Non-Profit Reg: 8607877
IWD WOMEN ACHIEVER AWARD 2019
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Dancing Damsels Inc.

A multicultural organization for arts promotions & women empowerment

Chief Guests IWD 2015

Dr. K. Kellie Leitch was elected to the House of Commons in May 2011 to represent the Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey. She served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour until July 2013, when she was appointed Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women.

Dr. Leitch was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and grew up in Fort McMurray, Alberta and is a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon. She earned her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Toronto (1994) and her MBA from Dalhousie University (1998). She completed a fellowship at the University of Southern California / Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and age 34 was Canada’s youngest Chief of Paediatric Surgery.

Dr. Leitch is the former Chair of the Ivey Centre for Health Innovation and Leadership and has served on various councils and boards, including the YMCA and Community Living. As a volunteer, Dr. Leitch has served as council member of the National Research Council of Canada, board member of Genome Canada, director on the YMCA of Greater Toronto board of directors, and Vice-President of the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research. She is also the founder of the Sandbox Project.

Dr. Leitch was recognized with the Order of Ontario for her advocacy work on behalf of Canadian children and, in 2005, she was selected as one of Canada's "Top 40 Under 40" for her work in both medicine and business.

Bonnie is a long-time Mississauga resident and has been a strong advocate for our City and its residents. She has the energy, the vision, and the long-term commitment to ensure Mississauga remains one of the best cities in which to live, work and raise a family.

Bonnie was elected as the City Councillor for Ward 5, Mississauga in the September 2011 by-election. Previous to this she served as the Member of Parliament for Mississauga Streetsville. Bonnie has represented over 230,000 Mississauga residents, one-third of the City’s population. She has served on the Standing Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and as her party’s GTA Caucus Chair. As a City Councillor she serves on the Governance, Transportation, and Audit Committees at City Hall and the Waste Management and Intergovernmental Affairs Committees, as well as the Early Learning and Childcare Taskforce at the Region of Peel.

As an elected official at the national and municipal level, Bonnie has delivered results, including:

  • Creating the first Business Improvement Area (BIA) in Mississauga in over 25 years;
  • Founding the Malton Shinny Hockey League to give  youth a chance to learn hockey in their own community
  • Changing the electoral boundaries to ensure all Mississauga residents are included within a Mississauga riding
  • Fighting for federal infrastructure funding to help build Celebration Square
  • Banning indoor tanning for teens to protect our youth from the damaging effects of artificial UV rays
  • Worked with staff to develop and pass a by-law to regulate where crematoriums can be located to protect residents and sensitive land uses

Prior to seeking elected office, Bonnie worked for two Fortune 500 companies including the Walt Disney Corporation, and McDonald’s Corporation where she oversaw local store marketing for five states in America.  She has also successfully practiced public affairs and launched two successful small businesses, including Cargo Cosmetics, whose products are now sold around the world.

Outside of her work in the public and private sector, Bonnie has a lengthy history of community leadership and volunteer service having been asked to serve by the Mayor on the Mississauga Mayor’s Taskforce on the Arts. She was subsequently elected as Vice Chair of this task force.  Bonnie has also dedicated her time to various charitable and not-for-profit boards, including the Credit Valley Hospital Foundation, Peel Region 11th Division Police Community Liaison Committee, the Canadian and Ontario Brain Injury Association, and Arts Umbrella

Bonnie has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and a Corporate Director’s Certificate from the International Institute of Corporate Directors at the Rotman School of Business. In January 2012 she was honoured to be awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in the community. Bonnie speaks French, Polish and Ukrainian. With her husband Brian, she has raised three children, Alex, Jonathan and Natasha, right here in Mississauga.

Kevin Flynn was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 as MPP for Oakville. He was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014, making him the longest serving MPP in the Oakville riding.

Flynn is the Minister of Labour and a member of Treasury Board. He has served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministers of Infrastructure; Transportation; Training, Colleges and Universities; Education; Environment; Energy; Democratic Renewal; and Labour.

He was also Chair of the Standing Committee on Mental Health and Addictions.

Since becoming Minister of Labour, Flynn has extended workplace protection for firefighters by adding six cancers to the list of those presumed to be related to their work, and he has introduced legislation to increase fairness for vulnerable workers and tie the minimum wage to the rate of inflation.

Prior to his election in 2003, Flynn owned a successful Oakville-based business, while serving as an Oakville town and Halton Regional councilor for over 18 years and winning six consecutive elections. He has always been active in the community as a president of the Halton Children’s Aid Society, a mentor in the Big Brothers program and a coach of minor sports.

