2019 Lifetime Achievement Honouree
Rosalyn Gonsalves grew up in South America and moved with her family to Aurora in 1980. She is grateful for all the blessings of her childhood and has always gravitated toward helping those less fortunate. Naturally, Rosalyn quickly immersed herself in her new community, creating an inspiring legacy of giving back and volunteering early on.
Rosalyn worked with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce from 1985 to 2006, enjoying a successful career as their General Manager. During her tenure, there were many firsts including the Aurora Home Show in 1987 and the Aurora Street Festival, both of which continue today; the latter attracts upwards of 30,000 residents and visitors each year. Among her many achievements, Rosalyn is especially proud of the chamber’s then-new office building which opened in 2003—debt free. Members rallied, with Rosalyn at the helm, and the fundraising project for the new office was a resounding success.
Rosalyn has held twenty plus volunteer positions since the 1980s, supporting parent councils when her children were in school, parish and finance councils at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, Friends of the Aurora Public Library, Canadian Cancer Society, Economic Advisory Committee for the Town of Aurora, and countless more.
One of many special memories Rosalyn holds dear is meeting a lovely lady who played an important role in promoting and teaching ballet, Mildred Wickson. At the time, Rosalyn’s daughter was in a ballet recital and she offered to take Mildred to the rehearsal. Mildred was delighted. One of the very talented dancers caught Mildred’s eye during her performance of Snow Queen. Subsequently, the young ballerina auditioned for one of the coveted spots at the National Ballet of Canada (N.B.S.) and was accepted into their dance programme. She performed in the 1984 production of the Nutcracker at the O’Keefe Centre (now The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts), and to this day she is still a dance instructor. Disappointingly, Mildred Wickson passed away in 1984 without having attended the performance, though she left a bursary for the ballerina to continue her studies at the N.B.S. Rosalyn is thrilled to have been instrumental in connecting Mildred with the young dancer from Aurora.
Rosalyn’s generous spirit and tireless hours volunteering earned her the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, presented by the Hon. Maurizio Bevilacqua. In 2005, she was honoured by the Rotary Club of Aurora with a Paul Harris Fellow Award, and in 2017 she was a recipient of the Canada 150 Medal presented by Hon. Kyle Peterson, Member of Parliament, Newmarket-Aurora.
Rosalyn continues to volunteer with the Optimist and Probus Clubs of Aurora and the Newmarket Voice Festival—her sense of doing for others obviously prevailing to this day.