Humans of Riverside: RACHELLE’S STORY

“My name is Rachelle Wintzen and I am the founder and sole owner of the Chi Junky Studio. This studio was born from my personal experience and journey to health. The philosophies and foundation that Chi is built on changed my life and it became my mission to create a space that would bring the same healing to as many people as possible.”

RACHELLE WINTZEN

Multiracial, independent female, small business owner and entrepreneur in Riverside.

Her Story:

I was born and raised in Toronto. I am Chinese-Jamaican, Indian and French. My mother was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Her mother was Chinese and her father was biracial, Chinese and Indian. My mother and her family migrated to Canada in 1975. My father was born and raised in Paris, France, and moved to Canada in1979 after meeting my mother.

I was fortunate to be raised by generations of hard working entrepreneurs and small business owners who instilled a strong work ethic in me. I am born from entrepreneurial blood. In 1912, my great-grandfather started his own shop in Jamaica, followed by my grandfather who owned a bakery and my parents who ran their own business in Toronto for over 30 years in Riverside. 

Chi Junky was born from my personal experience and struggle with addiction and my journey to change my life completely. My dream, from the age of 4, was to be a professional dancer and to live in New York City. I was inspired by my beloved uncle who, at age 36, passed away from AIDS. He was a brilliant New York fashion designer and introduced me to the city that stole my heart as a young girl.

At 20 years old I moved to NYC to pursue dance professionally but after two years injuries ended my career and left me suffering from deep depression. I began working in the A-list New York City nightlife scene and was immediately under its spell. I developed a dependency that turned into an addiction to hard drugs and alcohol. After many years of suffering, I knew if I didn’t leave that lifestyle I wouldn’t live past my 30th birthday.

Through many small moments of grace and divine intervention, I met my mentor, Gil Jacobs, who changed my life. By immersing myself under his tutelage I transformed my lifestyle through holistic modalities, nutrition and yoga. It was this 180-degree transformation that allowed me to experience true vitality, my chi (prana – life force energy) and a new found love for life. It became my mission to help people change their lives and to realize that it is never too late to change, no matter how impossible it may seem. And so, Chi Junky was born in New York City in 2010. 

‘Ch’i,’ pronounced CHEE, is the Chinese medicine word for life force energy, vitality. It is often translated as “energy flow.” To maintain physical and emotional health, chi must flow freely.

Junky is inspired by the book Junky, by William S. Burroughs, which tells the story of a young man living in New York City who becomes addicted to narcotics. The definition: “A person who gets an usual amount of pleasure from or has an insatiable interest in something.”

I chose to name my business Chi Junky to change the negative connotation of the word addiction into something positive. To become addicted to something good, in this case your Chi. To live a vibrant healthy lifestyle full of vitality everyday. 

I became certified in the disciplines that helped change my life and moved to Ambergris Caye, Belize, in Central America for two years, helping people through yoga, nutrition and holistic wellness. I moved back to Toronto in 2012 and after two years of working as a freelance yoga instructor and holistic nutritionist took the plunge and opened the Chi Junky Yoga + Wellness Studio in Riverside in 2014. 

I started as a one-woman show and still fund the business without outside partners or investors. I began the studio in a space the size of a treatment room (100 sq. ft.), running semi-private yoga classes. Over the last six years the studio has grown into a 4,000 sq. ft. studio through incredible determination, sacrifice, hard work and overcoming every obstacle that ever stood in my way. I continue to give my everything to this business, my incredible staff and community. 

Chi Junky® is Toronto’s premier boutique yoga studio located in the east end of Toronto in Riverside. Our newly renovated studio prides itself on stunning design and attention to detail. It includes two practice studios, two treatment rooms, client lounge, retail and Chi At Home, our virtual interactive livestream classes.

Our mission is to provide a safe space to heal physically and emotionally through movement and music. Chi Junky is a unique yoga haven known for curating an exceptional movement experience with signature classes from Sweat Flow to Zen Vibes Only and everything in between. Each class offers premium full service amenities with killer playlists and top instruction. Our studio is rooted in building a supportive community and giving back through various charities, making yoga accessible and welcoming all to step into their chi.

About the Humans of Riverside: Giving Voice and Making Space for BIPOC” Storytelling Series:

The Riverside BIA – located along Toronto’s Queen Street East from the iconic bridge over the Don River to just past De Grassi St – is proud to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness with this story-telling series.

