Israel Del Angel (Chico) Senior Operations Manager
THE GOLD STANDARD IN LANDSCAPING
WE ARE THE ONLY MEMBERS OF LANDSCAPE ONTARIO THAT PROVIDE LABOURERS THROUGH THE LANDSCAPE INDUSTRY
OUR SATISFIED CLIENTS
Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Allweather Landscape Ltd. Hank Deenen Landscaping Ltd. Boots Landscaping Maintenance Ltd. Salivan Landscape Ltd. Clintar landscape Management (Various Franchises) TCG-Total Contracting Group (Various Franchises) The Grounds Guys (Various Franchises) The Beach Gardener Inc. The Squire Landscaping Service Ltd. Bouwmeister Landscaping Ltd. All Seasons Gardening & Maintenance Avante Property Services Ltd. Bryden Landscaping
TDA Headquarters 206 Harwood Ave S #201 Ajax, ON L1S 2H6 Phone: Fax:
289-314-4013 (Chico) 905-239-7975 905-239-5112
GREENHOUSES/NURSERIES: City Wide Property Services Coivic Contracting Ltd. Doubletree Landscaping Inc. Landscape By Lucin Griffith Property Services Ltd. Dr. Landscape Durham Lawn Care Euro Landscape Professionals Four by Four Construction Gateway Landscape Group Inc. Genoscape Inc. Gentree landscaping Ltd. Glenoaks landscape Contractors Humphries Landscape Services
Landmark Landscaping Lomco Limited Mackie Contracting Ltd. Mayfair Pools Melfer Property Maintenance Inc. OGS Landscape Services Prebbel Enterprises Inc. Salt Creek Group of Companies Silver Stone Landscaping Ltd. Simpatico Property Services Ltd. TDI Golf Classic Restoration Underhill's Landscaping Urban Garden
For more information or any inquiries please contact:
email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com website: www.tdalandscape.com Or use the links to the right to get in touch with a staff member directly
Witzkes Greenhouse Ltd. Pickering Nurseries Inc. Valley Farms Dutchmaster Nurseries Cedar Valley Nursery Inc. Crimson Creek Farm Braun Nursery Ltd.
LATINOS Multicultural MAGAZINE
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Steven Raymond Wharton DIRECTOR - OPERATIONS Luis Ibarra Wharton ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Blanca Lilia Urrutia EDITORIAL DESIGN IBARRA & WHARTON MARKETING PROOF READER Leslie Emmons PHOTOGRAPHY Sergio de Lara Laureen Harper, Luis Ibarra, Steven Wharton & The Honourable Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper
eing a newcomer to any country challenges you in ways that only the strongest may be able to overcome. Mexicans are characterized for being hard workers, for their creativity and for a friendly nature that makes it easy for them to develop interpersonal relationships.
This year Mexico and Canada commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the 10th anniversary of the Canada-Mexico Partnership.
With special thanks to Norman P.J. Morris
Latinos Multicultural Magazine is a Registered Trademark. Top 10 Published on March 2014. The products and services promoted in this magazine are responsibility of their owners. The articles written for this magazine are responsibility of their writers. Partial or full reproduction is prohibited.
That is why at Ibarra & Wharton Marketing we decided to pay tribute to those men and women whose outstanding achievements are enhancing the good name of our country – or, rather, our countries, because we are proudly Mexican and Canadian. Ibarra & Wharton Marketing publishes a monthly magazine named Latinos Multicultural Magazine, which is distributed in all TTC subway and Go Train stations across the GTA. The magazine offers a bilingual (English/Spanish) showcase of the Latino community in Canada. Today, we are proud to introduce you to the “Top 10 Most Successful Mexicans in Canada”. We are sure there are many more successful Mexicans in Canada who are contributing to the growth of this beautiful country we now call home. The people featured in this edition play important roles in the different fields in which they contribute their talent to the benefit of the country.
We are proud to live in a multicultural country in which people from all backgrounds have the same chance to shine. Everyone has the opportunity to succeed and with hard work and perseverance we can find our place in the spotlight. All of the people featured here are making valuable contributions with their experience, knowledge and skills. They are all key members of our community, and visionaries who have plans to go on to ever greater success. Say hello to the Top 10 Most Successful Mexicans in Canada!
Steven Wharton & Luis Ibarra Ibarra & Wharton Marketing.
LATINOS MULTICULTURAL MAGAZINE 647 498 4040 / 647 559 6010 4-1267A St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, On. Canada www.latinosmag.com
Canada’s most international bank A leading financial services provider in over 55 countries, Scotiabank is known today as Canada’s most international bank. At Scotiabank our global footprint and long history doing business outside of Canada, gives us a unique advantage in understanding cultural differences and working with an international perspective. ®
t Our team of more than 83,000 employees serve about 21 million customers worldwide t Scotiabank and our affiliates offer a broad range of products and services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management, corporate and investment banking t Our history of providing strength, integrity and service has spanned over 180 years t Our Global ATM Alliance, along with Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Westpac allows access to over 50,000 ATMs worldwide Today Scotiabank Mexico offers a range of wholesale and retail banking products, we are proud of our 47 year presence in Mexico and our accomplishments including: t Our team of almost 13,000 employees t 925+ branches and offices (including affiliates) and over 2,200 ABMs t Scotiabank Mexico has the 6 largest bank in the country by assets th
t Now, through our subsidiary Crédito Familiar *, the Bank also provides consumer and micro finance products and services to individuals and commercial customers ®
The Scotiabank StartRight Program for Newcomers ®
At Scotiabank, we understand the important role of newcomers in the Canadian workforce, economy and cultural mosaic. That is why we have designed the Scotiabank StartRight Program for Landed Immigrants, International Students and Foreign Workers. We offer customized products, special offers, multilingual services and resources to help people new to Canada get their financial lives in order and ease their transition to a new country. For more details please visit: www.scotiabank.com/startright 1
International Account Opening Service Visit www.scotiabank.com/startright Visit a Scotiabank branch
With the Scotiabank StartRight Program eligible applicants from 8 countries, including Mexico, can now open a Canadian bank account before moving to Canada. Our online feature is convenient, easy and takes 10 minutes to complete.
Submit your application in just a few easy steps. Call 1-866-800-5159
In Mexico, you can also apply in 4 selected branches in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Start Right Here: www.scotiabank.com/startright and have the peace of mind knowing that you’ve already established your Canadian bank account and are ready to settle your finances when you arrive in Canada.
