Photo by Gabriel Riviere-Reid of Yourtv Cornwall
Cornwall, Ontario – The Seeker Choice Awards Gala took place on June 16 in Cornwall, Ontario, presented by Mrs. B’s Gifts & Home Decor. The event, hosted by Julia Lucio and Mai-Liis Renaud, co-owners and founders of The Seeker, is held on the Seeker’s Anniversary, this year being the 13th, and is aimed to recognize and celebrate exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to the local community.
“It was such a pleasure to be able to hold this event once again. The long Covid break made us realize now more than ever how important it is to show small businesses, artists, and volunteers how much we appreciate them. Although only one winner is chosen in each category, we want all nominees to know that they are all winners in our eyes. We see you,” Julia stated.
“Thank you all for coming out to celebrate the Seeker’s 13th birthday with us. We also applaud a roomful of remarkable individuals who have poured their hearts and souls into making our community a better place for all. In our eyes, you are all winners,” Mai-Liis added.
The evening commenced with a delightful three-course sit-down dinner, followed by the highly anticipated Awards Ceremony. The Seeker Choice Awards winners were announced during this ceremony, each receiving recognition for their outstanding achievements.
Councillors Sarah Good and Fred Ngoundjo represented the City of Cornwall at the event and spoke to the audience. They brought The City of Cornwall’s Book of Recognition for award winners to sign. Additionally, Senator Bernadette Clement was also in attendance.
The first highlight of the evening was the presentation of The Seeker Choice Award for Best Home-Based Business of the Year, which went to Green Life Gardens and its owner, Kate Corbett-Collins. This accolade acknowledged the remarkable ingenuity displayed by Green Life Gardens, as Kate’s passion for horticulture and dedication to sustainable living shone through in every aspect of her business. Finalist for Home based business were Yafa Arts & Crafts, Pretty Pop Balloons, Maddie’s Home & Pet Care Services, Bend & Snap, and Green Life Gardens.
The Seeker Choice Award for Best New Business of the Year was bestowed upon MacDonell Family Physiotherapy, led by owner Kristen MacDonell. This award celebrated the rapid success and excellence of MacDonell Family Physiotherapy, which has become a trusted pillar in the community under Kristen’s visionary leadership. Kristen’s deep understanding of the human body and her passion for helping others have created a haven for healing and well-being at her clinic. Finalists for New Business were Lost Villages Brewery, Posh Nosh – Pastry Confectionary, Essential Kitchen, DG Vintage, and MacDonell Family Physiotherapy.
The Seeker Choice Award for Best Existing Business was won by The Happy Popcorn Company, led by Kristin Davey and Bill Halman. This recognition highlighted the exceptional quality and dedication that Kristin and Bill have consistently delivered since the company’s inception. The Happy Popcorn Company’s mouthwatering creations, combined with the love and care infused into every kernel, have made them masters of turning popcorn into a source of pure happiness. Finalists for Existing Business of the Year 2022 were Gordon Jewellers, The Happy Popcorn Co. Serendipity Boutique, Joe’s Quality Meats, and Bud’s Records and Kool Things.
Shannon Ferguson, CEO and co-founder of FanSaves, received The Seeker Choice Award for Top Woman in Business. This prestigious award honored Shannon’s remarkable journey, visionary leadership, and relentless drive in the business world. Under her guidance, FanSaves has revolutionized how businesses connect with fans and customers. Shannon’s achievements have paved the way for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women, to make their mark in the industry. Finalists for Woman in Business were Carol-Ann Breedyk of Tilly’s Delicatessen, Shannon Ferguson of Fansaves, Christal Bowen of Zumba with Christal, Suzanne Lapensee on Mama Sue’s Diner, and Linda McCarthy of Harvest.
Sara Leger of Cherry Bomb Studio was recognized with The Seeker Choice Award for Best Visual Artist. This accolade celebrated Sara’s exceptional talent and her incredible contributions to the world of visual arts. Through her vibrant and awe-inspiring bubble gum-popping creations, Sara has breathed life into her canvases, demonstrating boundless creativity and brilliance as a visual artist. Finalists for Best Visual Artist of 2022 were Sara Leger, Jason Sauve, Tracy-Lyn Chisholm, Brett Desrosiers, and Jade Thompson.
The Seeker Choice Award for Literary Artist of the Year was presented to Erin Lee, acknowledging her exceptional talent and remarkable contributions to literature. Her book, “Benjamin and the Backyard Beast,” captured the hearts of readers of all ages, showcasing Erin’s ability to craft captivating stories and evoke deep emotions. Erin’s work transports readers to enchanting worlds, demonstrating her creativity and imagination as a gifted writer. Finalists for Literary Artist were Thom Racine, Melissa Yi Yuan-Innes, Erin Lee, Neil Carriere, and Marc Lafleur.
Mark Vincent was the proud recipient of The Seeker Choice Award for Performing Artist of the Year. Mark’s recording of a live comedy album demonstrated his comedic brilliance, impeccable timing, and relatable storytelling. His performances have brought laughter and joy to countless individuals, reminding us of the power of humour to uplift spirits and create connections. Finalists for Performing Artist were Frank Burelle, Mark Vincent, The Chesterfields, The Hallions, and Dan Allaire.
Jody Archambault of the Optimist Club was recognized as Volunteer of the Year, acknowledging his remarkable dedication, selflessness, and unwavering commitment to serving the community. Jody’s efforts have left a lasting impact on the lives of those around him, exemplifying the true spirit of volunteerism. Finalists for Volunteer of the Year were Pauline Bray, Lee Theodore, Jody Archambault, Kashenniiostha Mae (Tara Francis), and Yafa Goawily.
Jason Setnyk, the recipient of The Seeker Choice Award for Contributor of the Year, was recognized for his outstanding contributions to The Seeker. As an event photojournalist, Jason has skillfully captured the essence and energy of numerous events. Through his popular Five Questions interview series, Jason has provided a platform for community members to share their stories, insights, and inspirations. His dedication to showcasing local talent and highlighting diverse perspectives has made a profound impact on The Seeker’s readership. Finalists for Seeker Contributor were Lisa Gray, Yvan Labelle, Yafa Goawily, Jenni MacDonald, Jason Setnyk, Sharyn Thompson, Mateo Lucio, Sylvie O’Rourke, Betty Healey, and Anna Varnava.
The Seeker extends its heartfelt gratitude to all its contributors, who have played an integral role in supporting their cause and embracing their vision. Also, a thank you to everyone who voted, and congratulations to all the finalists. With over 100 people in attendance at the Gala and hundreds more watching the event via live stream, the community demonstrated its unwavering support for recognizing and celebrating the exceptional individuals who make Cornwall a better place for all. Also, a special thank you to Yourtv Cornwall for covering the event.
The Seeker would also like to thank everyone in the community who cast a ballot. The process begins with a nomination period where the public can nominate individuals for various award categories. This period lasts for a month. After nominations are received, the list is narrowed down to the top ten nominees in each category. The next round is the voting round, which takes place over another month and can be done online, on the phone, or in person. The votes are carefully reviewed to eliminate any duplicates, and the top five vote-getters from this process move on to the next round.
At this point, the winners are determined by a combination of votes from the general public and votes from a judging panel. The results are then sent to an awards engraver, who finalizes them. The winners’ names are sealed in envelopes, adding a high level of security similar to the Academy Awards.
The Seeker looks forward to continuing its mission of highlighting the extraordinary individuals who make a positive impact in the years to come.