NAIT community award winners, achievers and community builders - Fall 2022

Leaders, innovators, creators and more!

Four times a year, we share news of the winners of awards, earners of acknowledgement, and other community builders among NAIT alumni, students and staff. Please join us in congratulating them!

(Know of someone we're missing? Let us know.)

Science, technology and plants

The 33rd annual ASTech awards were held last November at NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre, where NAIT staff happened to be recipients. Dr. Amanda Schoonmaker, Dr. Jean-Marie Sobze (pictured above) and Dr. Bin Xu were recognized for their work as researchers at the Centre for Boreal Research in the Peace River region. The awards showcase advancement in science and technology across Alberta.

Excelling in entrepreneurship

hubert lau, nait grad and founder of trustbix

Business in Edmonton magazine announced its annual leadership awards in October 2022. As usual, a number of grads were among the recipients:

  • Rob Jennings (Marketing ’88), president and founder of FKA, a marketing and communications agency with offices in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto
  • Douglas Kinsella (Mechanical Engineering Technology ’98), president of Impulse Downhole Tools, a firm dedicated to innovation in oilfield drilling
  • Mickie Poon (Electronic Service Technician ’86), CEO of Karlen Group, an Edmonton-based general contractor with five decades of experience
  • Mike Schoenberger (Telecommunications Engineering Technology ’90), CEO of Sunco, a family-owned communications and installation company
  • Hubert Lau (Computer Systems Technology ’91, pictured above), president and CEO of TrustBix, which tracks and verifies supply chain information in the agrifood sector

Dennis Sheppard, dean of NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business, served as a competition judge.

She’s got grit

JR Shaw School of Business Marketing student Mikayla Balfour took top spot at the Pitch it to Me competition held by Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship last December. Balfour is the founder of Grit Snow, an outerwear clothing company aiming to empower and inspire women.

The win follows first-place finishes at other recent pitch competitions where Balfour bested student entrepreneurs from post-secondary institutes across Alberta.

Young and talented

peter keith, nait grad and cofounder of meuwly's deli

Each year, Edify magazine announces its prestigious Top 40 Under 40 roster – and, each year, it includes NAIT grads. In 2022, we were proud to see three listed among the latest group of community builders:

  • Peter Keith (Cook ’12, pictured above), cofounder of Meuwly’s, an artisanal deli just west of downtown Edmonton
  • Jake Kubiski (Electrician ’10), CEO and founder of Kuby Renewable Energy
  • Bruno Schiavon (Graphic Sign Arts ’04), owner and Realtor at The Foundry Real Estate Co.

Best in building

Several grads earned honours at the 2022 Building Industry and Land Development Alberta Association awards, which recognize excellence among the design, renovation and development community.

Among them were Tyler McNaughton (Architectural Technology ’05), design manager for Aquarian Renovations, winner of the renovator’s choice and exterior renovation categories. Effect Home Builders took the home reno $400,000-$750,000 category. The Effect team includes grads general manager Les Wold (Applied Banking and Business ’92) and project managers Dave Brettelle (Carpenter ’05) and Dominic Emmelkamp (Carpenter ’09).

An Edmonton first

Take a tour of Effect Home Builders headquarters, Edmonton’s first off-grid office!

Watch the video

Congrats to the car painter

On Oct. 22, Dorien Lozeau (Auto Body Technician ’22) earned a medallion of excellence and a special award for sustainability for his performance at WorldSkills 2022 in Denmark. Lozeau was one of three NAIT apprentices to compete in the event, often billed as the Olympics of the trades. He competed against 11 other apprentices from around the world.

The WorldSkills  3

Meet NAIT’s 2022 WorldSkills competitors, the three apprentices we interviewed in advance of their competitions last fall.

Read the story

An oustanding studio


A post shared by Robert Bray (@robertbrayartist)

An Edmonton photo studio recently became one of the most celebrated in Canada. Robert Bray Portrait Design is the professional home of its founder Robert Bray (Photographic Technology '79) and  Railene Hooper (Photographic Technology ’16). Both  were big winners at the 2022 Professional Photographers of Canada awards.

Bray earned the distinction of being named Alberta Photographer of the Year (his 6th time, in addition to being a three-time winner of the Canadian title).  Hooper is Alberta’s first wedding photographer of the year. She also won best in class for photojournalistic wedding and for wedding group.

“I am over-the-moon honoured to be the first recipient of this award,” Hooper told the Grove Examiner. “This has made me want to be even more creative.”

A wild contribution

chris kallal, nait grad and founder of wild and pine

Wild + Pine founder Chris Kallal (Forest Technology ’10) was named an emerging leader for 2023 as part of the Clean 50, a recognition program for Canadian leaders in sustainability. Clean50 emerging leaders are 35 and under and include those “whose contribution is outsized compared to their age.”

The award acknowledges Kallal’s unique efforts toward forest restoration, development of novel greenhouse technology, and Wild + Pine’s own efforts at corporate environmental sustainability and accountability.

In the name of the Queen

ashif mawji, nait grad and tech entrepreneur

To mark the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne, the Alberta government began awarding outstanding Albertans with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal in 2022. Despite the Queen's death, recipients will continue to be named until February.

Recently, medals were given to serial tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Ashif Mawji (Computer Systems Technology ’92, pictured above), Monita Chapman (Marketing ’06), creator of Lemonade Stand Day, an initiative that has raised more than $355,000 for the Stollery Children’s Hospital, and Benveet Gill (Medical Radiologic Technology '03), founder of ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre, which helps clients through activity-based training.

NAIT president and CEO Laura Jo Gunter was earlier named a recipient of the award.

An attractive proposition

In November 2022, the Sherwood Park and District Chamber of Commerce recognized Kingsley Events with its Community Attraction award. Kingsley is owned by Vanessa Antoniuk (Marketing '00), and is the organizer of the Nosh Food Fest and the Wholly Handmade artisanal market. After weathering pandemic restrictions that interfered with both events, Antoniuk is seeing renewed success.

“Now we are back having in-person events and they are busier and better than ever,” she said upon receiving her award.

For discerning diners

ernest's dining room at NAIT

In 2022, Ernest’s was honoured with a Diners’ Choice award from online reservation platform OpenTable. The on-campus restaurant offers patrons a fine-dining experience while providing a hands-on learning experience to its staff of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management students. 

According to, the awards “recognize outstanding restaurants based on feedback from thousands of local diners.”

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