Flynn is steadfast in his determination to see Oakville preserve as much as possible of its remaining, precious green space, and, as a result of his environmental work, Flynn was awarded the 2007 Halton Conservation Award of Excellence.

With an MBA from Athabasca University, Flynn also understands bottom lines, the impact of high taxes on small business and the difficulties of operating a business in a changing economic climate.

Flynn and his wife Janice have lived in Oakville for more than 30 years and have one son, Nigel.

Lata is the Founder and Artistic Director of SAMPRADAYA Dance Creations, an award winning company at the forefront of South Asian dance in Canada. She has also founded the SAMPRADAYA Dance Academy, Canada’s premiere bharatanatyam training organization.


Lata Pada is a recipient of the Order of Canada in 2010 and has the distinction of being the first South Asian artist to receive the Order of Canada. She has also received the 2011, Pravasi Bharatiya Saman by the President of India for her outstanding contribution to the India arts in Canada. She has also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and has been inducted into the inaugural Legend’s Row of the City of Mississauga.


Lata has trained under India’s eminent gurus Kalaimamani Kalyanasundaram and Padmabhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan and has had an extensive and international career as a bharatanatyam soloist. Her unique dance productions are recognized for their excellence and innovation and have developed a new understanding and appreciation for this classical dance form in Canada as a viable and respectable profession in her cultural community.


Lata holds a Masters in Dance from York University and is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Program of Dance at York University. She has received the 2012 Chalmers Foundation Senior Fellowship from the Ontario Arts Council to research the performance traditions of the Ramayana in Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia.

Dr. Deepali Dewan is an art historian with a special interest in South Asia. She is a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, teaches in theDepartment of Art at the University of Toronto and is affiliated with the Centre for South Asian Studies. She is also part of the Toronto Photography Seminar, a group of scholars from Ontario institutions who read, produce, and edit collaborative research concerning the history and theory of photography.

Dr. Dewan’s research interests encompass nineteenth and twentieth-century visual culture of South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora. Her work on colonial South Asia examines how art schools served as the link between the collection / circulation of objects and ideas in South Asian art history, particularly through the dynamics of "documentation" and "revival." Her research on contemporary art focuses on the work of specific artists as a way to map post-colonial visual practice. Her current research focuses on the history of photography in India with a view toward understanding how photography has shaped contemporary ways of viewing and being in the world.

Dr. Dewan's research has been presented as publications and exhibitions. She is the author ofRaja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in 19th-Century India (2013, co-authored with Deborah Hutton), Embellished Reality: Indian Painted Photographs (2012), and the editor of Bollywood Cinema Showcards: Indian Film Art from the 1950s to the 1980s(2011). All three were accompanied by exhibitions. In addition, her essays have been published in edited volumes and journals, including Photography and the Delhi Coronation Durbars, 1877-1911 (Julie Codell, editor, 2012), Voices of Change: 20 Indian Artists (Gayatri Sinha, editor, 2010), Confronting the Body: The Experience of Physicality in Modern South Asia (James Mills and Satadru Sen, editors, 2004), Imperial Co-Histories: National Identities and the British and Colonial Press (Julie Codell, editor, 2003), Photography and Culture, Trans Asia Photograph Review, and Visual Resources.

Dr. Dewan joined the Royal Ontario Museum in January 2002. Previously, she had worked at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and The Asia Society, New York City. She also served as a visiting instructor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis and at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. She has received fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the College Art Association, the MacArthur Program/Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change at the University of Minnesota, the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Anu Vittal is the Executive Director of the Mississauga Arts Council (MAC), a 34 year-old not-for-profit organization and an umbrella for all arts organizations & artists in Mississauga. She works diligently as marketer, advocate, mentor and facilitator to create a legacy of art in the community. MAC is a passionate arts organization that believes in nurturing all the arts – music, dance, literary, visual and dramatic arts. MAC serves a plethora of 38,000 writers, musicians, dancers, sculptors, actors, painters, singers, comedians across diverse cultures that exist in the vibrant community of Mississauga and the GTA.

MAC is entering a new and exciting phase in 2015 with new initiatives which will further strengthen and support artists and arts organizations. Their work is made possible by the dedication of staff and volunteers, and the generous patronage of our funders and donors.