1. The Scotiabank StartRight Program, created for Canadian Landed Immigrants from 0-3 years in Canada, International Students and Foreign Workers. ® Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia ®* Registered trademarks of Crédito Familiar S.A. de C.V. SOFOM E.R
FABIOLA SICARD 11 years in Canada Director Multicultural Banking, Scotiabank
he was born in Mexico City, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the prestigious Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). Once in Canada, she pursued an International MBA from Schulich School of Business. Fabiola is fluent in Spanish, English and French. Fabiola is the Director of Multicultural Banking at Scotiabank. She is part of the team that defines and implements the bank’s strategy to target and serve newcomers to Canada. Her mandate focuses on the Latin American Community and Foreign Workers. Prior to this position, Fabiola spent three years working in the Associate Development Program of International Banking at Scotiabank,
4 | TOP 10
where she was trained in different areas and business lines. Before joining Scotiabank, Fabiola was a financial analyst for an Investment Banking Advisory Firm in Mexico City. She built relevant experiences the two years she worked as International Business advisor for the Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico’s most important stateowned publishing house, where she gave specific advice to its subsidiaries in Brazil, Chile, and the United States. Fabiola also worked for five years in the accounting department of the Employees Association of the American Embassy in Mexico City.
citizens who’ve contributed to the Mexican diaspora.
Fabiola is passionate about building the profile of what Latin America and its people have to offer to Canadian businesses. In 2011, Fabiola was presented with the Ohtli Award, the highest recognition that the Mexican government gives to its
Sicard came to Canada with the intention of improving her English. Her goal was to pursue a bilingual (French-English) MBA in France. But after living for four months in Toronto, Sicard met the father of her
She is the co-founder of the Latin American MBA Alumni Network (www.lambanet.ca), co-founder of HOLA, the Hispanic Network of Scotiabankers in Toronto, and advisor of the Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Sicard is a member of the Advisory Council of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (CCIME – Consejo Consultivo del Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior), and the Advisory Panel of “Mobilizing Diaspora Network,” a research project of the Mowat Centre from the University of Toronto.
daughter and moving to Canada became an incredible experience: “I then had the possibility of living abroad, starting a relationship, and doing an MBA.” Shortly after moving to Toronto in 2003, she became interested in Latin America, so she dedicated her time to attend events for MBA students, especially those related to Latin America. Together with some friends from Schulich, she created a Latin American Association denominated LABA (Latin America Business Association). Sicard’s goal after graduating was to start a career at Scotiabank. She secured an internship and, right after that, a full time job. She was then recruited for the International Associate development Program of Scotiabank, a two-year training program designed to train future leaders of the organization. Fabiola says that reaching her current position has not been a challenge, “I wanted to start a professional career at Scotiabank and my current position is just a step in that path. I think I have plenty of milestones to reach in my professional career.” We asked Sicard if she considers herself a risk taker, to which she answered: “I am a risk taker. I think taking risks are ways to speeding up your career. It is the same with investments. The higher the risk, the higher the return. However, it is important to have as much information as possible so the risk you take does not mean a step backwards.” Sicard does not believe that making mistakes is necessarily the best way of learning, but she knows that it is practically impossible to always make the right decision. It is paramount for her to keep in mind that one must learn from the choices that we make. Fabiola needs only two things each morning: a shower, followed by a coffee. Then she will be ready for whatever challenge the day may bring. She loves the fact that her days are never the same. She has focused on the customer perspective, stating that she does not feel like a banker. In her opinion, thinking like a customer brings more to the table. Fabiola says that Mexicans are hard workers, loyal, resourceful, and good at developing relationships. At all levels of education or positions in the corporate ladder, Mexicans will have those characteristics. Sicard has always been very direct about her objectives and she has found fantastic mentors, who have provided great advice and support for her career decisions.
“...thinking like a customer brings more to the table.”
She believes what differentiates her from others is she always has a strategic vision, is straightforward, and develops solid relationships. “What I love from Toronto is the city’s multiculturalism, the fact that we must understand everyone and share what they value from their place of origin. Another thing I cherish from Canada is that it is a safe place, familyoriented, and the variety of cuisines we can find in the city.” Despite her love for her new home, she misses her family and friends from Mexico, the closeness of people, the bright colours and sometimes, even the chaos.
“I am a risk taker. I think taking risks are ways to speeding up your career...”
TOP 10 | 5
EDUARDO SUAREZ Senior Foreign Exchange Strategist Specialty: Latin American market 10 years in Canada
e is only 38 years old, but Eduardo has already lived in the United States, England, France and, obviously, Mexico. For the past ten years he has been in Canada. He actually only spent his childhood and teenage years in Mexico. He remembers that time fondly, however, and visits his homeland at least once a year. For some time now, he has been working at Scotiabank, where he is responsible for advising investors who want to reach the Latin American market, providing global companies with guidance on what to do and what paths to take to make the most of their investments in the region. Many investors have their eyes set on Latin America today because of the rapid economic growth and the many opportunities that are to be found there. Investors focus mostly on two areas: the Pacific Alliance and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur). “Each Latin American country has a different history and a different array of possibilities,” says Suarez. Mexico is one of the countries that attract the greatest interest, because of the many years of important relationships it has developed with other parts of the
6 | TOP 10
world and the consequent confidence it inspires in investors. Suarez holds an MBA from the University of Toronto. After graduating he worked for the Royal Bank of Canada, and later switched to his current position at Scotiabank, where he is very happy. “At Scotiabank, we are now known for the large number of companies and investment funds that depend on our advice. It is impressive.” Suarez has received numerous acknowledgements of his excellent work as an investment consultant. While he was in charge of the Mexican government’s Office of Investor Relations, the IMF chose the office as a global example of how to operate an investor relations program. Later, while working for the Group of Emerging Markets, the magazine Euromoney identified the group as the fourth best in the world. One of the advantages that Eduardo brings to his work is that he fully understands the language and the market in Latin America. This is why investors with an interest in the region seek advisors like him, who understand the culture and can give accurate advice. Eduardo says that Latin American people are characterized by
“Work hard, be humble and engage in self-criticism to improve in every possible way.”
their “creativity, intelligence, and devotion to their work, which are all important virtues. And if the person in question has had the opportunity to develop professionally in another country, such as Canada, that combination will make them attractive to any company.” Suarez arrives at work at 6:30 a.m. and publishes an update that he sends to all of his contacts with his predictions for the Latin American market that day. He spends most of the rest of his time keeping track of significant events unfolding in the world economy. During the day he speaks to customers and Scotiabank staff about different financial issues, in order to be best able to predict economic and political developments in the region.
cook his favourite dishes himself; one of his favourite dishes are his “lobster tacos.” Suarez is also a movie fan, and was very happy to see his compatriot Alfonso Cuarón win this year’s Oscar for best director. “I remember when I met Cuarón 15 years ago, and now after seeing his latest movie “Gravity” and the Oscar he received, I felt proud of him and, of course, of having met him.” Suarez is in love with his job and proud to be one of Scotiabank’s leading experts on the Latin American market. He is happy to be able to help interested investors, and the various regions of Latin America, through his expert financial advice. His motto is: “Work hard, be humble and engage in self-criticism to improve in every possible way.”
