How OPS North Bay Toastmasters is Surviving and Thriving

The 2019-2020 year was a very eventful one for OPS North Bay Toastmasters and we’re happy to say that we’re still here!

Many of our members achieved their personal Toastmasters goals ─ whether it was giving their first Ice Breaker speech in Pathways, finishing the final few speeches for their Competent Communicator award, or completing a variety of challenging projects to achieve Distinguished Toastmaster status. The club was excited to cheer these members on from the sidelines!

We had three members celebrate the birth of children, which sometimes necessitated pausing their Toastmasters involvement. A few others earned promotions in the OPS and stepped away to attend to their new duties. Several others moved on from Toastmasters to embark on new learning adventures.

Lisa Wilson Colleen Charland143

                                                           Lisa Wilson, DTM & Colleen Charland, DTM

As a result, our small club grew even smaller and we were perilously close to not reaching our club growth target. With the help of our District Director, Lisa Wilson, who was also one of our club coaches and the encouragement of our Area Director, Colleen Charland, we set to work on building our membership.

Our efforts really paid off! We expanded our membership criteria to include individuals working at all levels of government plus a percentage of non-government employees. Our online meetings were advertised across the OPS to appeal to colleagues from other cities who were interested in joining a corporate club. Finally, we reached out to former members and a number of them signed on as inactive to help boost our numbers.

All clubs experience membership challenges at one time or another. The push that each of our members made during the last few months of the Toastmasters year has reminded us that our small corporate club has a valuable place in the OPS. As we continue to draw new members and enrich our club further, we aim to be an inspiration for others!

And, if you’d like to join us online during the noon hour on the second and fourth Thursday of the month, email Anthony Akomah at for an invite. We’d be overjoyed to welcome you!

Our Award Winning Year

Presidential Distinguished

Sault Ste. Marie’s oldest Toastmasters club, Algoma Toastmasters Club 2648, has a big announcement to make. This week we celebrated the end of our year and a big accomplishment, our new status as a Presidential Distinguished Club! As a club, we are incredibly proud of this accomplishment as it is the first time that we have achieved this status in our known history, at least 26 years. How did we manage to succeed this year?
The pandemic was a scary thing for our club. We had just secured a beautiful new meeting space in our Civic Centre, and soon after we moved in, we needed to stop meeting in person. With the quick thinking and adaptability of our Club President, Matthew Lance, we were able to quickly take our meetings online via Zoom. Although there have been challenges, we think that this move was an overall success for our club. Not only have we gotten guests to attend, but we have also been lucky enough to have had new members sign up while we’ve been completely virtual.
Our 2019-2020 VP of Education, Ryan Walker, is an expert in the Pathways system and has been instrumental in encouraging our members to start on their paths. Due to his efforts this year, we have had 4 members finish their level one and 3 members finish their level two. Our President, Matthew Lance, also deserves major kudos for his outreach to potential members and guests. We have been so successful with recruiting new members this year, 12 to date! Our club Treasurer, Rosanne Chan, also needs a shout-out for getting all of our membership renewals and dues in on time.
Another big reason for our success is that two of our long-standing members received their DTM’s this year, as they pushed to finish up their legacy programs to begin with Pathways. Kudos to George Mcvittie DTM, and Ryan Walker DTM, for reaching that amazing milestone! Not only are we proud to have two Distinguished Toastmasters in our club, but we are very grateful that they gave us the points we needed to push us over the edge and make Presidential Distinguished status.
On the evening of June 24th, during our regular scheduled meeting, we celebrated with a Presidential Distinguished theme, and encouraged our members to wear something fun. We had three special guests in attendance, Colleen and Phil from the North Bay and Area Toastmasters club in North Bay, and our current Area Director, Andrea Reibmayr. Their support was instrumental in our success, and we are so glad that they came to celebrate with us on this amazing occasion, and to share their kind words! We enjoyed a full meeting including 2 speeches, and ended off with “Post Toasties”, a chance for us to socialize and to toast to another award winning year ahead!

