May 30, 2024 – Exhibition Place Secures Prestigious Rainbow Registered Accreditation

Exhibition Place is delighted to announce that it has recently secured the prestigious Rainbow Registered Accreditation. This accreditation program, developed by the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), is awarded to businesses that demonstrate a robust commitment to 2SLGBTQI+ inclusivity and diversity in their operations and services.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be recognized with the Rainbow Registered Accreditation,” says Laura Purdy (she/her), General Manager of Exhibition Place. “For us, this achievement is not just a recognition but a testament to our continued dedication towards inclusivity and creating safe, welcoming spaces for everyone in our community.”

The Rainbow Registered Accreditation involves a comprehensive process that assesses businesses across various domains, including policy and procedures, communication and knowledge, and training. This process ensures that the businesses are not only talking about inclusivity but are making genuine efforts to implement it.

Sarah Evalina (she/they), Chief Operating Officer at CGLCC, expressed her enthusiasm, “We are excited to welcome Exhibition Place to the Rainbow Registered community. As the home of many of Toronto’s top festivals and events, we are thrilled to see such a large and dynamic organization demonstrate their clear commitment to 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion through successfully meeting the standards of our national 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion accreditation program. Thank you to the Exhibition Place team for their dedication to date, and we look forward to the opportunity to work together to make Canada a safer and more inclusive country for all 2SLGBTQI+ folks.”

“We firmly believe in celebrating diversity and this accreditation validates our efforts and encourages us to continue making strides towards inclusivity,” adds the General Manager. “We call upon other venues, tourist attractions, and destinations to join us in this movement. Let’s work together to foster inclusivity and diversity in all our operations and services.”

For more detailed information about the Rainbow Registered Accreditation or our commitment to inclusivity, or if you have any questions, please contact Alexandra Serrano-Selbie, Marketing and Communications Manager, Exhibition Place at [email protected].


About Exhibition Place

Established in 1879 and located on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto, the award-winning Exhibition Place is Canada’s largest entertainment venue, hosting 1,260 events and attracting over 5.5 million visitors a year. The 192-acre site is an integral component of Toronto and Ontario’s economy, particularly with respect to conventions, sports, festivals, recreation, culture, and tourism. Exhibition Place boasts the award-winning, LEED Platinum Enercare Centre; Canada’s largest exhibition and convention centre, and the Beanfield Centre LEED Silver conference venue. Since 2004, Exhibition Place has undertaken an environmental stewardship initiative, entitled GREENSmart; which includes the promotion of sustainable development, environmental initiatives and leading-edge green technologies and practices across the site.

About Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) 

Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to expanding the economic opportunities and advancements of the 2SLGBTQI+ business community and advocating on behalf of an estimated 100,000 2SLGBTQI+ owned businesses in Canada, as well as 2SLGBTQI+ professionals, students of business, allies, and ally organizations.

CGLCC’s core mission is to contribute to a thriving and inclusive Canadian economy by promoting economic growth and prosperity through supplier diversity certification, expanding global trade opportunities, and entrepreneur mentorship.

As an entity, CGLCC is recognized as the business diversity partner within Canada, fostering relevant, expert knowledge, creating meaningful, profitable business connections, and representing the 2SLGBTQI+ business community in a way that furthers their pride.

CGLCC is supported by 73 corporate and government partners committed to engaging 2SLGBTQI+ businesses through supplier diversity.

January 26, 2024 – GES Announces Paul Burke, General Manager, GES Toronto

Toronto, January 26th 2024

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Paul Burke as the new General Manager of GES in Toronto.  Paul will assume his new role on February 20, 2024.

With an exceptional career and remarkable service expertise, Paul brings along a wealth of experience and strategic leadership to our team. With over 10 years at Air Canada, he held various positions, ranging from Customer Service to Scheduling and Facility Planning as well as Managing Resource Systems where he successfully implemented new practices and procedures.

Subsequently, Paul transitioned into a role as Director of Business Development in the B2B environment, demonstrating outstanding skills in fostering strategic partnerships and driving business growth.

Since 2019, Paul has made significant contributions as Senior Manager of Customer Service and Operations and more recently as Director of Service and Delivery at Gate Gourmet; the world’s largest independent provider of aviation catering and logistics.

