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CJA names new board chair and presents awards

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[Left to right] J. David Ritter, president and CEO of Canadian Jewellers Association; Yakup Tecimer, past chair; Tanya Parrish, incoming chair; Geoffrey Beattie; chair.

Canadian Gem’s Tanya Parrish has been sworn in as chair of the Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA) for 2015-2016.

About 40 people gathered for the association’s annual general meeting at Toronto’s King Edward Hotel, where Parrish, who served previously as first vice-chair, was presented with the collar.

“It is my aspiration to continue to have an effective board of directors in place and an exemplary office team who provide leadership and education to ensure the adoption of best practices among all its members; to promote information sharing, ensuring fair and equitable consideration by all levels of government; and to assist its members to afford services, information, and technologies supporting the equality, security, and profitability of their businesses, creating consumer trust and respect for the Canadian jewellery industry,” said Parrish, a 30-year industry veteran who currently serves on the board of Canadian Gem.

Parrish’s first official duty as chair was to present the 2015 Chairman’s Award to Pierre Akkelian, president of Canadian Gem, CJA past president (1996-1997), and founder of the Armenian Jewellers Association (AJA).

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Canadian Gem president Pierre Akkelian receives the CJA Chairman’s Award from incoming chair, Tanya Parrish

Established in 2000, the award honours an individual who has gone above and beyond to enhance the profile of the Canadian jewellery industry by maintaining the highest professional standards and integrity.

Along with CJA executive team members Jonathan Birks, Carmen Rivet, and John Minister, Akkelian worked for 13 years to abolish the jewellery excise tax. In May 2006, the Harper government made good on its promise to rescind the tax, which had been in place for 88 years.

“The worst hell fire the association had to battle was the excise tax imposed in 1918, which was the raison d’être for initially creating CJA,” Akkelian said in his acceptance speech. “The dreaded excise tax was destroying jewellery businesses across the land. As the saying goes, the strongest steel is forged by fires of hell.

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“We fought hard and won the war by making huge personal sacrifices of time and money. We prevailed through passion and perseverance; our fervour was so contagious that many joined the effort. We subsequently raised all the funds needed to finance our hugely costly undertaking”¦ I dedicate this award to our honourable prime minister, who as leader of the opposition made a handshake deal with me to get rid of the tax in his first budget and he honoured his promise.”

CJA also bestowed the Erol Paylan Memorial Award on Phyllis Richard, executive director of Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC). The award honours the memory of the association’s first vice-chair. Paylan—who was known for his penchant for asking probing questions about life—died in February 2013 at the age of 52. His daughter, Mariam, was on hand to present the award to Richard.

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Mariam Paylon presents the Erol Paylan Memorial Award to Phyllis Richard, executive director of president of Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC).

Although she didn’t know Paylan well, Richard says he stood out at various meetings between CJA and JVC for his kind disposition.

“He always had something to say and it was never said with malice,” she recalls. “It was always in the best interest of the industry. He was a passionate person, someone to emulate, and was truly special. And to have Mariam here to present the award to me is even more special.”

Richard says the honour is recognition of the JVC team as a whole, which includes Carla Adams and John and Janet Lamont.

“Not one person can accomplish anything on their own,” she explains. “It really is a supportive team effort. My accomplishments aren’t my own. They are held up by Carla, John, and Janet.”

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