In his personal life, he considers himself a fan of food, and likes to firstname.lastname@example.org
TOP 10 | 7
JESIKA BRIONES Originally from Monterrey, Mexico Profession: Business Development Manager Specialty: Clean Technology 7 years in Canada
esika Briones is the Business Development Manager for the Advanced Energy Centre at MaRS Discovery District, which promotes leading Canadian innovations and solutions in the global energy market. She works with energy advisors and experts from academia, industry, and government to support the development and adoption of clean energy technologies in local and international markets. Prior to joining the Centre, Jesika was the Cleantech Industry Analyst at MaRS, where she provided market intelligence to (and established strategic connections with) over 100 cleantech start-ups across Ontario. In this capacity, she has published several white papers on renewable energy and smart grids, and collaborated with various Ontario government agencies on special energy research projects and events. She has also worked as co-founder and business development director for a spinoff company marketing solar technology developed at McMaster University, which received Canada’s Top Ten Award for one of the most promising technologies in the
8 | TOP 10
country. Before migrating to Canada, Jesika worked as a Quality Control Engineer for a Japanese automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) based in her home town of Monterrey, Mexico. Jesika holds a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering with a specialization in total quality management, and a Master’s of Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEEI). Jesika has been selected for the prestigious Action Canada fellowship program along with 16 other emerging leaders from across the country. Action Canada is the only Canadian fellowship that offers both senior leadership development and countrywide conferences to enhance an understanding of Canada and public policy choices for our future. Each year, Action Canada selects up to 20 outstanding Canadians to join their 11-month leadership development and public policy program. Fellows are chosen from all sectors, including business, science, government, academia and the professions. The goals of Action Canada are to enhance the
fellows’ leadership skills, enrich their understanding of Canada, and build a network whose members will support each other in making our country the best it can be. http://www.actioncanada.ca In addition to excelling at her job, Jesika is also a member various boards and think tanks, including the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) Research and Innovation Task Force, the Ontario Smart Grid Working Group, the Ontario Energy Board Working Group, the Ontario Energy Storage Association (OESA), and the Smart Working Group. She is an advocate against climate change, and is also passionate about promoting female leadership and entrepreneurship among her local and national networks. Jesika is currently working on a project called “Green Button”, a
program that allows users to download information on their own energy consumption in a standardized format. The consumer can choose to use this information with different Internet apps and smartphones. The objective of this project is to give the consumer knowledge about— and control over—their energy use, thus creating market opportunities for app developers. http://greenbuttondata.ca/home/energy-appswinners Jesika values the fact that in Canada, when a person is focused on their job and is truly dedicated, the country recognizes that effort. This dedication has opened several doors for her. She says her experience coming here was difficult, because she arrived in Canada on her own, as many immigrants do. She was greatly aided, however, by her ability to make friends easily and to network. “It was hard to adjust, but I immediately made friends with other immigrants and that helped me. Immigrants have an added value since we understand our culture and, at the same time, we adapt to our new country.” Jesika has a principle of always pursuing win-win situations. “I like to create relationships in which both sides always gain something positive. I have technical know-how as an engineer, and business training as well, so this is the added value I am able to bring to the table, that enables me to translate complex technology into a business object, and vice versa.” Without a doubt, Jesika’s personality has contributed greatly to her success. She loves to talk to people and to discover new opportunities. Behind every customer there is always a human being with dreams and goals; she understands this principle and applies it when doing business with people. Creativity is also one of Briones’ main strengths. She works in the area of innovation and she definitely has that creative flair for invention. “I am the kind of person who is always the first one to be invited to brainstorm; I always have fresh ideas, on occasions a little futuristic, but sometimes they work out well, especially in the area of innovation that I work in.”
“I like to create relationships in which both sides always gain something positive.”
here. I like sharing my experiences with other people, and I am sure that it helps others, as they can apply them to their own lives. I want to help people to integrate into Canadian culture and, at the same time, to make unique contributions to it.” “You’ve always got to keep your eyes and mind wide open, and be prepared to accept the opportunities that life gives you. Never be afraid, strive to be innovative, ask for help but also offer others whatever help you can,” Jesika tells us. “I am always interested in opening up conversations with investors, people in the area of renewable energy, the financial sector, the government, entrepreneurs and anyone who is interested in energy and innovation.”
At only 30 years of age, she is already a highly accomplished professional. Her plans for the future include promoting the adoption of clean technologies, and creating an investment fund for the development of these sectors both in Canada and in her native Mexico.
Jesika Briones, Bsc MSc
At a personal level, she is interested in the topic of immigration to this country. “I would like to help people who have immigrated to Canada to feel that they belong
Business Development Manager Advanced Energy Centre P: (647)2551218
TOP 10 | 9
JORGE SILVA Originally from: Mexico D.F. Profession: Engineering Design Specialty: Inclusive Design 13 years in Canada
ilva has received numerous research awards over the course of his career. One of the most important acknowledgements he believes he has received was an invitation to participate in “TEDx,” the worldwide, independently organized circuit of conferences featuring talks by local leaders on technology, entertainment and design. Silva arrived in Canada in 2002. As a requirement for his undergraduate degree he had to complete an internship, and he decided to stay here and pursue
his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, which would later lead him to do a Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering. Silva’s outstanding academic performance secured him an ongoing scholarship from the University of Toronto. “When I finished my doctorate I detached myself from academia. I landed a job at the University of Toronto in applied research in accessibility. Our main is to develop technologies and ensure that they are accessible to the largest number of people possible.” Since 2010, he has worked at OCAD University, teaching a wide variety of courses as part of his commitment to his Alma Mater. Silva’s work represents an important contribution to our times. When mobile devices became a central feature of our everyday lives, Silva became a pivotal member of a project exploring ways to make this technology accessible to people with physical disabilities. Silva’s project worked so well that he created a company with his business partner (fellow Mexican Mauricio Meza), and began to market the new technology around the world.
