Saturday, August 29, 2015

KEISHA & ERVING

Sometimes you just meet a few young people and come away thinking that the world is in good hands. Such is the case with Keisha Mayenge and Erving Dejong.

At the age of two, Keisha's parents moved to Canada from Belgium. Currently she is considering her options and has a few directions she would like to pursue. A career in the medical field is one direction that appeals to the 19 year old, but it is a huge commitment of time and energy and she wants to truly know it is the right decision before putting all her passions and energy into that path.

Health and fitness is a big part of her life and may contribute to the career she is considering. Really into sports, she has been active in volleyball, gymnastics, soccer and track and field. "I like to feel good physically with exercise, I feel its really important," Keisha says and knows that this can be turned into a profession.

Born in French Guiana, 22 year old Erving moved to Canada with his father as a young boy for the first year before returning for the rest of the family. Better job opportunities in Canada was the reason his father headed north. Coming from a creative family, it is not surprising that he too expressing himself visually. Unlike others in his family who paint, draw and sculpt, Erving has embraced the camera as his form of self expression. 

Erving, a true entrepreneur found that by photographing himself wearing the clothing lines of international brands, he would then be called upon to shoot more of their product and thus build his business and his urban portraits on Instagram. Going by the Instagram name, @thebrightesthour Erving is on his way and loving being behind the camera.

ERVING FUN FACT: "I used to be into roof topping," he says of his interest in combining his interest in photography and seeking some thrills. Recognizing this is risky and could restrict his options if he was ever caught, he has put that behind him and creates his visions at street level!

KEISHA COOL FACT: "I once tried saving a man's life," she explains of her experience administering CPR to a man in his car. She noticed a man who appeared to be sleeping in his car when she went into a mall to shop. 45 minutes later, she left the mall only to see the man in the same position. Being guided on her cell phone by dispatchers, she lay the man down in his car and administered CPR but unfortunately the man had already likely died of a heart attack. For her efforts and help, she received a commendation from the police and even a letter from the Queen! She now volunteers with dispatchers.

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN


Friday, August 28, 2015

KAY

When most people go for a walk, they don't expect to run into people they know, and dress down. Not so in the Toronto area of The Beach. Kay (Catherine)  Loek, out for her usual early morning walk looked wonderful in cheerful colours, smile and bright red lipstick – even at 6am! 

Growing up in a family of nine children, this neighbourhood was her playground "I had a wonderful life, we were down here every day in the summer because no one had cottages," she says, remembering the Toronto beaches of her childhood. 

Kay's career was spent in the financial industry, first as a retail sales person, then ended up in the institutional department of ScotiaMcLeod on the trading room floor. Retired since 2003, Kay and her husband travel – a lot! "One of my favourite places was Tahiti, and I love Paris and Italy, We've been all over Italy, I love it".

KAY FUN FACT: She met her Dutch father-in-law while on her honeymoon. Her new brothers in law thought it might be nice to teach Kay a bit of Dutch! "Oh, It was really bad! I said, 'Hello jerk, where are your wooden shoes?' He was stunned, then he laughed' ". Her father in law soon realized his boys had tricked her, and a wonderful relationship developed!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Thursday, August 27, 2015

WILSON

Artist. Chef. Oenophile. The sensory trifecta that defines Wilson Smith, the transplanted Maritimer living and working in downtown Toronto.

Relatively new to this location, Wilson is the Store manager of the Wine Rack in the Corktown neighbourhood of Toronto. He has enjoyed 10 years with the company. When not serving clients or offering advice on which wines are best for a dinner party, oil painting is his passion. As well, his skills as a trained chef and host are celebrated by his friends. And his knowledge of wine and food parings is an art in itself. "My friends love when I bring my work home with me," Wilson says laughing of the wine he will choose for a dinner party he is hosting.

Originally from Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Wilson worked the hospitality industry in Halifax where chefs took him under their wing and trained him. All the while he painted landscapes and seascapes – things that are part of any die-hard Cape Bretoner. "I usually hold one show a year, so look for one in this store location sometime in the new year".

WILSON FUN FACT: Like any Maritimer, fun is an essential part of who they are. So natural is their spirit that they don't think its anything special. "I'm just known as the comedian wherever I go," Wilson says of his east coast upbringing. "I'm a Cape Bretoner and Newfoundlander, so I have lots of comedy inside me".

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ALEX & BRI

From far and wide, the 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Am Games brought people together for sport, cooperation and friendship. A case in point is Alex Rapcea and Bri Sampson who take time to chat before the fly home to their respective cities. Never having known each other prior to the Games, they now share a common bond.

Born in Bucharest, Romania, Alex moved to Vancouver with her family when she was 15 years old for better opportunities in Canada. Alex works in human resources in the oil & gas and mining industry. A dancer, she also is involved in jazz and ballet when not behind a desk. A love of sports, playing soccer and softball, she took time away from western Canada to travel to Toronto to work in event venue management. A key role, event management oversees the running of a venue and its operation. Alex worked from Hamilton where soccer was being played, then in Toronto, at Ryerson for wheelchair basketball.

