Category Archives: Breakfast Speakers 2021

Breakfast Meeting January 16, 2021

Farzana Doctor is a writer, activist, and psychotherapist. Her ancestry is Indian, and she was born in Zambia while her family was based there for five years, before immigrating to Canada in 1971.

She became interested in community organizing as a teen (primarily environmental issues, gender violence and LGBTTTIQ rights). From 2009-18, she curated the Brockton Writers Series and has been a volunteer with The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Trust. She currently volunteers with WeSpeakOut, a global group that is working to ban female genital cutting in her Dawoodi Bohra community.

She studied social work in the early nineties and has been a social worker ever since. She worked in a variety of community agencies and a hospital before starting part-time private practice, where she sees individuals and couples.

She has been writing all of her life but it became a more regular practice around 2000, when she began writing her first novel, Stealing Nasreen, which was published by Inanna in 2007.  Her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award and was short-listed for the 2012 Toronto Book Award. In 2017 it was voted the One Book One Brampton 2017 winner. Her third novel, All Inclusive was a Kobo 2015 and National Post Best Book of the Year.

While all her books are distinct from one another, some common themes include loss, relationships, community, healing, racism, LGBT rights, diasporic identity and feminism. She seamlessly blends strong stories with social justice issues. Her genre so far has been contemporary literary fiction, but here is usually a hint of magic realism in her stories.

She’s just completed a novel, Seven (August 2020, Dundurn), and a poetry collection. You Still Look the Same. She is currently at work on a YA novel. Farzana was recently named one of CBC Books’ “100 Writers in Canada You Need To Know Now”.  She is represented by Rachel Letofsky of CookeMcDermid.

She’s an amateur Tarot card reader and has a love of spirituality, energy psychology, hypnosis and neuroscience.

She lives with her partner and dog near the lake in Etobicoke, the traditional territory of the Haudenosauneega, Anishinabek and Huron-Wendat peoples.

Breakfast Meeting February 20, 2021

Sharon Babineau is a published author of the book “The Girl Who Gave Her Wish Away” a memoir about her daughter Maddie. She is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, as a motivational and wellness facilitator, presenting to corporations and students in Canada and the USA. Sharon is TEDX speaker and a past member of the Writers Union. She received funding from the Authors in the Schools program to travel and present to residential schools in northern Ontario. Sharon is a contributing author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books: Hooked on Hockey, Family Caregivers, and Hope and Miracles. Sharon completed the Raindance Screenwriting Foundation l & II program and is writing a screenplay based on her book. She recently pitched her movie idea at a Pitchfest in Hollywood.

Her next book which she is currently writing, “The Power of a Promise”  is a teaching memoir, and extension of her first book.  In this book, Sharon recounts her life and lessons learned after the passing of Maddie. How a promise she made to her daughter took her on an unexpected journey halfway around the world.


Sharon and her daughter Maddie’s story, which she will share today, has been featured on the reality TV Show “No Opportunity Wasted” by Phil Keoghan – host of the Amazing Race, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, Canada Show – Life Story Project.


Sharon is a decorated military soldier (retired), mountain climber, hockey player, and volunteer. Sharon started a not for profit in her daughter’s memory, Maddie’s Everlasting Wish.  She has been recognized for the work she has done at home and in Africa and is the recipient of many awards including Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.

Sharon was on a meditation retreat in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains when the COVID 19 pandemic was declared. Temporarily stranded in India, Sharon finally arrived home the day the state of emergency for Ontario came into effect. Since then (and after her own meltdown) she has been writing her book and helping others cope with their stress and anxiety during this difficult time.


Breakfast Meeting March 20, 2021


Joyce Wayne  crafts the compelling narrative of Last Night of the World, knowing full well the world of Soviet spy Freda Linton. She herself grew up in a family where her father was a devoted member of the Communist Party of Canada until he lost his faith in the Bolsheviks.

Joyce has intimate knowledge and insights into the characters found in Last Night of the World.

She grew up a “red diaper baby” with direct experience and understanding of many of the characters in her novel. She is uniquely situated to write about this transformative period of Canadian history and the forces and personalities who provoked the beginning of the Cold War.

“I’ve heard tales of Igor Gouzenko’s defection from the time I was a child,” Joyce says. “Last Night of the World is the book I’ve always wanted to write. It is the story of the spark that ignited the Cold War from the point of view of the Canadian-Soviet spies exposed by Gouzenko, and who were charged with treason by the Canadian government. When I watched the T.V. series, The Americans, I knew the time was right to tell this story.”

Joyce Wayne is an award-winning literary journalist, a former editor at Quill & Quire and the author of the historical novel The Cook’s Temptation (Mosaic Press, 2013). For many years, she was the head of the journalism program at Sheridan College where she launched the Sheridan Centre for Internationally Trained Individuals. Joyce was a winner of the Diaspora Dialogues contest for short fiction and has been awarded the Fiona Mee Award for literary journalism. She lives in Oakville with her husband where she runs writing workshops for the Public Library and writes the bi-weekly blog .


Breakfast Meeting May 15, 2021

Rich Helms is a seasoned software developer with over 35 years of experience in computer Research and Development (R&D). He spent 22 years in various positions at IBM and two years as the Vice President of R&D for Electronics Workbench in Toronto. From 2000 to 2009, Rich created and owned Rume Interactive Canada, which was sold to Verisk in 2009 and rebranded as Enabl-u Technologies and then Verisk Crime Analytics Canada. Rich ran the Canadian operation since the transfer of ownership until his retirement.

His credentials range from deep technical work (five patents in hardware and software) to running R&D. Former chair IBM Microelectronics Canada Lab Patent Review Board. Rich has created five generations of e-Learning platforms. Designed and wrote full-text search engine including crawling support for large-scale case management system. In 2010 co-authored “Amazon SimpleDB Developer Guide” for Packt Publishing.

“It’s never been done” is a call to action for Rich. He has built a career on breaking new grounds in the computer field. In 1986 he developed CARES (Computer Assisted Recovery Enhancement System) for the Metropolitan Toronto Police. CARES was the first computer system in the world for aging missing children.

Rich developed an online course and workshops on how to write a book trailer. There are many sites on how to create a book trailer with iMovie, Movie Maker, Animoto to name a few but they only discussed the steps in assembling the video, not what goes into a good book trailer. Rich defines the components, approaches and strategies. BookTrailer101.infoMore than how to assemble a video, how to create a Book Trailer.

Breakfast Meeting June 19, 2021

Fawzia Afzal-Khan is Professor of English, University Distinguished Scholar, and former Director of Women and Gender Studies (now called Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies) at Montclair State University. Afzal-Khan received her BA from Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, Pakistan, and her MA and PhD in English Literature from Tufts University, Ma.
She is a cultural materialist who works at the intersection of Feminist Theory, Cultural and Performance Studies, and Postcolonial Studies. She created and teaches the first course on writings by and about Muslim Women at MSU, as well as an Honors course in Muslim Pop Culture, and has published extensively on this topic. She is author of 6 books, her latest a monograph entitled Siren Song: Understanding Pakistan Through its Women Singers, published by Oxford University Press in 2020. She is also author of a controversial memoir entitled Lahore With Love; Growing Up With Girlfriends Pakistani-Style (Syracuse University Press 2010; rep Insanity Ink 2010; can be ordered at Amazon). She is a frequent contributor to Counterpunch and Express Tribune, and a published poet and playwright.
She is a Contributing Editor to TDR (The Drama Review) and serves on the Advisory Board of SAR (the South Asian Review), and on the Editorial Board of Arab Stages.
She is also a trained vocalist in the North Indian Classical tradition. Her music videos exploring themes of gender, religion, class, set in Pakistan, can be viewed on youtube (FAK Lahore, FAK Payal, FAK Smokescreen, FAK Sacrifice)her latest a project called Faqeera to be released Jan 1, 2019.
She was a founding member of the experimental theatre collective Compagnie Faim de Siecle, with whom she toured and performed in Europe and N America for a decade from 1999-2005.
Her current research work is focused on Pakistani Popular Culture, with a focus on Pakistani Female Singers. She won a National Endowment of the Humanities grant in 2011 to make a trailer for a documentary on this subject, called “From the Melody Queen to the Muslim Madonna: Pakistani Female Singers 1947-Present” (now renamed: Siren Song: Women Singers of Pakistan).
She is winner of a Fulbright Specialist fellowship AY 2015-2020, lecturing at various universities in Pakistan. She has also served as Visiting Professor of the Arts at NYU in Abu Dhabi in spring 2016 and for the AY 2018-19.

Breakfast Meeting September 18, 2021

Darlene Madott will be our guest speaker who will present her latest novel, “Dying Times”.

DYING TIMES is the story of a successful though conflicted lady litigator who is confronted by irrevocable death, told at breakneck speed with a dark undercurrent of humour. It is all around her. It is her loving, wise mother who, by dying, triggers open hatred within the family. It is her greedy, irascible but brilliant senior partner at a big downtown law firm who, while determined to control everything, even his own death, discovers generosity. It is the last client the senior partner and lady litigator will share, a man in wheelchair who is appalling in his need to wreak ruin on his wife in a monumentally lucrative divorce case. With all these characters bound for glory, every hard core emotion comes into play, love on the verge of abuse and hatred, loyalty on the verge of betrayal, visceral energy on the verge of exhaustion, a story told by a driven woman in a direct prose that blows the lid off everything. DYING TIMES is a story about several deaths that succeeds in becoming a meditation on dying and a meaningful approach to living.Dying Times frames an important conversation. We die as individually as we have lived. Far from sombre, it is told with a visceral, wry wit and transcendent tenderness. It is surprisingly lively, in the end.

Breakfast Meeting October 16, 2021

Gianna Patriarca is an award-winning author of eight books of poetry and one children’s book. Her work has been adapted for stage at the Berkley Street Theater and for CBC radio drama. Herwriting is widely anthologized and featured in various documentaries including Enigmatico, Pier 21, The Italian/Canadians and Three Women: Adopting Lines, Adapting Lives. She has most recently appeared in the OMNI TV documentary series, Famiglia. Gianna’s books appear on the course list of numerous universities across Canada, the US and Italy. Her first book Italian Women and Other Tragedies was runner-up to the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award. It was translated into Italian in 2009 and presented at the University of Bologna and Naples Orientale. In 2010 she was the first recipient of the Science and Culture Award from the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario. She is a regular contributor to many of the literary events held in the city and often appears at Word Stage, Art Bar, Italian Cultural Institute, Toronto Poetry Month, and countless other events including regular visits to the Caritas organization directed by Father John Carparelli, where she has read and prepared creative writing workshops for the residents. My Etruscan Face was short listed for the Bressani Literary Prize in 20l0. Her latest publication is a collection of stories inspired by the lives of Italian/Canadian women in Toronto. All My Fallen Angelas was launched on May 5th, 2016 and published by Inanna Publications. Gianna continues to read and perform her work extensively throughout Canada and the US while somehow finding the time to work on her novel, The Sicilian’s Bride.