10 | TOP 10
“We developed a strategy: Mauricio took charge of the business aspects and I was in charge of the technological aspects. We started selling prototypes in 2012, at first mostly to universities.” His creation is a device that can be plugged into electric wheelchairs, which translates the actions of the person in the chair into messages
“We estimate that in five years, millions of people will be using our device.” sent directly to the software of a phone or computer. In this way, the user can send text messages or make phone calls, among other activities. During 2013, a new version of the device was developed, this time with a battery and with a user-friendly design that was compatible with desktops and laptops. “At this moment we are in the
process of growing the company. We are currently selling to around 20 countries; we have close to 700 units being used around the world every day. We are in the process of moving up to the next level,” Jorge said. There are different ways for the user to transmit information from their chair to any device through this device, for example, through the chair’s joystick, or through a type of straw into which the person blows to send a command to the device. The signal is received and then sent to the device for it to be decoded. Each case is different.
“At this moment we are in the process of growing the company.”
“We estimate that in five years, millions of people will be using our device. That is why we are giving this project one hundred per cent of our attention”. “One of the device’s users helps us in presentations of the device. There are proximity sensors arranged in his chair’s head rest, so that when he moves to the side, backwards and forwards, he is able to communicate his intentions.” A typical day in Jorge Silva’s life is spent tackling new challenges. “Sometimes I have to sit down in front the computer all morning trying to work out some technical problem. Recently somebody reported a problem with certain Android phones and I spent all day trying to fix this issue.”
The cost of this device is relatively low in the assistive technology market. Five years ago they would have been priced at thousands of dollars; today they cost only a few hundred. When asked what motivated him to pursue this project, he answered: “What motivates me every day are the frustrations of others. I have a friend who has a motor and visual disability; when there are disabilities it is common for them to be more than one. She is very independent and when she is given the necessary tools she does not have any problem accomplishing whatever she wants to. Once her wheelchair broke down, and she had to wait a month for it to be fixed, because there is only one company in Toronto that fixes electrical wheelchairs. There is no infrastructure or regulations to satisfy the demand for this kind of service.” Silva misses the feeling of connection that is easy to
Another part of Silva’s daily routine is spent focusing on production. He assembles the devices himself. “I assemble these units myself, here in this office. They are put together very carefully until are fully functional and ready to go, and then are packaged for shipping.”
establish among Latinos, the ease with which people start and establish interpersonal relationships. Being an immigrant, Jorge says, “means bringing with you a different way of thinking in order to tackle problems in a better way.” When he first came to Canada, he used to cry in the bathroom. He felt helpless at work when he couldn’t understand everything that was being said. He was embarrassed to ask questions when he didn’t understand something, and this limited his professional growth at first. This did not mean he was incapable of performing his duties well, but only that he wasn’t able to communicate well in English. This was a barrier that he overcame little by little until he reached the level of confidence he is at now, and which has been a key to his current success. TOP 10 | 11
13 years living in Canada Originally from Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
dalia Obregón is an entrepreneur, engineer, marketer, and leader with experience spanning a wide range of not-for-profit and private sectors in Canada, Latin America, the United States, and the EU. She is the President and founder of an international management consulting and marketing firm, whose main purpose is promoting trade and investment between Canada, Latin American, and European markets called “Exito Trade Consulting Inc.” She is also the former President and founder of the Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which includes 19 countries. Idalia started her trade consulting company in 2004 in the area that she naturally knew best: trade between Canada and Mexico. She then expanded her activities to South America. Due to the business of her clients she continued to expand worldwide, covering a wide range of activities with corporate and non – profit organizations, and dealing will all levels of government, both Canadian and foreign. Currently two of her high profile clients include the British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce, with divisions in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver; and the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber. She has also been invited to represent the Hispanic Business Community at the Supplier Diversity Advisory
12 | TOP 10
Council (SDAC) in the Pan/ParaPan Am Games TO2015. Previous clients have been the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Toronto (where she deals with the individual Chambers of 27 countries in Canada), where her responsibilities included managing the chambers and providing advice on matters of international trade. She also represented Rogers Publishing in
“We are all in this together, we need to help each other.” Latin America, where she produced special supplements of a Canadian Business magazine called “Mexico: Mining Riches Within Reach,” and “Colombia: A Golden Opportunity for Investment.” She has a great deal of experience assessing SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) needs and opportunities while they are considering exporting. She has organized and presented at
various events, and brought together delegations of Canadian-Hispanic executives attending Conferences and Expos in four Spanish-speaking countries and the US. Additionally, she has strong relationships with the Chambers of Commerce in Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, plus Canadian embassies in several Latin American countries. This enables her to identify areas of opportunity and engagement between organizations and SME’s, and has given her a very wide range of contacts in this marketplace during the eleven years that she has lived in Canada. In October 2013 she won the Business of the Year in the THCC VISION Showcase Awards presented by the Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. These Awards are a celebration of excellence in business, entrepreneurship, career development, arts and culture. The Business of the Year Award is recognized for its outstanding performance, competitive edge, and the contributions it has made to the Hispanic community through employment, services, or social development, and is the top award selected among more than thirty nominees. Idalia arrived in Canada as a permanent resident, with two big suitcases and big dreams. At the
Idalia is a woman who enjoys dancing, reading, drinking coffee and working. Her favourite movie is fellow-Mexican Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth.” email@example.com
beginning, she says, “I didn’t want to associate with any Spanish-speaking person because I wanted to fit in as soon as possible.” It took her three years to open up her business, which focused on helping Canadian companies partner up with Mexican Engineering companies. She was not only Mexican now, but also Hispanic, working hard to promote Canada all over Latin America and vice versa. She loves promoting Latin American culture and values, and how good they are as business partners. Obregón considers herself a risk taker. “Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks and sometimes you don’t realize it. It is always good to take manageable risks, but if they are manageable they are not really risks,” she states. The best advice she can give is, “Do what feels right inside you, believe in yourself, that’s all you have to do.”
can, by providing advice or connections, because she relieves, “We are all in this together, we need to help each other.” Idalia has focused on keeping her word and being fair to everybody. She works with many associations and people, so she has to be impartial; at the same time, she believes that we live in a fast world, where it is easy to forget what is truly important, or take things for granted. This is why she adds that it is always good to thank people. When asked if she believed Mexicans had something different to offer, Obregón answered: “We Mexicans have a particular ingenuity, maybe because we were born in a place where we have to fight for what we deserve. That fighting spirit and passion is within us as well, and we put that into everything we do.”
