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Confederation College alumni make their mark

Thunder Bay entrepreneurs, fundraiser to receive President’s Award
Al Bourbouhakis
Thunder Bay's Al Bourbouhakis of Heartbeat Hot Sauce (File photo)

Three alumni of Confederation College in Thunder Bay will be honoured with the President’s Award for their remarkable achievements on Sept.19.

Al Bourbouhakis, Melissa Hardy-Giles and Thomas McDonald will be acknowledged at the 24th Annual Community Partners’ Evening.

2011 Culinary Management graduate Al Bourbouhakis is the founder of Heartbeat Hot Sauce.

In a short time, he’s gone from making hot sauce for friends to his company recently filling its 400,000th bottle to become one of the world’s most popular brands. The sauce is available at 400 retailers in North America with a European distribution deal now in place to grow the brand internationally.

Melissa Hardy-Giles, an office administration and HR resources management grad, is the co-owner of ORIGIN Inc., an Indigenous-owned technology company that provides immersive experiences, through devices like virtual reality headsets, designed to give job seekers exposure to a day in the life of tradespeople in a variety of industries.

Recreation and Leisure Services graduate Thomas McDonald championed the establishment of the Confederation College Performing Arts Club, which has raised more than $20,000 for local charities.

He is also the creator of the on-campus Respect initiative, designed to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, a concept that has rolled out nationally. An active fundraiser, McDonald has helped raise more than $160,000 to support the college’s student food bank and emergency fund.

“These individuals are wonderful exemplars of what can be achieved with great passion, commitment and leadership,” said college president Kathleen Lynch in a Sept. 16 news release.

“We are honoured to have been a part of their journey and to celebrate them in this way. These awards are just one of many ways in which we share how proud we are of all of our alumni.”

All three are eligible to receive the Premier’s Awards, handed out annually to recognize the contributions Ontario’s college grads make to the province, and beyond. That ceremony takes place in Toronto, Dec. 2.