Happy Filipino Heritage Month!

As a result of following more Filipinx folks on social media in 2020, I learned that Americans celebrate Filipino American History Month in October HARD. I wondered if there was an equivalent month in Canada, and there is, in June! Not every province celebrates the month, so I decided to challenge myself by posting about one Filipinx entrepreneur, independent professional, or partners in a business from or working in BC every day in June on my Instagram account (@sandranomoto) with the hashtag, #FilCanChallenge. Because some of these businesses are owned by more than one person, instead of 30 professionals, there are actually 36!

Here they are:

1. April Bellia

April’s professional career started as a cake designer, under the namesake April Cakes. Her next company, Granola Girl, was founded in 2008 and sold in 2020. April is also a co-founder of Serendipity Tea Party networking events. She is an intuitive life purpose coach, business consultant, and Spiritual Guide to help others launch a soulful business through her 10 week program, the Optimystic Entrepreneur.

With friends, April loves clever banter, laughing out loud, confidence, and connection. Resonance and alignment on multi levels is a must for her. Appreciation for gourmet food is a must as she is on a constant lookout for the BEST of the best. As someone who lives life to the fullest, April seeks mini adventures and impactful encounters. Her dream is to host annual womens’ retreats to France and showcase all the best that Paris has to offer.

With clients, April is passionate about authentic connections and seeing people’s essence and true nature. Her coaching style is unique as she incorporates her Sacred Gifts of Encouragement, Vision, Wise Council, and Extraordinary Trust. Working with April, you will feel like you are talking with a trusted friend who has your back. You will feel seen, heard, acknowledged, and supported like no other can provide for you. There is no preparation except to show up fully and completely. Be open to the possibilities and opportunities for growth and positive transformation through her 10 week program, The Optimystic Entrepreneur – getting into alignment to launch a soulful business.

Reach out for a 30 minute free discovery call. Find out more about her process or come to the call with a particular concern that’s keeping you up at night. April will be able to provide more clarity and suggest a few action steps you can achieve today. aprilmaybellia.com


2. Jay Castro

Jay (he/they) is a settler of Filipino descent making meaningful connections in the world through art, media, community-building, healing, and culture. Outside of making media and animated content during the day, he is building community initiatives for Filipino Settlers on Coast Salish land. One being a Filipinx Decolonizing Masculinity group, which you should DM him about if it’s of interest to you or someone you know! Otherwise, sinusubukan siya kung paano magsalita ng tagalog.

Find him at jaycastro.com and visit the Instagram post to see the video version of his artist self-portrait!

3. Malania Dela Cruz

Malania Dela Cruz is a brand partnership and PR expert. With over a 13 years spent managing national PR programs for top fashion, lifestyle and cannabis brands, Malania takes a results-driven, entrepreneurial approach to exceeding business objectives.

Malania is a “relationships queen”, with four of her top five strengths falling in the Gallup StrengthsFinder Relationship bucket, maximizing on her empathy and includer strengths to build trust, respect and inclusivity with colleagues and clients. She believes in creating equity for all and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

As Vice President and strategic lead on the senior management team, Malania helps drive Nine Point Agency forward through business development and agency delivery, while focusing on national client relations and strategy. She has spent most of her career managing national PR programs for top fashion and lifestyle brands, and along the way has developed close-knit relationships with journalists, content creators and KOLs across Canada. Malania has also owned and operated her own boutique PR agency, Dela Cruz PR, where she honed her interpersonal skills and entrepreneurial approach to garner a reputation for building unparalleled client satisfaction and loyalty.

4. & 5. Paolo + Iona Fresnoza

Kapé Philippine Coffee is a social enterprise helping Indigenous women coffee growers in the Philippines thrive and build sustainable livelihoods by promoting their unique coffees to the global stage. Behind this venture are wife and husband team Iona Santos-Fresnoza & Paolo Fresnoza, who met at a café in 2005 and have since brewed countless cups of coffee together. Working closely with native coffee growers in Benguet, Cordillera, Davao Del Sur, and other coffee farming communities in the Philippines, Kapé brings some of the most unique and flavourful coffees from the homeland’s highlands to Canada and beyond.

Kapé aims to highlight the stories behind each cup; honour strong women and families behind great coffee; and make a difference by creating more equitable coffee practices from origin to cup.