Her plans for the future include continuing to grow personally and professionally, while placing Mexico’s name up front and centre. At the same time, she likes helping other people reach their potential whenever she TOP 10 | 13
STATISTICS MEXICANS IN CANADA “Immigrants have renovated the customs of entire regions, have changed the limits of tolerance, have transformed wardrobes and appearances, have ended isolationism” -- Carlos Monsiváis
BY PRISCILA MONTERO STATISTICAL ANALYSIS BY LUIS PONCE.
his is Laura’s eighth winter in Canada. Although John, her Torontonian husband, has told her it is the harshest winter that the city of the CN Tower has had in twenty years, she thinks it really isn’t all that bad; she likes snow. Of course John – and not her – takes care of shovelling the driveway and sidewalks surrounding their house every time a snowstorm hits. Laura is one of the constant stream of Mexican migrants to Canada since the 1960s. With the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 – the accord which strengthened cultural, social and business ties between Canada, Mexico and the United States as well as facilitated temporary relocation of professionals amongst the countries with the NAFTA Visa – this flow increased. Both English and Spanish are spoken In John’s and Laura’s home, and at times so is “Engliñol”, as John affectionately calls sentences which start in his language and finish in hers. This cultural comingling is not simply linguistic, it impacts every aspect of their lives. The contents of their refrigerator, their bookcases, and their CDs, as well their traditions, all exist in harmonious fusion, blended together during five years together.
14 | TOP 10
Laura’s status has also changed over the last eight years. First arriving as a temporary resident, that is, a provisional visitor with a fixed date for leaving the country, she then became a permanent resident, with the right to remain indefinitely. These are the two broad categories covered by Canadian immigration law. Since 1980 almost half a million Mexicans have lived in Canada under different temporary residence programs. 56% of these were agricultural workers – a figure significantly higher than that of other groups of foreign day worker programs. For example at the end of 2012 there were 17,105 Mexicans in this category compared to 1,821 Guatemalans and 7,677 Jamaicans. Another 13% of Mexican temporary residents were students, a number which has been increasing each year, principally in basic and mid-level education. Finally 11% were in Canada for humanitarian causes or as refugees. Between 1980 and 2012 some 43,965 Mexicans became permanent residents. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada data 40% of these were admitted under the family class (spouses, fiancés and conjugal partners), 38% were economic immigrants (entrepreneurs, professionals and investors), 13%
Mexicans in Canada, distribution by province in 2012
Mexicans in Canada, split by category (1980-2012 accumulated)
Total Mexicans: 118,249 Total: 43,965
ƚůĂŶƟĐ Provinces 1,000+
(*)This chart is intellectual property of ^ĐŽƟĂďĂŶŬ . The content is based on ŝƟǌĞŶ and /ŵŵŝŐƌĂƟŽŶ Canada (CIC) public Įgures and ƐƚĂƟƐƟĐƐ
Permanent Residents from Mexico by category (1980 to 2012)
(*)This chart is intellectual property of ^ĐŽƟĂďĂŶŬ . The content is ďĂƐĞĚ on ŝƟǌĞŶ ĂŶĚ /ŵŵŝŐƌĂƟŽŶ ĂŶĂĚĂ (CIC) ƉƵďůŝĐ Įgures ĂŶĚ ƐƚĂƟƐƟĐƐ
Permanent Residents from Mexico: Level of Education ( by decade)
(*)This chart is intellectual property of ^ĐŽƟĂďĂŶŬ . The content is ďĂƐĞĚ on ŝƟǌĞŶ ĂŶĚ /ŵŵŝŐƌĂƟŽŶ ĂŶĂĚĂ (CIC) ƉƵďůŝĐ Įgures ĂŶĚ ƐƚĂƟƐƟĐƐ
were refugees, and the remaining 9% under other subcategories. Notably, the rate of permanent residency has maintained its trend, while refugee applications have fallen dramatically ever since the Federal government imposed visa restrictions on Mexican tourists in 2009. Laura studied business administration in her native Mexico City and came to Toronto for one year to study English. After returning to Mexico, using her Canadian experience and contacts she became a liaison for a Toronto-based agency that advised Mexicans wanting to study in Canada. Two years later under contract with this agency she decided to come back to Canada to broaden her work experience. Laura has a bachelor’s degree, as do 37% of permanent residents of Mexican origin. Although bachelor’s degrees are the most common level of formal education among Mexicans in Canada, 10% also have master’s degrees and slightly less than 1% doctorates. Another 12% have non-university diplomas; while 34% have 13 years or less of formal education. Mexicans, along with Colombians and Venezuelans, have the highest proportion of post-secondary education amongst Latin American immigrants.
(*)This chart is intellectual property of ^ĐŽƟĂďĂŶŬ . The content is ďĂƐĞĚ on ŝƟǌĞŶ ĂŶĚ /ŵŵŝŐƌĂƟŽŶ ĂŶĂĚĂ (CIC) ƉƵďůŝĐ Įgures ĂŶĚ ƐƚĂƟƐƟĐƐ
Students from Mexico (1980 to 2012) Total: 65,835
Laura visits Mexico with John twice each year to visit her family, rediscover herself, and to rekindle the nostalgia which eventually, difficultly, replaced her homesickness. Nonetheless, she knows that her present and very definitely her future are very much in Canada, forever. Canada’s openness and diversity offer a bridge of understanding between cultures, and this vast ecosystem would not be complete without the Mexican community: a young, vibrant and active group. TOP 10 | 15
JAVIER SANTOS Originally from Mexico City Marketing professional Specialty: Wines and Liquor 8 years in Canada
fter completing his MBA in the United States, Javier Santos arrived in Canada and, within six months, got the opportunity to work at the LCBO. This opened the doors on his next big professional challenge: working for the renowned liquor brand Grand Marnier, where he has been employed for the last three years. After working for companies such as Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, and the LCBO, Santos is happy to be working for a company like Grand Marnier, a family business with two centuries of history.
Grand Marnier can position itself prominently within this growing market. The campaign will be launched in April. Santos says that he is ready to face the challenge to position Grand Marnier as a favourite among Canadian liquor enthusiasts. He has worked on developing all the strategies they need and adds that, “at the end of the day, the team work between the marketing agency and our distributors will be the key to our success.”
Santos’ eight years working in Canada’s liquor and wine industry has turned him into a prominent personality in the field, as reflected in his being featured in an interview with Toronto Life magazine in .
His life revolves around business trips to Paris, New York, Chile, and within Canada. “I don’t have a fixed working schedule. I can be working on a Saturday and traveling on a Sunday, for instance. My activities are always different, and this is what I like the most about my job.”