OTM Oakville TM Virtual Open House & 2019-20 Year End Celebration


Own the Moment (OTM) Oakville Toastmasters held a very successful multi-purpose meeting event on June 18th. It was a unique, global virtual meeting, delivered through the ZOOM platform. It was billed as a Virtual Open House & 2019-2020 Year End Celebration. Truly, it was a night to remember down the road. The Meeting theme was: A Celebration of Club & Members Excellence.

The planning started more than a couple of weeks ago, under the watchful direction of President Josephine Mballa. Most Club Members were on deck, either during the planning, implementation and execution of our extravaganza event. This very much contributed to enhance the friendship and team spirit that permeate throughout our members, who are coming from diverse background and professional affiliation.


The Meeting Agenda had all the aspects of a regular meeting, namely one Prepared Speech (TM Sasha-Li Chinloy), Table Topics, and Evaluation for the speech, by Dr Farzana Chohan, DTM, Region 5 Advisor (from Missouri). Dr Natalia Lishchyna, Ward 6 Town of Oakville Councillor presented OTM with a congratulatory letter on behalf of Town of Oakville Council. TM Florina Hogiu made sure that all participants were able to think on their feet. Games Chair TM Elvis Gregov had all participants fully engaged in an online version of Jeopoardy.


The June 18th Special Event met multiple objectives:

  • Open House Showcasing Typical Meeting to Potential Members
  • Recognition of New Members (including TB Joining During Pandemic)
  • Recognition of Members Educational Successes
  • Recognition of Past Club Executives
  • Celebration of OTM President’s Distinguished Club Award
  • Celebration of OTM Gold Online Ovation Education Award
  • Transition Phase and Handover to Incoming Club Executives


  • Sasha-Li Chinloy, Area D83 Director
  • Katia Miropolskaia, Area E03 Director
  • Sasha-Li Chinloy, Organiser of Happy Oakville Interclub Summit for Toastmasters
  • George How, Chief Judge at District 60 Area G63, Judge at District 60 Online Division G
  • George How, District 86 Public Relations Team, Social Media Chair


The Incoming Club Executives have their work cut out for them. OTM Oakville Toastmasters have achieved President’s Distinguished Club status three years in a row, since chartering on April 11, 2017. They need to have a strategic plan that maps out the drive towards continued club excellence, service to the Club and its Members so that OTM continues to inspire and motivate Toastmasters in the community. For further information on OTM, visit


OTM Oakville Toastmasters Virtual Global Open House & 2019-2020 Year End Celebration was a highly successful event. Kudos to Organising Committee, led by President Josephine Mballa. OTM exceeded what we aimed for in terms of Key Success Factors (KSF). The Blue Ribbon Guest List included Dr Natalia Lishchyna, Town of Oakville Ward 6 Councillor, and Tom Adams, PEng, Councillor for Town of Oakville Ward 6, and Councillor for Halton Region. It is worth noting that Dr Lishchyna was at the Club Inaugural Launch Meeting on February 9, 2017, and at our Club Charter Party on June 22, 2017.

District Leaders attending included amongst others (a) Angela Ho, DTM, District 60 Division G Director; remaining all from District 86, (b) Som Bhattacharjee, Former PRM (c) Albert Chang, DTM, Former Area Director (d) Renata Noronha, Former Area Director (e) Sasha-Li Chinloy, Area D83 Director (f) Katia Miroploskaia Area E03 Director (g) George How Pak Hing, DTM, Former Area Director.

We are grateful for the continued support of TM Lily Wang (MCEBT), TM Olga Lagounova (Horizon), TM Lin Tian, Former OTM Member, Sharon Kaur, Former Charter Member, Guests Philip & Carol Wong, and Guest Dr Anil Dev Chiniah (Mauritius).

We acknowledge the tremendous support of our fellow Toastmasters from the many Clubs (Great Minds Advanced, Horizon, Miracle Chinese English Bilingual, Port Credit), and non-Toastmasters that came in to our Special Event.

George How Pak Hing, PEng, DTM
OTM Oakville Toastmasters Founder
Submitted June 21, 2020


Hilltop Toastmasters Presents

Audience Choice Humourous Speech Festival

How long has it been since you've had a good laugh?

