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me INSPIRE

JULY / AUGUST 2015 | EDITION 1

y o rk

A JOURNEY OF A

THOUSAND MILES meet carlo salim. READ WITH US.

ENJOY OUR FIRST EDITION!

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YORK OF OLD. YORK OF NEW.

Professor Walter Pezzo

DISCOVER YOUR YORK.

SHROUD OF TURIN

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OFFICER TONI STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART

Authentic. Provoking. Compelling.


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me INSPIRE

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FEATURE articles.

Yorklife

8

notable

York

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34

Shroud of Turin Italy’s renowned Professor Walter Pezzo shares the historical, social and religious significance of the infamous Shroud of Turin with the York Region community

York distinct

Journey of a Thousand Miles. Meet Carlo Salim. Meet Carlo Salim of Rafat General Contracting – The Immigrant Success Story from Bagdad to York

being me

On the Rivet | Domenic Valela Take a ride with York’s own Domenic Valela, elite Canadian Cyclist

34

Journey of a Thousand Miles

York of Old. York of New. How well do you know York Region? Take a quick tour with fun facts, photos and archives

York

38

chalk

talk 42 49

York attracts

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Faith. Family. Community. A message from Officer Toni Passarelli to York’s Youth

Bhangra Love & A Stroke of Passion Meet the Game Changers: Gurtaj Pawar & Eleni Tsatsanis following their passions and making a difference

David Dunlap Observatory Explore the wonderful sights and stars

Carlo Salim | Owner, RAFAT General Contracting

JULY / AUGUST 2015

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me INSPIRE

york

greetings from PAOLO CANCIANI EDITOR | Inspire me York

me will be the hand that unites us and allows for a cultural exchange by showcasing the people who play pivotal roles within our communities and life.

Many years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Canada’s former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Larger than life, he vigorously shook the hand of each journalist, affecting us with his energetic presence. His words have resonated and left me with an everlasting impression: “As politicians we live to give and receive the infinite handshake.” Jovially pointing out the difference between the strength and size of his hands after years of greeting thousands of individuals, he spoke of the significance of this simple act of peace. The handshake is the unspoken communication of friendship, respect and bonds. It is the merging of different ideologies, cultures and people. This fleeting, small gesture has the immense power to unite. Inspire me York aims to extend that very same courtesy to all of York’s citizens. Our hand reaching out to yours, connecting our shared stories of hope, inspiration and the extraordinary. me will be the hand that unites us and allows for a cultural exchange by showcasing the people who play pivotal roles within our communities and life. Everyone has a story to share and the goal is to delve into the lives, experiences and gems of York Region. me’s editorial pieces and images will illustrate the emotions, hopes, challenges and issues of all of our citizens. We will extend our hand and in return hope you do the same. The first warm welcome comes from Joe Montalbano and Simon Spina, the men whose vision and expertise in media production has brought this magazine to fruition. Together with myself, director and head writer Sabrina Tagliabue, we welcome you on this journey showcasing York’s citizens who stand out, inspire, teach and represent the quality of this beautifully diverse region. Our team of writers, photographers and graphic designers all extend a warm, welcoming hand and look forward to forging a friendship, a loyalty and a connection with each of you in the years to come. Good job everyone on this first edition and to our readers, enjoy! Hopefully we will soon meet and shake hands with each of you one day.

WELCOME TO YOUR COMMUNITY. @inspiremeyork JULY / AUGUST 2015

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Wayne Emmerson Chairman and C.E.O

Wayne Emmerson Chairman and C.E.O

The Regional Municipality of York 17250 Yonge Street The Regional Municipality of Y ork Newmarket, 17250 Yonge Street Ontario, L3Y 6Z1

Newmarket, Ontario, L3Y 6Z1

Tel: 905-­‐895-­‐1231 email: wayne.emmerson@york.ca

Tel: 905-­‐895-­‐1231

email: wayne.emmerson@york.ca

A Message from the York Region Chairman and CEO

A Message from the York Region Chairman and CEO

On behalf of York Regional Council and The Regional Municipality of York, I would like to extend my congratulations on the inaugural edition of Inspire ME York.

OnYork behalf of York Regional Council and The Regional of York, I would like Region is home to almost 1.2 million residents andMunicipality one of the fastest growing to extend my congratulations the inaugural edition of Inspire ME York.of INSPIRE mesource YORK. communities in Canada. Theon Inspire ME York publication is a great information to educate and promote the Region’s diversity and talent.

York Region is home to almost 1.2 million residents and one of the fastest growing By profilingin everyday residents who are inspiring others through their source personalof INSPIRE me YORK communities Canada. The Inspire ME York publication is a great volunteerism and philanthropic pursuits, you are helping achieve the Region’s long-term information to educate and promote the Region’s diversity and talent. goal of creating communities where everyone is connected and can thrive.

By profiling everyday residents who are inspiring others through their personal Congratulations on this great achievement. lookhelping forward achieve to reading future editions of volunteerism and philanthropic pursuits, youI are the Region’s long-term your publication. goal of creating communities where everyone is connected and can thrive. Congratulations on this great achievement. I look forward to reading future editions of Yours truly, your publication. Yours truly,

Wayne Emmerson York Region Chairman and CEO

Wayne Emmerson York Region Chairman and CEO

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me INSPIRE

y o rk

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Paolo Canciani

me inspire

july / AuGuST 2015 | ediTion 1

york

PUBLISHER Joe Montalbano

A journey of A EDITORIAL TEAM / COPY EDITOR & HEAD WRITER Sabrina Tagliabue

thousand miles meet carlo salim.

ASSOCIATE EDITORS Tamara Rowe

reAd wiTh uS.

enjoy our firST ediTion!

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yorK of old. yorK of new.

Professor walter Pezzo

diSCoVer your yorK.

Chris Montalbano

Shroud of Turin

42

offiCer Toni STrAiGhT from The heArT

Authentic. provoking. Compelling.

ASSOCIATE COPY WRITERS Elize Stokes Leo Kressing OUR COVER / ARTISTIC DIRECTION TEAM / ART DIRECTOR & GRAPHIC DESIGN Elm Design Studio

meet carlo salim. Photographed by Antonio Francisco at RAFAT headquarters in Bolton, ON.

PHOTOGRAPHY Greg Riccio

Journey of a Thousand Miles | page 36 Carlo Salim, Rafat General Contracting – The Immigrant Success Story from Bagdad to York

Antonio Francisco

ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT TEAM / ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Simon Spina

INTERACTIVE Rob Gridley

FOLLOW US.

ADVERTISING + MEDIA SALES / ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Tony Sgro

Advertek_Logo.pdf

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2015-03-03

11:27 AM

PRINTING + DISTRIBUTION / ADVERTEK Catherine Martin John Gedney

info@inspiremeyork.com

www.inspiremeyork.com JULY / AUGUST 2015

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AND WE’LL INTRODUCE YOU TO THE FOLKS IN YOUR COMMUNITY

TODAY!

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york

Yorklife

62,288

OF OLD. OF NEW. 317,889

CITY OF VAUGHAN Maple Airport, Maple

TOWN OF AURORA Hillary House and the Koffler Medical Museum

a.

heritage

York

a. Located on Yonge Street, The Koffler Museum of Medicine, built in 1862, was home to four different doctors and their families until 1993. It now houses an extensive collection of medical and personal possessions spanning three generations.

Once a small airfield, established by one of Canada’s first female pilots, Marion Alice Orr, the Maple Airport was operational from 1955-1987. Now it is a subdivision with a public school.

b. Photo Credit: a. & b. google images

b. Photo Credit: a. museumsontario.ca b. nancyshistoricsites.com

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How well do you know York Region?

You may know where the best local restaurants are located, or which coffee shops provide the fastest service, but are you aware of the history of this land? Some of the famous people that have helped shape our politics, entertainment and sports world or who have played pivotal roles on a national scale? Do you ever stop to think of the immense changes York Region has undergone over the decades and how our demographics have altered? Inspire me York wants to share a canvas of fun facts as our introductory piece by revealing a little of York Region’s roots and where we are today.

WELCOME TO YORK REGION!