The ‘Humans of Riverside’ story telling project launched in summer 2020 as part of the iheART Main Street Art Challenge and is an on-going collaboration with local writer and editor Grace Cameron to give space and voice to stories from local BIPOC and other community members in Riverside.

Humans of Riverside: JOAN’S STORY

“I’ve been helping people ever since I can remember. In Grenada, I was 17 when I brought home a young woman and her two kids so they could have a place to live. But that’s me, always helping. It’s just natural.”

Joan King, photo taken in Joel Weeks Park, Riverside (Credit: MP Julie Dabrusin's office)

Joan King, photo taken in 2020 in Joel Weeks Park, Riverside (Photo Credit: MP Julie Dabrusin’s office)

JOAN KING

Resident, Community Builder, Rivertowne

Her Story:

I came to Canada from Grenada in 1989 when I was 19 years old. I worked in different coffee shops but on the side, I was always helping people. I remember once taking home a lady who was homeless so she could have a shower. My sisters were shocked.

I’ve been helping people ever since I can remember. In Grenada, I was 17 when I brought home a young woman and her two kids so they could have a place to live.

But that’s me, always helping. It’s just natural. I believe that you don’t need a lot of money to make a difference. If you have love in your heart and you’re surrounded by a good platform, you can do anything to help your community.

Before moving to Rivertowne, I lived at the YWCA building in the Pape and Queen area and was the food bank coordinator and I organized all the stuff for Black History month activities.

Eleven years ago, I moved to Rivertowne and quickly realized that this brand-new community needed support. A lot of the young people were just hanging about smoking and selling and doing bad stuff. I decided to create programs so we could have less of that bad stuff. I started the after-school program for 4- to 16-year-olds so the youth could have a safe place to just come and get support.

Before the homework sessions, I started a Friday breakfast program to bring people together. There was no opportunity for kids, youth, adults and seniors to just sit together under one roof and have a conversation. The program has been running for 10 years with the fundraising help of the Riverside BIA, Chef Scott (who sadly recently passed), and the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, and hands-on support from the Toronto Police Services week-to-week.

 

Joan King at the Riverside Antler Breakfast in 2019

Joan King at the Riverside Antler Breakfast in 2019, an annual fundraiser for the Rivertowne Breakfast Program (Photo credit: Riverside BIA)

We started the breakfast program with 80 participants, but since the pandemic, with more people at home, we’re feeding about 140 people every Friday. Parents who go to work appreciate it because they know that their kids will have a healthy breakfast at least once a week and people who are disabled look forward to it because they have trouble cooking for themselves.

Over the years, I’ve also started an annual community cleanup day with other community residents, and an appreciation dinner during the Christmas season. Altogether, I’m involved in a number of different projects in Rivertowne. I believe the programs have grown because my heart is in it.

I must say that no matter what we’re doing, the community officers from the police 55 Division are always there. They play a great role, from picking up garbage on cleanup day to taking the food from my kitchen and distributing it to residents on Friday mornings. 

I have my own challenges but I don’t let that stop me. I keep doing what I need to do because it’s my calling. No matter what, I never give up. I stand strong because of the love I have for my community.

I was so proud to recently have been recognized as part of the Children’s Breakfast Clubs of Canada in their 2021 Black History Month calendar, and want to thank them for their support during the pandemic.

Calendar from the Children's Breakfast Clubs of Canada featuring community members Black History Month 2021, Joan King is in the first column

Calendar from the Children’s Breakfast Clubs of Canada featuring community members Black History Month 2021, Joan King is in the first column (click to see large format)

Being involved in community makes me happy and I’ve learned a lot about being engaged and bringing people together. It feels good to make a difference. Even if I change the circumstances or the life of just one person, that’s a win for me.

About the Humans of Riverside: Giving Voice and Making Space for BIPOC” Storytelling Series:

The Riverside BIA – located along Toronto’s Queen Street East from the iconic bridge over the Don River to just past De Grassi St – is proud to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness with this story-telling series.

The ‘Humans of Riverside’ story telling project launched in summer 2020 as part of the iheART Main Street Art Challenge and is an on-going collaboration with local writer and editor Grace Cameron to give space and voice to stories from local BIPOC and other community members in Riverside.

