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Meet the Small Business Contest finalists

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Meet the Small Business Contest finalists

Introducing our 9 amazing finalists!


When we set out to celebrate Small Business Month with a contest to reward local businesses, we had no idea what an amazing response we would get. We asked you to nominate businesses demonstrating resilience, innovation, and community spirit and got over 1,000 entries!

The inspiration, gratitude, and pride we felt reading all the nominations is truly immeasurable. Our panel of judges managed to narrow down the entries to nine finalists (in no particular order):

Here are their stories.

Rooted Oak Farm


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Young farmers Nikki and Stuart Oke are passionately dedicated to local farming, sustainable agriculture, and equal access to quality local produce. Their dream is to help create a sustainable, regional food system that can feed the community it calls home.

Versa Fitness


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When hearing stories from clients of Versa Fitness, we lost count of how many people  described owner Chris Parillo as generous. Faced with huge challenges, he and his team adapted at the speed of light, finding innovative, personal ways to coach their clients and support their community.

PŪR Yoga Toronto


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While other yoga studios were closing down, cutting back on classes, and reducing hours for teachers, Liz McGregor created PŪR Resilience. Deeply committed to honouring her clients and community, she built an entirely new platform for at-home yoga practice, community support, and physical, mental, and spiritual resilience.

The Lake Report


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Over 50 local papers across Canada have closed since the pandemic began. Their reliance on advertising from local businesses has decimated their revenue, leaving many communities without a reliable source for local news. When it seemed like all news was bad news, though, The Lake Report created its own good news.

The Bookshelf


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The Bookshelf has been a landmark – and a leader – in the Guelph community since the Minnet family founded it in 1973. This incredible space hosts book events, plus everything from LGBTQ2S+ dance and drag nights, Guelph Black History Society events, Salsa and Spoken Word nights, First Nations and Inuit events, and much more. Canada’s first bookstore café, The Bookshelf has expanded to include a performance space, restaurant, and repertory cinema.  

Withrow Park Farmers’ Market


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Farmers markets are a vital to source of income for many vendors and key to providing equal access to quality local produce for communities. The small, mostly volunteer, team behind Withrow Park Farmers’ Market has supported dozens of farmers and artisans since 2006. When the pandemic came, they did whatever was necessary to keep promoting sustainable farming and bring fresh produce to the community.

Northern Village Inc.


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When the pandemic closed doors across the province, many businesses and non-profits scrambled to move their operations online in order to survive. In response, web and software developer Northern Village expanded its services, increasing support for purpose-driven organizations like charities, healthcare providers, and environmentally-focused companies.

Grounded Kitchen, Coffee & Bar


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Despite the unimaginable challenges of the pandemic, Ottawa’s Amir Rahim and his Grounded staff reached new heights. Literally. In a creative take on contactless pick-up, they created a pulley system to deliver orders to customers from their second floor window. Beyond bringing a smile to loyal customers, they found people started ordering just to see the pulley in action! And this was only the beginning. 

Attachment and Trauma Treatment Centre for Healing


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The critical need for free, supportive mental health services has perhaps never been more apparent than in the last two years. Long before the pandemic, Niagara’s Attachment and Trauma Treatment Centre for Healing (ATTCH) provided free and low-cost therapy as a non-profit without government funding. Now, led by founder Lori Gill, ATTCH is busy innovating new ways heal the community.