Comprised of nine different cities, towns and one township.

19,899

TOWNSHIP OF KING King Railway Station

332,000

CITY OF MARKHAM Unionville Railway Station

a. The King Railway Station is the oldest surviving railway station in Canada. Restored to reflect all its original charms, it stands as a reminder of a changing era.

a. The Canadian National Railway Station at Unionville, Markham built in 1871. It was instrumental in the transportation of agricultural goods and timber and in developing the area.

b. Photo Credit: a. Pinterest b. Railpictures.ca

b. Photo Credit: a. & b. Charles Cooper’s Railway Pages

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Yorklife

DID YOU

KNOW ?

1,762 SQUARE kms

is the size of York Region – spanning from Lake Simcoe to the City of Toronto.

80,000

TOWN OF NEWMARKET The Seneca Doane House

44,000

TOWN OF GEORGINA Georgina Pioneer Village

heritage

York

It is expected that York Region’s population will surpass 1.5 million residents by 2031.

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a. Originally the residential home of the Doane family, built in 1841. A Quaker family of farmers and carpenters, they played pivotal roles in the development of numerous Quaker buildings throughout the area. In 2001 it was relocated and is now the Doane House Hospice with the Elman Campbell Museum within displaying family artifacts.

a. Situated on ten acres of land, the Village is home to sixteen different structures dated 18501920. Officially inaugurated by the Chief of the Chippewas, Lorenzo Big Canoe, in 1975, it began with the Backwoods Log House (1870) and the Free Methodist Church (1889).

b. Photo Credit: a. & b. Doane House Hospice website

b. Photo Credit: a. & b. georginapioneervillage.ca

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44,500

TOWN OF EAST GWILLIMBURY

The region is governed by a group known as

Sharon Temple

York Regional Council Consists of 20 elected representatives from each of the constituent towns and cities in the region, including each of the nine mayors and 11 regional councillors.

a.

37,630

TOWN OF WHITCHURCHSTOUFFVILLE

It was constructed between 1825 and 1832 by the “Children of Peace”, a Quaker sect led by David Willson on whose property it was built. It was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990.

Bogarttown Schoolhouse

b. Photo Credit: a. torontosavvy.me & b.yorkurbanist.com

a. The oldest brick house in Ontario, Bogarttown Schoolhouse built in 1857 was converted into a museum in 1969 and moved in 1978 for the expansion of Hwy 404.

185,541

TOWN OF RICHMOND HILL The Vanderburgh House

a.

b. Photo Credit: a. Panoramio photos by David Trigger www.panoramio.com b. www.townofws.ca

Built in 1833 by descendants of United Empire Loyalists, it reflects the New England architectural style. Now it houses the Chamber of Commerce and Book Art Guild of Richmond Hill.

b. Photo Credit: a. & b. google images JULY / AUGUST 2015

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Yorklife

THE QUAKERS Our first settlers

The Sharon Temple, East Gwillimbury

York saw early settlers predominately from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the British Isles and the U.S.A., dating as far back as the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Markham was home to a large German settlement as a result of John Simcoe negotiating 64,000 acres of land for 64 different families, later to be known as the “German Company Lands.” Along with these settlers came new religious affiliations. In the City of Vaughan, the mid 1800’s were predominately Presbyterians and Methodists. By the late 1900’s, religious affiliations changed to reflect a rise in the Roman Catholic faith representing more than half of the population of Vaughan, with the Protestants and Anglicans closely behind. Perhaps one of the more interesting of these groups were the Quakers from Vermont and Pennsylvania who chose Newmarket, Whitchurch-Stouffville, King and East Gwillimbury. “The Children of Peace”, a Quaker sect led by David Willson, built the Sharon Temple in Sharon, Town of East Gwillimbury. Now a National Historic Site of Canada, it was constructed between 1825-32, structurally and architecturally inspired by the Old Testament of the Bible. It is known as the “birthplace of democracy in Canada” because many political reformers emerged from this group. They played pivotal roles in the creation of the Canadian Alliance Society, the first political party of Ontario. Many members stood side by side with William Lyon Mackenzie in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. A rebellion that has its roots in Newmarket, where to this day thousands walk under the very location he gave his starting speech in the heart of downtown, amidst the shops and restaurants. Among other accomplishments, the Quakers are respected for having created the first farmer’s co-operative, built the first shelter for the homeless and for having commissioned the first Organ built in Ontario.

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www.comfortpm.ca

T. 905.605.7788

F. 905.605.7799

E. info@comfortpm.ca


Yorklife

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

WOODBRIDGE

NEWMARKET It is said that as a passerby route, many distinguished individuals were entertained as guests along their travels, particularly by a Mr. Peter Robinson and his brother W.B. Robinson, both representatives of Provincial Parliament. The likes of Sir John Franklin and Captain Jack are said to have spent some time resting and possibly having a drink with these very men. Eventually hospitality lead to many trades taking place between the Natives, settlers and passerby’s. People found a market for trading and bartering goods and considered it a more convenient location than going to the city. Hence the name was dedicated as the “New Market”.

From the Marywood Collection, it is stated that the only way for the early settlers to reach the heart of Woodbridge, was by crossing one of its many wooden bridges. Woodbridge was named after one bridge in particular, overtop the Humber River, on what is now known as Islington Ave. and Langstaff Rd. The replica bridge made of concrete in 1930 is close to the original bridge accessible from Boyd Park.

Good old hospitality always included the best liquors and cigars for travelling men. Advertisements reflect how all successful businesses carried the best brands along with stables and sheds for horses.

The extensive history behind early settlement is vast, but what is important to point out is that York was witnessing, from the mid 1800’s onward a continual growth and expansion. Originally rich in open lands and farmlands, areas like Woodbridge were booming in the wheat, barley and hay production, and even housing some of the first successful industries like Patterson’s & Abell’s, manufacturers of agricultural implements and employing circa three hundred men. Gristmills and sawmills also helped in the expansion, as did The Northern Railway Station. The Holland River in the Town of Newmarket made it a natural route of travel between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe along the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail. This brought more people and eventually led to the interesting story behind their name.

Some of the other names were in honour of either landowners or important English figures: The Township of King was named in honour of Major John King, undersecretary of State in England.

Town of East Gwillimbury

was inspired by the family of Elizabeth Simcoe, born Gwillim.

City of Markham

was named after John Simcoe’s friend, William Markham, the Archbishop of York at the time.

Images courtesy of the City of Vaughan Archives, City Clerk’s Office (archives@vaughan.ca) 14 follow us at inspiremeyork.com

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BUILDS

COMMUNITIES

Well trained. Highly skilled manpower. That’s our specialty! When a community is built from the ground up, there is no labour force on the planet, better skilled to get the job done right the first time. LiUNA members and retirees made a commitment to their careers, which means a commitment to our communities. A commitment to build the BEST schools, airports, hospitals, office buildings, tunnels, power plants, roads, bridges, low rise and high rise housing in the country. When the work is done, LiUNA members and retirees continue to live, play and grow in their communities, with the guarantee of a pension that is also....simply the BEST! Approaching 100,000 members and retirees across Ontario, LiUNA is committed to building communities throughout the Province. While our affiliates specialize in representing construction workers, we also represent many other industries including manufacturing, health care, custodial services, convention and show exhibits.

Ontario Provincial District Council JULY / AUGUST 2015

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GROWTH

Yorklife

The changes over the decades are vast, more so in some sections than others. The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville practiced intensive forestry that led to a severe deforestation dilemma by the early 1900’s. The 1911 Deforestation Act ensured a substantial amount of land and forest protection, just as the Town of East Gwillimbury has approximately 75% of land that will not be developed because it is part of the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine. Growth in that area is restricted to four specific locations. The Town of Aurora is also partially located in the Oak Ridges Moraine and has successfully maintained its quaintness. In 2008 it was awarded the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership and in 2009 the town received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Community Leadership in Heritage Conservation and Promotion. However, other areas have thrived and grown extensively over the years. In fact, if one were to think back to certain areas like the City of Vaughan, they would probably recall with fondness many landmarks that are no longer present, or areas of vast openness and farmland changed by homes, businesses and industries. The 1920’s saw the formation of Hwy 7. By the 1950’s, subdivisions began to sprout and even the infamous Drive-In Theatre on Hwy 27 and Langstaff Road opened in 1967 and remained operational until 1997 when it was torn down for further homes. The 80’s also introduced a boom in the industrial sectors. If one remembers recently, the land around Paramount Canada’s Wonderland were essentially open fields until approximately a decade ago. Now it is a thriving suburban area.

