VALENTINA GANGADEEN - CANADIAN QUEEN (TORONTO)
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Toronto (East York) by my mother and father. I was always very active and in just about every extracurricular activity all throughout my school years. From Track & Field/Cross Country running, gymnastics, volleyball, choir, piano lessons, art programs, cooking classes you name it. I was always doing something creative where I was free to express myself and my creativity through many different forms that I like to call ART! I attended Centennial College where I completed my program for Travel & Tourism Management, majoring in Culture & Heritage. At age 23 I launched my very first small retail clothing business at one of Toronto’s most multicultural landmarks, the Harbourfront Centre. For the entire summer of 2013 I marketed my clothing business during the many different Cultural Festivals. Since then I have gone on taking part in various local Fashion Shows and Events such as Everything Girls Love, Pretty & Posh Ladies Night and Fundraisers supporting Breast Cancer Research and W.I.N.G.S Maternity Home. I have also taken the time to build an online store where my clothing can be sold online.
Valentina Gangadeen is an Entrepreneur, Fashion Stylist, Event Planner
Tell us what many people may not know about you?
Not many people know that I have a vision for my life and what I would like to accomplish already mapped out in my head. I’m always thinking, what next and how am I going to achieve and accomplish my dreams. I know what my ultimate goals are and I work everyday trying to learn, and grow. Not many people know that I would like to have my very own non-profit organization supporting less fortunate kids/families around the world and I would like to write a book one day.
What's your inspiration, how do you handle disappointments and get motivated?
My number one motivation is my Dad. He lived a long life accomplishing many great things. He was a great role model always pushing my siblings and I to learn and kept reminding us “If you think big, you will win big!” That was instilled into my mind. I strongly believe anyone can accomplish whatever it is they set out to do as long as they are hungry enough for it and never give up. I’m well aware that weather you’re trying to live out your dream or not there will always be obstacles. So why not attempt to live your dream?
It took me a while to learn how to handle disappointments. It is so easy to give up and listen to the close-minded opinion of people around me. I’ve learned how to cope with it and focus on my happiness and myself. I’ve realized as soon as I was able to do so, many doors opened for me. I now feel free to express myself and know that I could achieve more if I don’t focus my mind and energy on any negativity around me.
How did you get to where you are now and what more do you hope to achieve?
I got to where I am now by continuous learning, failing and not giving up when something doesn’t go as planned. Through it all I have developed tough skin and an even broader mindset. I know that there is so much more possibilities and great things I can achieve in this world. If I set my mind to it, I can achieve it.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered as the girl who dreamed big and never gave up on her dreams when no one believed in me. I would like young people especially females to know that they are capable of doing and achieving more than what they may think they can even if it seems as though the odds are against them.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
The majority of my days are spent working. If it’s not at my job I am working on my dream. The people who know me well know that I have big plans and dreams for my life and they accept that I may not always make myself available. Being 24 years old I do have to remind myself that I’m still young and to make time to enjoy my life. As I continue to grow I am learning how to balance my work, friends/family and leisure time better.
What is your favorite Food, Book, Music & Movie?
Food - Fettuccine alfredo pasta and Sushi
Book - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and I’m currently reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green which is great so far.
Music – R&B, Reggae, Dancehall, Hip-hop, Gospel, Alternative & Indie Rock/Pop, Country etc. (I just love music in general)
Movie – One of my new favorite movie is 12 Years A Slave and yes, The Notebook.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
Both of my parents are of Guyanese descent. My mother is mixed (Black, White, Spanish and Amerindian) my Dad was of Indian descent. I don’t believe being a colored person in Canada affects me in any way now. But as a child I do remember racism occurring more often. People look at how it is you present yourself. What you say and the way you carry yourself is how people will perceive you. For the most part the way we are treated is not based on the color of our skin anymore.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models, influencers and institutions like Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, Oprah, BET, etc.
I believe there is opportunity all around us to produce more Canadian role models and influencers. It’s solely based on us being determined to be the change that we would like to see in the world. If someone has dreams, they have a vision therefore with determination they can change the world for the better.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Artists?
Jully Black, Drake and K’naan
Should and do Blacks support / patronize black music, events and businesses?
It is important for all of us to come together as a unity and support one another. That being said I do believe there is a lot of support from the black community when it comes to music, events and businesses but there is always more we can do as individuals to continue to bring awareness.
What's your understanding of Black History in Canada?
Black History in Canada is growing and is becoming more relevant than before. With support from everyone, diversity and multiculturalism can and will continue to develop in Canada in the coming years!
A Few words from Val to an uninspired person:
A few words of encouragement to leave you all with is to never give up on your goals and your dreams. Know that there will be many obstacles you will have to overcome to fight for your dream but along the way you have to continue to stay positive. Believe and trust in yourself and your abilities because if you don’t, who will?