Category Archives: Breakfast Speakers 2015

Breakfast Meeting, January 17, 2015


With an inimitable velvety voice, Nigerian-born via Italy songwriter, singer, actress, writer and cultural activist Sonia Aimy (Aimy) is the quintessential virtuoso of afro-jazz music. Her music juts out unrestrained brilliance evoking the sound of afro-jazz, highlife, and call-and-response traditional African griot styles. Aimy’s style, however, is still effortlessly “afro-jazz & folk”. Fluent in English, Italian, French and several African languages, Aimy also enjoys exploring African languages through her music including Edo, Yoruba, Hausa (Nigerian), Obamba (Gabon) Wolof (Senegal), Lingala (Congo), Kiswahili (East Africa), Somali, etc.

Touching hearts and souls has always been her passion since she started singing at the age of 11 in her native Benin City in Nigeria where she received early education from her mother in traditional folklore.

Aimy’s experience in the arts earned her various lead roles as an actress with the National Theatre of Turin, Rome, Alma Theatre (with Paolo Rossi) with which she toured across Europe, as well as RAI Radio Television Italia where she excelled in various drama series. She has performed at numerous concerts throughout Europe, Africa and in North America.

The multi-talented Aimy has also starred in several Italian films. Aimy’s work in the media includes writing, producing, directing and presenting multicultural programs for radio. Aimy’s music career started when she was in her teens, singing at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Benin City, Nigeria.

She developed interest in folk, traditional music and storytelling. She pursued education in traditional music and dance. When she came to Italy she studied jazz music and interpretation as well as theatre arts. This extra music education as well as practice through performances has allowed Aimy to craft a unique sound that is distinctly her own that is a beautiful amalgam of jazz, folk, and afropop. Aimy commitment to themes of motherhood and fairplay respectively is highly present in her lyrics.

Aimy is an author and writer with credits including “Il Colore Sulla Pelle”(Harmattan Italia, 2002 Co-authored with Professor Franca Balsamo), “Le culture intrecciate: Letteratura e Migrazione” (Harmattan Italia, 2007), “Poesia vagabonda” (Settimopoesia 2003), “Lingua Madre”(Edizioni SEB 27, 2006).
She was nominated among the best writers in a national contest organised by Centro Studi Pensiero Feminile promoted by the Regione Piemonte, International Book Fair and Turin World Capital of Book fair.

Her playwright work credits includes “Idia, Sango’, Fat and Beautiful, Rhythm & Voices from Africa, Pepper Soup, Racism, Women on Stage, Ikaladerhan, Co-written Voices of Orisa (workshop version co-written with Prof Omofolabo Ajayi Soyinka), Scarti, Chi e’ Ultima at Alma Teatro, Turin Italy, among others.
Her talent and effort has been recognised in the Italian and Nigerian society through awards and nominations like: Best Positive Figure for Youths in Turin and Caserta (2005/2006); Millennium Models Nominee among fifty Nigerians in the world by Platinum Bank Limited, Nigeria in 2003; Nominated in 2005 by AfroLife magazine among the Top Ten best Nigerians in Italy. Recently, Aimy received an award in recognition of her work and commitment to end human trafficking through Art and Culture by Regione Vale D’Aosta.

‘Miss Aimy is a hardworking artist, who manages her time creatively engaging in numerous artistic initiatives. Her kind and generous spirit is evident in her lyrics and can be felt in her music and stage plays and is obvious in the much of an echo of Spirituality she leaves on the stage in her live performances. Her art is distinctly cultural with a deep sense of her motherland, an echo of Spirituality setting the backdrop and providing her audience the spiritual foundation for every moment of her presentation.

Aimy moved recently to Canada and while settling, she is currently networking in the artistic and authors scene, and working in the re-branding of her music geared towards accessing the Canadian and North American audience.

Breakfast Meeting, February 21, 2015

nina_munteanuNina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist and internationally published novelist of science fiction and fantasy. In addition to eight published novels, Nina has written award-nominated short stories, articles and non-fiction books, which have been translated into several languages throughout the world. Recognition for her work includes the Midwest Book Review Reader’s Choice Award, finalist for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, the SLF Fountain Award, and The Delta Optimist Reviewers Choice.

Nina regularly publishes reviews and essays in magazines such as The New York Review of Science Fiction and Strange Horizons. She serves as staff writer for several online and print magazines, and was assistant editor-in-chief of Imagikon, a Romanian speculative magazine. She currently writes for Amazing Stories and is an editor of Europa SF, a zine dedicated to informing the European SF community.

Nina teaches writing at the University of Toronto and George Brown College. She also gives writing workshops and courses based on her award-nominated guidebook “The Fiction Writer: Get Published, Write Now!” (Starfire World Syndicate). The textbook is used in colleges and universities throughout North America and Europe. It was translated and published by Editura Paralela 45 in Romania. The next book in her writing guide series “The Journal Writer: Finding Your Voice” was released in winter of 2012 in Romanian by Editura Paralela 45 and in English in early 2013 by Starfire.

For more information about booking her workshops, online classes, individual consultations, or speaking appearances go to Her award-winning blog The Alien Next Door hosts lively discussion on science, travel, pop culture, writing and movies.