DRIVE-IN THEATRE HWY 7 & HWY 400

Can you recall this Drive-in? Opened in 1954 and then closed in 1997 to allow for the development of Famous Player’s Colossus and adjacent businesses.

Images courtesy of the City of Vaughan Archives, City Clerk’s Office (archives@vaughan.ca)

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CAN YOU SPOT THE LOCATION?

1878 G. GILMOUR COMMERCIAL HOTEL

Yorklife

Market Lane Today | 2015 Photo Credit: Antonio Francisco

What would now be recognized as Market Lane, Woodbridge, this was originally a hotel in the mid to late 1800’s. John G. Hallet then founded the first bank at this location and it also served as a family home. (124 Woodbridge Ave.) Images courtesy of the City of Vaughan Archives, City Clerk’s Office (archives@vaughan.ca)

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IN THE NEWS... HURRICANE HAZEL For those of you who may remember, or have heard of the devastation that occurred in 1954, this is an arial view of the remnants of Hurricane Hazel, the deadliest hurricane of that season. Lands were submerged in flooded waters and homes destroyed. Thousands were left homeless and 81 people lost their lives.

1954

“…It was a gigantic flood with smashed houses and uprooted trees bobbing like corks, everything going down the river so fast. Houses crashing, people everywhere screaming. And then you couldn’t hear the screams anymore.”

HWY 7 & ISLINGTON, WOODBRIDGE

– Volunteer Fireman, Bryan Mitchell (Toronto Star, Oct.14, 1984)

SISTERLY LOVE

Did you know that we share Sister Cities or Municipal Twinning? These collaborations are implemented to foster cultural, educational and economical developments with many different practices put into place. Here are some of the many relationships:

City of Vaughan Whitchurch-Stoufville Aurora York Region

Baguio, Philippines Igoma, Tanzania Leksand, Sweden Omsk, Russia

To find out more connections other than those listed here, visit york.ca

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Yorklife

WALTER & LAURA ROLLING The Township of King was home to one of the most famous early Black educators of all time. Born in Laskay, Ontario in 1873, he is believed to have been a descendant of slavery from the early 1800’s. It is speculated that his roots are in the Township of King because of the large Quaker settlement. They were a people known to condemn slavery and participated in the Underground Railroad system.

Left: Standing side-by-side with his wife, Laura, a society page contributor to The Toronto Star among other newspapers and radio stations. image courtesy of: http://www.king-library.on.ca

Walter became a school teacher at the Kinghorn School where he taught for over forty years. Known for his strict discipline, mixed with a deep concern for his students, many described him as fair, always available and a man of principles. The Toronto Star quoted him in 1937 on his first teaching job experience:

“I took the place of a teacher who left town in despair after the class had gotten entirely out of hand and had actually partially disrobed her. When I arrived, the principal asked me if I had a club with me. When I expressed surprise, he took me aside, gave me a wagon wheel spoke, which I slipped up my sleeve. I had to use it quite frequently in those eight days, too. After I showed I meant business I had no trouble at all. When I started to teach at Kinghorn I found my Aurora experience had gone ahead of me, and the pupils were quite afraid at first.”

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In a time of dunce hats and corporeal discipline, this was common. However, one of the most touching and inspiring messages he shared was “When you give a child responsibility he will invariably measure up.”

After teaching for forty-one years at the Kinghorn School, Walter Rolling retired from teaching on June 30, 1936. A year later, over 2000 attendees, more than half the town’s population celebrated his retirement and honoured the moment by dedicating it as “W.R. Day”. They were honoured and shown the true respect of his community.

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10 Buttermill Avenue Unit #7 Concord, Ontario L4K 3X4 905.761.5500

It s All Good www.dimannobakery.com


STAMPED CONCRETE 08

(905) 764-3000 Office | (416) 896-8708 Mobile

09

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info@eliteconcrete.ca


NAME DROPPING There are many famous people who have emerged from York Region, in all sectors of life. Some of these include:

CITY OF VAUGHAN

TOWN OF NEWMARKET

ELIZABETH ARDEN

JIM CARREY

COSMETICS COMPANY

ACTOR

MIKE HARRIS

JOHN CANDY

DINA PUGLIESE

ELVIS STOJKO

DAVID ROCCO

BELINDA STRONACH

PREMIER OF ONTARIO TELEVISION HOST

ACTOR/TV COOKING SHOW HOST

ACTOR

OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER POLITICIAN, BUSINESSWOMAN, PHILANTHROPIST

york TOWN OF WHITCHURCHSTOUFFVILLE KEITH ACTON

NHL HOCKEY PLAYER

BOB HASSARD

NHL HOCKEY PLAYER

SEAN PEARSON UFC ATHLETE

TOWN OF GEORGINA WHIPPER BILLY WATSON PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER

CURTIS JOSEPH

NHL HOCKEY PLAYER

STEPHEN LEACOCK POLITICAL SCIENTIST

GLASS TIGER MUSICIANS

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Yorklife

Lamplighter

MR. ARTHUR BROWN

Sometimes less-famous people are also worthy of mention, such as Mr. Arthur Brown, King’s official lamplighter. From 1907 to 1924, before the arrival of electricity, gas lighting was used along the town roads. Every night he would go out and light each and every one, much to the amusement of the local kids who would secretly jump out from behind and shut them. Today, there are no lamplighters or many of our past landmarks. However, York is coming into its own uniqueness that reflects a very modern, multi-cultural, all inclusive group of successful, hard-working and reputable citizens. In terms of our diversity, York is home to some of the fastest growing populations. These include West Asian, South East Asian, Korean, Latin American and South Asian. Vaughan alone is home to 200 distinct ethnic groups, the top five being Chinese, Italian, East Indian, Canadian and English. WhitchurchStouffville has a strong Cantonese, Tamil and Chinese presence along with English and Italian. It is also the fastest growing municipality in Canada having had an increase of over 54% between 2006-11.

FUN FACTS York Region is comprised of many towns and cities. Here are some unique names: EGYPT

LOCUST HILL

SNOW BALL

SELDOM SEEN

JULY / AUGUST 2015

HAPPY VALLEY

SUNSET CORNERS

TEMPERANCEVILLE HOPE

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Markham is home to 174 different ethnic groups, Chinese being the largest, housing more than 400 companies and the Markham Stouffville Hospital. It is a thriving community with the fastest growth level alongside Vaughan. Georgina, Ice-Fishing Capital of North America in the 1990’s, is home to not only the Chippewas but also the English, French, German and Italians. East Gwillimbury, King and Whitchurch represent 83 different ethnic groups. Each location has its own historical landmarks that are protected and connected to the roots of their lands and stories. Each town, township and city has programs, services and unique community events to celebrate their communities. From the larger cities to the quaint, quiet places by the lake and protected lands, York Region has a little bit of everything to offer. No two areas are alike, yet each beautiful in their own rite.