Before coming to MAC Anu was the CEO of A V C which provided marketing support and development for overseas companies so they could grow their North American markets. Anu has previously worked with Arts Marketing, as Director of Marketing, where she promoted the efforts of not-for-profit art organizations across North America. Vittal has over 19 years of corporate experience in the fields of marketing and supply chain management.  Locally, Anu has previously served as volunteer Festival Director of the Mosaic Festival; the largest South Asian festival in North America, and as the Ex-President of the Mississauga Arts Society; the oldest art society in the region.  Anu’s involvement and commitment to the arts also includes serving on the board of Sampradaya Dance Creations and as Chair for Diversity and Inclusion at the Mississauga Summit 2014. Anu’s work with various non-profits has earned her a Canadian Immigrant top 25 Immigrant Award. Lastly she is a prolific painter and poet, her work has taken her across the globe.


Dr.Asha Seth


Canadian politician and doctor. She was appointed to the Canadian Senate (for Ontario) by Stephen Harper on January 6, 2012, and sat as a Conservative until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 on December 15, 2014.


She was born in India and trained in medicine at the King George Medical College in Lucknow and the Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK. She became a Canadian citizen in 1974. 


She worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto since 1976, and is also known as a philanthropist, having founded the NIMDAC Foundation. She is a National Board member of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.] She is part of the executive team of the Canada India Foundation


Dr. Kala Sridhar

Dr. Kala Sridhar is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Toronto. She is head of the genitourinary cancers medical oncology site group at the Princess Margaret Hospital and treats primarily bladder, prostate and kidney cancers. 

She has an active research program in the area of bladder cancer, evaluating new therapies and imaging modalities; and is currently the international study chair of a National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) phase 2 clinical trial. 

In 2011, she was recognized for her teaching excellence with a University of Toronto Wightman-Berris teaching award


Ms. Usha Venkatesan -  Vice Consul, Consulate General, in Toronto




Ms. Usha Venkatesan took over as Vice Consul at the Consulate General of India in Toronto on 10th January 2014.

Ms. Venkatesan belongs to the Indian Foreign Service (IFS-B).  Before arriving in Toronto, Ms. Venkatesan had served as Vice Consul at Consulate General of India, Shanghai. Her previous assignments in different capacities were at Doha (Qatar), Moscow (Russia), Lusaka (Zambia), Ottawa (Canada) and Shanghai (China) other than her assignments at Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi.

Ms. Venkatesan holds the degree of Bachelor of Political Science from University of Delhi.

Indira Naidoo-Harris was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2014 as the MPP for Halton.

Naidoo-Harris currently serves as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, focusing on long-term care.

She was born in Durban, South Africa. Her family immigrated to Canada to pursue the dreams they could not achieve under apartheid. They settled in central Alberta, where Naidoo-Harris grew up in a small, rural town. She later earned a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Lethbridge.

After graduate work at the University of Alberta, Naidoo-Harris moved to the U.S. for two years, where she began a career in journalism by working briefly for NBC and PBS. She went on to build a career as a writer, reporter, producer and news anchor at the international, national and regional levels.

She moved to Ontario in the 1990s to work for CBC-TV’s The National and Midday News, and since then she has anchored for CBC Newsworld, CBC’s The National and CTV Newsnet, as well as for local stations CBC Toronto, CBC Ottawa, TVO and OMNI Television. She has also anchored for CBC Radio regional and national programs, including World Report and The World at Six, and hosted the current affairs shows Cross Country Check-Up and The Current. Naidoo-Harris has won numerous awards for her work and volunteerism in national and international causes.

Naidoo-Harris has lived in Halton for more than 20 years, and has sat on the Board of Directors for the Reel World Film Festival, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund of Canada and the Journalism Advisory Council at the University of Western Ontario.

Anu Srivastava is a community leader and finance professional. Anu has been instrumental in promoting the South Asian culture, providing international exposure and a global profile to the Greater Toronto Area. She spearheaded the International event of IIFA in 2011 and programmed several cultural performances under the banner of “Year of India in Canada”.


Anu Srivastava has been involved with raising funds in the health care field. In 2014 she was the Community Chair of Trillium Health Partners Diwali Gala and raised funds for Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Health Centre. Anu has helped raise $7.25 million for the three community hospitals in the last 10 years for the “OM Fracture Clinic”, Seniors Program, Endoscopy Unit, Cardiac Care and Cancer Care.


Presently she is the Chair/President of Panorama India and has contributed immensely in bridging the Indo Canada bi-lateral relations through showcase of culture. Anu has introduced several initiatives and improvements to solidify the strength and profile of Panorama India which is an umbrella organization of various community & cultural organizations in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Anu Srivastava is a recipient of Queen Diamond Jubilee Award and Midweek’s top ten South Asians in North America for her dedication in the field of Community Service. Anu is married to Arun Srivastava, professional business owner and has two children Rahul and Richa.