Here is a promotional video you have to see and share. Click here LOL

Eight Amazing Speakers | Absolutely Free | You Pick The Winners

Check out the festival Speakers!

Alexandre Matte is one of those rare storytellers that can transport you to the time and the place he is describing.
Two-time District 86 champion at the international Speech Contest, Alexandre finished 2nd place in the world semi final in 2012.
After 15 years managing finances of cultural organizations, most recently as Director of Finance of the oldest cultural centre in French Ontario, he transitioned from counting to speaking.
At home, Alexandre practices the art of storytelling with his most difficult audience, his 2 seven-year-old girls.



Certified World Class Speaking Coach
District 86 Speakers Bureau
District 86 2019 International Speech Champion
Region 6 2019 International Speech 2nd Place winner
District 86 2016-2017 President of the Year Award Recipient
Founder and Club Counselor of Mississauga Gavel Club, a youth public speaking club affiliated with Toastmasters 



Cal Lockhart is retired, or as he prefers a “Gainfully Unemployed” Professional Engineer. He worked in private industry for 18 years, mostly in Mechanical Engineering. He joined the federal public service and practiced Civil Engineering for 22 years with Indian & Northern Affairs Canada.
He attended his 1st Toastmasters meeting in the spring of 1960 and his 2nd in the spring of 2012. Immediately he realized the greatest mistake of his life – the waste of those 52 years.
He is a member of 3 clubs, Speak to Inspire, Brampton Alpha and Raising Champions Advanced Toastmasters club.



Kim Bernard loves to talk! If she can put a smile on your face for just a bit with her stories then, as she says, her job is done! Laughter is the best medicine and we sure need it during these trying times.
Kim has been in Toastmasters for over 2 year and helped start the new club at William Parkway Operations Centre. She is currently the VP Education…..for the 2nd term now…. she didn’t get it right the first time….. twice a charm as they say!




He joined Toastmasters in March 2014 to improve his communication skills and quickly discovered Toastmasters also had leadership training. In July 2014, he accepted a club officer role and benefitted both as a communicator and leader. In 6 years as a Toastmasters he has served as Sergeant at Arms, VP Public Relations, VP Education, Club President, Area Director, Spring Conference Photography Chair, District 86 Photographer, New Club Mentor and Club Coach.
He has received his Triple Crown for the past 3 consecutive years. When Pathways rolled out in District 86, he embraced the change. He is Visionary Communication proficient and is working on Level 4 of Innovative Planning and Presentation Mastery.


Rowan Faludi has been a Toastmaster for over 10 years. He has competed in speech contests, multiple times on the District Stage. He loves giving humorous speeches and has compiled material from all over the world. He is also an accomplished Scuba Diver and underwater photographer and enjoys sharing his experiences with his audience.
When he is not diving or engaging in Toastmasters activities, he is an economist and urban planner, and helped to start a well known land economics firm in downtown Toronto. 



Stephen Elliot has been with Toastmasters for 7 years. He is a member of Port Credit Toastmasters and Great Minds Advanced Toastmasters. Stephen feels blessed to have discovered Toastmasters as the organization as given him so much.
Stephen is the proud father to Derek and James. Being a Dad brings him joy and wonder and the occasional grey hair. Stephen has been told he has a face for radio and has recently been pursuing becoming a voice over talent.
Stephen lives in Mississauga and is the co-founder of e3 Toronto, a company that helps youth and professionals find their voice.




Tuula Redditt has been a toastmaster for 13 years and is presently the President for Speak to Inspire Toastmasters Club #972044. In 2018-2019 she was awarded the Toastmaster of the Year award for District 86 and looks forward to giving back in any way she can throughout the District.
Tuula is on Level 2 of her Engaging Humor Path.

President's Distinguished ... so close!

 Is your club struggling to get one last member to achieve the 20 member mark?

Consider being a dual member for a struggling club. Your club might be one of the many clubs struggling to get that one last member to join to achieve distinguished status. It's not too late to call around to see if other clubs can help out and become a dual member.

