The CHFA Willie Pelzer Memorial Hall of Fame Award is CHFA’s most prestigious award. It is given to an individual in the Canadian natural health industry for outstanding contributions to the development and growth of our industry.
Dr. Sood Ph.D has played an integral role in the North American Natural Health Products Industries.
His involvement spans three decades and he has guided many individuals and businesses to success in this industry.
Dr. Sood earned his Doctorate at the University of Delhi in 1964. His thesis was related to the isolation, characterization and synthesis of natural compounds of biological importance. His subsequent post Doctoral work at the Royal School of Pharmacy in Copenhagen, Denmark resulted in an impressive list of peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Sood’s contribution to the field of flavonoid chemistry has garnered international attention and continues to be cited today.
After migrating to the United States and then to Canada, Dr. Sood worked in two well-respected Canadian companies involved in natural health products and analytical chemistry. Dr. Sood decided in 1988 to form his regulatory compliance company that provides contract services to the natural health product and pharmaceutical industry. Often acting as a liaison between government regulatory health authorities and industry, Dr. Sood has a depth of experience in the field of Natural Health Product that is unparalleled.
His knowledge base was further enhanced by his clinical knowledge. Through his clinical work Dr. Sood has counseled thousands of Canadians on health-related issues within the scope of complementary medicine. It is this experience that helps produce some of the best combination products in the industry.
Throughout his career, and then later as an independent consultant Dr. Sood has advised some of the world’s largest supplement suppliers on Canadian regulatory compliance. In walking through a health food store, a pharmacy or even a mass-market chain, it is difficult to find natural health products that have not been in some way touched by one of the organizations founded by Dr. Sood. Today his group of companies forms the basis of a dynamic organization that has established international respect.
Bill Gall is a distinguished businessman, with a shining reputation and willingness to always help. His 40 years of experience in building successful Health Food Stores has provided CHFA and aspiring business owner’s alike, seasoned advice for navigating this ever-evolving industry.
As an early member of the Health First Network, Bill played a key role in the development of the first by-laws and incorporation of the group, he played a significant part in its early efforts and success.
Bill’s legacy at CHFA will forever hold strong. Notably, he was Board Chair from 2000-2004, and again a key member from 2011-2014. The impact he made when stepping into the role of Chair during a time of significant change for both the Association and industry is unmatched.
Bill’s passion for CHFA, natural health retailers and the natural health industry is unparalleled. From his first foray into the industry, through his years as the owner of Burlington Health Foods, he has believed in and supported the work of independent retailers. He was also an active, full partner in the business at Harmony Whole Foods Market, in Orangeville, helping to create a new model for a full-service natural health store, through some challenging and exciting times.
His many accomplishments underpin why he is more than deserving of this recognition. Another friend of our industry added to the list with many of the greats.
With staggering interest rates and a stagnate economy, Bruce opened a compact, streamlined 780 sq. Ft. Supplements only store in September 1984. It was a one person operation with very low overhead. The business plan was to offer customers a vast selection of supplements and drive volume with reasonable prices made possible because of the low overhead. The business plan brought immediate success and a thriving national mail order service was soon to follow. In 1999 Bruce pioneered supplement sales in Canada on the internet and The Canadian Vitamin Shop is now the highest growth division of the company. The Vitamin Shop now has a team of over 30 dedicated staff and occupies almost the entire building in the same location as in 1984. This success enabled Bruce to contribute over his career to the industry he believed in so strongly.
Bruce followed his passion when he opened The Vitamin Shop. He wanted to be different so that customers would feel confident and satisfied when shopping for their supplements. He is known for excellent service while providing a wide selection of quality supplements at affordable prices. Always being a step ahead and finding new ways to make their experience most enjoyable, he constantly researches and instigates greener and more beneficial ways of doing business. His knowledgeable and well credentialed staff are always ready to assist which makes for a very happy customer base both locally and internationally.
Joel was a Partner at Gowling WLG’s Ottawa office, practicing primarily in the area of health product regulation. As CHFA’s counsel for many years, Joel was a significant contributor to the regulatory framework since its inception. He was a key part of CHFA’s many successes and achievements over the years. His keen insights and broad knowledge were invaluable at CHFA Regulatory Forums, Health Canada meetings and stakeholder consultations.
He started his career in law in 1983 as an articling student, and was called to the bar in 1985 and practiced continuously with Gowling, becoming a partner in 1991. During his 34-year career, Joel built a preeminent regulatory practice, developing and nurturing a strong team of young lawyers and professionals. Joel was an adviser on areas related to regulatory compliance and an expert in the field of natural health, nutritional supplements, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices. Joel also made significant contributions to the leadership of the firm, formally and informally, culminating in his service as a firm trustee.
Joel will be remembered for his love of family, his generous spirit, his support of others, his mentorship, his professionalism and his leadership. He will be sincerely missed by so many in the natural health sector.
Janet Jacks has been passionate about the food-health connection for over 40 years, beginning when her husband was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and she set out to find natural ways to heal the body and prevent disease.
Her passion for this connection and the positive results she experienced after changing her diet made Janet want to share this with others. Out of this passion, Goodness Me! Natural Food Market and Lifewatchers, her ten-week healthy living program, was born.
Based on this success and knowledge, Janet wrote Discover the Power of Food: The 10 Week Plan to Transform Your Life. This book consolidates Janet's 40 years of experience, research and the latest nutritional information into one life-changing book, complete with practical tips and recipes.
