Three Kingston businesses recognized with 2024 Newcomer Entrepreneur Awards

Photo via Kingston Economic Development.

The second annual Newcome Entrepreneur Awards were awarded at the Building Inclusive Communities event on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Kingston Economic Development, St. Lawrence College (SLC), and Kingston Immigration Partnership hosted the event that brought together community leaders to discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in Kingston, and to celebrate the contributions of exceptional newcomers to the community, according to a release from Kingston Economic Development.

The organization shared that a panel discussion explored how to cultivate cultural diversity in our community. According to the release, the panellists shared their insights and experiences, highlighting the importance of inclusivity in building strong and vibrant communities. The panel discussion was followed by the presentation of the 2024 Newcomer Entrepreneur Awards, which recognized exceptional newcomers who have established their businesses in Kingston and made an impact on the community.

“We are pleased to co-host this great event, the second annual, with our partners in Kingston. As SLC strengthens its commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, hosting these events is important to highlighting the rich contributions newcomers bring to our college and our community,” said Glenn Vollebregt, SLC President and CEO.

The panellists included Stephanie Simpson – Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion), Queen’s University; Ryan ‘Rye’ Barberstock, PhD – Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Okwaho Equal Source and Kebaonish; Daniel Solorio – St. Lawrence Graduate and Professional Photographer; Bhavana Varma, OOnt. – Former President & CEO of the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington; and moderated by V. Ophelia Rigeault – Owner of REALTalk Solutions and EDI Educational Leader.

“We believe that the contributions of newcomers are essential to the fabric of our community. By infusing economic and cultural vibrancy, newcomers bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions that drive Kingston forward,” said Yu Jier Kou, Coordinator of Kingston Immigration Partnership.

“These awards not only recognize individual achievements but also highlight how newcomers enrich our community, fostering a dynamic and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.”

The 2024 Newcomer Entrepreneur Awards were presented in three categories, to outstanding individuals for their exceptional contributions to Kingston’s economy and community.

“Recognizing and celebrating the work, efforts and contributions of newcomers to Kingston is critical to accelerating their impact and fostering economic growth and development. Their contributions are not only essential to sustaining all aspects of life in our community, but also vital to creating a more vibrant and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Donna Gillespie, Chief Executive Officer of Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

The recipients of the 2024 New Entrepreneur Awards are:

  • Newcomer Startup of the Year: Isabelle & Pierre Tardiveau, Sens Café
  • Community Builder: Tarek Hussein, Weller Pharmacy and MedaKi
  • Inspirational Newcomer: Rathi Perumal, Uyir Engineering

For more information on the Kingston Newcomer Entrepreneur Awards visit

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