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Toronto Film School Celebrates Class of 2022 with Graduation Gala Celebration

Photo of TFS graduate walking across the stage in cap and gown

“Now go forth and be bold!”

It was with that call to action that 350 up-and-coming creatives closed one chapter in their lives as students and opened up a new one full of exciting career possibilities as newly minted graduates of Toronto Film School.

Photo of Toronto Film School President Andrew Barnsley giving is convocation address on stage at the TFS graduation
Toronto Film School President Andrew Barnsley

“Today is a day of celebration. The programs you’ve completed are formidable: they challenge both your creativity and your competency and are designed to help you realize the potential of your dreams…Be proud of what you have accomplished here,” Toronto Film School’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning President, Andrew Barnsley, said in his opening address to graduates.

“Careers in the creative industries are very powerful and important, and we know now more than ever the importance of storytelling and elevating voices, so congratulations – you are one step further along on that path.”

Held on Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto Film School’s 2022 Graduation Gala Ceremony drew a near-capacity crowd of graduates’ family members and friends, who were on hand to cheer their loved ones on as they sauntered, strolled and even sashayed across the stage at the John W.H. Bassett Theatre to collect their scrolls.

The lively two-hour ceremony saw the conferment of diplomas across the range of on-campus and online programs offered at Toronto Film School – including Film ProductionActing for Film, TV & the TheatreWriting for Film & Television, Graphic Design & Interactive Media, Video Game Design & Animation, Video Game Design & Development, Video Production, Designing for Fashion, and Visual Effects for Film & Television.

Distinguished Speaker Gave Lindo, Head of Content Programming for TikTok North America
Distinguished Speaker Gave Lindo, Head of Content Programming for TikTok North America

The ceremony’s special Distinguished Speaker, Gave Lindo, spoke to the importance of each graduate’s creative pursuit and why they matter in today’s world – a world in which a person’s individual contributions cannot only provide personal meaning, but can now also be scaled to reach “millions of people around the world.”

“Producers, your productions will feature stories that will inspire and entertain; screenwriters, your words will tell stories that will remind us of who we are; actors, your performances bring stories to life; VFX creators, your creations will help us see the impossible,” said Lindo, the Head of Content Programming for TikTok in North America.

“Graphic and media designers, your creativity will shape how we see the world; fashion designers, your designs will determine how we see ourselves in the world; and video game designers, developers and animators, your imagination will build new worlds.”

Lindo also urged graduates to take seriously the influential power they now wield as the next generation of up-and-coming creatives, and to commit to being a “positive force” in their chosen fields.

“The creative industries have been a source of so much inspiration, but have also grappled with a number of issues, from unsafe work environments, lack of diversity and representation, and the issues brought to the forefront by the #MeToo movement,” Lindo lamented.

“So today, I have an ask of each of you…commit to speaking up when you see something you know is not okay and commit to using your power and influence in support of those with limited power and limited influence.”

That was advice Toronto Film School Online valedictorian, Shelby Mitchell-Adams, has already begun putting into action.

As a self-taught Indigenous filmmaker from the Akwesasne reservation, the Video Production grad is committed to sharing the previously untold stories of her community in the wake of a residential school system that once sought to strip the identities and silence the voices of those who came before her.

“For myself, I’m happy to see that the gatekeepers are finally opening doors for Indigenous content creators with narrative sovereignty, who are demolishing stereotypes and misrepresentation, and I’m grateful TFS is giving us a platform to do so,” said Mitchell-Adams, who won Best Canadian Short Award at the 2022 TFS Film Festival for her short documentary, Radio Bingo.

The film chronicles Mitchell-Adams’ experience in the Indian Residential Day School system and her community’s efforts to take back the Mohawk language that was stolen from them.

“I carried a heavy heart during my time (at TFS), especially because we were all brought up in these government-run church schools and, to this very day, our Indigenous children are still being found in unmarked graves. We tell ourselves on the reservation that we are not victims but survivors, and that these stories have to be told,” she said, urging her fellow grads to likewise take courage in the sharing of their own experiences.

“I encourage you to tell your story and have the courage to send your heart and soul out into the universe. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be scary. Be a survivor!”

Having just overcome the “toughest year” of her life in 2021 – and coming out the other side as valedictorian of her Graphic Design & Interactive Media program’s graduating class – many would say Naveen Kazmi is the very definition of a survivor.

“Being a new immigrant in Canada, leaving behind my family, my home, my comfort zone, going through a divorce and all the struggles that follow with it, not being able to be close to my parents, not being able to hug them and cry my heart out, I was this close to giving up on myself,” Kazmi admitted in her valedictory address.

What turned things around for her, she said, was some wise advice delivered to her by her uncle, her Chacha – words she shared with her fellow graduates in hopes that, one day, they might also help them weather any forthcoming storms that might come their way.

“He said to me, ‘The sun will not shine on you every day. The storms will come, and you cannot stop them. The only thing you can do is keep moving forward. Keep walking. Do not look back, do not fear, do not regret. Just keep walking,’” recalled Kazmi, who is now working as a Graphic Designer at CBRE Toronto.

“And that is exactly what I did. My tickets were booked to go back home. My suitcases were packed. I was not even supposed to be here. But guess what? I never took that flight. Instead, I moved forward, never looked back, walked towards my laptop and attended my first lecture here. And now here we are on graduation day!”

Yorkville Education Company President Julia Christensen Hughes
Yorkville Education Company President Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes

In her closing remarks, Yorkville Education Company President Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes remarked on what an “absolute joy and privilege” it was to bear witness to such a wonderful celebration.

“I had the pleasure of being pretty much centre stage, watching each of you cross, and…it felt like we were witnessing history in the making – our future storytellers, our future filmmakers, and all the various programs that you represent,” she said.

“Knowing how badly the world needs the stories that you will undoubtedly produce, what courage you will have shown, what hard work, what creativity to bring you here today…Each one of you is closing one chapter and opening another that I have every confidence will be so profound.”

Candid photo of smiling graduates in their caps and gowns


2022 President’s Award Winners

(presented to the graduating student with the highest cumulative Grade Point Average in each program)


Toronto Film School:

Robert Lazier – Film Production

Regan Kristine Pardo – Acting for Film, TV and The Theatre

Megan St-Pierre – Writing for Film & TV

Bryanny Bailey – Writing for Film & TV

Maria Villarino Marzo– Graphic Design & Interactive Media

Fiona Jeeva – Video Game Design & Animation

Sydney Pallister – Video Game Design & Development

Ciaran Paul Downes – Video Game Design & Development

Terence Payson Lo – Video Game Design & Development


Toronto Film School Online:

Dominic Berger– Video Production

Eloise Lavoie-Dufour– Writing for Film & Television

Parmpreet Gill – Designing for Fashion

Julia Colley – Graphic Design & Interactive Media

Salisha Nanan– Video Game Design & Animation

Maryna Hordiienko – Visual Effects for Film & TV

Photo of group of graduates in their caps and gowns

2022 Program Valedictorians

Toronto Film School

Kimberly Miller-Pryce – Film Production

Regan Kristine Pardo – Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre

Megan St-Pierre – Writing for Film & Television

Naveen Kazmi – Graphic Design & Interactive Media

Sydney Pallister – Video Game Design & Development

Fiona Jeeva – Video Game Design & Animation

Toronto Film School Online

Shelby Mitchell-Adams – Video Production

Arthur Ladouceur – Writing for Film & Television

Julia Colley – Graphic Design & Interactive Media

Evgenia Stroganova – Video Game Design & Animation

Parmpreet Gill – Designing for Fashion

Agnieszka Raczynska ­– Visual Effects for Film & TV


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