Check out FREE Virtual Talks & Workshops as part of The Serenity Experience Riverside

Toronto artist Jessica Lin’s The Serenity Experience in Riverside aims to bring calm and spark joy during these challenging times. As part of this immersive public art project, artist Jessica Lin and the Riverside BIA are hosting regular quick Happiness Tips talks on Instagram Live @jessicalinphoto, PLUS we have virtual workshops and artist talks, free to the public! Check them out below and clicks on the links for more info and to register for free:

 Virtual Mini-Retreat – Contact Jessica Lin for resources for your own mini-retreat and REGISTER for the March 28th Closing Circle

Learn to be able to create Serenity in your life, and to increase your sense of well-being and happiness. The theme: “Finding Intent For My Post-Pandemic Self”. All participants are encouraged to explore this in whatever way feels comfortable and appropriate for them.

Contact Jessica to be provided with a flexible outline and schedule suggestions, as well as links to the resources to access for your own personal virtual retreat. Then spend as little as one afternoon, or as much as a few days learning empowering techniques and tools that you can revisit as often as you’d like in the future.

The mini-retreat will close with an opportunity to meet back on March 28th Closing Circle (REGISTER NOW) with the group (via Zoom) to talk through your personal retreat experiences.

This workshop has passed. WATCH NOW to see a video recording here, including closed captioning

Would you like to learn how to create a mini-Serenity Experience in your own home? Artist Jessica Lin’s online workshop explores the elements that make up The Serenity Experience installation (and why), and (EASY) creative ideas for how you can adapt this to your own environment.

This workshop has passed. WATCH NOW, including closed captioning

Established Toronto visual artist and photographer Jessica Lin has brought her original installation The Serenity Experience into the public eye in Riverside with 10 businesses, each hosting a different expression of the experience. Enjoy this interactive artist talk to help immerse yourself in The Serenity Experience.

Commemorating Chef Scott in Toronto’s Riverside

Commemorating a long-time community-builder, mover and shaker

We are commemorating our dear friend Chef Scott. His sudden passing in January 2021 has been a profound loss to us here in Riverside and many, many others that he touched. We want to recognize his incredible work as a community-builder and member of the Riverside BIA family.

Please join us in sharing your memories, photos and mementos of Chef Scott to office@riverside-to.com, as we will be adding to this live blog (at bottom).

Chef Scott – Thank you for being such a big part of the Riverside BIA family. You introduced us to so many collaborators, you brought your passion for education, and big, bold ideas to Riverside and always supported us in pushing the envelope. Thank you for your friendship – you are wonderful, you are irreplaceable, you are loved, and you will always be missed. 

As aptly shared by the condolence motion put forward by our Councillor Paula Fletcher and passed at Toronto City Council on February 2, 2021: “Chef Scott was known for living his life to the fullest. He was always supportive of local charities and local businesses in a volunteer capacity and through his patronage.”

‘Cheffie’ always brought big and bold ideas to Riverside. He envisioned collaborations that would not only be epic but lasting.

In 2010, he brought us weekly Riverside & Leslieville Food Tours through The Culinary Adventure Co. and then later through Toronto Food Tours, which always brought much welcomed support and patronage to local businesses.

Chef Scott founded the Riverside Antler Breakfast in 2011 as an annual fundraiser for local community causes, which remains a strong initiative to this day, having raised over $50,000 for community causes over the years.

His passion for bringing culinary delights into the spotlight led him to work with our BIA to transform Riverside’s annual street festival from the music-focused ‘Sounds Like the Riverside’ in 2013, to bring food in a big way with the now long well-known and loved ‘Riverside Eats & Beats Streetfest’.

In 2015, Chef Scott’s love of wine and connections in Prince Edward County also brought some of The County to Queen Street with the first Riverside Wine Fest in collaboration with wine makers from Three Dog Winery, Broken Stone Winery and many others. In 2020, we would have hosted the 5th annual event which had grown to include local craft brewers.

These are just some of the big things Chef Scott helped build, as a long time volunteer and collaborator on Riverside Marketing Committee.

The Riverside BIA is honoured to be able to recognize and commemorate Chef Scott with the Jack Korman Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism for 2020, and to dedicate the Riverside Antler Breakfast going forward in his memory.

Thanks to Councillor Paula Fletcher for making a Condolence Motion at City Council last week formally recognizing some of Chef Scott’s important achievements and thanks to the Ralph Thornton Community Centre for recognizing Chef Scott in fall 2020 with the “Community Volunteer Award for Community Betterment”.

Chef Scott with Riverside Antler Breakfast organizers 2017

Chef Scott with Riverside Antler Breakfast organizers 2017

Chef Scott, 2017 Riverside Antler Breakfast

Chef Scott, 2017 Riverside Antler Breakfast (Photo credit: Snap’d)

Chef Scott, Riverside Antler Breakfast 2019

Chef Scott, Riverside Antler Breakfast 2019

Chef Scott, Riverside Culinary Walk 2018

Chef Scott, Riverside Culinary Walk 2018

Chef Scott, Riverside VIRTUAL Antler Breakfast 2020

Chef Scott, Riverside VIRTUAL Antler Breakfast 2020

Chef Scott, Riverside Eats & Beats 2018 - Toronto Food Tours Tent

Chef Scott, Riverside Eats & Beats 2018 – Toronto Food Tours Tent

Chef Scott, Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2018

Chef Scott, Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2018

Chef Scott, Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2019 - Food & Wine Demo

Chef Scott, Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2019 – Food & Wine Demo

Chef Scott, Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2019 - Food & Wine Demo

Chef Scott, Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest 2019 – Food & Wine Demo

Chef Scott, Rivertowne Breakfast Program to present proceeds from Riverside Antler Breakfast 2016

Chef Scott, Rivertowne Breakfast Program to present proceeds from Riverside Antler Breakfast 2016

Riverside Antler Breakfast 2014

Chef Scott- at Riverside Antler Breakfast 2014

Watch Chef Scott in action, doing what he loved, in his last Riverside Antler Breakfast which happened virtually in 2020:

Live Blog –  Messages from the Community:

Shared by Perry Lupyrypa: Chef Scott was one of a kind and I can attest that when I was the Riverside BIA Exec Director from 2012 – 2015, together we established several programs which are still running. Chef Scott was always supportive of local charities AND local businesses. He stepped up with leadership, vision, volunteer and financial support. With Chef Scott’s support, the BIA also began outreach beyond Riverside. He was always dreaming and working to make dreams come true. Chef Scott was larger than life (his spiritual and physical being). He was taken too soon. He lived every moment to the fullest and will be dearly missed.

Shared by Mia Sturup

Chef Scott- host of dinner at Olives&Olives (photo from Mia Sturup)

Chef Scott- host of dinner at Olives&Olives (photo from Mia Sturup)

Chef Scott – at home dinner with Mia Sturup

Shared by Jo-Anne Cameron:

A shot of Cheffie (Chef Scott) and my hubby Ian Cameron at a party at our house on Degrassi St (Source: Jo-Anne Cameron)

A shot of Cheffie (Chef Scott) and my hubby Ian Cameron at a party at our house on Degrassi St (Shared by: Jo-Anne Cameron)

Pic of Chef Scott with guests during his mushroom foraging tours (Shared by: Jo-Anne Cameron)

Pic of Chef Scott with guests during his mushroom foraging tours (Shared by: Jo-Anne Cameron)

Chef Scott and Jason the BBQ Ninja at a bbq class tour (Shared by: Jo-Anne Cameron)

Chef Scott and Jason the BBQ Ninja at a bbq class tour (Shared by: Jo-Anne Cameron)

Shared by Nancy Grenier: I met Chef Scott when he first started his food tours in Riverside. I had an art gallery called Rouge Concept at 732 Queen St. from 2008 to 2013 (now where Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery is). He would come into my shop to say Hi! He always had a sunny disposition and the most fabulous stories. He will be missed.

Shared by MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth): Chef Scott livened up so many events in Riverside, he loved and cooked great food and he also just loved living in the moment. Another real loss to our community.

Shared by Councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth) and City Council via their Motion of Condolence:

The Mayor and Members of Toronto City Council are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chef Scott Savoie in early January this year.

Chef Scott was the founder of the Riverside Charity Antler Breakfast, Riverside Draft Beer and Wine Fest and was a member of Slow Food, the Culinary Historians of Canada and the Mycological Society of Toronto. Last year, Chef Scott was a recipient of the Ralph Thornton Community Volunteer Award for Community Betterment. His leadership with the Riverside Craft Beer and Wine Fest as well as the Riverside Charity Antler Breakfast has made significant contributions to the business community and many local residents. In 2013, Chef Scott was a leader on the Planning Committee for the food component of the Sound of Riverside, now known as Riverside Eats & Beats, and continued his work in later years to ensure the annual street festival was a big success.

