, Dr. Velumyan had to turn her life around, focusing on creating a brand for herself and investing in opportunities for the survival of herself and her children.
After obtaining her master’s and doctorate in psychology, Velumyan decided to pursue something that has always fascinated her; Jungian analysis and symbolism in art. Coming from a background in law and psychology, this was not an easy jump, but Velumyan embraced the connection between an artist and his audience through the collection of images. Jungian analysis deals with the psychology of the unconscious and a persons’s attitudes of the ego. Using this relation to artwork connects our unconscious mind to an artist’s intensions through his work.
While trying to put her life together, a close friend introduced her to a Russian artist named Alexey Klokov. Klokov was able to give Velumyan an inside perspective on the life of an artist growing up in Russia. She became inspired and Velumyan used her understanding of art to become a gallerist and Mr Klokov’s agent. She was now part of an exclusive artistic world — little did she know she would be thanking her future husband at the time.
Velumyan spent her time in Russia building up a solid business network and becoming a certified art dealer, exclusive to Klolov’s work. To grow in business you always have to think outside of the box and this is why Velumyan had thoughts of integrating her Russian art brand into the North American market. Prior to this, she had little exposure to the North American art scene and all her connections were in Russia. She managed to maintain a private psychological practice and balanced her time.
“After we built an established dealer network in Russia, I recognized the importance of growing beyond European boundaries. North America always attracted me with its art market, and my father who has lived in Toronto for 25 years was always inviting me to come. As a skilled worker, immigration to Canada was not insurmountable; however, my adult children and Alexey did not share this vision.”
Despite this, Velumyan pushed through and left Russia for Canada in the pursuit of building an even bigger and noticeable brand for her husband’s artwork. She was now classed as an immigrant in unfamiliar territory and with it came all the challenges. She was unestablished in a country full of competing artists striving to make a name for themselves.
“In Canada I had to start from scratch. Different country, different mentality and different culture … In a new country amidst established Canadians. Everyday is a learning experience with unique challenges and opportunities.”
During her first year in Canada, she had to learn English while having her Phd credentials approved. Velumyan attended the Bridge Training Program for Internationally Trained Mental Health Professionals, interned at a local clinic, and subsequently received her license in psychotherapy. Velumyan was used to helping people, so in addition to her art work, she became a founding member of an organization called IWB.
IWB stands for Immigrant Women in Business and is an organization dedicated to Helping Immigrant Women in Business to Succeed. It is run by CEO Svetlana Ratnikova, a fellow Russian immigrant in Toronto.
“When I met Svetlana Ratnikova, she invited me to become one of the founding members, and I was eager to help. As a woman in business, I know what unique challenges we face in the workplace and in our personal lives not withstanding the challenge of being immigrants.”
As a founding member of IWB, Velumyan publicly shares her struggles as an immigrant and how she excelled in life. For International Women’s Day in March, Velumyan spoke at an IWB event and featured the painting shown above, ‘Potentiality’ which she says Klokov created to show the path of an immigrant ( the green mark) rising to success (yellow). Her talks offer a form of mentorship for immigrant women thinking about venturing into business.
As Alexey Klokov’s exclusive agent, Naira represents the sole interests of his work. She is developing a Canadian brand, organizing exhibitions, providing all printed products, and conducting negotiations with dealers and buyers. Currently, she hosts private art exhibits in Toronto, Ottawa, New York and Miami and is looking to establish a gallery network in these cities. Success in the art world was not linear for Velumyan and she knows the struggles women face in life.
“Sometimes women lose faith in themselves,” she said. “I would like them to know that there are always alternatives. In life everything is temporary and tomorrow is always another day. With the right effort any situation can be changed and these are life changing secrets I would like to share with women.”
Living in Canada has helped Velumyan explore a world outside of her comfort zone. One day soon, she hopes to establish her successful dealer’s network then she will focus on private psychotherapeutic practice. She would like to eventually volunteer for families that don’t have access to a therapist. “I look at the family as a system where the problem of one affects the others. Therefore when we cure one person, we get a healthier micro system.”
For a chance to listen to one of Dr. Velumyan’s talks, check out the next IWB event, scheduled for September 5 at Metro Hall, downtown Toronto. The event will run from 6-9pm and will offer various inspirational speeches and networking opportunities from other successful founding members. For more information and to register check out their Evenbrite page.
Do you have some vacation time coming up this summer — but don’t feel like (or can afford to) going on an international trip? Whatever the reason may be, it might be worthwhile to think about a staycation.
A staycation, in case you are not familiar with the term, is essentially a vacation where you are at this moment. You can make it a nationwide staycation or maybe narrow it down to the beautiful and diverse streets of Toronto. The city life isn’t for everyone, but there are enough places in Toronto that will make you fall in love with it for all the right reasons. So grab a few friends, your family, a loved one, or venture out on your own and enjoy these spots. Women’s post has compiled five Toronto hotspots you may enjoy this summer.