Travelling somewhat farther, Bri (Brianna) is from Newcastle, Australia, north of Sydney. "It was very last-minute, very spur of the moment," Bri says of her decision to fly to Canada for her first time and work at Pan Am, also in event venue management. She comes by this honestly as she works in a similar role back home and had just finished a contract allowing her time to come to Canada. Bri worked at the velodrome in Milton, Ontario. It is with some sadness that Alex heads back to Australia on Monday. "It was my first visit to Canada, it's amazing, I loved it," Alex says of her tip, I'm sure we will see her again.

ALEX FUN FACT: " I have worked for three Olympics and two World Cups," she says of the opportunities to work the Vancouver, London and Sochi Olympics as well as the South Africa and Rio de Janeiro World Cup soccer events.

BRI FUN FACT: "I was born with six fingers," Bri says of her fun fact. "They cut it off and now its gone," she laughs, explaining her hand surgery. 

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN




Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SINÉAD

From living in Galway, Ireland for the past 13 years, Sinéad Boyle's life has literally gone to the dogs.

After working what would be a stressful job for nine years in Ireland, Sinéad took a two year sabbatical from work to come to Canada last October. In Ireland she was a Family Support Worker assisting adults with disabilities as well as working for child services. Sinéad arrived in Canada just in time for winter 10 months ago. What she found was surprising and a bit difficult - in the winter, people in Toronto mostly hibernate!

"I've always loved working with dogs, so I said, 'OK, I'll give this a go', and I love it," she says of working for thedogpark.ca in Leslieville and walking dogs. "I have a job with a lot of clients who make me feel very welcome in Toronto. And I'm working with dogs all day, so who could complain"! 

A self-professed foodie, Sinéad loves the restaurant scene in Toronto and all the cultural activities that go on in a multi-cultural city. Going to see films at TIFF, visiting the ROM and the AGO are other activities she enjoys without several dogs in tow. "Last night I was at a movie in Christie Pits," she says of one of the cool things to do in the city.

"I spotted a RUSH album at the side of the road at a garage sale. Yup, I'll have that for three bucks! That's Toronto for me"!

SINÉAD FUN FACT #1: "I went to Montreal once and stayed in a converted brothel," she says laughing of the unique guest house while touring the city. "You really felt like you were waiting for a gentleman caller there"!

SINÉAD FUN FACT #2: Sinéad recalls seeing TV commercial for oatmeal being filmed on the streets. "I went up and made them put me in the advert," she says laughing, "I was like, 'I'm Irish, you have to put me in the commercial – I love porridge' !"


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Monday, August 24, 2015

MARIAM & BINTA

Two ladies out enjoying the warm afternoon with a band playing in the background. That is how we found Mariam and mom, Binta at the Yonge Dundas Square in Toronto.

From the west African nation of Mauritania, Binta Tandia came to Toronto 10 years ago to study finance at Ryerson University, just up the road from where this image was photographed. Today she is an investment policy specialist for CI Investments. 

Mariam is three and a half years old, fun and is a happy kid! "She likes to think she is a princess. Look at her dress, she thinks she is Cinderella today"! Mariam goes back to preschool soon and back with lots of her friends. Living near the Yonge Dundas Square, she enjoys visiting the Square and listing to music, watching Disney films, biking and going to ballet to dance.

"My life is her now because my husband lives in Paris, France. He comes back every three months," Binta says of their long-distance situation at the moment. Having only limited holiday time, its been a while since she and Mariam flew the other way – to Paris. Binta still has family in Mauritania and her mom lives nearby in Senegal.

MARIAM & BINTA FUN FACT: "I went in an airplane," Mariam quickly says about something really special – the last time she flew to France to see her dad. Together they have fun exploring the city and for mom, it is fun to explore the city through the eyes of a curious child.


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Sunday, August 23, 2015

STEVEN

"It's actually a pretty long story," says Steven Poquiz of his eventual settling in Toronto. Born in Los Angeles, California to Filipino parents, his family moved to Saudi Arabia where his father worked. The family moved to Canada when he was nine years old. 

Being independent and with a thirst for adventure and experiences, he graduated from law school in Sydney, Australia after finishing his undergrad at the University of Toronto. He is soon opening Poquiz Law, his own law firm focusing on such issues as real estate, powers of attorney and wills. 

We met Steven down at the docks in Toronto with his bike, one of the ways he likes to keep fit and enjoy the summer while it lasts. "Nothing too out of the blue," he say of his spare time saying he spends time with his friends and family and his interest in electronic dance music.

STEVEN LIFE LESSON: "I met a woman recently that really changed my life for better of for worse. She opened up my eyes and taught me a lot of lessons about myself. It has been tough to learn, but has made me a better person". A young man who has led a life of looking after himself and his own interests discovers what it takes to make room in his heart for someone else. "She has taught me about being compassionate, caring and considerate of others. It has been a journey". 

His law firm is not open just yet, but with humility and an open heart & mind, he will be one who will offer good counsel to those who entrust themselves to him.

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN