The YMA pays tribute to 10 youth media personalities for its 50th anniversary

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Montreal, April 8th, 2024 – To celebrate its 50th anniversary and annual gala for its Awards of Excellence, the Youth Media Alliance (YMA) pays tribute to ten (10) youth media personalities who have contributed to the advancement of the YMA and youth content over the years.

The honorees will be Robert Roy, Nina Keogh, Kim Yaroshevskaya, Ira Levy, Diane England, Agnes Augustin, Madeleine Lévesque, Nancy Chapelle, Marie-Pierre Gariépy and Toni Stevens, 1 by decade; 5 francophones in Montreal and 5 anglophones in Toronto.

Taking place on May 22, it will kick off with a cocktail reception held simultaneously in Toronto at CORUS, and Montreal at Radio Canada. The awards gala will follow in Montreal only with the distribution of prizes. They will be announcing the ten (10) tribute honorees and fifteen (15) prizes. Tickets go on sale April 22.

Robert Roy (Decade: 1974-1983)

In 1974, Robert Roy and a group of adventurers founded the Children's Broadcast Institute in Canada (CBI) / Institut de radiotélédiffusion pour enfants (IRDE). Their concern was with the quality of children's television programming, prompting them to create an organization dedicated to improving it. IRDE became Alliance for Children and Television (ACT) / Alliance pour les enfants et la télévision (AET) to underscore the commitment to children's television and was renamed Youth Media Alliance in 2010.

Robert Roy was fortunate to have had a career in the heyday of Radio-Canada, where he was able to encourage and support creators of children's content. This marks an important milestone in the history of children's programming, symbolizing a balance between renewal and continuity, reflecting the evolution of our youth through programs such as Bobino, Bagatelle, Alexandre et le roi, and Génie en herbe.

In "Il était une fois Radio-Canada", Roy recounts not only the birth and rise of public television, but also the defining moments of contemporary cultural life.


Nina Keogh (Deacde: 1974-1983)
Performer, Puppeter - Truffles – Mr. Dressup

Nina Keough, a third-generation puppeteer and puppet builder, has been immersed in puppetry since 1968, contributing to numerous projects both on and off camera. Her extensive portfolio includes iconic shows like The Friendly Giant, Mr. Dress Up, Razzle Dazzle, Groundling Marsh, Hello Mrs. Cherrywinkle, and Sesame Park. Notably, she served as the inaugural host of Polkadot Door. Nina's influence extends beyond television, having participated in feature films, commercials, and large museum projects focusing on TV series retrospectives with puppet characters.

In addition to her creative work, Nina shares her expertise as an instructor and mentor at various institutions, including the Toronto Metropolitan University, York University, Niagara Theatre College, and Haliburton School of Fine Arts. Beyond puppetry, she is a visual artist, having owned two art galleries/studios in Toronto and Newfoundland.

Nina's multifaceted career exemplifies her dedication to the arts and her significant contributions to puppetry and visual arts education.


Kim Yaroshevskaya (Decade: 1984-1993)
Comedian, author

A centenarian, Madame Yaroshevskaya continues to captivate with her iconic character, Fanfreluche, who has enchanted generations of children and encouraged reading.

A pioneer of Radio-Canada's first children's programs, she transported young viewers through legends and tales, involving them in the stories by sometimes modifying the scripts.

In Passe-Partout, she now plays Grand-Mère, retaining her ability to touch the hearts of young viewers despite her advanced age. Her remarkable career is a testament to her ability to connect with audiences and inject progressive ideas into early television.

Through her delicate and inspiring persona, she illustrates the transformative power of art in challenging convention and teaching valuable life lessons.

We express our deep gratitude to Ms. Yaroshevskaya for her lasting influence and dedication to enriching young minds.


Ira Levy (Decade: 1984-1993)
Co-founder and partner in Breakthrough Entertainment

For over 40 years, Ira Levy has been a stalwart in producing diverse content for children, spanning preschool to tween audiences in animation, live action, scripted series, features, interactive media, and merchandising. His journey began with groundbreaking productions like The Conserving Kingdom, which laid the foundation for beloved series such as The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon on TVO, TFO, Knowledge Network, SCN, Access Alberta/YTV, and PBS.

