TIAC Inducts Christena Keon Sirsly & Judith Cabrita into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame
Christena Keon Sirsly
Christena Keon Sirsly, S MBA 73, a native of Rouyn-Noranda, Que., earned a BSc in Honours Chemistry in 1971 from Marianopolis College in Montreal. Soon afterwards, she enrolled in Sir George Williams University's fledgling MBA program and was one of only four women to graduate with the Class of 1973.
Christena then embarked on an impressive, 37-year career, mainly in the transportation industry. Recently retired, she spent 24 influential years at VIA Rail Canada, working her way from a Director to Vice President of Marketing, and finally, Chief Strategy Officer. She was instrumental to VIA's growth and to modernizing all of VIA’s passenger rail programs and many of its passenger facing systems. Christena's work at VIA Rail has left a positive impact not only for the organization but the Canadian travel and transportation industry as a whole.
Christena was an active member of TIAC throughout her career at VIA, and was elected to the Board of the association as a Member at Large for many years. From 2000 to 2002, Christena served as Chair of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, where her contribution and leadership were greatly valued. She worked extensively with the Canadian Tourism Commission, acting as Chair of several of the organization’s Marketing committees over a 15 year period.
Christena has also dedicated many years to community service. She was a member of the Board of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation, has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Logie Rose-Virgine, a reintegration centre for women, as well as serving on the Board of Directors of the Stewart Museum and the McCord Museum. She has also acted as President of the annual fundraising dinner for the Compagnie Franche de la Marine.
Born in East York, Ontario, Judith Cabrita was one of the early graduates of Ryerson’s Hotel Program, graduating in the 2nd class as a Ryerson Silver Medalist in 1955. After graduation, Judith practised in hotel, restaurant and tourism management positions in Ontario, England and Nova Scotia.
Judith earned the prestigious Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) designation from the American Hotel and Lodging Association and became a dedicated promoter of professional credentials for tourism employees. Judith moved to Nova Scotia permanently in 1970 and immediately became involved in the broader tourism community taking leadership roles in local associations. She was a driving force in the development of a Degree in Tourism Management program at Mount Saint Vincent University. Because of her work with the tourism education community; Judith was appointed the first President of Canada CHRIE (Council on Hotel, Restaurants and Institutional Education), with a goal to build better alignment between industry and education.
In 1989 Judith joined the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS). Under her presidency, Judith transformed the association and built TIANS into the largest membership based tourism association in the country. She developed partnerships with the World Travel and Tourism Council - before anyone was talking about tourism and the environment - and secured a partnership with Green Globe and Nova Scotia to promote sustainable tourism as a business practice. In 1990, she expanded the role of TIANS by securing government commitment to establish a dedicated department for education and training in tourism.
Judith was a founding Board member of Tourism HR Canada and was instrumental in the development of the National Standards and Certification program, now known as emerit. Judith has always maintained an active community service role and has contributed countless hours to numerous non-profits and charities involving wilderness and marine preservation, environmental protection and community beautification.
Judith has influenced many tourism careers being a role model and mentor for a great number of present day leaders. In recognition of Judith’s efforts with young people, the Judith B. Cabrita Professional Scholarship was established in 2005 to support current tourism employees upgrade their skills. In 1992, Judith was awarded the Canada 125 Medal for service to tourism and the community.
About the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame
Created in 2006 by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame publicly recognizes those individuals that have made tourism an important part of their life’s work and whose actions have had a positive impact on the industry they serve.
Members of the Hall of Fame have helped to shape our sector as a vibrant contributor to our economy and position Canada as a welcoming destination.
Dedicated and insightful professionals are inducted each year at The Tourism Congress, TIAC’s annual convention.
Please click here to view all of the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame Inductees