His operational knowledge, experience and commitment to high-quality customer service will strengthen our position within the Toronto market.

Paul will report directly to Alain Canuel, [VP Canada]. The close working relationship between Paul and Alain will be essential to supporting our GES vision and ensuring continuity in ongoing strategic initiatives.

With his start date on February 20, 2024, we are confident that Paul will play a key role in achieving our goals and further enhancing GES’s position as an industry leader.

Please join the entire GES team in warmly congratulating Paul on his appointment and wishing him great success in his new role as GM of Toronto.

Alain Canuel

Vice President GES Canada

About GES

GES, Global Experience Specialists, is a global exhibition services company with a legacy spanning over 90 years and teams throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East. We create some of the most influential exhibitions in the world – think international medical symposiums, industry leading exhibitions for technology, and manufacturing that help communities meet, educate, and move their mission forward. From initial strategy to show-stopping audio visuals, accommodations to award-winning creative – and every detail in between – our shows propel commerce, education, and community. Our mission is to deliver extraordinary exhibition experiences through simple, user-friendly services and best-in-class execution.

December 19, 2023: CAEM Newsletter- Happy Holidays

As we approach the end of another remarkable year, we want to express our sincere gratitude for your continued support and participation in our vibrant community.   We wish you and your loved ones the very happiest of holiday seasons.

As CAEM's 40th anniversary year comes to a close we thought we would share the slideshow that we played at the Conference in June and again at the Holiday Luncheon last week.  So many of you have commented on how much you enjoyed it and that you would like to be able to see it again.  As an added bonus, you will also find a link to a video created for CAEM's 25th anniversary in 2008, this video features conversations with many of CAEM's founders speaking about how CAEM came to be.

40th Anniversary Slideshow

25th Anniversary Video



Since 1998, CAEM has been supporting the Daily Bread Food Bank as part of the Holiday Luncheon.  For each one of those years, Lange Transportation & Storage has been the driving force behind this important initiative.

This year CAEM members donated over 6000 pounds of food to the Daily Bread Food Bank bringing our total since 1998 to 290,348 pounds of food!  Thank you to every one of you who participated with your organizations or brought donations to the Holiday Luncheon.

Our top three donating organizations were:

1. The International Centre: 2279 pounds

2. STRONCO: 1182 pounds

3. National Event Management: 431 pounds


If you have not already done so please renew your CAEM membership before it expires at the end of December!

To renew your 2024 membership, log in to your CAEM account HERE.

Forgot your password? Reset it here.

If you are not already a member, there is no time like the present!  Join our vibrant community of trade and consumer show professionals today!  Learn more here

If you have any questions regarding your membership or joining CAEM please contact us at [email protected]

November 30, 2023: CAEM to Co-Host Webinar Featuring IRCC Representatives Discussing Visas for Business Events

In June 2023 CAEM, in partnership with Meetings Mean Business Canada (MMBC) and the Tourism Association of Canada (TIAC), hosted a webinar featuring officials from Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  Recording available here.

CAEM, MMBC, and TIAC have partnered once again to host a follow-up webinar with IRCC, scheduled for Tuesday, December 5th at 1 PM ET.  This webinar is free for all to attend.


November 13, 2023: Exhibition Place GM Laura Purdy to Chair New North American Chapter of UFI – The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry


Exhibition Place GM Laura Purdy to Chair New North
American Chapter of UFI – The Global Association
of the Exhibition Industry 

TORONTO November 8, 2023 – Exhibition Place’s Laura Purdy has been appointed as the inaugural Chair of the newly established North American chapter of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) together with vice chairs Kim Carcone from the Toy Association (U.S.A) and Pepe Navarro from Tarsus/Informa (Mexico). This announcement was made during the 90th UFI Global Congress in Las Vegas, the largest annual gathering in the exhibition industry.

UFI will work with MAD Event Management, a trade show management company led by President Martha Donato and CEO Marty Glynn, to manage the activities for the new North America chapter.

“I am proud to serve on the newly established UFI North America Chapter and to be representing Canada alongside my esteemed peers from the USA and Mexico. Together, we will harness the collective expertise and resources of the industry in our regions to help shape the future of the exhibition industry, fostering innovation, collaboration, and growth. I am honoured to embark on this endeavor and contribute to the success of the exhibition industry on a global scale,” said Purdy.