As the co-founder of Breakthrough Entertainment, alongside Peter Williamson, Ira played a pivotal role in crafting hundreds of half-hours of children's programming from 1985 to 2020. Following the sale of their kids' library to 9 Story in 2021, Ira launched Spike & Sadie Media, honoring his supportive parents.

At Spike & Sadie Media, Ira has collaborated with various Canadian producers and writers to develop a diverse slate of kids' projects. His contributions extend beyond production, as he has served on numerous boards including the YMA, CMPA, REDIAC, CMF, Film Ontario, AFC, and the Banff Festival, advocating tirelessly for children's programming and its producers.


Diane England (Decade: 1994-2003)
Producer Zone 3

Diane England began her career as a designer and script-editor before joining Zone3 in the early 2000s to develop and produce fiction projects. She is best known for her work on Dans une galaxie près de chez vous, which spawned a TV series and two feature films, as well as popular series such as Une grenade avec ça?, Subito Texto, Jérémie and L'Effet secondaire. Her ability to captivate young audiences was further confirmed with L'Île Kilucru.

Alongside her successes in the children's field, Diane has also produced a number of remarkable dramas, including Minuit le soir, Mon meilleur ami, Appelle-moi si tu meurs, and Patrick Senécal Présente. In film, she has produced acclaimed works such as the 2013 Oscar-nominated short Henry, as well as the international award-winning feature 1:54.

In 2021, she continued her fruitful collaboration with director Yan England by producing the feature Sam. In recognition of her dedication and excellence, Diane received the Prix pour une carrière vouée à l’excellence in 2008.


Agnes Augustin (Decade: 1994-2003)
President & CEO Shaw Rocket Fund

Agnes Augustin is a well-respected figure in the children's media landscape, known for her tireless advocacy for the inclusion of children's perspectives in industry and government decision-making processes. She has played a pivotal role in promoting Canadian children's programming worldwide while spearheading initiatives to bolster the industry.

Since assuming her role, Agnes has been instrumental in driving the Shaw Rocket Fund's mission to champion Canadian children’s and youth programming. Her leadership has led to strategic investments in both linear and digital content, along with the establishment of industry initiatives like the acclaimed Shaw Rocket Prize. Through these efforts, Agnes has actively worked to raise the profile of the Canadian children’s and youth media industry, fostering strategic global partnerships to further its reach.

In her capacity at the Shaw Rocket Fund, Agnes takes great pride in supporting the creation of high-quality content for children and families across the globe. Drawing from her extensive experience in various sectors of the Canadian film and television industry, including roles at Telefilm Canada and Corus Entertainment, Agnes brings a wealth of expertise to her advocacy efforts.

Today, we applaud Agnes for her exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication to advancing the Canadian children's media sector.


Madeleine Lévesque (Decade: 2004-2013)
Producer Maki Média

Involved with the YMA for many years, Madeleine holds a record for longevity, serving on the Board for over 22 years, making her a true pioneer in the world of animation.

Her ability to transform intellectual property into nationally and internationally distinguished creative content is remarkable. With a prolific career as director of original productions, producer, designer, scriptwriter and editor, Madeleine has spotted talent and guided it to success through such iconic projects as 6TEEN, Total Drama Island and Atomic Betty.

Founder of Maki Média, Madeleine surrounds herself with experienced women, combining rigor and creativity, business acumen and content, to develop highly successful projects. Her expertise, forged at SDA Productions, 9 Story Media Group and Sardine Productions, gives her a unique ability to think and develop high-impact projects. Recent projects include Interstellar Ella (2022), PhiloPhilo (2023) and My Life in Colours (2022).

With complementary backgrounds in the audiovisual content industry, Madeleine and her team leave an indelible mark, combining experience with the discovery of new talent.


Nancy Chapelle (Decade: 2004-2013)

After more than four decades of dedicated service to the Canadian media industry, Nancy Chapelle is embarking on a well-deserved retirement, leaving behind a legacy of transformative leadership and enduring contributions.

