Nova 2018

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2018 Northwestern Ontario Visionary Awards

Saturday, January 27th, 2018
Victoria Inn, Thunder Bay
6 PM
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NO-VA [noh-vuh]: a young professional recognized for their captivating brilliance as a result of their leadership, community engagement, professional achievement, volunteerism, and mentorship in our community.

The 4th Bi-Annual Northwestern Ontario Visionary Awards (NOVA) Gala celebrates the top 20 under 40. Over the past eight years, the awards have recognized over 200 nominees with 60 award winning young professionals from across Northwestern Ontario spanning from Kenora all the way to Geraldton.

As a bi-annual event, 2018 will be the fourth NOVA gala celebrating professionals across our region on their achieved success. This gala aims to inspire other young professionals to reach their potential through leadership, community engagement, activism, volunteerism and mentorship. 

This year, SHIFT introduces multiple award categories:

  • Community Champion (5 awards)
    Awarded to the most dedicated volunteers, activists, and altruists, these young professionals donate their time and resources to charitable causes and non-profit initiatives. They lead, guide, and inspire others and are the driving force behind positive change through activism.
  • Leadership (5 awards)
    Awarded to well-rounded young professionals who most strongly exemplify characteristics of great leaders, are engaged in their communities, and who mentor others.
  • Business and/or Professional Achievement (5 awards)
    Awarded to the most significant movers and shakers in their fields, these young professionals excel in business and/or their careers. Their work is impactful – creating jobs, improving quality of life, driving innovation, and propelling advancement.
  • Civic Pride (1 Award)
    Awarded to the young professional who shows the most 'heart' for their community through their efforts in community improvement and instilling civic pride in others.
  • Rising Star (1 Award)
    Awarded to a dynamic up-and-comer under the age of 30. Someone who demonstrates huge potential; this is one to watch!
  • SHIFT Disturber (1 Award)
    Awarded to a game changer; disrupter; someone who is unafraid to challenge the norm. This young professional is making waves by doing things differently.
  • People’s Choice (1 Award)
    Awarded to a young professional chosen by the public and their peers via online voting.
  • Supernova (1 Award)
    Awarded to a young professional who has achieved international recognition for their work. The winner is hand selected by the NOVA Committee.

2018 Northwestern Ontario Visionary Awards (NOVA) Gala takes place January 27, 2018 at the Victoria Inn.

Click here to view last years event image gallery


Mohannad Al-Mousa Ayoub Ansari Shahroze Arshad
Anu Baldner Jay Barnard Tracy Barry
Jen Bertoni Dan Bevilacqua Hosam Boshnaq
Carly Brown Jesse Buob Andrew Calderon
Joanna Carastathis Mandy Cargnelutti Rosa Carlino
Chad Clower Tyler Davis Ashley Davis
Dayna DeBenedet Patricia Del Paggio Stephanie DePiero
Michael Dick Matthew Dupuis Nefry Falla
Mario Filane Aric Fishman Steven Fonso
Trevor Gauthier Damien Gilbert Dan Grant
Ryan Green Garth Grunerud Brenton Hagberg
Neil Hrabowy Lindsay Jarvis Kyle Jessiman
Scotia Kauppi Trevor Keller Ashley Kibzey
Catherine Kiewning Aiden Kivisto Adam Krupper
Nathan Lawrence Cale Leeson AJ Leite
Daniel Lester Ellen MacKay Elizabeth Mayo
Ron McDonald Jennifer McIntosh Kieran McMonagle
Anthony Miller Shalini Misir Sean Murray
Laura Nahle Evan Neufeld James Nigro
Ashley Nurmela Micah Pawluk Chantal Petit
Caitlyn Phirbny Brooke Pilley Mac Potter
Nick Purich Ashlyn Ransome Jesse Roberts
Amanda Rozenuk Cody Ruberto Aleksa Shermack
Erin Sisko Jamie Sitar Melissa Stewart
Elsie Tranmer Syed Usama Matthew Villella
Elizabeth Ward Sheryl Wark Farhan Yousaf
Abe Zettek


2018 NOVA Recipients

Business and Professional Achievement Category

  • James Nigro – Owner, mars. clothing
  • Aleska Shermack – Program Manager – Social Enterprise for Northern Ontario Program, PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise
  • Nick Purich – Vice President Finance & Chief Financial Officer, Wasaya Group Inc.
  • Andrew Calderon – Chief Operations Officer, Intrideo by Socy Inc.
  • Jay Barnard – CEO/Corporate Chef, Freshwater Cuisine

SHIFT Disturber NOVA

  • Sean Murray – CEO/Owner, Nor’Wester Maple Co. and Staff Scientist – Informal Education Programs, Science North

Community Champion Category

  • Matthew Villella – Employment Counselor, YES Employment, and Instructor, Confederation College
  • Farhan Yousaf – Vice President, Operations & Finance, Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU)
  • Elizabeth Ward – Administrative Coordinator, Fresh Market Foods
  • Ayoub Ansari – Barrister & Solicitor, Ayoub Ansari Law
  • Matt Dupuis – Proprietor, Uncle Matt’s

Civic Pride NOVA

  • Damien Gilbert – Owner-Operator, Epica Pictures

Leadership Category

  • Michael Dick – Executive Producer, CBC Thunder Bay
  • Dan Bevilacqua – Executive Director, Superior Country
  • Nathan Lawrence – Mortgage Broker, Dominion Lending Centres Lakehead Financial
  • Anu Baldner – Human Resources Manager, AV Terrace Bay
  • Rosa Carlino – Associate Lawyer, Cheadles LLP

Rising Star NOVA

  • Ashlyn Ransome – Owner, The Pasta Shoppe and Superior Olive Oil Co.

People’s Choice NOVA

  • Patricia Del Paggio – Teacher, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board


  • Matt Murray – Goalie – Pittsburgh Penguins, National Hockey League


Thank you to the 2018 NOVA Sponsors:


Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)


tbaytel Goldcorp Inc
Ontario Power Generation Thunder Bay CEDC


Nominee Reception Sponsor

Ambassadors Northwest


Rising Star NOVA Sponsor

Confederation College Alumni

Civic Pride NOVA Sponsor

City of Thunder Bay, Tourism Thunder Bay

Guest Stars

Lakehead University Alumni Association Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce State & Co TD Canada Trust


Peter Marchl, CFP Firedog Communications


Helium Highs Weiler, Maloney, Nelson  Halfway Motors 


UCB Radio 95.1

Media Sponsor

Magic 99.9   Country 105   93.1 The Border   89.5 The Lake   CKDR 92.7 FM


Entertainment Sponsors

Miracles Await: the magic and illusion of Tyler Biloski City Wide Sound Mew Crew


Applauze Studio1 Photography


Tin Pan Alley


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