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The Principato Way When LiUNA & Communities Unite

Community Gathering to Honour & Inaugurate Carmen Principato & The Carmen Principato Way

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Advertorial When a group of determined, philanthropic individuals come together to create a positive change for their community, the LiUNA Toronto Azzurri Fieldhouse Soccer Academy & Community Project, or better known as the Toronto Azzurri Youth Sports Village, is the result. The partnership between Robert Iarusci, former NASL player and member of the Canadian National soccer team, International Vice President and Regional Manager Joseph Mancinelli and Business Manager Carmen Principato of LiUNA, Labourers’ Union 506, Sargeant Stephen Hicks of 31 Division and founder of For KICKS (For Kids Involving Cops & Community for Knowledge & Sport) along with the help of Councillor Anthony Perruzza in the negotiating process between the city and the club, these exemplary community leaders are some of the minds involved in the realization of this incredible initiative. Working together to invest in and build a facility whose mission is to provide “sport, education, career planning and arts programming” for the North West Toronto community and some of its struggling members, particularly youth. They have recently gathered together again to celebrate the recent ceremonial unveiling of the Carmen Principato Way, leading to the facility located off of Keele St., just south of Steeles Ave. Local 506 of LiUNA, The Labourers’ International Union of North America, representing 8000 members, serves workers in the I.C.I. and Industrial sectors with a mandate of “improving the well-being of all working families and to ensure fair treatment in the workplace.” Carmen Principato and Joseph Mancinelli have extended their goal of providing and playing an instrumental role in the development of community initiatives to improve the welfare and opportunities for citizens by joining forces with Mr. Iarusci in officially opening the facility back in April of 2014. Carmen Principato Way pays homage to one of these leaders whose reach extends beyond the workplace and community service sector.

L to R: Robert Iarusci, Carmen Principato; Anthony Peruzza, Joe Mancinelli

L to R: Robert Iarusci, Anthony Peruzza, Joe Mancinelli; President of LiUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) ONTARIO PROVINCIAL DISTRICT COUNCIL Carmen Principato; Business Manager of LOCAL 506 Carmen Principato, born in Calabria and raised in Rome, Italy immigrated to Toronto in 1959 and joined Local 506. By 1971 he became an Executive Board member and has been a Business Manager since 1986. Some of his other credentials include Vice Chair of the Labourers’ Pension Fund and Vice President of LiUNA Ontario Provincial District Council. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the City of Toronto Economic Development Corporation in the mid ‘90’s. However, alongside his mission to improve provincial health and safety standards, he has also been involved and has supported Ephraim’s Place Community Centre, initiatives for the Humber River Hospital, Memorial Hospital in Brampton and is the founder of The Carmen Principato Scholarship Fund. Recently, he and his wife of 53 years have become the Honorees at The Da Vinci Gala in support of The Joseph & Mildred Sonshine Family Centre for Head and Neck Diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital. Some of the previous honorees have included Julian & Liviana Fantino, Michael & Grace DeGasperis, Sam & Donna Ciccolini, and Joseph & Enza Mancinelli.

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L to R: Joe Pantalone; former vice mayor of Toronto, Robert Iarusci, Carmen Principato, Anthony Peruzza, Joe Mancinelli

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Shroud TURIN of

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Elize Stokes


notable

York

Easter is the most significant religious celebration in the Roman Catholic faith. Befittingly, York Region communities had the extraordinary opportunity to meet and listen to Professor Walter Pezzo, during the Easter season. Pezzo, a Sindological Researcher from Turin, Italy, presented seminars from January to March, promoted by The United Society, a Roman Catholic Charitable Organization. Pezzo spoke of historical and scientific discoveries with believers and non-believers alike. There is no denying the immense impact the Sacred Shroud of Turin has had globally as the most researched religious and sought after artifact of all time. It is tangible, present and has been extensively tested by a multitude of experts with the latest scientific methods available, including NASA equipment and technology. Inspire me York aims to provide its readers with a brief look at the story of the Shroud and the final moments of the man it represents. The intent is to inform, provoke and provide an opportunity for dialogue. It is but a single drop in an ocean rich in history, science, faith, facts and beliefs with a background spanning many historical eras. There is no denying that it brings to the forefront discussions about life, human nature, struggles, triumphs and faith. The Shroud of Turin’s historical component has generally been divided into two periods. Prior to 1390, where it remains somewhat of a mystery, and after in which its whereabouts and impact are clearly documented. Many historical figures are attributed with the Shroud, one in particular which traces its movement from Lirey, France, to Turin, Italy in 1578, where it has remained ever since. Saint Charles Borromeo, at the time Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, was known as a man of penance and pilgrimages. He preferred sole-less shoes, sleeping on beds of straw or sitting in his carriage on iron nails. When the Black Plague hit Europe, he made a promise to God that should Milan be spared of the overwhelming deaths, he would walk from Milan to Lirey barefoot in gratitude. When he set afoot in 1578, Duke Emanuel Philibert of Savoy made a decision that would forever change the course of the Shroud’s location. In order to save the Cardinal from traveling across the Alps barefoot, he tried to lessen the distance by bringing the shroud to Turin, Italy.

“That a man suffered an inhumane torture in his final hours is of no dispute.” That a man suffered an inhumane torture in his final hours is of no dispute. The identity of the figure remains a mystery, yet for Roman Catholics around the world, among other traditions, it is the image of Jesus of Nazareth. Although the Vatican has never officially stated as such, Pope Francis did make clear that he was planning “…a pilgrimage to venerate the Holy Shroud” scheduled for June 21st. Its exhibition at Turin’s Cathedral is between April 19th and June 24th, with over half a million tickets already reserved. Regardless of religious beliefs, the general consensus based on scientific evidence, is that it is the image of a man having suffered a death consistent with having been beaten and crucified. Enter Professor Walter Pezzo’s 24 years of study on the image, the history and its religious affiliations. After sharing the details of this man’s final moments, an approximately 47 hour long ordeal, the importance of understanding the finer details of the crucifixion practices in Roman history with the story of the Passion of Jesus Christ is imperative when trying to reconcile the image on the Shroud itself. Jesus’ story begins in Gethsemane and based on Luke’s verse (22:44 KJV) it is here were the first mention of “his sweat became as drops of blood…” is documented. Pezzo proceeds to give the scientific and medical explanation of this phenomena that many attribute to being false, or highly unlikely. It is actually referred to as Hematidrosis in which the result of great emotional duress can lead to the tiny capillaries in the sweat glands to break and allows the blood to seep out of one’s skin. According to Jesus’ story, he knew he was going to his death, and hadn’t slept, ate or drank very little water in the hours leading to this moment, it

From there, the story of the Shroud continues to unfold. During World War I and II measures were taken to protect it from possible destruction or theft. Having survived two fires, the first in which it was slightly damaged, the demise of the Shroud has been challenged by either natural disasters or man-made ones. It is said that Hitler’s men in 1943 tried to find the Shroud, as it is suspected he also wanted to find and take the Holy Lance. Unbeknownst to those men, the House of Savoy and the Vatican gave direct orders to secretly hide it in the Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine, in Avellino, Naples after they were warned by either the Americans or Italians. Only a handful of people knew its whereabouts, and it was safely returned in 1946. This is the only recorded time the Shroud moved locations and information was only recently revealed. Apart from the immensely intrepid history of the Shroud and the people directly involved with it, the true beauty of its story stems from the image itself and its mystery.

JULY / AUGUST 2015

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Professor Walter Pezzo at St. Peter’s Church - Woodbridge, On.

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is no surprise that his level of stress, fear and anxiety would be enough to bring to reality this phenomena. As well, the Romans did not practice double punishment. Men were either flagged or crucified. In fact, Romans hardly ever crucified their prisoners. They typically tied and left them in the elements, to be savaged by animals. In Jesus’ case, Pontius Pilate ordered the flagging because that was considered the lesser of two evils, not expecting Jesus to have survived the ordeal. The flagellum was comprised of three heavy leather thongs with two small beads of lead at the ends of each thong. According to the laws, the maximum number of lashes permitted were 7, until approximately 70 A.D. Based on the evidence on the Shroud and the markings left on the body, there were 40 administered flags on both the front and back of his body. That amounts to 120 lashes and open wounds. By the time Jesus arrives at Pontius Pilate’s feet, after 8 hours of no food, sleep and torture, he has lost a tremendous amount of blood, skin and muscle in the process. He is dehydrated and in shock. When; as the story has it, he is condemned to be crucified, the soldiers then tie his arms, by the wrists, to a piece of solid walnut wood measuring 180 cm and weighing 60 kg. For Roman Catholics, the Stations of the Cross, depicting Jesus’ Passion, show his first fall in a very subdued manner. He is typically on one knee with the cross over his shoulder. Reality was different. Having this piece of wood behind the shoulder blades on his back, and his arms strung to it, his first fall had him literally hit the ground face first, with the weight of 60 kg on top of him. The Shroud shows evidence of a broken nose and right eye socket caved in as a result. A subsequent fall dislocates his right shoulder and it is at this point that the soldiers determine that he will not be able to continue the walk of approximately 800 metres up the mountain without dying first. It is then that Simon of Cyrene carries it for him. Lesser known facts of his final hours are the crucifixion itself. Pontius Pilate sees to it that this man, full of open wounds, dirt, blood and sweat be wrapped in a specific cotton blanket in order to keep his shocked body warm. It is a small act of kindness with great consequence. According to Pezzo, the wood he carried was already pre-holed for where the hands were to be nailed. As they lay him down to start nailing him with the 13.5 cm nails, it became clear that his arms did not stretch out far enough to match those holes. The soldiers take the nails out of his hands and nail for a second time after using rope to stretch his arms, completely