Janet hosts her own radio show “Just for the health of it,” and continues to lead courses and workshops in the industry about the food-health connection.
Mr. Claude Chevalier is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Bio-K Plus International Inc. and Bio-K Plus Pharma. The company specializes in 100% probiotic finished product that is clinically proven. The origin of Bio-K Plus is said to be the result of a fortunate encounter at the Institut Pasteur between Dr. Francois-Marie Luquet and Mr. Chevalier. They discovered unique bacteria with remarkable properties that significantly impacted digestive and overall health – probiotics. A technology was then formulated to package and deliver live bacteria to the consumer. This technology gave birth to the Bio-K+ bottles that we see in health food retailers across the country. The growth of Bio-K+’s business, as well as the greater probiotics market in Canada has been exponential. Claude is a trailblazer in the natural health products industry and the fruits of his labour can be seen in the wide acceptance of probiotic products and the global expansion of his prominent company. An energetic entrepreneur, Claude sits on the board of several companies, participating in their development. He is married to Monique Roy, and is the proud father of two children, Isabèle and François-Pierre, who are now co-Presidents of the company Bio-K Plus International Inc.
Drs. Evan and Wilfrid Shute
In 1948, Evan and Wilfrid Shute, both graduates in medicine from the University of Toronto, founded the non-profit Shute Institute in London, Ontario, to pursue their clinical explorations of the use of Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) in human health. As their knowledge and practice evolved, combined with their growing emphasis on sound diets, exercise, and smoking cessation, they became advocates of natural Vitamin E for both treatment and prevention. This early holistic approach expanded to embrace other vitamins, like A, B, C and D, as well as a variety of complementary supplements. The Shutes were early exponents of supplementation and critics of what they saw as the excessive industrial processing of food. Throughout their professional careers, Evan and Wilfrid faced strong opposition from many in their profession and in particular from the organized medical establishment in Ontario and beyond. However, their vision and persistence endured throughout their lives and their published clinical observations have been confirmed by subsequent research. Even when the medical profession remained obdurate, many others – individual physicians, pharmacists, chiropractors, biochemists, osteopaths, nutritionists, ordinary citizens, and, of course, the health food world - accepted and endorsed the use of natural Vitamin E and other supplements in human health.
Alfred Vogel dedicated his life to naturopathic and herbal medicine. Self-taught by a thirst for knowledge of the healing powers of fresh plants, Alfred produced his first herbal remedy at 17. By 1920, he was selling tinctures in his shop in Basel. The use of fresh, organic plants became his remedy staple and continues to differentiate A.Vogel products from the competition. In 1963, Alfred founded Bioforce in Roggwil, where he grew his ingredients, using his own seeds to ensure consistency and adhere to pharmaceutical norms. Canadian distribution began in 1956. The first Vogel store opened two years later in Montreal, Quebec. A.Vogel remedies and food products are available in 30 countries worldwide. Alfred’s international recognition derives from his book, "The Nature Doctor," first published in 1952. Printed in 11 different languages, it’s now at its 71st edition. Upon his death at 94, Alfred left the world a legacy of knowledge and his philosophy to live by nature’s example, through balance. His beliefs encouraged others to embrace the correlation between health and nutrition and take responsibility for their own well-being.
Over 45 years ago, Charlie Fox became one of the world’s biggest advocates of healthy living when he discovered that his liver was three quarters damaged from breathing in toxic chemicals while working in his father’s floor wax business. Thanks to organic food, exercise, pure water and an abundance of garlic, his liver was rejuvenated and Charlie made advocating a healthy lifestyle his life's work. He could not sing enough praises about nature's wonderful herb, garlic, and other foods from nature's bountiful pharmacy. He believed that prevention was always the best medicine, and that we all have the power to heal ourselves. Charlie worked for Wakunaga of America for 34 years selling Kyolic's products. He also co-authored the “The Garlic-Cure,” traveled the world lecturing on health, and was a guest on countless radio and television shows. While not a Canadian, Charlie was an adopted Canadian, building strong relationships with retailers on his many coast to coast tours. Sadly, Charlie passed away on March the 23, 2012 at age 84, but he will always be remembered as a true advocate of health. His son, Doctor Erik Fox attended Charlie's induction in the Hallf of Fame on his behalf.
Percy Schmeiser was born and raised in Bruno, Saskatchewan. Following his grandfather and father, he has been farming since 1946. Percy has also served the public in various capacities. On the provincial political level as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the constituency of Watrous in 1967. At the municipal level, he served as Mayor for the Town of Bruno and was also a town councilor. Percy has been recognized for facing a lawsuit with Monsanto over the presence of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola that had contaminated his fields. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada where the court ruled in his favour. Over the years Percy has received many awards from around the world for standing up for the rights of farmers. Most significantly, in 2000 Percy received the Mahatma Gandhi Award and in 2007 he was recognized as a winner of the Right Livelihood Award. Percy can now add the CHFA Willie Pelzer Memorial Hall of Fame to his many accolades, for his lifetime commitment and contributions to the industry.