6. Saschie Maclean-Magbuana

Saschie MacLean-Magbanua is the founder of Formation Studio. What started as a therapeutic outlet for her after the loss of her younger sister, Chantal, has evolved into an inspirational and immersive experience that remixes dance, music and movement. She has worked in marketing and public relations for nearly a decade, starting her career at PR agencies in New York City and Vancouver. Her agency experience developed her knowledge across multiple industries as she worked with health and wellness, fashion, technology, real estate, hospitality, and food and beverage consumer brands. At the end of her corporate career she focused on Travel and Tourism managing media campaigns, relationships and partnerships across North America. In 2017 she was included in BC Business’ 30 Under 30 list. theformationstudio.com

7. Mark Tagulao

La Glace co-founder & culinary director, Mark Tagulao, showcases his Filipino heritage by re-creating his favourite childhood desserts into gourmet ice cream. Since childhood, Mark saw the kitchen as a playground; a fun place to experiment and try new things.

After graduating from the University of British Columbia, Mark began working full time at a bank. Not satisfied with a life of finance, he started apprenticing with a local cake decorator on the side. This experience would eventually lead him to attend pastry school abroad and travel the world gaining culinary inspiration.

Through his overseas training, Mark honed many of the skills, tips and tricks that he uses to this day. Upon returning to Vancouver, he began working with local food entrepreneurs to help refine and perfect their products.

Mark’s love of competition and adventure drove him to the booming televised cooking competition industry. In 2011, Mark appeared on an episode of Recipe to Riches on Food Network Canada with his recipe for “Teopolitan Ice Cream,” a twist on the classic Neopolitan with layers of green tea, earl grey & vanilla cardamom. Three years later, Mark went on to compete on the American program, Donut Showdown, where Mark received the top prize.

In 2014, Mark and a local entrepreneur, Juliana Eng, founded La Glace with the goal of introducing French ice cream to Vancouver, using ingredients and flavour combinations from their travels around the world.


8. Kei Baritugo

Kei Baritugo is the founder of BoldLove, a purpose-driven PR agency. For the past 17 years, she has worked with innovators and changemakers in the film, social impact, and technology industries. Her agency specializes in public relations, social media and event production, representing clients at high profile events such as the Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Web Summit, SXSW, Montreal Jazz Festival, the JUNOS, and the Vancouver Olympics, to name a few. Her clients have been featured in The Washington Post, Vogue, NBC News, The Hollywood Reporter, Vice, and more.
She was the Director of Public Relations at the Vancouver International Film Festival’s 37th edition–the first Filipina to hold a leadership role in the organization. In this capacity, she championed Filipino representation by placing filmmakers Kat Jayme (Finding Big Country) and Sean Devlin (When the Storm Fades) on the cover of the Georgia Straight, which was the first time two filmmakers of Filipino descent were highlighted to represent the festival.

9. Bernadette Pacana-Yap

Bernadette Pacana-Yap, R.H.N. is a yoga teacher and a Holistic Nutritionist. She offers yoga classes and training, as well as nutrition consultations. She is passionate about supporting people in optimizing their health through mindfulness and plant-based nutrition. She is a believer that food, coupled with mindful movement, can be our medicine.

If you are someone who has been wanting to transition to a more plant-based diet, integrated with yoga, she’s got you! Take this journey with her: byogawellness.ca

10. Charito Kaay

Charito Kaay is the founder of Vibrant ALIVE. Since 2012, she has been a certified raw vegan chef and holistic health coach. She left a 10 year career in environmental engineering to pursue her passion to help empower families to make simple lifestyle switches, improve emotional well-being, and incorporate natural remedies. As part of her services, Charito provides aromatherapy consultations and custom natural health formulations for Young Living Essential Oil customers in Vancouver, BC, Canada. vibrantdroppers.com

11. Dianna David

Dianna David was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She left her job as an engineer to pursue her dream of becoming a performer. She then enrolled in clown school, where she discovered the “special thing” that helps her connect with her audience.

She is the founder of the Red Ball Movement, where she uses expressive therapy to engage her audience and inspire them to follow their own dreams.