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dislocating his left shoulder in the process, to align his hands. Shortly after, they unwrap the cotton blanket that had completely dried and attached itself to his body after the hours it took to nail his hands. When they stripped him of it, they reopened all wounds and administered additional pain. This man, or Jesus of Nazareth, stayed on that cross for three hours. Hung, bleeding, dying a slow, painful death from noon until 3 pm. The soldiers used the lance with a 2.7 cm tip, placed it on his rib and punctured the skin sideways. It was a customary Roman practice to do things very methodically. He was not stabbed in a forceful way, rather carefully pierced so that the spear ruptured the lung which is why it is said that water dripped out of his body. Roman practice dictates that no man crucified have a proper burial. They were thrown into the stream as the ultimate sign of humiliation. However, Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man who stood by Jesus’ side, was granted his body and wraps him in the Shroud drenched in aloe vera and myrrh. He places him in his own tomb that he has given to Jesus, only to discover he is resurrected on the Sunday. The mysteries of the Shroud are many among which are the identity and authenticity of the image. Among these are the inability to scientifically explain how the image itself, with the blood stains, are found within the middle fibres of the Shroud, not on the top or bottom layers. Just as it is still a mystery as to why there are no signs of petrification, which according to Pezzo sets in approximately 40- 45 hours after death, and why there are no signs of the Shroud having been physically moved off of the body. It is unmoved, untouched, sacred.

“During World War I & World War II, measures were taken to protect it from possible destruction or theft.” Regardless of religious affiliations and beliefs, there is something to be said about the history behind the Sacred Shroud of Turin and the power of an image after all these years. It has attracted people from around the world for over centuries. It is a mystery, even with all of today’s technology, but as most faiths require, one can believe even that which one cannot see, touch or explain. me

JULY / AUGUST 2015

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THE JOURNEY OF A

THOUSAND MILES meet carlo salim.

Sabrina Tagliabue

The first is the greatest of all impressions. Carlo Salim, in a perfectly tailored suit and commanding presence, arrives at the Rafat General Contracting offices and the energy quickly shifts into fifth gear. Barely past the front doors, he is detained by more than one employee and it quickly becomes evident that time is a rare commodity. One hour of his undivided attention is truly a unique opportunity. An air of confidence and strength with a no-nonsense demeanor, he would intimidate even the most self-assured individual. Yet beneath that exterior, and amidst his beautifully decorated boardroom and offices, Carlo Salim reveals his true depth, incredibly profound views on success and shares his adventures epitomizing the extraordinary immigrant story. Rafat is a successful, unique general contracting company providing services in everything from excavation and demolition to road maintenance and landscaping. With numerous services and 24 hour emergency availability, his company has established itself on respect, leadership and ingenuity. Founded in 1987 and incorporated by 1989, Rafat serves municipalities to builders and employs up to 400 people. This is what the community recognizes as the Rafat Empire. What few people know is that Salim fled Baghdad at the age of fifteen. His father organized his escape in order to protect him from being drafted to the war and in 1980, Salim fled to Rome, Italy. Completely alone and armed with only a list of contacts, he said his final goodbyes to his family and began his journey of a thousand miles. With no support, no knowledge of the land nor the language, this young man quickly found himself propelled into the greatest adventure of a lifetime that would forever change the course of his life.

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Mr. Salim, why was Italy your father’s destination of choice? At the time the only two countries accepting refugees were Greece and Italy. My father knew some people who had left and were temporarily staying in Rome, so that is where I went in search of support. Luckily I found one family who allowed me to stay for a short time and then I was on my own. I learned the carpentry trade and lived ‘lungo mare’ for two and a half years. I spoke only Arabic and learned the Italian language quickly. Why did you choose this country? After about two and a half years, at the age of seventeen, I knew it was time to move on. I wanted to move to either the U.S. or Canada; however, after three requests to the U.S. I quickly realized it was futile. At that time the American government did not support Iraqi refugees because of their relationship with Iraq. Canada, on the other hand, granted me permission because of my skill and trade. I was told it had a large Italian population so I knew I would integrate well with my knowledge of the language and culture. The Canadian Ambassador informed me that my skills were needed in Saskatchewan, so in 1984 I embarked on a new journey to a new land yet again. I couldn’t speak English and didn’t know the first thing about Canada. How did your journey eventually take you from Saskatchewan to Toronto? I spent about nine months in Saskatchewan. I tried to learn the language and take advantage of the courses the government offered me as a new immigrant, but it was a challenge. I never found the Italian community I was looking for and felt disconnected. After being told to visit Toronto, I took the three day trip on the Greyhound bus and was literally dropped off at the corner of St. Clair and Dufferin. It couldn’t get more Italian than that! It didn’t take me long to pack my things and make Toronto my new, permanent residence.

JULY / AUGUST 2015

INSPIRE me. york


York distinct

Carlo Salim, Owner RAFAT


It’s 1984, you are just shy of twenty and find yourself in another new city. Did you have a clear vision of what you wanted to do? Needed to do? Yes. I needed to work to survive. I began at a wood working company, but because I had left Saskatchewan, I had lost my rights to government assistance and had to learn everything on my own. My family couldn’t join me like they had planned so I was still alone. I spent three and a half years working every day, sometimes all day, seven days a week.

In Canada, if you have a “dream and aren’t afraid of

dedicating the time and effort to making it come true, anything is possible.

What would you say was the turning point that has led you to where you are today? In 1987 my father passed away. My mother, and sister were still in Iraq and I knew I had to find a way to support my family. Although my mother was a school principal, my father had been the main financial support and I knew I needed to do something to take care of them. I tried desperately to make more money, but it wasn’t easy. Between paying for rent, my car insurance and living expenses I barely made ends meet, let alone help my family. I decided to start something on my own. Rafat essentially was a part-time venture. Having worked among many Italians in the construction sector, I built a network of contacts and with the residential boom of the late 80’s, I worked side jobs until contracts came in and my business grew. Before I knew it, I was working full time and was slowly building my company. Would you say it was ‘the right place at the right time’, or simply hard work and determination that created this turn of events? I won’t deny that the timing was right. I made a decision that would forever change my life in a period of economic growth. But it was my work ethic that led me to where I am today. In Canada, if you have a dream and aren’t afraid of dedicating the time and effort to making it come true, anything is possible. It comes at a price though. You need to be willing to sacrifice for twenty years, put in eighteen hour days, seven days a week. Just like many immigrants did. You have to work hard and want it. Most immigrant stories we are familiar with are the ones from our grandparents’ generation, not from the late 80’s and early 90’s. I know you employ many immigrants from your homeland and witness firsthand their struggles to adjust. What would you say are the similarities or differences of your immigration story with someone from today? It is very different. Obviously I speak in general, but there is one main difference that stands apart from my experience or those of the Italians that came after World War II. We were hungry. Literally and figuratively. We knew and understood what it meant to have nothing or very little. Your grandparent’s generation knew the importance of saving

