More than 70 of Canada’s leading promotional product professionals gathered for the annual PPPC Women Empowerment Event at the White Oaks Resort and Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario on Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Created by women for women, the conference brought members together again in person to network, connect and share ideas.

“It was great to be back in person and see some of Canada’s top female promotional product professionals come together to network and partake in some self-care and motivational moments to help elevate their professional and personal game, while uplifting fellow members,” said Katrina Derksen, PPPC event and membership manager.

Day One: Inspiration

During the first day, WEE honoured and recognized Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation with keynote speaker Samantha Kinoshameg, a member of the Ojibwe Nation and executive director of the Barrie Native Friendship Centre. Her keynote address focused on wisdom and how it can influence women’s empowerment.

Former champion fighter, award-winning speaker and Canada’s first female professional ring announcer Yvette Raposo inspired attendees to find the fighter within. She demonstrated three powerful concepts from the boxing ring, including the stance, the jab and sizing up the competition, and explained how to apply these concepts to everyday challenges.

Rina Rovinelli had attendees writing a letter to their future selves about their intentions for success and work/life balance to help them tap into their purpose and passion to build momentum in their lives and businesses.

The keynote sessions were followed by a cocktail reception and a four-course dinner. The evening festivities kicked off with games, prizes and entertainment by Bruce Trigg, an interactive magician and storyteller. The evening was capped off by DJ Shirley Dimples spinning (and sometimes singing) some of the attendees’ favourite tunes.

Day Two: Contemplation

The “Challenge Accepted” closing panel discussion, moderated by Michele Bell (vice president, ASI), featured Dana Porter, MAS (SAGE), Angela Jamieson (Brand Blvd), Tonja Zander (TPS Promotions) and Ashley Colautti (Spector & Co.) and focused on burnout and mental health within the industry, creative ways to mitigate staff shortages and how the pandemic has impacted life and the way we do business.

Zander, an 18-year industry veteran, said COVID enabled her to take a step back and realize that being “not unhappy” in her job “wasn’t good enough anymore” and challenge herself to quit and start a new, more fulfilling job.

Jamieson shared innovative ways she enhanced her workforce, including hiring retired moms of some of her staff, who are affectionately called the “Golden Girls,” who not only bring a strong work ethic but also provide a sense of fun and enhance the work environment.

The panel concluded by asking attendees to consider whether we are doing enough to promote ourselves as an industry – something to contemplate as we move into 2023.

Sponsors included: SAGE (Platinum Sponsor), Advertising Specialty Institute/ASI (Warrior of Women), Kanata Blanket Co. (Champion of Connection), BAMKO (Champion of Connection) and Botanical PaperWorks (Supporter of Success). Co-chairs included: Ann Baiden, MAS+ (founder/CEO, Innovatex Solutions), Kate Plummer (vice president, Clearmount) and Carol DeVille, MAS (president, The Branding Co.).  


Williamson Batuszkin is marketing and communications manager for PPPC.