Born and raised in Toronto, Yafa began her studies at Bayview Glen in Pre-School and stayed until graduating from Grade 12 in 2003. “I remember the old campus, down in the Valley, with the spacious playground and portables. I also recall moving to the new location, where everything was so modern and nice,” she says.
Recognizing that she was a bright student, Mrs. Daunt recommended that Yafa accelerate to Grade 3, and so she began a school year having to make new friends with children who were slightly older. “Another teacher who stood out was Mr. John Wintony, who always made learning fun and engaging. He had a unique way of connecting with teens and taught us to make sure we are having fun and laughing while learning,” Yafa recalls. “Another teacher that was so helpful in my later years at the school was Ms. Astrella. We all had huge respect for her intellect and felt we could talk to her about anything and she would understand. She was almost like a peer, but we never lost that respect for her. Ms. Astrella just had a magical way of connecting with all kinds of people.”
Yafa has many friends from her Bayview Glen days that she stays in touch with today. “Two of my closest friends are Glenners,” Yafa reveals. “Nadja Schauer is someone I met in Grade 8 and she is an amazing individual, such a thoughtful, kind and hilarious girl! Another close friend is Alia Anwar – a unique and outstanding person.”
For Yafa, the Outward Bound experience from her years at Bayview Glen is what really shaped her. “Whenever I am complaining about being stuck in traffic or some other minor difficulty, I think to myself at least you’re not stuck in sub-zero temperatures, trying to light a fire or find water,” she says, chuckling. “That’s what those wilderness experiences do for you – they show you what you’re made of and reveal your true character.”
Upon completing her undergraduate degree in Commerce at Queen’s University, Yafa worked at Warrillow & Co, an advisory service for small businesses targeting the small business segment. She also served as Marketing Lead for TEDxToronto, the dynamic annual conference that provides inspiration to the non-profit sector. In 2008, after years of reading about alternative health methods and the power of nutrition, Yafa founded her own business in Collingwood, Ontario: House of Verona, a health retreat designed to educate people about healthy living and vegan diet. Today, she also works for Beneplan Inc., a group benefits health insurance co-operative founded by her father, Mark Faiz. “Beneplan is my main true passion at the moment,” she says.
“House of Verona was my focus because I started it and I believe so strongly that a healthy lifestyle and diet can really transform people’s lives,” says Yafa. “Now, working with Beneplan has opened my eyes to the importance of health care benefits and I am finding that Beneplan is capturing more and more of my attention as I continue to expand my learning about this important field.”
Yafa has always been a dedicated volunteer, serving such organizations as Street Haven at the Crossroads and Bellwood Health Services. “Giving back to the community was very much part of what we learned at Bayview Glen,” she says. “So, no matter how busy I am, I always make time for volunteering. It is a great feeling to make a difference and lend a helping hand to those in need.”
Bayview Glen is proud to include Yafa Sakkejaha, BVG ’03, amongst our Notable Alumni.