“As a long standing UFI member, Exhibition Place and Laura Purdy have been involved in many UFI activities over the years, especially with a focus around sustainability. We are thrilled to welcome her to our global volunteer leadership as Chair of the North America chapter and look forward to working together closely”, says Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO.

As Chapter Chair, Purdy will represent the region on both the UFI Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the term from 2023 to 2026.

CONTACT: Alexandra Serrano, Exhibition Place, Manager, Marketing and Communications, [email protected].


About Laura Purdy

Laura Purdy is an accomplished leader in Canada’s exhibition and event management industry. With over 35 years of experience, she has been a part of the leadership team at Exhibition Place throughout some of its most high-profile events including the Pan American Games, the Papal World Youth Days and the G20 Summit. Today, Laura brings her wealth of expertise to her role as Exhibition Place’s General Manager where she provides strategic leadership to venue event operations in all aspects of Event Management, Sales, Production, Security and Transportation.

Laura is strong believer in giving back and making a positive impact on the exhibitions, meetings, and conventions industry. She sits on the board of various industry Associations including the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM), Convention Centres of Canada and Meetings Mean Business Canada. She is also a passionate advocate for sustainability, DEI, and women’s empowerment, having co-founded the Women in Exhibitions North America Chapter.


About Exhibition Place

Established in 1879 and located on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto, the award-winning Exhibition Place is Canada’s largest entertainment venue, hosting 1,260 events and attracting over 5.5 million visitors a year. The 192-acre site is an integral component of Toronto and Ontario's economy, particularly with respect to conventions, sports, festivals, recreation, culture, and tourism. Exhibition Place boasts the award-winning, LEED Platinum Enercare Centre; Canada's largest exhibition and convention centre, and the Beanfield Centre LEED Silver conference venue. Since 2004, Exhibition Place has undertaken an environmental stewardship initiative, entitled GREENSmart; which includes the promotion of sustainable development, environmental initiatives and leading-edge green technologies and practices across the site.


About UFI – The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry

UFI is the global trade association of the world’s tradeshow organisers and exhibition centre operators, as well as the major national and international exhibition associations, and selected partners of the exhibition industry. UFI’s main goal is to represent, promote and support the business interests of its members and the exhibition industry. UFI directly represents more than 50,000 exhibition industry employees globally, and also works closely with its 60 national and regional association members. More than 820 member organisations in 85+ countries around the world are presently signed up as members. Over 900 international trade fairs proudly bear the UFIapproved label, a quality guarantee for visitors and exhibitors alike.

UFI members continue to provide the international business community with a unique marketing media aimed at developing outstanding face-to-face business opportunities.

November 8, 2023: CAEM Announces New Management Company

Essentient Association Management named as the new
management firm for the Canadian Association of Exposition Management

MISSISSAUGA, ON (November 8, 2023 ) – The Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM)  is pleased to announce the appointment of Essentient Association Management as CAEM’s new management firm effective January 1, 2024.

Essentient will be replacing CAEM’s current Executive Director, Jennifer Allaby of JLA Management, who has been in the role since January 1, 2021.  “We are grateful for everything Jennifer has done for CAEM not only in the last 3 years as our Executive Director, but also for the 20 years prior to that as a member, volunteer, Director, and Past President.   Her passion for CAEM is well-known and she has played an important role during the search for our new management firm, and she will be working with Essentient to make the transition as smooth as possible.” said CAEM President, Jill Kivett, who further noted “The CAEM Board has full confidence in the experience and leadership the Essentient team will bring to our association.  They share our commitment to increasing member value and ensuring the long-term growth and success of CAEM.”

Essentient Association Management, a highly regarded Canadian Association Management Company (AMC), was established by Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE, in 2005. Essentient's core focus lies in delivering governance, marketing, communications, and operational expertise to not-for-profit organizations, enabling them to attain their goals and cultivate influential communities.

With an impressive track record spanning 18 years, Essentient has solidified its standing as a reputational leader in the AMC space, serving an extensive clientele ranging from the national to regional levels. The Essentient team is committed to a collaborative approach, offering comprehensive management solutions to their valued clients.