Chef Scott was known for living his life to the fullest. He was always supportive of local charities and local businesses in a volunteer capacity and through his patronage. He will be missed by his friends and colleagues.

The City Clerk is requested to convey, on behalf of the Members of Toronto City Council, our sincere sympathy to Chef Scott’s community and loved ones. February 2, 2021

Shared by Karen Lloyd: From that time after we were at the wine cellars and then did a photo for the LCBO….

Chef Scott for LCBO Shoot (Credit Karen Lloyd)

Chef Scott for LCBO Shoot (Credit Karen Lloyd)

Chef Scott for LCBO Shoot (Credit Karen Lloyd)

Chef Scott for LCBO Shoot (Credit Karen Lloyd)

Chef Scott for LCBO Shoot (Credit Karen Lloyd)

Chef Scott for LCBO Shoot (Credit Karen Lloyd)

From Dave Watson:  I’ll remember that smiling face at our bar, his quick wit, long stories, old-school charm, and his absolute dedication to our community and the people close to him. You’ll be missed Chef. 🍻

From Anjuli Solanki: He was a larger than life person and had such a big heart and a generous soul. He had such a strong commitment to giving back to community, especially as he grew up in very modest circumstances, which made him care so deeply about the Antler Breakfast and giving back in a way that was full of dignity and celebratory. He will be greatly missed.

From Lynne Patterson: He certainly was so involved in Riverside. I think he was probably the person I bumped into most, just casually, as he was always out and about somewhere leading tours, dropping into his favorite bars/restaurants where he usually had some event or happening planned. I’ll miss him.

 

Month of Love Specials & Happenings in Toronto’s Riverside

There’s always lots of love to go around in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood! Check out some of the specials and happening for Valentine’s Day and more broadly in this Month of Love:

RIVERSIDE BIA’S LOVE ON QUEEN 

Join us in loving local businesses on Queen Street every day in February! Check back to enter our daily giveaways -YES, 28 days – of $50 vouchers to local businesses, with a $200 giveaway on Sundays thanks to a collaboration between Riverside BIA (Queen E) with Queen Street West BIA.

TOKEN 

Token is open Saturday, February 6 for curbside for all your v-day needs. ♥️ For questions and orders, send to tokencurbside@gmail.com

ARTS MARKET

This Valentine’s Day, discover locally designed and printed T-shirts from @llamayamadesigns and other Toronto-based artists and artisans, visit Arts Market online. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact Arts Market through their website to find the perfect gift!

BOXCAR SOCIAL

PERFECT GIFT: Boxcar Bottles Wine Club subscription = each pack contains your choice of 3, 6 or 12 low-intervention wines focusing on incredible producers and regions 🍇🍷 Right to your door. Every single month. Most releases are entirely limited to wine club members. This is the good stuff! 

IL PONTE CUCINA ITALIANA

Valentine’s menu is available all weekend Feb 12-14 – full menu here – it is amazing!!

IRISH DESIGN HOUSE


“Countdown to Valentine’s” campaign, with daily discounts off particular items. Each day, a new discount code will be announced, giving you 14% off the featured item(s). The code will be active for 24 hours only (from midnight to midnight). Enjoy!

OMA CHIROPRACTIC & WELLNESS

Oma has created #OMALOVEYOURSELF challenge templates for you to share your moments of joy, gratitude and self care (templates can be found in their Instagram story highlights). We challenge you to share your #OMALOVEYOURSELF moments on instagram, facebook and (making sure you tag @omachiropractic)💞 For every share, you will be entered to win weekly prizes which include Oma Gift Cards and lots of Self Care Goodies. Winners will be announced weekly💞

QUINCE FLOWERS

(Beyond the flowers!) This very special Valentine’s Day card is exclusive to Quince Flowers – designed by @pentopapier using one of their gorgeous floral arrangements! Ask for “The Valentine’s Day Card” when you place your order and they will hand write a lovely message from you to your beloved!⁠

BRICKWORKS CIDERHOUSE

Toast to love with their Apple of my Eye Brunch Kit! 🍎 Celebrate the loveliest of days with…A DIY Brunch Menu for 2, including: Batch 1904 Cider & OJ for Mimosas, 2 Brickworks Cider Toques for Canadian Winters, Bouquet of Flowers, A Hand-poured Candle, A Fun Game to play with your significant other/friends! Pre-order at the link until February 10th. Pick up at Ciderhouse from February 12th-13th.