During her talks and performances, she combines dance, contact juggling, and storytelling to provide a visually appealing foundation from which to share her story.

Right now, she’s offering:

1) PLAYformances – Activating spaces for conscious inner child awakenings through a motivational talk, interactive movement & dream designing

2) Private Online Life Performance Training & Coaching

3) Be.Well.Experiences – Exotic Build Your Own Retreat in Mexico with Dianna’s Faculty of Experienced Facilitators that help you reconnect to the Greatest Expression of You!

Watch her TEDx video, “Have the balls to follow your dreams,” here and read her profile in 9 Best Female Motivational Speakers to Watch in 2021 (credited for some of the text here). diannadavid.ca

12. Veronica Gomes

Veronica Gomes is the founder of Emme Hair, Vancouver’s very first hair extension salon. She began her career as a hairstylist in 2004 and very quickly made the salon her second home. When she is not busy leading her team at the salon, she is enjoying time with her husband Mark and their 2 beautiful children, Kingston and Naomi. Veronica and her sister Maria opened the doors to their first ever hair extension salon in 2016 and outgrew the space immediately, which led to the birth of their Kitsilano location in 2018 and Emme Hair Langley at the end of 2020. Veronica’s passion for mentoring and teaching other hairstylists is what keeps her motivated to continue to expand her team at Emme Hair. She finds great fulfillment in helping people fall in love with their hair by getting them to their hair goals. Veronica looks forward to continuously growing her company to help more and more people.

13. Romeo Reyes

Romeo Reyes is a Filipino Canadian Tattoo Artist and owner of Zen Tattoo in Richmond, BC. He is also an actor, singer, and Transgender Advocate.

Romeo specializes in Floral and Asian style tattoos. He also tattoos Baybayin Script upon special request.

Romeo is passionate about sharing his culture and advocating for the Transgender Community through his art. He hopes to inspire youth and people to live authentically.


14. Nathalie De Los Santos

Nathalie De Los Santos (she/they) is a digital designer, videographer and writer based in Vancouver BC. She operates Nata de Coco Photography. Her work appears in Ricepaper Magazine, Marias at Sampaguitas (forthcoming), Chopsticks Alley Pinoy, Gastrofork, and the Vancouver Observer, She’s released three fiction books: Hasta Mañana, Alice’s Order, and See You Tomorrow. She is the creator of PilipinxPages, an online resource of Filipino/a/x book recommendations. In her film days, she produced a short film called The Weather Girl that represented International Women’s Day for the Women in Film and Television’s Vancouver chapter in 2013. She is currently working on a Filipino mythology inspired fantasy novel called Diyosa Mata. Her wedding videography site is nathaliedls.com.

15., 16. & 17. Sammie Jo Rumbaua, Kimberly Rumbaua, Vinelli Rumbaua-Teguibon

Day-of Coordinator / Emcee Sammie Jo, Design + Decor Kimberly and Principal Planner + Day-of Coordinator Vinelli make up power of threee. (yes, with 3 e’s). We are threee sisters, we’re best friends and we’re business partners. We understand the importance of women inspiring each other and that together we are a stronger force. We believe in pushing one another forward instead of holding each other back.

Ever since forever, we have had a zeal to help others make their dreams into reality. Although we individually have our own niche and strengths, from health and wellness to politics—our overall passion has been events, specifically weddings. We love, love. We appreciate all the little things that need to come together in order for the grand vision to come to fruition. We’ve been blessed to be part of countless weddings, from simple celebrations of 10 to grand receptions of 500 guests. Each wedding has been unique in their own way with their traditions like the cord + veil, to others like the tea ceremony. Each tradition is so beautiful and with each wedding we’ve built amazing relationships and continue to learn and grow on this journey.

18. Andrea Mendoza

After providing Physiotherapy treatment to many teens diagnosed with scoliosis and observing their families’ anxiety and frustration with a lack of services, Physiotherapist Andrea Mendoza (she/her) launched The ScoliClinic in 2016 as a solo practice dedicated to addressing families’ scoliosis-related physical & emotional needs. Fast forward to present day: with 3 locations in Canada, 1 in Australia, and a team of 23, The ScoliClinic’s reach has broadened beyond early expectations to fill gaps of the medical system, providing high quality scoliosis-specific Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy to kids, teens, and adults.
Blending pragmatic problem-solving with an appreciation for the social and emotional complexities of human interaction, Andrea is very intentional with the growth of The ScoliClinic. She works to create diverse and inclusive clinics, encouraging personal development of staff and clients. Andrea combines her specialized scoliosis training with her enthusiasm for philosophy, business strategy, and healthcare leadership to continually evolve The ScoliClinic’s service to the scoliosis community, aiming to change the landscape of conservative scoliosis management in British Columbia and beyond.