During her tenure, Nancy held the esteemed position of executive director at the Bell Fund, a vital entity providing grants to independent Canadian producers for television content across various platforms. Prior to her role at the Bell Fund, she spent 11 impactful years as the managing director of content and programming at TVO, where she played a pivotal role in guiding the organization's evolution into a dynamic multi-platform media entity, navigating the complexities of an ever-changing media landscape.

Nancy’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to co-found Catalyst Entertainment, a Toronto-based production and distribution company, which later merged into a prominent family entertainment studio known for its iconic animation brands.

Throughout her illustrious career, Nancy garnered numerous accolades, including a Gemini Award and recognition on the Women’s Executive Network Top 100 Most Powerful Women list, underscoring her significant influence and achievements in the industry.

As Nancy is now retired, her impact and legacy endure, ensuring her lasting imprint on the future of Canadian media.


Marie-Pierre Gariépy (Decade: 2014-2023)
Producer SLALOM

For over 30 years, Marie-Pierre Gariépy has been a fixture on the French-Canadian television scene, particularly in the children's field. Founder and president of Ottawa-based production company Slalom, her audacity and passion have enabled countless young people to immerse themselves in worlds as playful as they are educational. Over the years, her company has also established itself as an incubator for talent, both in front of and behind the camera.

Under her aegis, over 735 episodes for young people have found their audience. Whether it's La vie compliquée de Léa Olivier, CIRKUS, Makinium, Mehdi et Val or Motel Monstre, to name but a few, her projects all share the same intrinsic values: Francophonie, creativity, inclusion and quality.

Her work has not gone unnoticed. Several of her series have gone on to conquer new audiences thanks to international sales, while others have received industry recognition. These include Motel Monstre (Best Children's Series and Audience Award from the Youth Media Alliance) and La vie compliquée de Léa Olivier and Motel Monstre (four Gémeaux awards). Together, these youth series have received over 30 Gémeaux nominations.


Toni Stevens (Decade: 2014-2023)
Senior Vice President, Production & Operations Spin Master

Toni Stevens, a seasoned producer with Spin Master, has been a driving force behind the realization of numerous shows, shaping the landscape of children's entertainment.

Since joining Spin Master in 2017, Toni has played a pivotal role in overseeing production and entertainment planning, including feature films. Her contributions have been instrumental in the success of acclaimed series like PAW Patrol and Bakugan, as well as Spin Master Entertainment’s original short-form content.

With an illustrious career spanning over five years at Nelvana prior to joining Spin Master, Toni's expertise as a supervising producer has been evident in beloved series such as Lucky Duck, Babar, and Little Charmers.

As PAW Patrol celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2023, Toni's impact on the brand's growth and success is undeniable. PAW Patrol, centered on a group of courageous pups and their young human leader, has captivated audiences worldwide since its debut in 2013. Spin Master's expansion of the brand, both on and off the screen, culminated in the release of PAW Patrol: The Movie, which achieved significant box office success, grossing over US$40 million domestically and US$144 million globally. Toni Stevens continues to be a driving force in shaping the future of children's entertainment.

The 50th Anniversary Cocktail and 2024 YMA Awards of Excellence are made possible by the financial support of our sponsors. Many thanks to:

Radio-Canada & CORUS Nelvana, Shaw Rocket Fund, CMF-FMC, PMT Productions, Groupe Média TFO, APTN, Télé-Québec, Landslide Entertainment, Knowledge Network, Trio Orange, Productions Mustang, Bell Fund, Zone3, Apartment 11 Productions, FIFEM, Productions Prestigo, Happy Camper Média, Slalom Productions, Echo Media, Tobo Studio, Téléfiction, Avanti-Toast, Blue Ant Media / marblemedia, WildBrain Studios, Epic Story / World Media, Sinking Ship Entertainment, 9 Story Media Group, GAPC Entertainment, Little Engine Moving Pictures & Pillango Productions, Creemore Six Pints, Bloomex.


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Source: Margaux Soumoy, Youth Media Alliance, 514-483-5417

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