Sandhya Srivatsan is is the Artistic Director of the music school “Gaanavarshini”, in Mississauga that trains and imparts Carnatic Vocal music to young children, youth and adults.

Sandhya, who is a postgraduate in Mathematics, is a Certified Gerontologist from Ryerson University, Toronto and is currently providing music therapy sessions to seniors in Adult day Care centers and Nursing homes in the Greater Toronto Area.

As a certified Geronotlogist, Sandhya has volunteered at adult care centres and nursing homes apart from conducting music therapy sessions for both healthy seniors and cognitively impaired seniors at India Rainbow services of Peel.She has conducted Indian classical music courses at Ryerson University, LIFE Institute, an educative institute for seniors .

As a music researcher, Sandhya conducted and implemented the pilot project on the “effect of music on moods” at the Sheridan elder research centre in Oakville. Sandhya has given guest lectures on appreciation of Indian classical music at Univerity of Toronto and at LIFE,Ryerson University.

As a performer and teacher, she brings to the stage more than 25 years of experience in the field. Sandhya has trained many students to perform solo, group concerts, to participate in Carnatic music idol contests conducted in North America and and India.

Apart from this, sandhya has been invited to judge for music competitions by local TV stations such as TVI for the program raaga sangamam,India Panaroma Music Idol contest and other competitions.She has been featured by TamilOne,a local tamil tv channel.

Gaanavarshini was featured at the Mississauga Festival youth choir, where Sandhya trained about 50 Canadian youth belonging to different cultural backgrounds to sing Indian songs at their annual December concert .This was an educative program that was well received by the audience.

Gaanavarshini as a music school gives back to the community by raising funds to help CNIB,for the construction of Sri Guruvayoorappan temple in Brampton by organizing a Bharathanatyam performance by Sridaya Srivatsan, accompanied by Sandhya Srivatsan on the vocals.

Kripa Sekhar is presently the Executive Director of the South Asian Women’s Centre (SAWC). She worked as the Executive Coordinator of the Saskatchewan Action Committee on the Status of Women for almost 14 years before coming to Toronto in 2004. Kripa worked for a brief time as the Employment and Equity Advisor for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. She continues to work with a diversity of women, women’s groups and other social justice organizations nationally and internationally on issues related to immigration and settlement, anti-violence, anti-racism, labour, education, poverty and public policy.  Her reputation as a champion for the inclusion of diverse, marginalized and isolated women’s voices is well established.

Kripa has served on the provincial Human Traficking Advisory Committee, and presently sits on the Provincial Partnership Project Advisory Committee.  She has served on many boards including the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC).  Kripa has served on the Executive of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC-CCA), and been a Member at Large of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).


Shobha Shekhar was born in a traditional South Indian family where music and academics played a very important

role. A Master's degree holder in commerce and a musician, who learnt her basics in Carnatic classical singing from mother Mrs. Viyalakshmi Iyer and Hindustani classical music, under the tutelage of PT. Gautam Madhusudan from (Gwalior Gharana) and thereafter from Pt. Rattan Mohan Sharma - disciple of Pt. Jasraj – (Mewati Gharana). I have also experimented with various styles of music from Ghazals, Indian folk, Devotional songs and have won many music competitions at the National level  in India.

As a is a studio recording artist in India and Canada, I have lent my voice to many product

commercials and jingles in India and Canada. and have released several private albums in Hindi and regional languages like Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi. my most recent accomplishment is releasing my own single "Raahein - produced here in Canada by Awaazein" - Raahein showcases the struggles and the accomplishments of a young aspiring musician and a song writer. My sincerest objective is to impart the knowledge and experience of Indian music and its various styles amidst the various ethnicities. I feel humbled that my music has also helped various charitable organisations to help raise funds for the under-priveleged and disabled i.e. Breast cancer society foundation- Canada, Vidyadhanam- India, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Handi Care International- Canada and to further help raise awareness for their causes It has been a very rewarding journey for me not only perform at several local and international concerts alongside popular visiting artist from the bollywood industry but also hold talent workshops and be amidst the panel of judges for many talent contests helping shape many youngsters and my peer group singing careers – some names that come to my mind - "Thithikude" Tamil equivalent of SA RE GA MA hosted by CMR and TVI, CMR Star Search, Global super singer juniors Canada for Tamil One TV .

In my truest sense I sincerely strive to achieve the expectation of being the many manifestations of a women - a daughter, sister, wife, mother, a career women ..... but I strongly believe "When you dare to dream, you must strive to achieve"