As the only local brand representative for Grand Marnier, Santos is responsible for a range of activities, one of the most important being the development of strategies that can efficiently increase the sales of this world-renowned liquor in Canada. He is currently about to launch a marketing campaign tailored exclusively to the Canadian market. “The enthusiasm for cocktails and the culture that revolves around them is growing in Canada,” he explains, adding that he is certain that
Santos enjoys everything Canada has to offer – even the weather. “Winter is a season I like a lot,” he says, “and I believe it is also a kind of filter that keeps out everyone but the people who truly appreciate this great country. In the end, only the strongest come here to stay.” He also believes that Mexicans have a better understanding of North American culture better than most, and that this makes it easier for them to pursue careers here.
16 | TOP 10
“We’ve got to be happy; after all, we’re in the wine business.”
He is proud to be responsible for a reputable 200-year-old brand like Grand Marnier, a long-time favourite among liquor connoisseurs. His innovation of the marketing strategies to increase the brand’s popularity in Canada will also be an example of what can be done for the brand in other parts of the world. “I have never been afraid to take risks, as long as they have been well thought out. Throwing yourself into the unknown, however, will always bring a lot happy surprises.” “I do consider myself a success story. And I hope that very soon, not only will accomplished Mexican professionals be making top 10 lists, but more of us will be positioned and recognized as assets to Canada.”
TOP 10 | 17
MARTHA BATIZ Originally from Mexico City Has lived in Canada for 11 years Speaks: Spanish, English, German, and French
artha Batiz, in addition to winning awards in both Latin America and Canada for her short fiction, teaches Spanish and Latin American literature, stylistics, translation, and the Spanish language at York University. She is also currently teaching for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Toronto. But Martha’s proudest academic achievement is the creation of a brand new series of Spanish courses at the School of Continuing Studies within U of T. She herself had successfully pursued a certificate in creative writing from the School, despite the fact that the classes were offered only in English. After graduating, she proposed the creation of courses featuring the same content and challenges as the ones offered in English, but in her mother tongue. The School welcomed her proposal, encouraged her to market the program, and has engaged her as the lead instructor for the Creative Writing in Spanish courses since 2009. “People in the Hispanic community have a need, a desire to express themselves in Spanish,”
18 | TOP 10
Martha says, “and the University of Toronto was pivotal in making these courses possible. The courses are the first of their kind in a Canadian university.” Martha’s early academic career was not so straightforward. When she and her husband Edgar decided to move to Texas where he had a position in his field of engineering, she was unable to finish the undergraduate degree she was pursuing at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) because of a strike. Then, shortly after moving to the US, she became pregnant with her twin daughters, and two years later she immigrated to Canada.
The transition was effortless. As Batiz says, “When I did my Master’s, I fell in love with the university, the teachers, the people, my classmates. I have always liked to study – I have liked school since I was a child. After finishing my PhD, I was offered the chance to teach part time at York and at U of T, and going there every week to share my knowledge and learn, in turn, from my students, continues to be a source of pride and joy in my everyday life.”
All of these changes made it hard for her to complete her Mexican degree, but she was critically aware that she would have to do this in order to grow professionally in her adopted land. After successfully defending her undergraduate thesis in Mexico City, she decided to go back to school. She applied for a Master’s degree at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Toronto, and from then she went on to complete her PhD.
For Martha is by no means a stereotypical university professor, formal and serious. Although she approaches every course with intense professionalism, she does so with an energy, enthusiasm, and buoyant sense of humour that will invariably engage her students and draw them into her passion for the Spanish language and literature. Their intense appreciation for her commitment to both the material and to their own experiences is
As much as she loves teaching, a major part of Martha’s life continues to be her writing. Her fiction has won awards in her native Mexico, Spain, the Dominican Republic, and Canada, and it has also been published in Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Ireland. She is the author of two shortstory collections in Spanish and a novella that was translated into English and published in Canada by Exile Editions in 2009 (The Wolf’s Mouth). She has now turned to writing in English, her second language. One of Martha’s recent short stories, inspired by the brutality of the Argentinean dictatorship in the 70s (“The Last Confession”), was a finalist in the second Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Competition and was published in the resulting anthology in 2012. Being featured among native Canadian writers has given her the confidence to pursue her path as a writer in English as well as in Spanish. A whirlwind of energy, Martha is currently involved in several projects. She is authoring an anthology of short stories written entirely in English. At the same time, she is the editor, as well as one of the translators, of a collection of recent Canadian short stories which are being translated into Spanish and which will be published by the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) in Mexico in the fall. In June she will travel to Puerto Rico to launch her most recent book, and she will also be teaching creative writing workshops in the city of San Juan. Just recently Martha learned that her drama project for the De Colores Festival, organized by Alameda
Theatre Company in Toronto, has been accepted. So she is also in the midst of writing her first play. Of course her early experience as an actress in Mexico before she left for Canada will be sure to help her produce a successful drama. Her to-do list seems endless, but she is very excited by all the challenges ahead of her. The biggest risk she has ever taken was coming to live in Canada. Other than that, she does not consider herself a risk taker, at least not in her daily life. In her writing, however, she loves to risk it all. She hates limits, and she risks having people be annoyed or offended by what she writes. These are the only risks she will take nowadays, she says with a smile. When asked what fuels her writing, she gives a most surprising answer: “Anything that hurts, basically. I do not write happy stuff! That is for other people to write. It is real life that should be happy, but a happy life made into fiction is a bore. I try to draw inspiration from things that I know have happened, things that are possible. I do some research in order to make sure that what I write is plausible and, the more terrible it is, the better!” It would be easy to think that Martha is herself tough, to which she replies: “Oh no. Not at all. I’m incredibly sentimental. I’m the kind of person who cries even during diaper infomercials. It’s just that human evil astonishes and appalls me. I use fiction to try to understand how the people who commit atrocities think. That’s why I choose to write about evil.” Martha loves spending time with her husband and three children, cooking for her family and friends, and reading. In fact, she can’t live without books; on her night table there are over ten books, which she reads little by little. Books are so
measured by the flowers and cards they shower on her at the end of classes. One group even awarded her an “Oscar,” presenting it to “the best teacher in the world.”