Membership costs may be lower now with the pandemic without the cost of expensive room rental fees. Consider giving an incentive (bare minimum cost to join) for the month of June. Create a contact list with your executive of past members or members of other clubs who have been visiting your club that might be able to afford to be a dual member. Perhaps a last minute FUN-raiser for a struggling member who cannot afford to renew.

Your club has worked very hard to achieve education awards, training officers and you might even be one member away from receiving President's Distinguished. How unfortunate would it be if your club failed to achieve this last member.

As the VP of membership for our club Speak to Inspire we achieved 2 DTM awards, 16 additional education awards, all officers were trained, officer list was put through on time and over this year we had 4 new members join our club. Our only weak point is we are 3 members away from 20. As a plan of action we have an incentive to join this month with a minimum fee for new members, reinstated members and dual members. A plan to help struggling members to renew is in place with a FUN-raiser to gather funds for these 2 members. We are looking forward to achieving President's Distinguished again this year. As in coming President I have great plans for the future of our club to give our members an opportunity to achieve personal success and be the inspiring mentors that our club produces, and to achieve an amazing success plan for our club. GO Speak to Inspire GO!

Tuula Redditt DTM, MSP, EH1
VP Membership 2019-2020
Speak to Inspire TM

Thriving During the Pandemic Times - The Road Travelled

George How

Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 16 to combat the spread of COVID-19. Our community club OTM Oakville Toastmasters meets on Thursday evenings at the St Simon’s Anglican Church (McKay Hall), Oakville. I have been informed by St Simon Warden on March 14 that the location was no longer available for use. What do we do now? Cancel meetings indefinitely? The pandemic times presented a problematic situation. OTM rose to the challenge, by being up and running our 1st Online meeting via the ZOOM platform on March 19.

On a personal basis, I took the opportunity to learn as much as possible about video conference tools, online meetings, etiquettes, Dos and Don’ts, security aspects, etc. A snapshot of the participation and learning activities include: District 60 1st Online Judges Training via ZOOM, District 60 Division G 1st Online International Speech Contest, District 86 1st Online Speechcraft by Som Speaks, Toastmasters International 1st Online Webinar on Thriving During Social Distancing, Promoting Toastmasters, and George How Survey on Usage of Various Video Conference Platforms amongst the Official Toastmasters International Members Facebook Group. Visiting various Club Online Meetings and Open Houses provided the vehicle to learn, exchange and adopt new ideas: MCEBT, Brampton Talks, MI Speaks & Chennai Speakers, and Mississauga Sales and Marketing.

Indeed OTM has been thriving during these pandemic times. OTM held their 9th Online meeting on May 14. OTM hosted the Club's 1st Online Learning Workshop on “Effective Evaluation” by Steve Elliot on April 16. OTM hosted the Club 2nd Online Learning Workshop on “How to Write a Speech in 15 Minutes” by Aurie Contosta, Division C Director on May 14. Throughout these challenging times, the Club pursued on its drive towards continued excellence. The Mission: to provide the members with quality, inspirational and educational learning experience in a positive, safe, and virtual environment, whilst respecting social distancing.

The 15-Minutes Speech Preparation Workshop, based on a John Wang Worksheet was a great learning experience. Aurie helped the participants through the various phases of speech preparation. Two hardy souls volunteered to deliver their “impromptu” speeches. Hitesh “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Politicians”, and Mirjana “I am Hooked” were evaluated by Josephine and Paulette respectively. Everybody pushed the envelope during the Online Workshop. Participants from across the province were connected, from Belleville to Sarnia, to Northern Ontario. The Guest Participants (“Awesome Strangers”, per Mirjana) came from 10 Clubs, giving rise to the workshop potential and positive impact on approximately 250 Toastmasters. All in all, it was a most rewarding experience. A synergistic win for OTM, OTM Members, and fellow Toastmasters within District 86!