Rick Monahan has been involved in Canada’s natural health industry for over 30 years and is the founder and owner of Nature’s Fare Markets. In 1981, Rick and his brother Mike started Bright Life Health Food Distributors in Victoria, BC. Four years later, Rick moved on from Bright Life and opened the first Nature’s Fare Natural Foods. He moved back to his hometown of Vernon, BC, and in 1994 opened Nature’s Fare Markets in Kelowna. Since then, Nature’s Fare Markets has expanded to include six stores in British Columbia, as well as a central administration office, warehouse, and commissary kitchen. Nature’s Fare has won the CHFA Brock Elliot Award for Excellence in Retail four times, and recently became the first retailer in Canada in any sector to achieve B Corp certification. Rick served on the CHFA Board of Directors as Chair of the Audit committee from 2007 to 2010, and has always been active within the industry. Amongst the staff at Nature’s Fare, Rick is known for his generosity, integrity, intelligence, innovative spirit and great sense of humour.
Michèle Boisvert is a licensed pharmacist from the University of Montreal and was one of the first women to own a drugstore in Quebec. She started looking into the benefits of homeopathy in the 1970s, seeking a natural alternative to allopathic medicine to provide to patients. Michèle Boisvert went on to study homeopathy at the Mosane School in Belgium. Upon her return to Canada, she began introducing homeopathy in her own pharmacy, becoming the first Canadian pharmacist to offer homeopathic remedies. In 1987, Michèle Boisvert decided to start manufacturing her own products; she set up a dilution center and became the founder and President of Homeocan Inc. Today, Homeocan serves 10,000 customers in 13 countries. Her goal is to continue growth in Canada, in the US and around the world by developing new products and educating more people about homeopathy. She has authored several books on the subject, and is often called upon as a speaker at various seminars and conferences. In 2005, Michèle Boisvert was awarded with the title of “Pharmaciens de Coeur et d’action”, an award given by the Quebec Pharmacy Board for a pharmacist innovating in a category. She was also featured in the magazine "First in Business" in 2008. In 2012, she received the title of Certified WeConnect International Women’s business enterprise for Homeocan and was awarded as Canadian Woman Entrepreneur in the Trailblazer category by the RBC Bank, that rewards Canadian women for their important contribution to the local, Canadian and global economy. Michèle Boisvert supports the ideals and mission of the Canadian Health Food Association and has been a member since its early years.
Bill's passion for the natural health products industry has spanned more than 40 years and continues today. He was one of many who were involved with the Canadian Health Food Association in its early years and his demonstrated support of the ideals and mission of CHFA has helped to shape the natural health products industry. Since 1986, SISU has been synonymous with Bill Gregory. With Bill’s expertise, SISU grew its market share and its product line, and demand kept growing across Canada and into the US. Bill has always been at the forefront of developing innovative products and continues to service accounts on Vancouver Island and remains an active part of the SISU's management team as well as a mentor to many SISU associates. Through his leadership, dedication and hard work he has touched many people within the industry and continues to be a pioneer in product-development and education on natural health products.
Thomas Greither opened a health food store in Burlington,Vermont, where he pioneered a process for cold-pressing unrefined organic flax seed oil. By 1986, he had sold the store and acquired Flora, a small distribution company for European health tonics in Burnaby, B.C and immediately transformed Flora into a manufacturing company. It became the first North American producer of cold-pressed, unrefined organic flax seed oil for food and medicinal use and set the stage for the beginning of the fatty acid supplement industry. Flora also began producing other natural seed oils, herbal teas and nutritional supplements and was the first Canadian company to produce herbal pharmaceutical teas and pioneer many nutritional supplements. In 1992, Thomas pioneered the production of Flor-Essence® herbal tea after acquiring the rights to an Ojibwa folk remedy that nurse Rene Caisse had used to treat cancer patients in the 1930s and 1940s. Today, Flor-Essence® is exported to more than 30 countries and has received thousands of testimonials from devoted customers. A true champion of the organic movement, Thomas has served on the board of directors of the Organic Foods Production Association of North America (OFPANA) which was formed in order to unify organic certifiers, farm groups and processors as well as to establish consistent guidelines for organic standards and labeling. Thomas was one of the founders of writing the organic definitions for Canada. Over the years, he has lobbied Ottawa as a tireless advocate for natural health products including horsetail and St. John’sWort. For more than two decades, he has also been generous in his ongoing support of non-profit organizations, currently contributing to more than 35 worthy causes.
John Holtmann started his journey in the natural health industry at the age of 21 with a summer job that never ended. After a start in the retail side of the business, John was given a task by his father-in-law G.W. Seier, to create a natural food distributor and vitamin manufacturer in Winnipeg. John credits perseverance, great ideas, unique product and luck with his success in this venture. After years on the supplier side of the business, John returned to his roots and the retail business purchasing the Vita Health retail stores in 1998. Committed to customer service and his retail business, John has been known to hand-deliver products to customers and can even be found sweeping the front sidewalk at Vita Health. Today, Vita Health Natural Food Stores of Manitoba continues to lead the pace in Manitoba's highly competitive natural health market. During the course of his career, John has been a manufacturer, a sales person, a general manager, a vice president and an owner. He has been a true leader and inspiration to many on both the retailer and the supplier sides of the natural health industry. He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Health Food Association and has been an active participant in CHFA initiatives, particularly in government issues and uniting members of the Association. John was a key contributor to the founding of United Health Merchants (the precursor to Health First Network) and a member of the original board of directors. In addition, John has been the recipients of numerous awards including several Knights of Columbus awards such as the Family of the Year Award, the CHFA Brock Elliott Memorial Award for Excellence in Retailing, the CHFA Spotlight Environmental Award; and he is a two-time recipient of the Winnipeg Uptown Magazine - Best Health Food Store and the Winnipeg Parent Magazine -Readers Choice Award.