“I like to read everything. It’s like a disease.”
important in her life that the attitude she has towards life sometimes depends on what book she is reading. “I like to read everything. It’s like a disease. I’ll even read the label of a shampoo bottle if there’s nothing else available,” she says, laughing. Her favourite authors are Joyce Carol Oates and Toni Morrison, but she also enjoys the classics and is a big fan of Peruvian Nobel-prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. Martha feels incredibly honoured to be featured as part of a group of successful Mexican immigrants in Canada. But, she adds, “I feel that all immigrants who have arrived in Canada are winners. Simply because we have managed to live our lives here and make this our new reality, that makes us all winners. Having the guts to leave your country and your people in order to live somewhere else, starting from scratch, is a triumph that cannot be underestimated. We are all worthy of recognition and praise.” TOP 10 | 19
SERGIO LASKY 15 years in Canada Partner at UNIKRON, 12-year-old business
e was born in Mexico City, where he studied graphic design. It was in Canada where he started working with technology, design, and video production. With this new area in mind, together with his two current business partners, UNIKRON was created: UNI “One” KRONOS “Time.” Sergio Lasky first dedicated himself to graphic design and printing products, mainly for the financial industry, magazines, and newspapers. Then, after his arrival in Canada, things changed as soon as he became a partner, “We were
the perfect combination of technology, design and video production,” Sergio said. When talking about his first experiences in Canada, he answered: “It’s not easy starting your life in a new country; it’s like being born again. When you are reborn, you have to start climbing steps and the most probable thing that will happen is that at one point you will fall and at this moment in life you will be amazed because you are not a child anymore. You have a family and responsibilities, you ask yourself How do I get up again? At first it was hard, but something I like sharing as an anecdote is that, one day, when I arrived home, I saw my daughters returning from school with a smile on their faces, and at that moment I thought to myself… if they are able to adapt, why can’t I?” A friend of Sergio’s told him that when he arrived in Canada, he should contact Alex (one of his current partners). “One day I had to develop a website and I wasn’t sure of how to do it, and Alex introduced me to Manuel (the third current partner). This is how we began working together. Later, our partnership was
20 | TOP 10
formalized, and hence the birth of UNIKRON.” At the very beginning they started with the goal of creating an online Latin American directory, but later they decided that they had to integrate into the Canadian market as Latinos, and not only depend on the Latino market. Sergio is a person who radiates positivity. He has a smile on his face all the time and is very passionate when he speaks. We asked him what did success and failure represent to him, and he answered: “Success is when you set your mind on something and you achieve it, you define your goals and you move forward fighting to reach them. This does not mean it will be easy, because sometimes your goals aren’t accomplished the way you wanted to, but what really makes you successful is how satisfied and happy you are by simply trying. You may try ten things
and out of those ten only two may work out, but if you don’t try the rest, you will not learn and you need those falls in order to acquire valuable experience and see the positive aspects of it all, which will help you move on to what comes next.” Their new UNIKRON installations are located on Adelaide St. They are wide and modern, staffed with personnel who are committed to their jobs. Sergio stated that in his office, whenever someone utters the word problem, that person must deposit a dollar in a jar. At first everyone used to utter that word three times or more a day. Eventually, however, instead of saying there was a problem, they said we have a solution. “This motivates us to find solutions for our customers. What we later did with the collected money was buying lottery tickets for everyone in the office. Thus, we turned a problem into something positive and, if a prize was won, we would all win it,” Sergio said. For Sergio, a leader is the one who moves a group of people so that everyone has the same vision. “It is important to push, stimulate and motivate everyone who is working next to you. Being a leader is reflected at work and, of course, at home with your family, children and friends. A leader is a leader anywhere, not only at work. Success is felt throughout your life. If you are satisfied and you can enjoy every aspect of your life, then you are successful.” He was quick to add “if risks aren’t taken, you will maybe stay in a comfortable place. But if you take risks, you will become more aggressive, you will achieve things you didn’t expect, and this is what will create the highs and lows of life that make you move as a human being. If you have nothing to move you, you will fall asleep. You need something to keep you awake and active.” When asked what a day in his life looks like, he said: “I wake up very early and I go to my yoga class. I do yoga every day for an hour and a half in the morning. If you dedicate time to yourself, to be happy, to let your ideas flow, to relax, and to let go, you will have energy for the rest of your day. The office is an everyday challenge and video production is very unique. This is what I like. Each production teaches me something new, and since our customers vary, we continue to learn. What I like the most is that there is never a routine.” UNIKRON’s customer roster has evolved at par with the growth and maturity of the company. When they started, they used to do several videos for Real Estate agents. “At first we would do virtual tours, for which we used to charge small amounts. Sometimes we were paid and sometimes we weren’t. It was then that we decided to
“We are the perfect combination of technology, design and video production.”
approach the construction companies, who could really appreciate the work we did and, of course, were able to pay.” Later they were able to attract bigger but equally important customers, such as RBC, TD Bank, Scotiabank, Sun Life Financial, etc. UNIKRON currently offers Video Production and Interactive Media Solutions, this means high quality video production for all online use, including those that integrate touch screen presentations, iPad Applications and mobile devices. Sergio considers himself a fortunate person who comes from a good family. His parents were great role models of hard work and believing in what is right. He has four brothers, who are his best friends, a wonderful wife, and two amazing daughters that fulfill his life. TOP 10 | 21
PAULINA DERBEZ Originally from: Mexico City Profession: Violinist Specialty: Vanguard Classic 8 Years in Canada
mong her myriad accomplishments as a classical violinist, Paulina received a grant from Mexico’s FONCA (National Fund for Culture and the Arts) three times. She has played in orchestras, ensembles and as a soloist in major venues around the world, including in Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. She currently lives in Toronto, where she is a member of the contemporary musical duo Altri
22 | TOP 10
Suoni (together with Canadian composer Barbara Croall), and a violinist with the Ontario Philharmonic. She also teaches violin and is the author of the book El músico consciente (Editorial Ink, 2012), which proposes a new and innovative approach to teaching music. An English translation of the book, The Conscious Musician, is scheduled for publication this summer. In 2013, Mexico’s Quién magazine recognized Paulina in their list of “the 50 personalities who are transforming Mexico”, alongside celebrities like the Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón, and the internationally acclaimed opera singer Placido Domingo. It was back during that summer in 2005, when she played at the Harbourfront Centre, that she fell in love with Toronto. Laughing, she adds: “it was summer, of course.” In 2006, she moved to Toronto with her husband and, two months later, joined the Ontario Philharmonic. She considers herself fortunate because they sought her out. “Everything has fallen into
place in Canada. I have looked for opportunities, but some others have found me on their own.” In her book El músico consciente, Derbez explains to us how at a young age, when she entered the Conservatory, she realized that she did not know how to study, and that this was preventing her from moving forward in her learning. One day she realized that to develop as a musician a holistic approach was needed, that viewed the musician as a whole being, with mind, emotions and body. “Every problem needs to be solved first at a mental level,” explains Derbez. Before performing on stage she meditates, and follows a routine of physical exercises that help her to prepare her body. She uses positive affirmations to prepare her mind, in order to visualize what she wants to achieve onstage. “Visualizing the moment is important: always picture yourself being successful.”