19. T.J. Almodovar

T.J. Almodovar is a real estate advisor operating in Vancouver and its surrounding cities. He was born in Quezon City, Philippines, and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1990 at the age of 2. Next month marks a special milestone for T.J. as he celebrates the start of his 10th year as a real estate advisor. Always passionate about helping those around him, he is grateful to be helping families every day with achieving major life milestones. What drives him most is the positive impact he can make on the lives of his clients (who usually turn into lifelong friends!).

T.J. is a Medallion Club member, recognized as the top 10% of realtors based on number of transactions. He’s also been a recipient of the Macdonald Realty Award of Excellence on multiple occasions. He credits his success to the amazing support received from his clients and friends, in addition to always honouring his core values: professionalism, honesty, dependability, and seeing the world through a lens of abundance and gratitude. At the moment, he is relishing his new role as a father and in his free time, enjoys exploring the various local restaurants and shops that Greater Vancouver has to offer. Drop by and follow him on IG @t.j.almodovar for market updates and tips. Whether you’re in the advanced stages of buying/selling or just have a general question, don’t be shy! You can contact him directly by sending him a DM on IG!


20. Abegail Woods

Abegail Woods is the Founder and CEO of Gensperity Inc. She has a BBA with a major in Operations Management and focuses on helping organizations from small business to Fortune 500 Corporations achieve operational excellence. With her 18 years of business experience, she specializes in optimizing operations with technology and develops business intelligence tools to track business metrics and performance. When she founded Gensperity Inc. 10 years ago, her vision was to provide a service where she can help others achieve prosperity not just in their business, but in all aspects of their life. This philosophy is what she calls “universal prosperity” and her mission is to share her philosophy with others so that they can become the best version of themselves allowing them to excel in both their personal life and business.
She is the creator of Gensperity’s Affirmation Cards “Keys to a Prosperous Life” and has a mission to help others create synergy between their life and business so they can live a prosperous life. Abegail is also a wife and mother, and has practiced her philosophy of “universal prosperity” throughout her career which attributes to her success. Abegail looks forward to this new chapter of her business and is inspired and motivated to help others through her Affirmation cards and universal prosperity consulting and coaching services.

21. Adina Neufeld

Adina (she/her) is a Founding Member and business mentor with Beautycounter, the leading clean beauty brand in Canada and the US. As an educator, she helps families make clean swaps in personal care products with the view to lightening their body burden. Since our skin is our largest organ, the products we use daily like soap, moisturizer, sunscreen and makeup, are an important part of the health equation.  For this mother of two, high performing products x safety x transparency x advocacy (for more health protective laws) = a winning combo.

Adina offers 1:1 consultations as well as clean swap workshops.

When she’s not leading clean beauty consults or coaching her Beautycounter team, Adina’s immersed in the world of Super Powers. As a Discover Your Sacred Gifts™Guide, she mentors clients in identifying their unique gifts and designing a life that feels more on purpose and in flow. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook and at adinasocial.com.

22. Chadley Abalos

Co-Owner, Operations, Marketing, + Designer Chadley Abalos is a Filipino Canadian entrepreneur from Surrey BC. After graduating high school, Chadley took the unconventional route and worked in retail operations for multiple brands and businesses for two years where he gained multiple skills and knowledge in the industry of sportswear and footwear. After realizing his passion for customer service, business, branding and footwear, Chadley pursued a marketing entrepreneurship program at BCIT in 2011.

After working for sneaker retail giant Livestock in Vancouver for four years and gaining more experience and building his career and network, Chadley pursued an opportunity to be his own boss and partnered up with his childhood best friend Gino to open Parlor by Haides, a barbershop and salon located in Surrey BC in 2016. Five years later, with 20+ staff and recognized as one of the premier shops in the city, Chadley and Gino have developed and expanded their brand into new areas by way of haides education, an education platform and through haides daily goods, an in-house design and product line sold online and in store.