Benjamin (Ben) Banky
Benjamin (Ben) Banky was co-founder, President & CEO of TallGrass Distribution Inc, a natural health and beauty product manufacturer and distributor servicing retailers across North America for more than a decade. Ben and business partner, Matthew Breech grew TallGrass from nothing to a 25 employee multi-million dollar national company. In the process, many would come to know Ben as a passionate advocate of the ideals of the natural health and organic industry. He organized several industry events bringing suppliers and retailers together to discuss industry issues and concerns as he was an experienced project manager with effective organizational and public speaking skills. Ben will also be remembered for his advocacy on environmental issues. He was a longtime supporter of green business initiatives and brought many new green ideas and systems to TallGrass. As well, Ben hosted a monthly business to business public forum on green business and social responsibility. He was a board member of the non-profit organization BC EcoEvents, which has held over seven major annual environmental awareness events in British Columbia. He has also helped non-profits such as the Vancouver Good Food Box, a community-based program designed to ensure that people with low incomes have access to high-quality fruits and vegetables when they required warehouse facilities or board support. He actively raised funds for the Western Wilderness Committee, a volunteer-driven organization that helps disadvantaged women and youth improve their self-image and increase their self-esteem. Colleagues will continue to remember Ben as a passionate, exuberant advocate and voice of the natural health and organics industry.
Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe
Lorna Vanderhaeghe is a women’s health expert who has been researching the subject of nutritional medicine for over 25 years. Lorna’s journey began when her daughter first developed eczema from head to toe. After eighteen months of seeking help from conventional doctors who failed to discover a solution to her daughter’s condition, Lorna knew she had to look elsewhere for an answer. For the first time she visited a health food store where the owner suggested natural remedies including evening primrose oil. Lorna tried this simple treatment and it worked. Fascinated, she began to seek information about healing and nutrition. Lorna is still pursuing and sharing knowledge about healthy living, and continues to research, write and lecture. She has a Master of Health Studies and a degree in Biochemistry. Her list of accomplishments include working on the “Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine”; past editor-in-chief of alive Publishing magazine, and “Healthy Living Guide”; and senior editor of the “Encyclopedia of Natural Healing” (winner of the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award in 1998). She is currently an associate editor for Total Health magazine in the United States. Lorna is the author of nine books including “Your 30 Day Heart Smart Solution”, “Sexy Hormones”, “The Body Sense Natural Diet”, “An A-Z Woman’s Guide to Vibrant Health”, “Get a Grip on Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Disorders”, as well as “Healthy Immunity”. Lorna is the co-author of “The Immune System Cure”, “No More HRT” and “Healthy Fats for Life”. She is also an internationally-known lecturer who has been educating people on how to combine the best of mainstream medicine with scientifically-backed nutrients and diet changes to achieve optimal wellness.
Johanne Dion is the founder and President of TRANS-HERBe Inc. of St. Bruno in the Montreal region. TRANS-HERBe formulates and produces 3,000 different varieties of herbal and fine teas, which it ships across Canada, the United States and to eight other countries around the world, including nations traditionally thought of as the home of fine teas such as Japan and Korea. It is also one of the country’s largest contract tea-makers for a growing range of grocery stores, pharmacies and health food chains. Her 82,000 square foot plant can now turn out 1.5 million tea bags a day. While Johanne continues to be a great fan of her own products, drinking perhaps three or four coups a day with the choice of blend depending on her mood at the moment, she does admit to starting her mornings with coffee. “It is something I have to admit to”, she says. “But then the success of our company proves that there is room in life for choices. I pick the drink that best suits the time and need. Coffee gets me going while tea soothes me and carries me through.”
Donna Herringer’s love for people, her determination to do a great job and her need to help the health food industry become the best it could be has always been at the forefront of her goals. She has hired and trained many individuals who have moved on to make their own marks in the industry. Donna has served the industry since 1983, as a manufacturer, retailer and as the first female President & CEO of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA). Under her leadership, CHFA gained visibility and credibility with both Government and members, through her active and passionate role in helping create appropriate regulation for natural health products. Donna’s many accomplishments are acknowledged by her peers, previous staff members and key industry players.
Dr. Leo Schafer
In his 43 years in the health food industry, Leo Schafer has helped hundreds of people find the road back to good health. Dr. Schafer’s foray in the field of medicine began in 1943 when he served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Over the coming years he turned to naturopathic remedies to treat his own personal ailments, even opening a health food store in 1950 in Unity, Saskatoon. A cancer survivor and champion of ‘lost causes’, he shared his knowledge of simple but powerful remedies with people faced with similar health crises. Passionate about the positive development and direction of the natural health industry, during his career Dr. Schafer developed new technologies in natural healing methods. He ultimately became a revered source of education for practicing colleagues from different parts of the world. Leo Schafer’s love for health and healing certainly runs in the family. His son, Gary is a naturopathic doctor and his son-in-law Pius ran the health food store Olds Health Foods and Massage Centre. Dr. Schafer has combined a fulfilling career in natural health with a full and vibrant family life.