Constance Wrigley-Thomas enthusiastically expresses, “Our longstanding awareness of CAEM has filled us with genuine excitement as we embark on a partnership to further contribute to its engaging success story.”


CAEM is the only national association solely dedicated to promoting, supporting, and defending the interests of the trade and consumer show industry in Canada. CAEM’s members include organizations that produce, plan, and manage shows; suppliers of services and products to the trade and consumer show sector; and the venues where shows are hosted.

November 1, 2023: Advocacy Update: Business Visas to be Expedited + Register for the IRCC Visa Webinar


The Federal Government released a report yesterday (October 31) which promises to prioritize visa processing for international business visitors attending major trade shows, conferences, and events in Canada.

The report, An Immigration System for Canada’s Future – A plan to get us there, includes the following action item addressing a key business events industry issue:

Expedite visitor visas, with benefits for tourism, major conferences and events.
“As of June 6, 2023, 13 more countries have been added to a partial visa exempt countries list. Now, travellers from 67 countries can apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) instead of a visa with most eTA applications approved within minutes. 

We are also committed to ensuring priority visa processing so those from all over the world attending major conferences and events in Canada that are registered with IRCC, make it there on time.”

CAEM has been working in lock step with Meetings Mean Business Canada (MMBC) and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC)  to advocate for the importance of this issue to Members of Parliament and government officials.  This is an excellent step forward and major win for the Canadian business events industry.

You may remember that CAEM, in partnership with MMBC and TIAC, hosted a webinar featuring officials from Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) last June. [Recording available here].

CAEM, MMBC and TIAC have partnered once again to host a follow up webinar with IRCC to explore the following topics.

  • An update on the current situation on visa processing
  • An overview of IRCC's Special Events Services, including types of events that qualify and what it means to register an event with IRCC
  • How organizers of international events hosted in Canada can support participants from visa required countries to ensure a successful event
  • IRCC guidelines on timelines for visa approvals by country

This webinar will take place on December 5th at 1PM ET.  It is free for all to attend and you are encouraged to share the details with your network. 

Click here to register 

October 18, 2023 – CAEM Announces 2024 Conference Location


After an exhaustive RFP process, the CAEM Board of Directors is thrilled to announce the 2024 CAEM Annual Conference will take place in Edmonton.  Specifically, the Conference sessions will take place at the Edmonton Convention Centre with the host hotel being right next door at the Courtyard Marriott Edmonton Downtown.

We wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who participated in our survey at the Conference.  Every step of the location selection process  –  from the RFP creation to it's distribution list – hinged on the direction we received from YOU!.

One of the consistent pieces of feedback we have received over the last several years is a request to move the start of the Conference from Sunday to Monday – and that is exactly what we have done for 2024!  We are giving you back your weekend and the Conference will begin with the Opening Reception on Monday evening June 24 and end with the Closing Dinner on Wednesday, June 26!

Our Conference Committee is just about formed and we cannot wait to share our exciting plans with you over the next several months!

See you in Edmonton, June 24-26, 2024!

October 16, 2023 – CAEM Webinar: Grow Your Show, October 25

A Look at Attendance Trends & Strategies 

Join our expert panel as they discuss the current industry trends in trade and consumer show attendance.

Learn about the challenges, success stories, and key takeaways to help you grow and promote your events.

A reminder that CAEM Webinars are eligible for 1 CEM Recertification credit.  

This webinar will be recorded and available to all registered attendees following the event.  Additionally, the recording will be uploaded to the CAEM website where members can access using their membership login.  Click here for member access to previous webinars


Meet Our Panelists and Moderator

Steve Dempsey, General Manager, Diversified Communications Canada

October 2023 marks Steve’s 29th year in the business events industry working in for-profit organizations large and small, public and private.

Steve has volunteered with many organizations across the industry including roles as Past President of CAEM. As part of the senior leadership team at Diversified, Steve is tuned into attendee challenges and trends on the trade shows side of the industry.