23. Gino Coronado

At the young age of 6, Barber + Co-Owner + Entrepreneur Gino Coronado had a detailed eye when it came to hair, especially drawn to the medium as an outlet for expression and identity. Having grown an entrepreneurial mindset in his teenage years, as well as having started cutting hair in 2006, the inception of ideas led to the curation of Haides.

Gino’s passion for hair as a craft, alongside the value of creating authentic relationships through serving others, has resulted in exponential growth behind the chair, as an individual, and a businessman. With over 15 years of industry experience, specializing in men’s hair cutting as well as personal development, his career has taken him around the globe: across Europe, India, Asia and east to west through North America. He worked alongside industry leaders, unconditionally studied the art of barbering, and now providing education. All while continuing to provide premium barber services.

His personal achievements as an educator and constant high demand for a seat in his chair have proven to be an outcome of hard work, authenticity and passion for the craft and industry.

24., 25. & 26. Rose Samaniego, Philip Samaniego, Roy Pagulayan

Immigrating from the Philippines in the 90s, spouses Rose and Philip and long time friend, Roy, only had each other for support. Being so far from everything they knew, the only thing that comforted them were the dishes that transported them back to their nanay’s kitchen.

After many “kumain ka nas” later, their circle grew and so did their love for hosting friends and family over the very dishes that were once the only familiarity in their lives. Rose, Philip and Roy wanted to create an extension of this to cater to the neighbourhoods they have now made their home. In December of 2009, Kulinarya’s first location was opened in Coquitlam, BC and 10 years later, they opened their second location on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, BC.

Some of their fondest memories were exchanging stories over shared plates with those they love the most. So with Kulinarya, it was important for them to create a homey and comforting space for others to do the same. Rose, Philip and Roy are grateful to share traditional Filipino cuisine with the community alongside the people who have helped make Kulinarya extensions of their homes.

27. Sean Blishen

Kilig Candle Co. is a Vancouver, BC based woman-owned business creating candles that ignite joy, passion, and serenity. Kilig, meaning “the butterflies in your tummy” in Tagalog, is the driving inspiration behind each specially designed scent. Hand-poured in their Vancouver studio, Kilig uses only eco-friendly materials including 100% soy wax, lead and zinc-free cotton wicks, organic and non-toxic fragrance and essential oils, and recyclable glass jars.

Since its birth in January 2020, Kilig Candle Co. has made and sold thousands of candles to date. Founder Sean Blishen, at only 27 years old, sparked Kilig in her parents’ kitchen after her love for all things DIY inspired her to create something new. Eco-friendly candles such as Mahal Kita (“I love you” in Tagalog) and Muni Muni (“reflecting” or “pondering”) are hand-crafted to not only capture and inspire those feelings in a scent, but are a catalyst for change with each purchase. With each candle sold, Kilig donates one meal to a child in need in the Philippines through Canadian non-profit Adhika.


28. Josephine Gonzales

Investment Advisor at CIBC Wood Gundy (CIBC Private Wealth Management) Josephine Gonzales has always embraced her Filipino roots and considers it a key to her success, crediting her culture as the source of her determination and work ethic.

Josephine is one of a few female Investment Advisors both at her firm and in the industry, and is passionate about being a voice for female clients who may want to work with someone who can relate to them, and understands their needs and challenges on a deeper level. Josephine is also an advocate for financial literacy and loves to work with the next generation to help them become stewards of their wealth and carry on their family legacy.

Josephine has just under a decade of experience in the Wealth Management industry and has taken on a few roles within it. She learned the fundamentals of this business from the ground-up through working alongside other highly renowned and successful advisors. This experience awarded her with the knowledge, skillset, and work ethic it takes to run a successful practice, full of happy clients. Through her years in the Wealth Management industry, one thing has always given her life and purpose in her career – good client relationships. Seeing her work have a direct impact on the lives of clients is the greatest reward.

Josephine’s introduction into finance began at a young age as she always had a curiosity about “how money works”. This piqued her interest and honed her focus in post-secondary education, and every job she took on after that. Josephine holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Financial Planning from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Once she started her career in Wealth Management her continuous desire to add to her knowledge and skillset led her to obtain her Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.