St Lawrence Market
Toronto natives may be familiar with the sprawling and rustic look of St Lawrence Market located along Front Street or in the Esplanade. This classic farmer’s market is an indoor structure with over 100 various vendors, offering prime cuts of meat, creamy cheeses, artisan bakers, fresh fruits, aromatic spices, antiques and hopefully almost anything you will find around the world. Touring St Lawrence market is like taking a trip around the world in the span of a few hours. Allow yourself time to soak up the mix of culture and eclectic vibe from many of the vendors. Some places to check include Carousel Bakery, offering the classic peameal bacon sandwich, Churrasco’s,with Portuguese style chicken and Raani Foods, offering a variety of Indian curries and chutneys.
Interested in learning more? The St. Lawrence Market also hosts a number of events and private dinners.
Kensington Market has long been known for its unique vibe in the city and many tourists come to the area thinking that it will be a similar situation to St Lawrence Market. Kensington market is an outdoor collection of diverse shops, with something for everyone on each corner. In 2006, the market became a national historic site. Nestled between Little Italy and Chinatown, expect a wide selection of street foods, vintage clothing and one of the most amazing and one of a kind gift shops in the city, Blue Banana Market. And be sure to take pictures of the artistic graffiti walls.
Mill Street Brewery Tour- Distillery District
Niagara may be great for wine tours, but Toronto is home to a collection of craft beers and brews that you might want to indulge in. Mill Street Brewery was founded in 2002 and is named after Mill Street in the historic Distillery District. The district is home to Victorian industrial buildings, dating back to 1832, when it was a collection of buildings operated by Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Restructured and reopened in 2003, the district offers a selection of dining experiences, shops and cultural events.
Miraj Hammam Spa- Shangri-la Hotel Toronto
One day is all you need, and while there might be be spas on almost every street corner in the city, the experience at Miraj Hamman Spa by beauty brand Claudalie Paris offers a truly relaxing, wholesome, and cultural experience . Without giving away too much details, the spa is described as “ a voyage inspired from the ancient rituals of the Middle East to the Vineyards of Bordeaux.” Choose treatments of your choice but also be advised to check prices beforehand.
Drake and Gladstone Boutique Hotels
If you are looking for a different experience and you want to spend a night or two away from home, there are many boutique hotels in the city that you can easily enjoy. The Drake Hotel and The Gladstone Hotel are just two examples along the vibrant street of Queen West that promotes art, culture and entertainment. The Drake hotel is home to delicious foods, 19 guest room, and even and underground bar featuring different DJ’s. The Gladstone hotel, features guest rooms that are tiny but each with a unique theme and designed by different artists. There is a Canadiana room, a Teen Queen room, and a Biker room among other 34 choices. Staying at the Gladstone is like being a part of art.
Let us know in the comments below some of your staycation choices.
Calgary is joining Canada’s 150th celebrations by welcoming a gigantic red ball into the city.
The Red Ball Project is a travelling art installation created by Kurt Perschke that has traveled to 25 cities across the world. The big red ball was spotted on Monday, June 26 on the Peace Bridge, which is a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Calgary. The gigantic red ball was shoved into the bridge and prevented cyclists and pedestrians from passing through, forcing people to contend with the enormous red play toy.
The big red ball has been rolling into different cities around the world for 15 years. The artist created the over-sized ball sculpture so that people could interact with an object that reminded them of their childhood. It is supposed to bring out joy and artistic interaction in key places around the city, and will make its final appearance at Olympic Plaza on July 1.
The giant red ball was brought to Calgary through the city’s public art program and investment from Canadian Heritage. The city has a history of implementing art projects that have zero value or impact (with large price tags), and the red ball seems to be bouncing in that general direction. The blue ring fiasco of 2013, for example, made Calgary the laughing stock of the country when the gigantic-blue-circle-turned-into-streetlights was debuted as the city’s newest piece of art. To put it plainly, the piece of art was widely claimed to lack any sort of artistic interest and caused a panicked city council to revamp Calgary’s art program — or so people thought.
The giant red ball is another example of moving art that is just a little bit goofy and is more of a nuisance than anything. Calgary needs to learn to invest in worthy pieces of art that really celebrate the 150th anniversary of this great nation as more than a playful squishy ball. There is a rich aboriginal history in the city that could be a worthy example of art — or really just choose anything that won’t cause cyclists to crash or pedestrians to turn away in fear of what appears to be a gigantic pimple on the Peace Bridge.
Another artistic win for Calgary ladies and gentlemen, but at least it isn’t worse than Toronto’s imitation rubber duck, another hilarious example of how this country is choosing to celebrate 150 years.
Would you take your picture with a giant red rubber ball? Let us know in the comments below!