Lyse Boivin-Matton is the President and founder of Aliments de Santé Laurier, in Quebec. In 1971, Lyse decided to share her passion for good health and health food by acquiring a very small store in a shopping mall. At the time, this store was one of the first in the field in Quebec. Lyse worked in the store every day while raising a family of four children and travelling to Montreal twice a week to complete courses in homeopathy. Today, she has one of the biggest, state-of-the-art, full-service natural foods market in Canada. Lyse has received numerous awards and honours including a Merit Award from the Quebec Chamber of Commerce for distinguished achievements and innovation and the YWCA Award for Merit for Entrepreneurship. Lyse has also been honoured by her local municipality for being a pioneer in natural health in Quebec, has been a finalist for Quebec City’s top retail business and was a nominee for Quebec City’s Women of the Year. In addition, Lyse was honoured by Le Journal du Quebec for her pioneering in natural health at her store's 30th anniversary. Her newest store, Aliments de Santé Laurier, which opened in Quebec City in 2006 has received government acknowledgement for its environmental innovations.
On January 12, 2004, the natural health products industry lost a remarkable man. Aldo helped pioneer the industry in Canada and went on to build the country’s largest franchised health food chain. Born in Argentina in 1952, Aldo was a strict vegetarian with a strong belief in holistic medicine. When he and his family moved to Canada, it was only natural that they got into the health food business. Armed with only personal knowledge and a commitment to natural health, they opened the first Nutrition House store in Scarborough in 1979. That was soon followed by the Eaton Centre store, which was a first in Canada for a major shopping mall. In 1993 Aldo decided to expand through franchising. The exponential growth that followed generated great awareness for the industry and helped bring it to the forefront. Aldo set the standard for educating and servicing customers. He believed in the people that worked for him, and helped each of them be the best they could be. He forged close bonds with his customers, employees and suppliers. Aldo was a true visionary, but he will always be remembered for his caring, his charisma, and for making the world laugh.
David is known for his untiring and absolute commitment to the natural health products industry in Canada. In the early days of CHFA, with a few other industry leaders, David was leading the charge to build an industry that now benefits so many. He was always driven by the desire and commitment to bring to market products that “make a difference in people’s lives”. That is what he’s done for all those he has touched including his friends, employees and business colleagues, but mostly those, who have benefited from the products that David has played a key role in getting into their hands. David laboured tirelessly as part of the CHFA Board of Directors on the NHPD regulations, ensuring that the industry's voice was heard loud and clear in the halls of the federal government. When many were frustrated, weary and ready to throw in the towel, David kept focused on getting a system that would help the industry gain credibility, while protecting the health and well-being of Canadians.
Michael’s first business venture was a company he founded called Organic Connection, which helped to create the organic food movement in British Columbia and Western Canada. Michael contracted organic growers to supply quantities of organic British Columbia fruits, and then moved the produce in a refrigerated diesel truck to the Vancouver area. He redistributed the fruit to natural food stores, fruit stands and many other outlets – not only in Vancouver, but also throughout Western Canada. Michael then began brokering in 1979 as a manufacturer’s agent for the Natural Nectar Corporation of Southern California. In those early days of the industry, there were no natural foods brokers in Canada. There were also very few distributors, sales were slow and a recession did not help the situation. Michael persevered with the Natural Nectar line and in 1983 began introducing other product lines. Today, Michael Theodore Brokerage Inc. (MTB) is one of the largest natural food brokerage houses in Canada, representing numerous American and Canadian premier natural and organic food, skin and hair care lines. MTB offers excellent national coverage with reps based across the county and an inside support team, including brand managers for both health and beauty, as well as organic and natural grocery lines.
After working for Woodward’s in-store pharmacy, Shoppers’ Drugs, Harlan moved on to a hospital residency at the University of British Columbia and completed three years at Vancouver General Hospital. In 1972, Harlan opened his first pharmacy; Finlandia Pharmacy. Harlan Lahti was on a mission - keeping the elderly comfortable without the use of large doses of pharmaceuticals. In 1980, this mission led him to expand his pharmacy to include a small health food business. From the back of Finlandia Pharmacy, SISU Enterprises was born. Through SISU, Harland was involved in establishing homeopathy as a category with Health Canada. The concept of combining pharmacy and natural products was now a reality. In 1985 Harlan founded BioMed International, specializing in marketing natural products, vitamins and combination herbal and homeopathic products to the professional markets. In 2004, BioMed expanded into the United States as Terri Medica. Harlan sold his share of SISU Enterprises in 2002 and now focuses all his time on Finlandia Natural Pharmacy and its expansion.
Arran Stephens, is the President, CEO and co-founder of Nature’s Path Foods – North American’s largest organic breakfast food company. It employs a team of over 250 people at state-of-the-art facilities in British Columbia and Washington. Nature’s Path had its humble origins when Arran opened Vancouver’s first vegetarian restaurant, LifeStream, in 1967, and Nature’s Path in 1985. Unusual in a time of industry consolidation, Nature’s Path remains 100 per cent Canadian, independent and family-owned. Nature’s Path, EnviroKidz and LifeStream’s award-winning organic cereals, energy bars, baked goods, waffles and pastas are sold throughout Canada, USA and 29 other countries. Arran received Ernst & Young’s 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year Award and in recognition of progressive HR practices, MacLean’s Magazine included Nature’s Path in Canada’s Top 100 Employers for three consecutive years, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Author of “Journey to the Luminous” (1999), Arran exquisitely details his spiritual quest with great Indian mystics, while exploring the frontiers of consciousness. He is involved in charity and non-profit works, with an enduring commitment to family, sustainability, gardening, literature, vegetarianism, community service and meditation.