Josephine grew up in East Vancouver, and comes from a large, Filipino family who mainly reside in the Greater Vancouver Area. When she is not at the office or spending time with her family and friends, you can find her inside a gym trying the latest and greatest workout as she is an advocate for living a healthy, balanced and full life.

Josephine loves talking to people about personal finance or business in general, so feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn or at josephinegonzales.com.

29. Crissa Koh

Crissa Koh’s passion for baking started back when she was 8 years old. Growing up in Vancouver, she loved taking the opportunity to practice baking for all her family’s occasions or even just whipping up special treats for a rainy weekend breakfast.

She relocated to Singapore in 2005 to start a family. After working as an engineer in the petrochemical industry for a few years and then happily having one too many kids, she made the leap to start her own baking business: Crissa’s Cake Corner.

Now a mumpreneur of 4 energetic youngsters, she is able to successfully run her home-based business around her kids’ crazy busy schedules. Crissa has an eye for detail, skilled hands and has experience with a wide variety of cake designs. She also makes unique customized desserts ranging from character macarons and hand-cut cookies, to whimsical cupcakes and unique cake pops. She loves making themed desserts for elaborate dessert table set-ups and enjoys bringing flavours of Canada and the Philippines into her creations. Her kids are her biggest fans and they always start planning for their own birthdays, months in advance, every year! Crissa is happy to be doing what she loves and looks forward to the day that she and her family can all live together again in Vancouver.


30. Ryan Diaz

My name is Ryan “The Lion” Diaz. I’m just an East Van Kid with big goals and dreams. I’m no rich guy and Diaz Combat Sports (DCS) is not owned by some big corporation. I grew up in Mount Pleasant in the basement suite of a Vancouver special. Grew up my whole life in Vancity. I was a 2-time MMA World Champion and have lived, trained and fought Martial Arts all over the world.
There’s a saying that goes “When you can do, when you can’t teach.” I was getting to the end of my fighting career and I always knew and wanted as a kid to open my own school one day. DCS started in a small 2 car-garage in Vancouver. It was a place for my friends and I to train together. That part hasn’t changed. I just got a lot more friends now. My dream was always to one day open my own gym. I also wanted to bring a real world class martial arts school to Vancouver, one that was on par with the best in the world.

Accolades include:

  • Lived and trained Martial Arts in Thailand, Philippines, Arizona and Las Vegas. Trainer to many professional fighters, including current UFC fighters.
  • Co-owner of The MMA Lab with world renowned MMA coach John Crouch and the greatest UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson in Phoenix, Arizona
  • KOTC Bantamweight World Champion
  • AFC Bantamweight World Champion
  • Hook n Shoot North American Champion, 2 x PNW Champion
  • Fearless MMA Champion, Canadian Muay Thai Champion
  • Intercontinental Muay Thai Champion and ADCC veteran
  • Veteran of over 50 professional fights all over the world. Places include Japan, Hawaii, Abu Dhabi, California, Florida, Philippines
  • Events include: ONE Championship, Strikeforce, Superbrawl, Hook n Shoot, TKO, KOTC, S-Cup (Shootboxing) Japan, Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships (ADCC) and Shooto Japan.

31. Jewel Tolentino

Jewel Tolentino is a full time Creative, YouTuber and Co-Founder of Essetino Artists. Her passion is helping others leverage the power of YouTube to build authority, expand their audience, make a bigger impact and monetize.

In 2015, she along with her business partner Auret Esselen launched their YouTube channel dedicated to teaching creative entrepreneurs how to grow their business and establish a solid presence online. Today, the channel has surpassed 42,000 subscribers and continues to grow with 1000+ subscribers each month.

These ladies have since helped over 85,000 students through their online course community and private coaching services, as well as millions more through their YouTube tutorials.

Visit www.essetinoartists.com for a free YouTube Guide with 12 ready-to-film video ideas.

32. Ethel Garcia

Owner of Roots Cafe Ethel Garcia immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. from the Philippines in the 90s and began her career as a registered nurse. As the oldest sibling in her family, her mission was to bring her family here to Canada and build her own family.

