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TORONTO – The fifth RelèveON Awards Gala, held this Thursday in the Ontario metropolis, honored Soukaina Boutiyeb, Laurent Gérin, Estelle Chen and Jean-François Démoré, respectively winners in the inclusive leader, executive, professional and entrepreneur categories.
The jury has decided: Soukaina Boutiyeb was chosen as an Inclusive Young Leader for her dedication to her Francophone community in Ontario and Canada in the sectors dedicated to women. General Director of the Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne, she chairs in particular the Board of Directors of the Association of Francophone Communities (ACFO) of Ottawa and the executive committee of the French-Canadian Civilization Research Center and the Board of Governors of Saint University Pablo.
She said that she was surprised and delighted when she received her award. The Franco-Ottavian woman competed with Joëlle Kabisoso, who campaigns for access to justice for black girls and women, and Amy Sylla, creator of the Brown Sugar Talk platform that gives a voice to marginalized voices.
Laurent Gérin won the Young Executive award. Originally from Casselman, this engineering enthusiast works full time for start-up Clearcalcs, which automates calculations for engineers. Under his leadership, the company grew from one to seven employees and continues to grow.
He reached the final alongside Éric Barette, director of cultural activities at the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario, and Baptiste Bourquardez, director of immigration programs and services at Collège Boréal.
In the Young Entrepreneur category, the award went to Jean-François Démoré, a serial entrepreneur who, in particular, launched NPlexStudyBuddy.com and Innova Wealth Partners. A founding member of the Sudbury Golf Marathon, he has raised more than $300,000 for local charities in his first five years of operation.
She was up against Sabrina Boulkheir, founder of Rendez-Vous, a company showcasing French gastronomy, and Sierra Levesque, with her husband at the helm of RNL Cleaning Services, a cleaning services company in the Kapuskasing region.
Estelle Chen for her part won the Young Professional award. She is the manager in charge of leveraging fintech at TD Bank, she has been supporting young entrepreneurs since 2014. She is also a co-founder of La Toronto French Tech which brings together French and Francophone tech entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, academics, and French and Canadian government representatives.
Two special prizes were also awarded during the evening. The jury first highlighted the exceptional contribution of Connor Lafortune by awarding him the Coup de coeur award. This Sudburois member of the Dokis Anishinaabek First Nation is the youngest candidate in the history of the Prix RelèveON, already a finalist in the previous edition, at 18, in the Inclusive Leader category.
Lucie Moncion finally received the Stéphane-Taesdale Tribute Award. A Senator since 2016, she was the first woman in Canada appointed to lead a Federation of Credit Unions, and served as Vice President of the Nipissing University Board of Governors.
Presented by journalists Rudy Chabannes from LOF and Philippe de Montigny of Radio Canadathen accompanied by the music of DJ UNPIER, this event designed by the Canadian Club of Toronto took place in the setting of a church converted into a ballroom in the center of the city.
This fifth edition was the return to the face-to-face modality of the event, which has been limited to an online broadcast for the last two years, due to the pandemic and health restrictions. Initially based in Toronto for the first three years, the contest that rewards the talent of young Francophone entrepreneurs under 40 has taken on a provincial dimension since its 4th edition.
More than half of the 62 applications received this year came from outside Queen City, and nearly two-thirds were women, a record since the competition’s inception.