Acknowledgements: OTM Club Officers, OTM Club Members, Som Speaks, Brahm Memone DTM, Glynis D’Souza DTM, Iona Rondricks DTM, Annie Bai DTM, Madan Chauhan DTM, Hilgay Beckles DTM, John Wang DTM, Shahan Aaron, Novette Gordon, Lucia Yglesias, District 60 Angela Ho DTM. Thank You Steve Elliot and Aurie Contosta DTM for conducting the Online Learning Workshops. Huge Thank You Speech Writing Workshop Participants: Cityvp Manjit (GMAT), Elise Leblanc (Voix du Nord), Hitesh Parmar (Markham), Igor Varshavsky (Fluid Communicators & Leaders), Jale Fancey (Riverspeak), Lily Wang (MCEBT), Mirjana Sheridan (Brampton Talks), Rachelle Alincy (Fellowship), Sandra Valks (Belleville Speakeasy), Suzanne Rondeau (Mots du Midi), Bryce Fung, and Anoop Srinivasan.

George How Pak Hing, PEng, DTM
OTM Oakville Toastmasters # 5940499, Club Founder
Area Director of the Year, 2016-2017
Submitted May 17, 2020

New Virtual Open Houses & Events

Virtual Open Houses

Toastmasters clubs in District 86 and around the world were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in ways that they needed to adapt to the new normal, such as holding online meetings. Sadly, this new normal has not convinced many members to renew their memberships because they prefer the traditional experience of conducting in-person meetings that they embraced for years.

In today’s fast-growing digital age, businesses today adopted the idea of having online meetings as professionals interact virtually around the globe. Many of you are wondering what does this have to do with Toastmasters?

Our new and potential members are looking for ways to improve their communication and leadership skills, as well as grow their professional development and self–confidence in our competitive digital marketplace. While we are dealing with this pandemic of job loss and economic turmoil, this is a chance for all members, including us long-time members, to set an example and educate one another of conducting successful online meetings.

Most interestingly, I witnessed two clubs that already embraced the concept of having virtual events that attracted all members.

As part of my HPL project, I worked with my guidance committee from my club at Mississauga Sales and Marketing towards rebuilding our membership. On May 8th, we hosted our 1st Virtual Open House by inviting a keynote speaker and other members outside of our club to take on our meeting roles. I was delighted to say that 27 attendees had fun with their meeting roles and in Table Topics. The best part of our event was two of our attendees participated from India.

The following event that I attended got more interesting. On May 9th, Hershaw Toastmasters hosted its 30th anniversary online. I had the privilege to hear speeches from the founder of the club, Isabel Hershaw, DTM, and the Past Club President of the club and Past District 86 Director, Vitaliy Fursov, DTM. Along with my fellow District 86 executive officers, as Public Relations Manager, I was invited to share my remarks to help them mark this milestone. Overall, I loved how they reimagined the ambiance of this online event, such as encouraging all 77 attendees to dress up and toast with their favorite drink.

We should not let this new-normal stop us from conducting fun meetings and hosting other Toastmaster special events. While counting the days of physical self-isolation, we can still embrace the traditions of our Toastmasters meeting experience, given that we have the technological means to do so online. All clubs in District 86 should consider organizing virtual social meetings, just like Mississauga Sales and Marketing and Hershaw Toastmasters did, as they promoted all members to connect, engage, communicate and celebrate in the SAFETY of their own home.

Samaa El Sayed, ACG, ALB
Public Relations Manager, District 86

Hershaw Toastmasters is 30!


Isabel Hershaw and a small group of Toastmasters chartered Hershaw Toastmasters in Brampton on February 1, 1990 and the club has been embracing the club mission to support members as they improve their communication and leadership skills ever since. While the club held a small celebration at a regular club meeting at the beginning of February, the plan was to hold a much larger celebration on May 9th when the weather improved. Sadly, now other things have gotten in the way of us celebrating with everyone in person.

In true Toastmaster form, the club is not going to let even a pandemic get in the way of recognizing this milestone and paying tribute to the club founder, Isabel Hershaw. With a venue change to Zoom, Hershaw Toastmasters will be celebrating as planned on May 9th at 7:00 p.m. and everyone is invited to share an evening of speeches, table topics and fun!

Please register on Eventbrite. Registrants will receive an email by May 7th with the agenda and Zoom meeting information. Registration is at

We hope you can all be there!

Best regards,
Sue Hopcroft, DTM

Toastmasters International Values:  Integrity • Respect • Service • Excellence
Our Principles:   Lead By Example • Work / Play as a Team

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