Saturday, August 1, 2015

CINDY

Cindy Lloyd is remarkable. Not just because she willingly posing in her backyard pool for this photo – fully clothed and without hesitation!

A Toronto native, Cindy's family moved to the nearby bedroom community of Brampton, northwest of the city, when the smell of hay sweetened the air and farm fields outnumbered housing developments. After a move to Oakville as a teenager she felt culture shock, "It was like moving to a different planet because Brampton was multi-cultural – even back then," Cindy recalls of her move to the lakefront city west of Toronto.

Cindy's long and distinguished career at the Toronto Star began in grade 13 with a job calling subscribers to ask if they were satisfied with the newspaper's home delivery, "It was truly a customer service call, we weren't selling anything." It was her first experience working with clients.

Being accepted into Guelph University for teaching, Cindy's life path changed after trusted friends and mentors told her that she would graduate into a field where no jobs would be available. Taking a year off to decide her future, she continued working at the Star where she stayed and worked her way into the advertising department. Working full-time at the newspaper, plus taking night school courses in advertising at Sheridan College, Cindy found her passion. 

A woman who grew up with a father coaching her in hockey, Cindy was not afraid  to tough it out on the ice or tackle the often brutal arena of high level sales and advertising. Cindy was in her element and gained respect, trust and success, bringing in millions in advertising revenue for the paper.

Retiring early from the paper and ready for a change, Cindy exchanged her tiny downtown Toronto home and life for lush acreage north of the city and working for a small independent company. She feels she is at the point in her life where giving back is more important. She is involved in local groups, tends her garden and has even begun to tend to bees! A huge change from the frenetic pace of snarled traffic and punishing deadlines.

A few years ago, after volunteering in the Dominican Republic, building homes in a very poor neighbourhood, Cindy's life began to be re-defined. She is happy. She is energetic and she is still wishing to create and give back to her community. 

CINDY FUN FACT: Without a second to think, "I played hockey with Cassie Campbell who went on to be captain of the Canadian women's hockey team," she says of her long-time friend and team mate growing up. She still takes to the ice and is proud of the fact her daughter has also strapped on hockey skates.

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN


Thursday, July 30, 2015

TERUSHA

Blending into her lush verdant background, Terusha Naidu is anything but a wallflower. An educator, she has travelled extensively and touched the lives of many people.

Born in Durban, South Africa in Natal Province, she had a good life there. She was an accomplished athlete who was at the top of her game, representing her province in the 100 metre and other events. At the age of 12, her family moved to Canada where she blossomed more and has become a young woman with huge dreams, with a passionate and caring heart to match.

After arriving in Canada as a grade eight student in June, come September she was put into high school. It was a hard adjustment. "I remember once in class, reading Romeo and Juliette, I stood up to read a passage. When I had finished, everybody was staring at me. The teacher looked at me and asked, 'did you put that accent on to read?' " Her fellow students were supportive and welcoming, making her transition much easier. Getting back into sports also helped settle her into her new home.

Graduating with a kinesiology degree, Terusha worked for a time as a therapist for autistic children. The experience with children began to define her and a path was becoming clear. She applied and was accepted into teachers college. Terusha has been teaching elementary school children for the last six years. Coaching and being involved in social justice extra curricular activities balances the academic teaching, making her one of those teachers children will always remember.

Though teachers have a summer away from the classroom, Terusha set off to another school a few years ago for the summer. "I remember when my dad dropped me off to the airport he thought I was crazy," she says of her solo trip to teach in the Galapagos Islands for Lead Adventures. Landing in the middle of the night in Ecuador, then flying to the the Galapagos was an adventure, as was working at the school in a very poor community. A school that had a brick and face, but behind that, only shanty style cardboard walls and boxes which were used to make classrooms. Her training in kinesiology helped as she trained other local leaders and students games and activities that everyone enjoyed. It was a summer to remember and a summer of great personal growth which will influence her through her career as an educator.

TERUSHA FUN FACT: "My fun fact would be walking on the Equator," she says of the particular phenomenons of this geographical location. A line marking the exact location of the equator was marked along the ground and was difficult to walk on, toe-to-heal as in a sobriety test! "Believe it or not, it was challenging, it was hard to keep your balance! People don't believe me when I tell them, but it is hard!" As well, seeing how water goes down a drain clockwise on one side, and anti-clockwise on the other. "It was amazing – the whole experience was amazing."


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DALE

Who among us can say that they have brought someone back from the dead? This is exactly what Dale Brazao did one time while on assignment for the Toronto Star newspaper. This is but one of a lifetime of stories from Dale's career.

Born in Faro, Portugal in 1951, Dale, his brother and mother moved to Franz, Ontario  in 1961 where his father had found work earlier on the railway. Franz was a railroad stop on the Algoma Central Railway, northeast of Wawa.