The toonie has always been an emblem of Canadian pride, from its odd nickname to the polar bear that is crested on the heavy coin.
To celebrate Canada’s 150 year festivities, the Royal Canadian Mint hosted a competition where Canadians across the country were invited to submit designs for the toonie that would celebrate the historic occasion. The winner shocked all.
A glow-in-the-dark toonie featuring the northern lights. That’s right, glow-in-the-dark. Keep your eyes peeled because the coin is already in circulation.
Named “Dance of the Spirits”, the design was created by Dr. Timothy Hsia, a family doctor and his brother Stephen Hsia, a lawyer who are both from Richmond B.C. The two business professionals are both artists are the side and have been working on art projects together since they were children. Timothy came up with the northern lights design and Stephen helped translate it to the computer to make it a piece of digital art.
The Royal Canadian Mint will be releasing three million of these special edition coins and is excited to get to use new and never-used-before technology that will create the world’s first glow-in-the-dark coin. The coin uses a pad-printed process and ink that creates a luminescent coin. In the factory, each toonie is painted with glow-in-the-dark purple and blue paint to imitate the Aurora Borealis, one of Canada’s proudest natural wonders.
The two brothers received $2000 prize money, two tickets to Ottawa for the big reveal, and a special edition of the coins. The two artists are dedicating their win to their grandfather who was a coin collector and often gave them special edition coins as they were growing up. It is also giving the brothers further incentive to go see the Northern Lights, one of the majestic wonders of Canadian nature.
Whether you find out you have one of these deluxe coins in a bar when it suddenly glows-in-the-dark, or you seek out a special edition set, definitely hang on to this toonie to give to your own grandchildren one day — it’s bound to inspire a sense of nostalgic tradition and Canadian pride.
Have you seen the toonie? Let us know in the comments below!
Kristy Fletcher didn’t expect to work in the music industry. She left her previous job at Maple Leafs Sport and Entertainment after 20 years with the company in 2016 and hasn’t looked back.
Fletcher started working for the NHL’s Calgary Flames when she was 15. It was, as she puts it, the “family business”. Her father Cliff, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was the President and GM of the Flames at the time and provided both Kristy and her brother Chuck, the current General Manager of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, an insight into the world of sports business and management. As an avid sports fan herself, she knew that was where she wanted to be.
Fletcher did a little bit of everything, working in communications, PR, sales, and premium ticket service. She was also instrumental in the development of the Leafs Fund, the precursor for what is now the Maple Entertainment Foundation. This position allowed her to merge her love of sports with the charitable world and help create a fundraising strategy for the company.
And then, after 20 years of working with the NHL, Fletcher decided to take the plunge and try something new.
“On paper I had reached a level of success within my company,” she said. “It was taking a big risk to quit my job, but I felt it was the moment. I had 2 kids [and] I wanted to feel like I was contributing to the community in which I lived and worked.”
Fletcher is now the Executive Director of MusiCounts, a music education charity that raises money for instruments and programs in schools across Canada. She said that as soon as she walked through the door for the interview, she immediately knew MusiCounts was where she wanted to be.
“I always liked the music industry,” she said. “I had friends in the industry. It was not a big stretch to me. I think both of the industries have a lot more similarities then imagined. Sports and music bring people together, rooted in passion, social connectors, everyone has an opinion. It was a natural transition. “
Over the past 20 years, MusiCounts has awarded nearly $10 million worth of musical instruments to schools and community groups across Canada. Their mandate is to raise awareness about the importance of music education, as much as it istogenerate funds for these programs.
“Our priority for this year is making people aware of the work we do and that music education is at risk. [There is] a generation of students missing out on the value of creating and understanding music,” Fletcher said.
In September, the charity is set to launch this year’s Band Aid Program. Schools are welcome to apply for musical instruments in increments of $5,000 or $10,000. They also started a micro-funding campaign in which Canadians can donate by texting MUSIC to 20222.
Fletcher said she feels lucky to have been involved in both the sports and the music industry, and has never felt anything but supported by her mostly-male colleagues.
“I was certainly aware that I was in a male-dominated industry,” she said. “But I found my own way to manage it. I never let it get in my way. I have not personally felt I was held back due to gender, but I also think that has to do with women who blazed the trail before me.”
In that form, Fletcher offers advice to women trying to move up in their respective fields.
My advice would be … you need to build your network and you can’t let it go. It takes time to do that and it takes energy and a lot of confidence. You need to get out of there and establish those contacts,” she said. “We get busy in our careers, but you have to be out there making sure you are promoting yourself.”
It is MusiCounts 20th anniversary this year. To commemorate this occasion, MusiCounts announced that, with the support of singer Eleanor McCain, they will issue five enhanced “True North: The Canadian Songbook” commemorative Band Aid grants of $20,000 in conjunction with her new CD release.
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