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and building for rainy days. This comes from living through an experience like war where life is a gift and there are no guarantees for anything. Today, people want everything and get caught up in the fast game of life. For instance, when we bought a car we paid for it in full, took care of it and made it last for fifteen years. Today, after one or two years, people lease new cars, buy the latest phones and spend more money than they have. There is little concern for tomorrow, just about today’s gratification. Unfortunately, we cannot teach this generation of immigrants, and even our own children, the reality of hunger because it is something that cannot be imparted, it must be experienced. What is your definition of success? I’m still working on it. I don’t believe I’ve fully reached it yet. Then what would you define as the keys to your success so far that sets you apart from others? Three things. First, hard work. You have to be willing to work hard and harder than anyone else. When I was building my business, I never said no to a job. It didn’t matter how much it paid or how much of my time it took, I accepted any opportunity to work. When I bought my first home in the early 90’s in Woodbridge, economic times were tough. Interest rates were high and I needed to pay my bills. I remember my Italian neighbours asking me to help bring soil to their backyards for their vegetable gardens and I would work on the weekends while my friends were relaxing. I saw it as an opportunity to not only earn more money, but also to save. I invested in myself and my business at every opportunity I got instead of using my hard earned money partying and wasting precious time. The second is perhaps even more important than the first. It’s patience. You need to have patience in everything you do, with everyone and with yourself. When people start their own business they have very little patience because they want success quickly. When they realize it takes time, they give up. Their other weakness is in misinterpreting their own role within their business. They think they’re the boss so they can do whatever they want. I never saw my role as that. For me, every one of my clients is a boss. I work for them and respect that relationship. If you are required to work twenty hour days, then you must have the patience to do it. It also means recognizing the importance of building your business by investing in it. You may be asking how that relates to patience, but it’s simple. Instead of taking my profits and spending for myself, I invest my profits back into my business in order to help it prosper and grow. You need to understand that I work for Rafat. My money goes back into my business and that has allowed me to build its success. Now I can afford to take dividends and enjoy the fruits of my labour, but this did not come without patience and hard work. The last is honesty. You need to be straight up. Honesty begets respect and even if people don’t always like it, they will respect you for it. Your honesty then translates in the people you surround yourself with. If you’re a good person, good people are attracted to you allowing you to build your business from the ground up with hard working, patient and honest workers. I also believe that when you treat people well, you will be rewarded in return. How would you describe your drive? I’m happy with what I have, but at the same time always tell myself I can do more. There’s always better and that notion is what drives me to reach new levels of success. When things go wrong, the lessons I learn force me to bounce back with a vengeance and ten times more aggressive.

JULY / AUGUST 2015

INSPIRE me. york


We were hungry. “ Literally and figuratively.

It is always about improving and developing my own brand. I’ve never wanted to be like everyone else. Unlike many others, I don’t believe we control our fate but I do believe we control our vision. My vision is my business and when I dream, I dream about equipment, trucks and anything business related. I suppose this drive stems from my desire to take care of my family and it evolves as my life evolves. I never imagined I’d be here today, but my success is a reflection of my drive. What is the legacy you wish to leave behind one day? When my father passed away, I started my company and wanted to name it after him in his honour. I wanted to see his name everywhere as a reminder of not just him, but our history and my family. This has also played a part in what drives me to be successful. I am forever determined to represent my father’s name in the best way possible and will not settle for anything less. I’ve done this. I’ve created a business in my father’s name that is respected by many and this satisfies me.

I believe everyone has a story and what we see on the exterior is just the surface. Would you agree and if so what is it people may not realize about you? I agree. I’m the only one who truly knows the blood and sweat I have put into my life. From my journey here to the creation of all this, it has been a long process and didn’t come easily. The thing most people don’t realize is that reaching this level of success is no longer about the money. It’s about the responsibility I carry on my shoulders. I come into work every single day with two things on my mind. The payments for my payroll and the knowledge that Rafat supports up to 400 employees and their families. This business is not just about my dream. I need to make sure that everybody has a job and having hundreds of people relying on me to provide them with work and a pay cheque is an enormous load. Having been on the other end, I know what it feels like needing and relying on my employer. I have workers who have been with me for twenty years. Their well-being is my responsibility and I owe them this much. Without them, my team and Rafat would not be where it is today. The people behind me are the ones who help make me who I am and the company what it is. me

If he is watching over you, what do you think he feels? He would be proud. I think of that often. He always wanted the best for his family and took a great risk at setting me free. If he could see me today he would be happy with my business and my passion, how I help my people and who I’ve become. He would be proud of all of his children. More importantly, I would give everything I have to spend just one more day with him. Everything.

JULY / AUGUST 2015

INSPIRE me. york

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DOMENIC VALELA ON THE RIVET

Sabrina Tagliabue

It was time for a crash course on cycling and who better than Domenic Valela, an elite Canadian cyclist, to teach me a thing or two about this riveting world? Ultimately a test in physical and mental endurance, it soon becomes clear that Domenic’s story encompasses more than the skillset it takes to succeed in a race. It’s about the true essence of the man or woman on the saddle, the rise of the “primitive” within. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you have it or not. It’s about all of the work, passion and sacrifices you’ve made leading up to that point that ultimately dictates where you finish.” This has become evident in his extensive list of races as well as his charity work with Team Revolution, a cycling club that is raising awareness and funds for the new Humber River Hospital, Canada’s first fully-digital facility. Domenic refers to Team Revolution as “the coolest charity based cycling club on the planet”.

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JULY / AUGUST 2015

INSPIRE me. york


being me

York

At 29, he’s already travelled the world by bike, training and racing in places people only dream of. From California to Vermont, Vancouver to Halifax, Belgium to Italy to numerous other countries in Western Europe, including a three year stint in Veneto, Italy, Domenic has schooled himself on the richness of many lands and cultures. When people his age are busy sitting poolside at an all-inclusive resort, he is busy waking at the crack of dawn, riding with locals and living among them. Why, you may ask? It’s simple, “There’s nowhere else I want to be”. Equating the feeling of riding with that of perfection, if he can’t bring his bike somewhere, he just doesn’t go. The bike grants him the opportunity to explore, learn and see new things. “Some of the greatest people in my life, the greatest opportunities I have had have all come through and from the bike.” A cyclist’s world is incredibly metaphoric of life in general. Bonds are formed, conversations are shared and loyalties are forged. When riding, he describes feeling “alive and euphoric”. There is something to be said of the shared experience of pushing through the pain and reaching a finish line with others on your same journey. Getting there took time. In his teens he was involved in motocross racing with friends for many years. Eventually, the motorbike led to physical challenges that meant the end of the motocross era, and the beginning of a new one. Looking back on when he decided to give cycling a chance, he describes going to his local gym on a weekend and spending six hours straight on a stationary bike. With bottles of water lined up and amazed onlookers nearby, he pushed himself to his limits to see if his heart was really in it. “I knew that this was what I wanted to do. And that feeling has never stopped since. It’s an insatiable appetite.” The fire that has been growing within him for a little over a decade has transcended and infiltrated every aspect of his life. An eloquent, humble yet incredibly insightful young man, he describes the greatest lesson he has learned so far. “I refuse to spend one iota of energy on something I’m not passionate about.” Passion is his “compass” within which he determines what he wants to pursue, both in business and in personal development, and approaches everything with that focus and determination to see things through to the best of his ability. Recognizing that all successful individuals are those who commit wholeheartedly to something greater than themselves, he highlights the importance of finding out that which ignites the fire within. Which doesn’t come without sacrifice or easily. Discussing the ability to handle change and challenges, he focuses on three main ingredients to his success. “Live a clean life, work hard and wake up early.” A clean life is about optimum health and making wise choices. Going to bed early and getting a good night’s rest so that “I can give the best of myself to not only myself, but everyone else who depends on me” is a critical component of his success. It also ensures that he gets on his bike first thing in the morning, even if that means often times refusing late nights. “The fact is, the best parties start at 6:30 am because being on that bike is when I

JULY / AUGUST 2015

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39


feel most alive and the happiest.” He describes asking himself often, “Do I want to stay up late with the owls or fly with the eagles in the morning?” Domenic prefers the latter. All his training and life philosophies have led him to moments of great triumph and success. He describes a 150 km race in Austria, one of his most challenging, and how his coach advised him to stay with the pack and “just make it to that finish line with the lead group.” Averaging speeds of 46.5 km/hour and finishing it in approximately three and a half hours, Domenic describes reaching that finish line with the feeling of triumph and pure bliss. He knows he’s pushed as hard as he can and fought the good fight. He quotes the great American cyclist Greg Lemond who says “it doesn’t gets easier, you just go faster” and you need to engage in a lot of self- talk when it gets unbearable. His determination and discipline help him cope and rise above.