Udo received his Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Zoology with a major in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, followed by graduate studies in biochemistry and genetics. In 1980, his life took a significant turn when he was poisoned by pesticides. When conventional medicine was unable to provide help, he concluded that his health was his own responsibility and turned his attention to nutrition. Several years of research culminated in his Canadian best-selling book “Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill”, which earned him a PhD in nutrition. In 1983, he began to pioneer technology for pressing and packaging edible, fresh oils made with health in mind, by excluding three main factors that can transform nutritious oils into toxic ones – light, heat and oxygen. As a result of Udo’s efforts, there are high quality unrefined flax oils and other important seed oils found in refrigerators in health food stores and in health-minded practitioners’ dispensaries around the world. Udo’s contribution to the fields of health and nutrition, along with his pioneering work to establish standards of quality for oil manufactures, will continue to benefit humanity for decades to come.
Rolf Zimmermann started from humble beginnings. Trained in Germany as a baker, Rolf had profound respect for old European values. He believed from the beginning that good nutrition was the basis of good health. When he immigrated to Canada in 1952 and found that many natural foods and traditional European remedies were unheard of, he began importing heath products for family and friends. It became his goal to be a leading authority on health products, and to make these products available nationwide to Canadians. This was the eventual genesis of the company he started, Swiss Herbal Remedies Limited. His goal was to enable people to be healthy and remain vital into old age. Rolf was insistent on the quality of the products he carried helping make a fringe industry mainstream and now some of these products are considered absolute essentials in every Canadian home. Rolf was a true pioneer in Canadian health products and would be proud of how far the health food industry has come to realize his vision.
Elly Boersema was born in Groningen, the Netherlands on September 2, 1916, and raised on the family farm. During her late teens she became lame on one side of her body. Doctors spent many months experimenting with different treatments, with no success. Frustrated by the medical establishment, Elly’s father took her to see a homeopath who prescribed rest, a whole foods diet and natural remedies. Elly made a complete recovery and so began her passion for the ‘natural way’. In 1951, the family immigrated to Canada and bought a 25 acre farm near Strathroy, Ontario. In 1970 she decided to start selling natural products. She started by selling just one product, Flora’s Kindervital from her small garage office. She ignored the mockery of many and persevered. Health food stores were rare in this area back then and there was little in the way of information to educate others. Through word of mouth, her business increased and she added more products. Her success reflects many years of learning and sharing her wealth of knowledge with others. In 2000, at the age of 84, Elly ‘officially’ retired. The store she started is still going strong today, supporting natural health in Southwestern Ontario.
Dr. Daniel Crisafi
Born and raised in Montreal, Dr. Crisafi has earned a bachelor’s degree, a Master of Science and a PhD. Dr. Crisafi is also a naturopathic physician and Master Herbalist. Daniel has received several honourary degrees from the Ecole d’Enseignement Superieur de Naturopathie du Québec for his contribution towards the advancement of naturopathy in that province, as well as an award from the Canadian Natural Health Society for his humanitarian work in promoting health. Dr. Crisafi is a former vice president of the Ecole d’Enseignement Superieur de Naturopathie du Québec and a former member of the advisory board of the Université Libre des Sciences de L’Homme de Paris. He has also been a vice chair of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) Board of Directors. Author of several books and former editor-in-chief of “Health ‘N Vitality” and “Vitalité Québec” magazines, Dr. Crisafi has been a consultant for the health food and natural supplement industry for over thirty years. Father of four children, Dr. Crisafi now devotes the majority of his time to his private practice, pH Santé Beauté in Montreal.
Dr. Jean-Marc Brunet may very well be called one of the most active and effective freedom fighters for citizens’ rights of health care choices in our country. In the days when federal and provincial restrictions appeared to be imposed on natural health products indiscriminately, Jean-Marc pulled out his boxing gloves and fought back, legally, in the courts – and won, time and time again. He co-operated closely with CHFA management and when he was vice president, gave his voice and full support in places where they counted. As a practicing naturopath in Montreal, and founder of Le Naturiste JMB, a large health food store chain, prominent in the Quebec market place, he took it upon himself to educate his fellow citizens about the need for maintaining a healthy body and knowing how to achieve that. Jean-Marc has had a regular column in the Journal de Montreal for decades, reaching millions of readers every day. That alone has gone a long way towards educating the people of Quebec about the benefits of natural health products.
Eric S. Margolis
As chairman of Jamieson Laboratories, Eric Margolis is no stranger to the Canadian health food industry. Apart from acquiring his own health food store in Toronto in the early seventies, his company has had one of the most extensive lines of nutritional supplements in our country for more than three decades. In the eighties, Eric was vice president of CHFA and one of those intrepid souls who took on the government of the day that seemed determined to eradicate a fledgling industry. One that provided substances that were neither just plain food nor medicinal drugs, but rather concentrated nutrition. Under Eric’s leadership, Jamieson was one of the first companies in the world to refuse dealing with suppliers that used animal testing.
Sloan Alma (Al) Smith
Al Smith, the founder of Trophic Canada Ltd., became the first national president of what was in 1966 called the Canadian Health Food Dealers’ Association, now CHFA. He organized write-in campaigns to the MPs, advocating that citizens have a right of choice, and he travelled across the country to promote them. He knew how to hold his own when government types wanted to make short shrift with those who claimed that vitamins, minerals and herbs were things that the population needed to stay healthy. Al wrote the first manual for the Association and kept it updated for a number of years. He also published several booklets and pamphlets on health food and the health food movement. Al Smith can truly be considered one of CHFA’s leaders who, through his devotion and accomplishments, contributed greatly to its survival and development. He was made a Lifetime Honorary President in 1971.