Breakfast Meeting, March 21, 2015

merridyMerridy Cox Bradley is a freelance technical writer and editor with experience in thesaurus-building and other such three-dimensional cross-paragraph puzzles. Her background is in biology (B.Sc.) and museums (M.Msl.), and she has a love of the English language. She is completing an English manual with excerpts and photos in a blog, Her published work, as an editor, includes e-book Edwardian Annotated Pets and How to Keep Them, Part I: Beasts and The Literary Connection: Volume I, IOWI.  You may find her in Toronto, Mississauga, Peterborough, or occasionally Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Breakfast Meeting, April 18, 2015

Colin McClean LargeColin McClean is an author, illustrator, and
challenge coach.
In 2004, he founded LLSCartoons, a marketing
communications design firm that specializes in
simplifying complex information through design. It
was an extension of his Life’s Lighter Side…comic
strip, which was published weekly in the Greater
Toronto Area from 2001-2010. Using the comedic
edge that propelled the cartoon strip, his illustrations
make people laugh, while helping them to grow their
In 2013, he established to
expand his passion for helping others to grow,
overcome challenges, and achieve their goals. As a Certified Adult Trainer, Colin uses a mix of
comedy and practicality to deliver hundreds of workshops, coaching and mentoring sessions,
including team development and retreat facilitation.
Colin’s range of experience led to the publication of “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To…
My Career!”, a creative self-help guide that uses humour to help job seekers hone the skills they
need to find work, even in challenging economic times.
In addition to studying graphic design, Colin has an honours graduate diploma in Marketing
and Business Administration, a certification in Adult and Continuing Education and
Teaching and is a Competent Toastmaster.

Breakfast Meeting, May 16, 2015

maxlaytonMax Layton is the eldest son of Canadian poet Irving Layton, Max left his Montreal home at the age of 16 and, since then, has worked as everything from tobacco picker, logger, and apprentice auto mechanic, to vice president of a bank. Along the way, he was one of the founders of Toronto’s Book City bookstore and earned a Master’s degree in Eng. Lit. from the University of Toronto. A published novelist and short story writer, Max went legally blind ten years ago and during that difficult period he recorded his first CD of original songs, Heartbeat Of Time. His eyesight eventually restored thanks to the miracle of modern science, Max feels he has been given a second chance. His first book of poems, When The Rapture Comes, was published in 2012 by Guernica Editions and his second CD, 2 The Max, was released at the same time. Max’s third and latest CD, It’s A Mystery To Me, was released in 2014 and now Max is celebrating Guernica’s publication of another book of poems, In The Garden Of I Am, which Leonard Cohen has called, “One hell of a book!”
More info about Max at

Breakfast Meeting, June 20, 2015

marunoJennifer Travis Maruno began her publishing career with award winning educational materials for The Peel District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education. She is one of the authors of Explorations a mathematics program for Addison-Wesley of Canada and worked with TVO in developing teaching materials for the television show Mathica’s Mathshop. For her contributions to educational writing, she received the Federation of Women Teachers Writing Award, the National Council of Teachers Award of Excellence and The Award of Merit from the National School Public Relations Association. She holds a Masters of Education, Principal’s and Primary Specialists certification and is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and the Humber School of Writers summer program. Her short stories for children have appeared in a variety of children’s magazines in Great Britain, United States and Canada.

Educator, researcher and author, Jennifer Maruno knows stories provide much more than entertainment. From the pages of Canadian history, she creates novels empathetic to those who have experienced the darker side of our past.  Maruno’s understanding of the importance of cultural identity has brought The Cherry Blossom series, based on the Japanese Internment , Warbird  a novel of  Jesuit life among the Huron people,  Kid Soldier the story of an underage soldier during WW2 and Totem a boy seeking identity from the confines of a residential school.

A member of CANSCAIP and THE WRITERS UNION OF CANADA , her novels have won nominations for the Hackmatack , Young Readers of Canada, and Rocky Mountain Book Awards.


Breakfast Meeting, September 19, 2015

bettyjaneBetty Jane Wylie is a published, produced author and playwright with a D.Litt. (University of Manitoba) and an Order of Canada. She has published about three dozen books (everything but fiction) including plays, musicals, screenplays, biography, coobooks, belles lettres, poetry, self-help, children´s plays and puppet plays. She is a founding member of the Professional (formerly Periodical) Association of Writers in Canada, and of what is now called the Playwrights´ Guild of Canada, and a past chair of The Writers´ Union of Canada.

Breakfast Meeting, October 17, 2015

joe_portraitJoseph Kertes founded Humber College’s creative writing and comedy programs. He is currently Humber’s Dean of Creative and Performing Arts and is a recipient of numerous awards for teaching and innovation. His first novel, Winter Tulips, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. Boardwalk, his second novel, and two children’s books, The Gift and The Red Corduroy Shirt, met with critical acclaim.

His novel, Gratitude, won a Canadian National Jewish Book Award and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. Kertes has also been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the CBC Literary Award.

His latest novel is called The Afterlife of Stars, and it is published by Penguin Canada. Richard Bausch said of it that “it is blazing with every good thing a work of fiction ever does or could do.”

Breakfast Meeting November 21, 2015

Robert RRotenbergotenberg is the best-selling author of four legal thrillers set in Toronto. His books have been translated into nine foreign languages and sold in more than 20 countries. He is also a well-known criminal lawyer and, he likes to say, a better-than-average Jewish hockey player.


Hit the play button on the file below to listen to a portion of Robert’s speech.