“ THE

BEST PARTIES START AT 6AM

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Domenic attributes having learned his work ethics through their example made evident in generations of successful business owners and philanthropists. He recalls with fondness his younger years. With a smile on his face he reminisces about Saturday morning pickups at 6:30 am by his uncle in a car full of cousins. Off they went to spend the day working at the family business. Summer days weren’t spent playing video games or talking on the phone either. From 6 am to 6 pm, all the cousins worked at the construction sites, helping the family and learning discipline, responsibility and the value of hard work. Today; after completing his Global MBA at the University of Toronto studying in India, China, Switzerland, Brazil and Hungary, he started a boutique real estate development firm focusing on building and leasing luxury urban homes and apartments in Toronto. While still training 7-days-a-week and participating in races across the globe, his passion for cycling burns bright. This spring he competed in a 6-day stage race on the island of Sardegna, Italy. Along the lines of family discussion, I ask him what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind one day. Pensive, he answers with care. “One day, I want my family to think of me as the man who was going for it, that I lived my life on the edge of my seat, or as they say in cycling ‘on the rivet’. That’s how I want to be remembered. I don’t intend to climb the mountain of life and end up on some mediocre mountaintop; I’m only interested in Everest. Whether or not I make it is another story, but no one will be able to say that I didn’t give it my all.” me

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JULY / AUGUST 2015

INSPIRE me. york


www.rafatgeneralcontracting.com

8850 George Bolton Pkwy Bolton, ON L7E 2Y4 info@rafat.ca

Phone: (905) 951-1063 Fax: (905) 951-9686


OFFICER

942

#

TONI PASSARELLI Sabrina Tagliabue

faith. family.

community. This is Officer Toni Passarelli’s Trinity. It is the core of her existence and what fuels her strength and courage as mentor to York Region’s youth. Her passion, integrity and love of community touches the lives of many within our schools, streets and organizations dear to her heart. She lives her calling passionately and inspires many.


chalk

talk

‘BEYOND

THE MOUNTAINS & THE CLOUDS’ However don’t tell her this because she is humble to a fault. An authentically genuine and private woman, she granted Inspire me York an exclusive interview in order to share her message. Often referred to as the community Godmother or simply Officer Toni, she has rightfully earned her title after almost twenty years of community service. An incredible force of energy, surprisingly funny yet serious at the same time, she has captured the hearts of York’s kids with a unique ability to transcend barriers, providing a safe haven for open dialogue, trust and admiration. A keen eye for the child who needs a little extra attention, her story telling techniques bring out the shyest of children. She creates an atmosphere within which they instinctively know they are loved, respected and heard. One must meet them on their level, either through storytelling, music, dance or simply speaking from the heart because they need to know that “you believe in them, and love and respect them…and that I will do whatever it takes to reach a kid and help them reach their potential. I will never quit a kid.” It is said that the greatest gift one can give a child is to make them feel validated. Suffice it to say, Officer Toni sees and hears. To understand who she is, one must know that as the daughter of two Italian immigrants, her core values were built upon a solid foundation of the fundamental principles of the immigrant life. Proudly Canadian, while retaining the respect and love of her Italian roots, she affirms the importance of the family unit as the centre hub of all of life’s most important lessons. In her home, the family sat together at every meal and engaged in the usual conversations, banters and quirks of family life. Values were taught, principles were respected and bonds were fortified. It is here, in the safety of her home, where she learned the value of inner strength, compassion, humility and the courage to do the right thing, no matter how great the challenge. Learning to live in harmony with one’s core values along with the importance of accountability, Officer Toni teaches these kids that no feat is too great, no obstacle too high to overcome. Sharing her favourite song, Rollin’ by Ish, she highlights the aspects of courage and strength in the face of adversity because it “represents my life. No matter what the challenge, I overcame everything because I truly believe a good heart builds courage to survive”. There is no greater security than the love within the home that carries a child through the challenges they may face. Her own family are all active members of their communities and involved with children, and anyone who knows Officer Toni knows that her greatest treasures in life are her niece and nephew. Her life skills and faith have carried her through many personal challenges. Injuries, accidents, including a drunk driving accident at a young age with her family which they all survived, a house fire, and the perils of her job, she has had one constant through it all. Her faith and the greatest of all lessons, the power of forgiveness. Through forgiveness one can accept and move forward utilizing that faith to get through anything. As she describes, one must always “operate with the heart and consciousness. Live your life guided by your heart that unites us all, with values and a mind that guides you.” Shaped by her family and grounded in faith, she has brought to her community a passion for all its children. Why children? Well if you ask her the defining moment of her life, it’s simple. She was all but five years old when she knew what she wanted to become and recognized how great it was being a kid. She still says that “I live my life by 5” with that mischievous, infectious smile. It is the seedling becoming the fruit. The promise of a fulfilling, meaningful life in its pivotal moments in which one is influenced and guided into greatness. Her desire is to catch a child on the fork of decision making that will either determine “who they were meant to be or who they choose to be”. She wants to reach kids and provide them with the tools necessary to be invested in themselves. “My goal is to instill humility, the pay-it-forward principle, inspire with courage, strength, tenacity and resiliency. It is so important to keep them invested so I don’t ever have to see them in the system. They need to stay invested in their families, faith, education and health.” More importantly, she describes the significance of giving back and being cognisant of the legacy they leave behind.

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Her brutally honest approach while sharing freely from the heart is what the youth respond to. It isn’t every day that an adult “says it like it is”. She reminds everyone within the first few minutes of entering a room that Officer Toni “is not defined by the uniform”, moments before sharing her own life stories. I asked her what the definition of a mentor means to her, and her response is fitting: “A true mentor loves themselves enough to be able to share their life lessons, so another life can be affected, impacted or changed. I want them to be motivated to find their own paths, while coming from a real place.” Her main lessons? “Slow life down. Go back to your base roots. Reconnect with the family unit, sit down with your loved ones and share. Put away technology and recognize that social media, rather than enhancing our lives, is essentially destroying it.” A component of the V.I.P. Program (Values, Influences and Peers geared toward providing students with the proper tools and information for effective decision making) emphasizes the importance of putting phones down, talking to one another and re-engaging in human interactions. She reinforces the need for play, reading and activities, rather than being glued to a screen. Also, it is essential to grasp the importance of the “dual impact…that which I send out to the world, will be given back to me.” This principle rings true for their self-development. “What you invest now will bear the fruit of your future, and it will be these traits that will help eliminate and eradicate the bullying epidemic we face.” It is through building character, courage and resiliency that they will learn to recognize their own self-worth, have the courage to believe in themselves and the knowledge that they are loved with a support system they have nurtured and kept strong. Was there was a particular story of a child who triumphed and succeeded in becoming the best version of him/herself that she would share with the readers? Of the extraordinary amount of lives touched, there was one she has stored deep within her heart. A model of gratitude and humility, embodying the message that she tirelessly delivers to our youth, he has brought to life and fruition everything that she has ever represented. His simple question “who will ever love me?” was a reminder of what most children experience. Her response, “You will be loved for who you are, not judged by the actions of others”, reminded him that his courage to stand up and do the right thing in order to affect the necessary changes would not be easy, but right. Sometimes the right thing is not the easy thing to do but it has to be done. Those who would recognize his potential and good heart would love him. He needed to harness the courage and resiliency to forge through whatever challenge he faced as a pivotal role in his success. She translates this message for all kids. “Be resolute. Stand tall and alone, if necessary, in the face of adversity, peer pressure, pain or whichever disguise your challenge is presented. For it

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is an opportunity for growth and a chance to follow your destined path to success.” Being someone who describes herself as “completely fearless in my approach to everything”, yet guided with the heart and consciousness of a loving humanitarian, she celebrates the beauty in having the courage to stand alone. “One must be deeply rooted in the knowledge that you are loved and worthy, in order to be prepared for life’s storms.” Fear is not a