After spending six lonely years bedridden while healing herself from an illness, Elsie had gained knowledge of natural healing and the inspiration to pass it on. She acquired a small corner store in her hometown, Medicine Hat, and began to count, cap, weigh, bag and bottle her tablets and herbs far into the night for the customers of her new health food store. Over the next 38 years Elsie expanded to six consecutively larger locations. Due to her integrity, her love for people, her profound knowledge of natural healing, and her passion to teach and heal others through health products, her reputation grew in her community as well as in places as far away as Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories. Elsie Czember’s life symbolizes the lives of the health food store owners of the forties, the fifties and the sixties, whose motivation to get into business was the desire to help others discover the benefits of healing themselves the natural way.
Roland is the ambitious and visionary son of Jacob Gahler, who immigrated from Switzerland to Canada with his family. His father started importing and selling the herbs and tinctures of his homeland and he called his company Jack Gahler Enterprises Limited. Out of these modest beginnings grew an industry giant, Natural Factors Nutritional, whose architect is the present, chairman and owner, Roland Gahler. Roland Gahler had a dream; "Make better products with science behind them." This dream came true. Today, Roland believes that Natural Factors is uniting the proponents of science and nature without alienating doctors, scientists, retailers and consumers, but bringing them all to the conclusion that natural health products are essential to lifetime health and wellness.
Chances are that once you meet Sam Graci you’ll never forget him.”
Sam Graci epitomizes optimal health and as a result people are drawn to him. He is a public speaker with a message: “What you eat today directly affects your health tomorrow.”
Sam is the creator of nutritional formulae and has worked with many of the leading physicians of orthomolecular medicine of our time. True to his form, his two books “The Power of Super Foods” and “The Food Connection” are printed with biodegradable ink on 100% recycled paper.
Dr. David F. Horrobin
David Horrobin was a scholar of Balliol College, Oxford, where he obtained a First Class Honours medical degree, a clinical medical degree and a doctorate in neuroscience. While being a Reader in Medical Physiology at the University of Newcastle, he began to develop his theories on essential fatty acids and their role in the endocrine system. His position as Professor of Medicine during four years at the University of Montreal gave Dr. Horrobin the interest in developing novel therapeutic agents in lipid biochemistry and their application to human diseases. This interest culminated in the creation of the product Efamol and one of the first biotech companies to produce it. David Horrobin put his roots and his life in the United Kingdom where he contributed greatly to the science of neurological disorders. He passed on in April of 2003.
Dr. R. H. Rogers
A true western man, Dr. Rogers was born and raised in Vancouver, BC and received his education from the University of British Columbia. He became a physician who believed in the importance of relationships, caring and compassion, empowerment of the patient and prevention of harmful influences to promote the healing process. As a clinical Associate Professor at UBC, Dr. Rogers taught his students these values and thus inspired a whole generation of physicians to follow his example. He is the founder of two non-profit societies. While working with his patients he clearly saw the need for alternative and complimentary ways to support healing of the body. Following a lifelong interest in nutrition, natural healing and complementary therapies, he founded the Centre for Integrated Therapy in Vancouver in 1992. The Centre is dedicated to cancer patients and their families who want to explore ways of healing that include attention to the needs of mind, body and soul. In 2001, Dr. Rogers was appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the province’s highest honour, for his pioneering work.
When Lise Colley decided to seek her Canadian license as a Registered Nutritional Consultant, there were only five in all of Canada. She became number six. Her refusal to believe that, “….we are put on this earth to live with all these problems.” gave her the drive to study whatever scientific information she could find that dealt with the effects of different foods in the human body. In this process she earned her Bachelor of Science degree. Her love for her children, who had some health problems, triggered Lise’s profession that ultimately benefited thousands of her clients. Her clients came from near and far places in their quest to get well. Her advice was, simply put: "If you are what you eat and you’re not feeling well, change what you eat and see how you feel then!” Lise also wrote Allergy Cooking Made Easy and, together with her husband Jim, opened the Natural Food Market in Waterloo, Ontario.
Judy is a native of British Columbia and acquired her love of healthy ways of life from her mother, who collected plants and herbs to prepare healing medicines. She earned her degrees as a Chiropractor and Naturopathic Doctor from the Western States College in Portland, Oregon, and added a title of Master Herbalist for good measure. Judy’s commitment to the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) dates back to its very beginning. She has faithfully served this organization in the BC Chapter. During her tenure as president of Dominion Herbal College in Burnaby, BC, Judy held international seminars, where herbal medicine and complimentary health information is taught by students from all parts of the globe. Judy’s involvement in community education, especially informal teaching of the young by written and spoken word, is an aspect of life closest to her heart.
Mary Lou Morgan
If there were only one talent for which Mary Lou Morgan were to be noted, it is the gift of being able to ‘bring out the best in people’. Mary Lou has worked in the natural food business since the early 70s to the benefit of the city of Toronto. From being a founder of innovative non-profit businesses, an organizer of interest groups and conferences, to fundraising and hands-on involvement in the day-to-day detail of business, Mary Lou’s aim and motivation has always been to ensure that all Torontonians have access to affordable health food – from farm to table.