After dedicating 25 years in healthcare, in 2015, Ethel had a severe stroke causing her to lose sensation in her left arm and some parts of her face. During the long journey of therapy, Ethel had a lot of time to really think about what more she could do to give back to her community. She’s always had a passion for serving people and nursing was exactly that. A profession that never stops giving. But since nursing wasn’t an option due to her disability, her daughter, Sarah-Joy, had an idea of looking into owning a franchise or starting their own business.

Months later, they found Roots Cafe for sale in the area their family grew up in. Instead of starting a brand new business they kept what they had but made it into their own. January 2016 was now taken over my Ethel and Sarah-Joy. A mother-daughter duo who has spent countless hours running the business it is today. It’s not your average coffee shop, but you’ll have to go check it out for yourself.

33. Donna Fathi

Donna Fathi is a serial entrepreneur. In her words: I have always followed through with my goals to achieve everything I want. Growing up with so little has made me so driven to succeed for my future and now my family. I am proud to say that in my 40 years, I have managed to chase my dreams and achieve my goals. I own an established salon, Studio D Hair Salon in the heart of east Vancouver since 2008. I am also a Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) artist. After two years, I now have enough knowledge to teach SMP to others. During COVID lockdown, I utilized my down time to start my Amazon business and I continue to sell there while working at my salon and doing SMP. I am in the process of building a brand for e-commerce to grow my SMP business as well as completing my online SMP course. I have two young children and a great supporting husband and we just got our first puppy!

From all these years of hard work and planting my seeds to grow my 3 businesses, I managed to buy my dream house and a new hot tub that I have dreamt about since I was a little girl. I kept my eyes on the prize and stayed focused on my goals to get there. Growing up and going to the fair at the PNE, I would always walk through the prize home and look at Coastal Spas’ jacuzzi booth and kept saying, “One day.” It took 40 years to get there, so to all those who dream, keep going and don’t stop until you get there, no matter how big or small your goals are. Consistency and discipline are key.


34. Julay

Julay (they/them/siya) is a queer ritualist who practices handpoke tattoo ceremony, energy healing (Reiki/Energy Liberation Support) and holds space in Sacred Circles, particularly for the queer BIPOC community. They are an anting anting conjurer, visual artist and graphic designer. In alignment with their lineage, they are currently studying Hilot, the traditional ancestral medicine of the Philippines, with the Hilot Academy of Binabaylan. Julay is passionate in supporting, uplifting, and centering queer, non-binary, trans, femme, BIPOC healers, practitioners and creators. They acknowledge and honor that they reside on the Unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Qayqayt First Nations, colonially known as New Westminster, British Columbia. In case anyone is curious, they are Pisces sun, Pisces rising, and Sagittarius Moon. Their website is coming soon at julay.ca.

35. Raquel Stewart

Owner + Founder of Bukobaba Essentials Raquel Stewart (she/her) is the passionate founder and owner of Bukobaba Essentials Inc. Born in Las Piñas, Philippines, Raquel grew up in Vancouver maintaining strong cultural ties with her birthplace.

Bukobaba is Raquel’s vision of bridging her two worlds: bringing Philippine essentials, prepared in traditional methods going back centuries in the Philippines, to Canada where educated consumers recognize artisanal, small-batch products that support local farmers and producers in native lands.

“You have the power to do good… for your body, your soul, and for the rest of the world.”
– Raquel Stewart

36. Sandra Nomoto (yours truly)

The Content Doctor” Sandra Nomoto is a content writer and editor for cruelty-free businesses, and copyeditor, ghostwriter, and book formatter for authors. After earning her university degree, she worked in the public relations industry for 13 years. During that time, she launched Conscious Public Relations Inc. at the age of 25. Over the 10 years in business, Nomoto was awarded the 2009 Volunteer of the Year by Women In Film & Television Vancouver, earned B Corporation® certification, and contributed to eWomenNetwork Vancouver earning the Best Social Media and Community Engagement Award. She previously served on the boards of directors of the Vancouver Mural Festival and Vancouver Short Film Festival, which she helped grow from 2005 to 2015. Nomoto authored The Only Public Relations Guide You’ll Ever Need in 2019, and writes at SandraNomoto.com and for Cold Tea Collective.

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