“What you invest now will bear the fruit of your future, and it will be these traits that will help eliminate and eradicate the bullying epidemic we face.” part of her equation. “I’m living my legacy every day. I am not waiting until I’m done.” This is her lesson to her community. True to form, she made one final request. A special ‘shout out’ to her kids in York Region. Opening her heart to allow us within its deepest corners, she chose to share a secret only a few have been privy to. It is a memory box that houses hundreds of hand-made tokens of appreciation, everything from notes, origami’s, drawings, and crafts that have been given to her by a child. From their heart to hers, it has been placed safely and lovingly in her memory box of treasures. It has become a refuge on challenging days and when in need of a renewal of hope and faith in an often times difficult world she manoeuvres. It is her lifeline to these wonderful children who have touched her deeply and remind her why she does what she does on a daily basis. Having witnessed this firsthand, there is not a face or name she doesn’t remember. Each object has a story she holds dear to her heart and can recite easily. Her gratitude for what this community has given her is evident in not only their love for her, but her need to keep everyone close in her memory box of treasures. It is also the ultimate sign of her humility. Officer Toni constantly reminds me of how much this community has given her, without thinking of the impact she has had on the community. “The kids have my heart.” It truly is as simple as that. me

JULY / AUGUST 2015

INSPIRE me. york


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Bhangra

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GURTAJ PAWAR

Fiercely proud of his ethnic and cultural roots, 18 year old Gurtaj Pawar is the son of Punjabi immigrants who moved to Canada in the 1990’s. Instilled with a love and appreciation for his native land and language, Bhangra dance has become a celebratory expression of his cultural roots. It is the fusion of traditional Punjabi music with western musical styles. Originating in the 1980’s, it is folk music merged with a modern beat. The Bhangra dance tells a story, typically in celebration of the harvest, sung in Punjabi and traditionally done live. The dances also touch on social issues, love and history. Adorned in beautiful, colourful costumes, it is a “celebratory expression” of gratitude, joy and abundance. Performed at weddings, guests garnish the dance floor with money as an expression of satisfaction. It is a very beautiful, upbeat dance that is not only admired, but culturally celebrated. Once an incredibly shy boy, Mrs. Pawar tells stories of his painstaking reluctance to socialize. Today, Gurtaj is an entirely different young man who commands the stage. Having travelled to many cities in various competitions, from Vancouver to California, he still recalls his very first school talent show in a predominately Asian community. Concerned as to how he would be received and understood, it became evident that Bhangra could transcend all barriers. The enthusiasm and appreciation from his fellow students and teachers became a highlight in his early career. Numerous awards, trophies and accolades fill his room. A young man of many talents, from sports to music, he’s equipped with the latest technology and musical apparatus to keep his creative juices flowing. From the tender age of four, he began attending the Nachdi

JULY / AUGUST 2015

INSPIRE me. york

By: Leo Kressing

Jawani School for Bhangra, studying the Punjabi language and his passion for music grew. Although now on a temporary hiatus as he finishes his final year in Father Michael McGivney Academy in Markham, when competing he would train up to four days a week for countless hours. When asked what drove him to pursue his passion, his answer would soften even the hardest of critics. “My dad and I would go watch other kids dance and I knew it would bring him great pride and joy if his only child would realize the one dream he missed out on.” Raised to be incredibly humble, respectful and soft spoken, Gurtaj represents his family and culture well. Looking forward to finishing high school and pursuing the field of Kinesiology, he approaches his future with the same excitement he exhibits in every area of his life. Having grasped the importance of dedication, hard work and discipline it is no surprise that his future is bright and full of promise. me

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Eleni Tsatsanis

A Stroke of Passion

Leo Kressing

Prodigy is a term reserved for the extremely gifted young child or adolescent within the arts. It is rare to meet a 12 year old creating incredibly moving, beautiful canvases that leave an impression as great as that of Eleni Tsatsanis’ masterpieces. Recipient of the Artist of The Year Award for 2013-14 from the Woodbridge Art School, it is no minor accomplishment standing out amidst hundreds of peers, many of whom have been artists in the making for years.

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Like all true passions, Eleni breathes, dreams and is immersed in the security of her art. Unlike other kids her age, free moments find her nestled in a makeshift studio in her bedroom working on her latest piece. It is therapeutic, soul affirming and comes as second nature. When asked how she knew this was more than just a hobby, she describes her emotional response to one of her favourite paintings. “I looked at it and I just knew this was my thing.” It stirred something deep within her, and from that moment on painting became her true calling. At the age of six, Eleni’s parents introduced her to art classes. Along with dance and piano, it quickly became evident her passion was in the arts. A little over two years ago she started attending the school on a full time basis, excelling beyond even her instructor’s expectations. Her favorite medium is painting with acrylic, oil and the pallet knife and finds inspiration through various pictures and Italian landscapes. Her dedication and passion are not restricted by the boundaries of time. As her grandmother points out, “I see her in her room at night still working away when everyone is either fast asleep or ready to call it a night.” With an incredibly supportive and proud family by her side, it is no surprise she is such a success. Learning how to trust the process of revealing her work and leaving it up for interpretation by others, her strength comes from knowing that her work is a uniquely beautiful representation of her gift. The beauty of this story extends even further. Eleni is a true representation of the paying it forward principle. After a successful silent auction event at her school, St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy in Woodbridge, the proceeds of the sales went toward purchasing art supplies for first graders. With the support of the principal and staff, she volunteers her time and teaches the children how to paint. She is sharing her gift with her community, like only a true artist does. With dreams to further her talents, attend St. Elizabeth Catholic High School, and one day own her own studio, there is no doubt that this young lady will do great things and achieve all her goals. She is the artist of her own beautiful destiny and creating her own life’s masterpiece. me

JULY / AUGUST 2015

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Do you have a scientist in the making, a passion for the stars, or simply an interest in learning further about our infinite universe? Then look no further. Nestled in over 180 acres of land, The David Dunlap Observatory located in Richmond Hill, is an astronomer’s heaven, as it is an historian’s dream come true. One can get lost in the extensive book collections, original artifacts, telescopes and other fascinating pieces in the Observatory Campus, all before visiting Canada’s largest, a 1.88 metre Grubb-Parsons Optical Telescope. A telescope built in England, brought to Richmond Hill in pieces, and remounted in the mid 1930’s. Driving up the winding, beautiful road leading to the breathtaking observatory, one is left with a feeling of awe in the midst of the silence and solitude of its surroundings. After a personal tour given by Karen Mortfield, one of the hundreds of volunteers who help run, manage and operate the facility, it becomes

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abundantly clear that these volunteers love what they do. The Toronto Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) is a registered charity of over 800 volunteers, some of whom have worked tirelessly to maintain and revive the facility over the past six years. After having assumed stewardship in 2009, it has welcomed over 20,000 visitors and inspires young astronomers globally. Originally belonging to Jessie Dunlap, widow of mining executive Donald Dunlap, in partnership with Professor Clarence Chant, the sole astronomer at the University of Toronto in the early 1900’s, the observatory was donated to the university and officially opened in 1935. A haven for astronomical pursuits, advance and exploration, it marked great progress over the years, with many famed discoveries such as the existence of black holes. Unfortunately, by 2008 light pollution due to population increase and demographic changes caused the end of an era. It was sold privately and when RASC became involved in 2009 with the new property owners, the objective was to salvage the telescope and facility. With the intent to provide public and outreach programs, along with community service and volunteer commitment at heart, it reopened and is now a huge success encouraging people to learn and participate in astronomy life. Such programs include observing the skies during meteor showers (up to 2,000 attendees); Friday Family Nights where children are encouraged to use their imaginative powers and create their own constellations and other innovative ideas while making use of the craft room, Skylab and the Great Telescope; Star Talk Nights where guest speakers such as astronomers, educators and space students provide science-friendly lectures for all. The facility welcomes Scouts and Guides, school groups, local astronomy clubs and also offers an intern program for high school students. For community outreach there is a Telescope Clinic for new telescope owners who may need help managing their newest additions, along with a Lender’s Program for those interested in purchasing a telescope, but would like to handle one beforehand. me

FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO DONATE, visit:

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