2023 Premier’s
Award Nominees

Seneca Polytechnic has a wealth of experienced and accomplished alumni. Six have been nominated for the 2023 Premier’s Awards for college graduates.

Portrait of Karina Pérez

Karina Pérez

Award category: Recent Graduate

Seneca programs: International Transportation and Customs, 2019

As a child growing up Zamora, about 440 kilometres northwest of Mexico City, Karina Pérez would watch captivated as large amounts of fruit were processed for export at the factory where her parents worked. It was loaded into containers and transported to Manzanillo port to be shipped around the world. Ms. Pérez found the logistics fascinating. In 2017, she decided to act on her interest and applied to the two-year International Transportation and Customs program at Seneca. Just three short years after graduating, Ms. Pérez took home the 2022 Global Young Logistics Professional Award – following wins in the Canadian and Americas rounds of the rigorous competition. Her dissertation was about importing generator engines from Germany to Northern Ontario for a mine expansion project and exporting dangerous goods from Canada to Peru. Both case studies focused on the environmental aspects of the moves. Upon graduation, Ms. Pérez was hired by DSV Canada, a global transport and logistics company. Part of her focus is on educating clients about the environmental impact of traditional transportation methods and encouraging them to use sustainable fuel and/or green transportation methods to lower their environmental footprints.
Portrait of Jude Vethanayagam

Jude Vethanayagam

Award category: Technology

Seneca programs: Pharmaceutical Chemical Technology, 1995

When we pick up medication from a pharmacy, we seldom question if it’s safe to use it. This quality assurance is Jude Vethanayagam’s mission. As Director, Global Quality Control at Apotex Inc., a Toronto-based pharmaceutical company that specializes in generic drugs, he manages teams of technical professionals. The company sells its products in about 115 countries. Mr. Vethanayagam works to ensure the products manufactured by Apotex and its partners are of high quality, effective and comply with regulations and Good Manufacturing Practices. He did three semesters as a co-op student with the company before being hired as a quality control chemist in 2005. Since then, he’s held progressive leadership roles and has made presentations to international conferences.
Portrait of Carol Mark

Carol Mark

Award category: Health Sciences

Seneca programs: Nursing, 1980

If you were to describe Carol Mark in one word, it would be advocate. Over the years, she has raised funds and awareness for nutrition, health care, literacy and youth and Indigenous issues. A former nurse and breast cancer survivor, Ms. Mark became interested in healthy nutrition through her own medical journey. In 2016, that led her to create Empower T, a hydrating drink that is 100 per cent plant-based and contains no sugar or sweeteners. Through a tea sales event, she raised money help female tea workers in Sri Lanka by providing breast self-examination pamphlets and access to about 4,000 mammograms. In 2017, she organized a health and nutrition conference called Truth About Healthy Lives with 200-plus attendees, including a mix of physicians, chefs and entrepreneurs. In addition, Ms. Mark has supported social philanthropy through the arts. She recently sponsored and curated an art exhibit celebrating the early lives of Asian immigrants to Canada.
Portrait of Carol Jardine

Carol Jardine

Award category: Business

Seneca programs: Chemical Engineering Technology, 1977

As Carol Jardine rose to the highest positions of the Canadian insurance industry, she could have simply focused her efforts on the established insurance priorities of underwriting for risk and processing claims. Instead, she chose to influence policy and public awareness around mitigating the effects of climate change. Her catalyst was the 2003 Kelowna wildfire that destroyed 239 homes. Ms. Jardine was president of Canadian Northern Shield (CNS) Insurance Company at the time, and when surveying the damage, she was concerned by the number of people who didn't know what they could do to protect their homes and lives from wildfire. Reaching out to the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and Fire Smart, she had CNS distribute wildfire educational pamphlets to communities. For the next 20 years, Ms. Jardine continued to respond to climate disasters as an insurance executive and at the same time worked with ICLR and Western University to educate communities on how to mitigate the impact of climate risk. Ms. Jardine retired as president of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance's Canadian Property & Casualty business in February 2023. The actions taken by governments and industry peers in response to her advocacy efforts are among the highlights of her career, she said.
Portrait of Armand La Barge

Armand La Barge

Award category: Community Services

Seneca programs: Investigative Sciences and Police Studies, 1985

As a new police cadet in 1973, Armand La Barge had no inkling of the positive impact his career would have on Ontario citizens. Twenty-nine years later, he was appointed Chief of York Regional Police, the third-largest municipal police service in the province at the time, serving a multicultural population of 1.1 million people in nine municipalities. Mr. La Barge was a trailblazer, setting the standard for police leadership as a champion of diversity and inclusiveness. During his tenure as chief from 2002-10, he made it his mission to reach out to marginalized communities, establishing relationships and giving those citizens a voice. His progressive outlook over his 37-year distinguished career earned him respect not only in York Region but in the policing community as well. He was elected President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, served as the Ontario Director of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and he was an associate member of the First Nation Chiefs of Police Association. Now retired, Mr. La Barge was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2022 in recognition of his lifelong commitment to diversity, inclusion, social justice, human rights and community activism.
Portrait of Armand La Barge

Joseph Osei Bonsu

Award category: Creative Arts and Design

Seneca programs: Digital Media Arts, 2005 and 3D Animation, 2007

For decades, millions of children around the world have grown up reading comics and watching cartoons, fuelling fantasies about other worlds and opportunities. Visual artist Joseph Osei Bonsu was one of those kids, drawing inspiration from comics and animated shows he watched as an African Canadian child growing up in a multicultural Toronto. Years later, he collaborated with long-time friend, Mark Williams, on Heroes of the World, a comic-inspired brand whose first superhero, Captain Ghana, paid homage to Mr. Bonsu’s Ghanaian background. The two illustrators have since designed more than 1,200 characters representing different countries and the brand now includes a comic book series and associated merchandising for a worldwide audience. Mr. Bonsu’s work also caught the attention Scholastic Canada, one of the country’s leading publishers of children’s books. During the pandemic, he was asked by Scholastic to collaborate on an illustrated children’s book with sprinter Andre DeGrasse, a six-time Olympic medallist and the reigning 200-metre Olympic champion. The result was Race With Me! in which Mr. De Grasse describes his love of running, being an underdog and what it takes to be a world-class competitor. Released in July 2021, it was commended as one of the Best Books for Kids & Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.