In grade 13, Dale read a pamphlet about how exciting it was to be a newspaper reporter. Following his heart, he set off to Carlton University for four years of journalism. The Star came to conduct interviews at the school where Dale met the man who would hire him, asking if he could start almost immediately.

"Can I start! Do you think I want to go back to the steel plant in Sault Ste. Marie! Of course I can start." This was the beginning of a robust career with his only employer, the Toronto Star. A rare thing these days. "I've been there ever since. I don't know any other employer other than Mother Star," he says laughing at the length of his career.

Among many roles at the Star, Dale was often one of the go-to guys when disaster struck. From hurricanes to floods to earthquakes and 911, Dale has done them all. But it was a woman in Florida he remembers as a defining moment in his career.

BACK FROM THE DEAD: A Canadian woman who had faked her own death was hiding out in Orlando, Florida. Dale found her at a bus stop after a tip came in to the homicide department of the Orlando police where he was interviewing them. After the FBI had investigated, Dale went to the police and made a deal. If he could get the woman to confess, could he be the one to extradite her back to Canada. He did. Dale was given custody of the woman and brought her back to Canada – very much alive!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Monday, July 27, 2015

ROB

Sounding more like a kettle drum, Rob Buttler's voice is deep, booming and commanding from years working as an executive chef in some of Toronto's toniest private clubs. He left the Granite and Cricket club kitchens behind in 2009 for a style of food, life and atmosphere that is less rarified and closer to people's hearts.

A Toronto native, Rob owns and operates a successful barbecue restaurant called Horn Dawgs Smokin BBQ ( http://www.horndawgsbbq.com/ ). Though they have a location next to the Liverpool GO Station (perfect for commuter pick-up before heading home for dinner), we caught up with him at a huge BBQ rib festival in Gravenhurst, Ontario.

It is no easy feat to set up shop at an event, but they have it down to a science. It will take just two hours to knock down the facade, clean the racks and pack the rolling kitchen into the transport truck be back on the road with his five staff. The setup easily attracts a continual line-up of hungry people as the "ribbers" cook, dress and serve between 500 and 1,000 pounds of pulled pork, ribs and chicken over a weekend. We sampled the ribs for which he is widely known and awarded, and can say with bbq sauce-covered fingers, that the pork literally falls of the bone in perfectly cooked savoury goodness!

Winning over 200 awards, among them, Best Sauce and Best Ribs, Rob and his traveling ribbers hit the road anywhere within a 3-4 hour radius of Toronto, catering and competing with other ribbers. "Anything from black tie to downright dirty BBQ," Rob heartily laughs, as he speaks about his catering business. His executive chef experience and his warmth of personality are what keeps people loving him and his ribs, perfect for fun formal occasions and a frequent visitor to large summer camps such as Camp New Moon in Muskoka.

ROB FUN FACT: While standing out near the clubhouse of a golf course where he once worked, he watched Canadian golfer, Stephen Ames line up for final shot at the 18th hole. Rob turned to a club member, "Man, I wish I could play golf like that," he said to the gentleman at the club.

The member patted Rob on the back and simply said, "Rob, you know what, you can't play golf like that! But I bet he can't cook a steak to save his life."


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Sunday, July 26, 2015

OLIVIA

Some people hang a sign, Gone Fishing, to escape from a busy day. Yet for others, like Olivia Demerse, it's part of their job description!

Born in Newmarket, Ontario, Olivia attended Fanshaw Collage in London, Ontario for Marketing, then took a year at Georgian Collage in Barrie for Event Management. These courses, even if she didn't know it at the time, were perfectly chosen for her outgoing personality what she is doing today. As well, working for the Ministry of Natural Resources for four years at Emily Provincial Park, she is enjoying educating and demonstrating the Learn To Fish programme at events in Ontario such as this one in Gravenhurst.

The 3-year old Learn to Fish programme which Olivia is promoting teaches people to fish as a recreation for new Canadians and young anglers through a two-hour hands-on course. Fishing may not have been a part of the culture of some new Canadians as well as for young people, the course teaches people about fish, their anatomy and the rules around fishing and conservation. During the second hour, its time to head out on the water and fish! Rods, reels, life jackets and bait are provided and a chance to catch a fish completes the course and helps instil a love for fishing as a relaxing way to enjoy nature on the water.

The Learn to Fish programme is offered at six provincial park where there are trained instructors teaching five days a week. Check the Ministry website here more information: http://bit.ly/1HS3gTy

OLIVIA FUN FACT: Two years ago while camping with her boyfriend, Olivia hooked an eight-pound large-mouth bass while on her first portage experience. Fishing for her cell phone (pun definitely intended!) she proudly shows a photo of the giant fish, "The excitement of it was amazing, thrilling, I brought the fish in all on my own, I was very proud of myself," she says grinning and reliving the moment. "The emotions and excitement were incredible, I'd never even held a fish before!" That night at their campsite, fresh fish was on the menu!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN