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Guests urged to 'Think Pink' at Chamber of Commerce awards gala

Mayor's Award among Business Excellence honours handed out at annual dinner

The 2023 Burlington Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards kicked off with an inspiring message to “Think Pink.”

As recipients of this year’s Mayor’s Award, Olivia Netto and Iman Nemar embody the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion through their efforts to promote menstrual equity. Now in their second year of studies at university, they teamed up to start The Pink Project in 2021, when they were just in Grade 11. 

“It’s a very simple concept, really, that women when they use a public washroom or are in school, just like soap, paper towels, toilet paper are provided free of charge, why not menstrual products?” said Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who presented the award. “Why should women have to leave work, leave school if they’re surprised? They said, ‘You know what, this is an equity opportunity. Everyone should have that free.’”

Netto and Nemar worked to bring an eight-month pilot project to washrooms throughout the city, starting with the Burlington Public Library. The project grew to include all municipal public washrooms; the provincial government recently made it mandatory for all school washrooms to offer free menstrual products.

And Netto and Nemar aren’t finished yet: they have their sights set on promoting menstrual equity on a national and global scale. 

“For those who don’t experience it, periods can seem like an afterthought but for those who menstruate it is an everyday reality we cannot forget," said Netto. “For students and workers, this reality manifests in missing out on daily activities, and for young children, shame, embarrassment and disgust."

“We want to change this reality and create one where periods aren’t shamed nor hidden and instead they are celebrated and cherished for what they truly represent: life,” added Nemar.

“Menstrual equity is not a local issue; it is a human one and it is a fight that we are all fighting for.”

In addition to the Mayor’s Award, the Chamber presented nine Awards of Excellence based on criteria that included business leadership, community contributions, entrepreneurship, employee welfare, innovation and market growth. This year’s winners were:

  • Retail & Wholesale Award: She's Got Leggz inc.
  • Not-For-Profit Award: Burlington Soccer Club
  • Service, Small Award: Oakstone Wealth
  • Service, Large Award: Spectrum Airways
  • Food, Beverage & Tourism Award: Backed By Bees
  • Young Entrepreneur Award: Dale Gray - Creature Comforts HVAC Inc.
  • Heritage Award: Burlington Public Library
  • Women Business Leaders Award: Nancy Romic - Shifra Homes Inc.
  • Employer of the Year Award: Ritestart Limited

In addition, the Burlington Economic Development Awards of Excellence were presented to: 

  • Burlington Economic Development Award for Excellence in Global Business: ABS Machining Inc.
  • Burlington Economic Development Award for Excellence in Innovation & Technology: Innovia GEO
  • Burlington Economic Development Award for Excellence in Retail Innovation: Stillwater Float Centre

The May 23 event was sponsored by RBC and attended by 400 guests, who enjoyed dinner and live music at the Burlington Convention Centre.

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Brenda Jefferies

About the Author: Brenda Jefferies

Brenda Jefferies is Editor of FlamboroughToday. Brenda’s work has been recognized at the provincial, national and international levels, with awards for local sports, headline and editorial writing
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