“Every problem needs to be solved first at a mental level.”
Paulina as an artist offers her audience the passion Mexicans bring to everything they do, a passion and determination can be seen when she is onstage. She is a classically trained violinist who knows the tradition well, but who also likes to break classical paradigms and surprise her audiences. She approaches her work as an experienced stage actor would, using every inch of the available space, projecting images on a screen, and even using her voice, in open defiance of the conventions attached to classical music. As an artist, Derbez seeks to challenge people’s preconceptions and invite them to enjoy an entirely different musical experience. Paulina’s work as an artist is fresh and innovative, taking her audience to previously unexplored territory with an unorthodox blend of musical and other artistic expressions. It might appeal some and puzzle others, but her talent and stage presence never leave anyone untouched.
to Canada she has developed a contemporary solo work combining violin, voice, movement and lighting design, under the name Shika: Out of the Silence the Sound is Born; parts of this work have been performed at the Alucine Film Festival in Toronto and at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio. The full performance was premiered last year, and she will be performing it again at Toronto’s George Ignatieff Theatre this year on May 30th. Although a Canadian resident, Derbez has not left her native country behind. Together with Barbara Croall, she will be performing this year at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City, the nation’s most renowned concert hall. She will also be giving lectures on her musical pedagogy around the country. To learn more about Paulina visit:
Her interest in breaking boundaries has led her to take part in numerous multidisciplinary events, such as the contemporary dance performance Cuerpo Impulso, performed at the National Arts Centre in Mexico City and in Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre in 2005. Since coming
TOP 10 | 23
AMANDA MARTINEZ Profession: Singer
manda Martinez had a promising job at TD Canada Trust at the International Trade Finance Department, looking after their relationships with Latin American Banks. This is when she realized that she had forgotten about music and that this is not what she wanted in her life. She took some time off and started singing at a Jazz club. Amanda Martinez was born and raised in Canada, where she did her undergraduate degree in Biology. Soon after, she realized this was not what she wanted to do, so she started working for The Sales and Merchandising Group, where she
24 | TOP 10
worked with the accounts of Pepsi and CIBC and, finally, Cadbury hired her directly for Account Management. After working for Cadbury, she decided to obtain her master’s in Business at York University, where she joined the International MBA program. During the first semester of her studies, she went on a student exchange to Mexico, where she worked at the Canadian Consulate in Guadalajara. Amanda then received a grant to work with Mexican companies that wanted to do business with Canada. After her semester in Mexico was over, she went on an exchange program in Venezuela.
(BRAVO Arts & Minds, Star TV!), and actress (Regnesis and Disney’s Life with Derek). She is also an ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages, a global organization that helps abandoned and orphaned siblings stay together as families. As young mother of three, Martinez calls the SOS mission “a cause close to my heart.”
Shortly after returning, she landed a job at TD Canada Trust in the International Trade Finance Department, looking after their relationships with Latin American Banks. This is when she realized that she had forgotten about music and that this is not what she wanted to do in her life. She took some time off and started singing at a Jazz club.
Martinez has headlined at the legendary Blue Note jazz club, at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Festivities in South Africa, and at the 2011 PanAmerican Games in Guadalajara, and is now honorary co-chair of PanAm 2015’s Ignite program. She will be performing in a series of countdown concerts to the 2015 Games, as well as speaking at events connecting athletes and sports fans with musicians and art lovers.
Amanda has worked as a radio host (launching Canada’s JAZZFM91 Latin Jazz program), TV personality
Amanda mentions her father has had an influential role in her life and she has always felt close to him. She
grew up listening to the story of how her father was the first Mexican to travel from Mexico to Canada on a bicycle in 1956. Her father’s story has been turned into a film called Cyclo. Her father always taught her the importance of education and even though music and acting came natural for her, he motivated her in the fields of math and science, in which she worked hard and did very well. Martinez is a wife, a mother, and an amazing singer and performer. She mentions that what she likes the most about Mexico is “the passion and enthusiasm there is for life.” There is such warmth within people, and that is something she carries within her. This is why whenever she meets someone new, sings or performs, she wants them to feel they are included, and that they are her friends. She loves the sense of family Mexicans have, and it is something she instils into her own. Amanda tells us that when she was growing up her father had five brothers and one sister, they all had kids, so it always would be a big family reunion whenever they got together. “I remember when my uncles would take out the guitars and one of my cousins, Danny, he would play these beautiful compositions that he wrote and they introduced me to so much of the beautiful music from Latin America and songs from Mexico.”
...what she likes the most about Mexico is “the passion and enthusiasm there is for life.”
Martinez always chose the safe route, this is why she studied biology, and then she went to work for the banks. This was not as safe as it initially seemed, however, since it began to affect her health. Being away from music was something that was not natural to her. She does not believe that quitting her promising job was a risk, because when she resigned and decided it was something she just had to do, she never looked back. This is when she finally started listening to her own instincts. Amanda recently became elected to the Music Advisory Board of Toronto and later she was asked to be the co-chair. The idea behind a Music Advisory Board is to help and guide this group of people to promote and make Toronto a music friendly city, “We have so much incredible talent, and people around the world don’t relate Toronto to the music scene and this will be our role: promoting
the people who are the exports of our city and our country.” Martinez recently released her latest album called Mañana, which is a collection of songs that represent the optimism of a new day. She wrote the album in collaboration with her band members, including Kevin Laliberte (guitar) and Drew Birston (her husband), who plays bass, as well as with songwriters Fernando Osorio and Elstern Torres, whom she met in Miami. She recorded the album with her longtime engineer George Seara, who co-produced it with Spanish producer Javier Limon. Her music has influences of Latin pop, Mexican folklore, flamenco, and tinges of Afrocuban jazz. Much of the album represents the dawn of a new day and the chance of starting
over with a new perspective. Amanda also loves acting. She just finished a TV Programme with one of Canada’s incredible comedians, Andrea Martins. She used to be on SCTV, a show that is coming out on Global and on NBC in which she has a guest star role. “I want to combine my love for music and acting. The other thing I love to do is cooking for my family. I am not a fancy cook, but I love the joy of eating together with my loved ones.” You can find her music at her live shows, and in HMV stores, at L’atelier Grigorian in Yorkville or on iTunes and Amazon. You can contact her through her website amandamartinez.ca or on Facebook amandamartinezmusicpage.
TOP 10 | 25