I am a Canadian by Choice!
I was 14 years old when, in 1966, I first flew into Canada and realized that those enormous colourful bouquets of gigantic flowers below were actually trees at the height of their splendour, “fall in Canada”. It was the beginning of my love affair with the country where I had chosen to complete my high school education. Little did I know that it would also become my permanent home where my reality surpassed my dreams and expectations.
Although I spoke very little English I was elected president of the student council and, together with my graduation diploma I also received the Governor General’s Award for my work. This confirmed my belief that, in this country, everything is possible. After graduating as an Interior Designer when I was 20 I started a business importing, wholesaling and retailing furniture, arts and crafts from Ecuador and Latin America, with stores in Roncesvalles, Yorkville and the newly opened Square One in Mississauga. I also founded and was director and producer of Open Experience Theatre, an award-winning theatre company. For almost 10 years I worked as anchor of “Ultima Hora”, a nightly TV news program and another 11 years as producer and host of “Hispanos en Canada” a national television program focused on delivering content relevant to the lives of Hispanics in this country. These programs were usually the first point of contact and information for most Hispanics who migrated to Canada. Then, as now, wherever I go, people come to me and say “because of you, or what I learnt from your program I managed to…..” or “because you gave me the first opportunity to participate in our community…I managed to…” The memories and gratitude shown by so many people who felt that my work touched their lives still touch mine.
In 1983 I founded the Canadian Hispanic Congress, an umbrella organization which, within three years, had a membership of about 300 organizations constituted in provincial chapters across Canada. For this I was bestowed Canada’s Citation of Citizenship by the government of Canada.
I also organized numerous festivals, conferences and large events including award winning Pavilions for Toronto International Caravan showcasing the arts, culture, music and gastronomy of 20 Spanish speaking countries.
I have been privileged to serve in several Councils and Boards at the Municipal, Provincial and Federal levels including as a member of the Board of Telefilm Canada to which I was appointed in 1998 after speaking out about the need that Canada reflect its demographic reality on its film, television and new media screens. I was the catalyst for the creation of Telefilm’s Committee on Linguistic and Cultural Diversity. This was seminal and conducive to Telefilm’s and the industry’s change from supporting only productions in English and French to include a more realistic presentation of the linguistic, cultural, racial and demographic diversity of Canada.
In May 2018 I will complete 10 years of service as a member of the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, working with brilliant legal minds committed to the public good.
When I was 56 I earned my Executive MBA at Queen’s University. I am the business administrator at Malicki Sanchez, Barristers and Solicitors, a law firm established in 1959 by my father-in-law, Stefan Malicki, who gave me my first job as his bookkeeper when I was fresh out of high school. I have continued to work with the law firm in different capacities. My husband Marek Malicki joined the firm in 1973 and in 2014, our fourth child, Gibrian Malicki-Sanchez became the 3rd generation torch-bearer of this firm that has received awards for its business excellence and performance. Our other 3 children have also brought tremendous joy and pride to a life that can only celebrate the good fortune to have chosen Canada as the country where I have lived and continue to live a fascinating life.