Gerhard W. Seier
Gerhard came from Germany in 1927 as a young man in search of success. In 1936, the Vita Health Company came to life when Gerhard purchased an American herbal mail order company and moved it to Winnipeg. During the war years, Gerhard also opened a vegetarian restaurant. As the mail order business grew steadily, Gerhard purchased the Health Book Supply Company in Toronto and give it to his son Lorne to run. Over the years, Vita Health developed into a wholesaling and then manufacturing company until it became one of the largest suppliers of health supplements in Canada. Gerhard, a retailer at heart, spent much of his time in any of his six retail stores with his customers, practicing Iridology and Herbology, having studied both at the Golden State University. Gerhard was a true pioneer of the Canadian health food industry and his contribution to our Association spans five decades.
Gordon emigrated from Scotland with his parents who settled in British Columbia. After his education at the University of British Columbia, he moved to Eastern Canada and achieved top management positions with large consumer product multinational companies. Gordon’s first contact with the health food industry happened when he joined the C.W. Jamieson Company in Windsor, Ontario. When SISU Enterprises Company Inc. needed new leadership, he accepted their offer of becoming their president and returned to his beloved British Columbia. Under Gord’s direction, SISU became a major supporter of the traditional health food industry. Gordon played an active role as Vice-chair West on the board of directors and represented our industry’s interests on Health Canada’s Advisory Panel on natural health products. On April 3, 2000 Gord passed on. He left behind a legacy of excellence.
In 1976, Barrie Carlsen founded Quest Vitamins as a Canadian distributor of quality supplements. Frustration with inconsistent product compliance from the U.S. inspired him to begin manufacturing in 1982. In 1998, Barrie designed and built a state-of-the-art facility for supplement manufacturing. Barrie’s commitment to quality assurance, to using the most advanced manufacturing technology, plus his innovative formulations, made Quest Vitamins a leader in the industry. Barrie’s innovations included several incentive travel symposiums in exotic locals. Many Canadian health food retailers have wonderful memories of those events. His commitment to education was further demonstrated by many national tours featuring leading industry speakers and scientists. Barrie’s personal commitment to an active and holistic lifestyle is the foundation for his achievements. He is a role model for those who have been privileged to work with him, and offers exemplary leadership to the many lives he has touched. Barrie’s vision, dedication to health and his pioneering spirit have created a legacy in the industry – setting the standards for quality, Canadian-made product.
Since 1954, Lionel has been involved in numerous aspects of the natural health products industry. His work, much of it behind the scenes, has made a tremendous difference for our industry. An educator and strong industry supporter, Lionel has been a spokesperson for the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) with the federal and Ontario provincial governments for the past 35 years. Lionel was active on Health Canada’s Expert Advisory Committee on Herbs and Botanical Medicines from 1986 to 1989. He has taught herb courses at McMaster, York and Waterloo Universities and Glendon College, and regularly appears on radio and television programs concerning product and regulatory matters; he previously hosted a weekly phone-in radio show on herbs. His past involvement includes being owner of Thuna Herbal Remedies, Dominion Herb Distributors, Organic Health Foods Inc., and Affiliated Laboratories Limited. Lionel is a dedicated pioneer who has achieved much for our industry.
Dr. Abram Hoffer
Dr. Hoffer was Canada's leader and pioneer in complementary medicine. As Director of Research for the Province of Saskatchewan, he did groundbreaking work with his colleagues in orthomolecular medicine as applied to the field of psychiatry. He risked his credentials to practice integrative medicine by using and prescribing nutrients to support and heal. Together with his colleague Dr. Linus Pauling, Dr. Hoffer founded the orthomolecular Medicine Clinic and Journal. Dr. Hoffer was the keynote speaker at Expo West in 1998. We are grateful for the opportunity to honour this man who has contributed so much to the validation of our industry.
Terry Willard has studied the medicinal properties of plants for over 20 years. Recognized as one of North American’s leading clinical herbalists, he was a member of the Canadian federal government’s Expert Advisory Committee on Herbs and Botanical Preparations. Terry also served as president of the Canadian Association of Herbal Practitioners and is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild. Author of seven books on herbs, Terry is also an active practitioner and teacher. He held the position of director of Wild Rose College of Natural Healing, which serves students around the world. His talent for invention led to the development of a range of herbal combinations and natural source vitamins, which were sold throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
Long acknowledged as the “father of the health food movement in Canada”, Siegfried began importing herbal teas and other natural products from Germany in 1954 – a business that eventually grew to become Flora Distributors. In 1975, Siegfried started publishing the alive Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition. Buoyed by success with the magazine, he began publishing the distributing books in 1978. Today alive Magazine has a circulation of 235,000. Not only was Siegfried a publisher and distributor of books and magazines, his commitment to spreading the word about natural health care spawned the annual alive Awards of Excellence. He also served as president of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), and continued his active support of our industry well into the later part of his life. Siegfried was responsible for starting the alive Academy of Nutrition, a year-round correspondence school which offers courses in vegetarianism, homeopathy and applied nutrition. Sadly, Siegfried passed on in October of 2013.
Willie served as President of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) from 1972 to 1974, and again in 1991 and 1997. Willie was a staunch defender of the health food industry’s right to provide Canadian consumers with informed choices in the market place. As long term president of CHFA, Willie worked tirelessly for the industry. His commitment included extensive financial support of the Association and on-going lobbying for regulatory change. Willie is the “Granola King” in our industry. He also operated a retail store and produced a line of supplements.