Kyle Dugan, CEM, Senior Event Coordinator, CONEXSYS Registration

Kyle Dugan, CEM is a Senior Event Coordinator with CONEXSYS Registration. For over 15 years, he has worked on events from countless industries, with attendance ranging from 200 to 20,000 people across Canada, the US and Europe. CONEXSYS provides personalized registration support to event producers from online pre-registration and sales, onsite registration management, attendance tracking, and robust post-event reporting.

Shelly Gepfert, Chief Marketing Officer, Marketplace Events

Shelly first started with MPE in 2006 as Regional Marketing Manager, overseeing the consumer and exhibitor marketing for 11 annual home shows. She now oversees the consumer, exhibitor and digital marketing departments for 70+ annual home shows across North America.

But before that, she penned an article published in Mademoiselle magazine entitled “Live Like a Rich Bitch for $100 or Less”, won an Emmy for her work at NBC on the 2012 Olympics, and was employed by short-but-successful NBA star Isiah Thomas.

The only two-time recipient of the Marketplace Events “CEO Award of Appreciation”, Shelly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University. When she’s not looking after her staff of 15 (at last count), she’s tending to her firstborn, plus twin daughters and her hubby Alan who is a former NFL cornerback.

Sheila Wong, CEM, Founding Partner & Senior Vice President, BBW Event Staff and BBW Outsourcing

In 1991 Sheila Wong joined Henk Bok and an equity partner to form BBW International Inc., a national event staffing company. They quickly set the industry standard for staffing events through training to deliver exceptional customer service. Using the eLearning tool developed by Sheila, Front-pro™ certifies their team of Event Professionals to put their best foot forward. Currently, BBW staffs 1200 events in nine cities across Canada with over 1800 employees. They have become the launching pad for many people who want to pursue a career in the events industry.

In 2013 Sheila was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Meetings + Incentive Travel Magazine for Volunteerism and won the Meeting Professionals International Toronto Literary Award. In 2016 She was inducted into the Canadian Association of Exposition Management Hall of Fame and named 2016 Industry Influencer in the Toronto Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. Most recently she received recognition by the Customer Service Professionals Network as the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year for Women in Leadership. In 2023, Sheila was recognized as a Finalist in the PCMA Visionary Awards in the Groundbreaker category.

Today, Sheila gives back to the industry and the community through fundraising for various causes.



Employees from a Member Company:  $15 plus tax
(A special rate is available for employees who are not CAEM members, but the organization they work for is a member of CAEM. Please email [email protected] for a registration code.)

Non-members: $65 plus tax


September 18, 2023: CEBA Repayment Deadlines Extended


Last month, as part of our ongoing advocacy work on your behalf, we shared that CAEM – along with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and over 200 chambers of commerce, tourism organizations and industry groups – sent a letter to the Minister of Finance outlining that our industry has not yet returned to ‘business as usual' and one way to help our sector would be to extend the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA)  loan repayment deadline to December 31, 2025.   You can read CAEM's letter here.

We also asked you to help amplify the message by sending a letter to your MP which would be copied to the Ministers of Finance, Tourism and Small Business.  Details here.  Thank you so much to all of you who took action and sent a letter.

On September 14, the Prime Minister announced extended deadlines for CEBA loan repayments.  While the measures announced fall short of our requests, they do provide some relief.  Through CAEM's work with TIAC and their partners this is yet another example that there is power in numbers.  The relationships CAEM has built over the last 3 years have proved invaluable and we will continue to foster them and work to elevate the specific issues the trade and consumer show industry faces.

TIAC is in contact with the Minister of Tourism's office to work through next steps and alternative support.  We will keep you updated as the efforts progress.

A brief overview of the new CEBA repayment terms are provided below.  More details can be found here

    • The repayment deadline for CEBA loans to qualify for partial loan forgiveness of up to 33% is being extended from December 31, 2023 to January 18, 2024.
    • For CEBA loan holders who make a refinancing application with the financial institution that provided their CEBA loans by January 18, 2024, the repayment deadline to qualify for partial loan forgiveness now includes a refinancing extension until March 28, 2024.
    • CEBA loan holders must have started the refinancing process with the lending financial institution by January 18, 2024, or those businesses are immediately subject to three-year term loans at 5% interest.
    • CEBA loan holders can still achieve the forgivable portion (up to $10,000 or $20,000 depending on the principal amount of the loan), if the loan refinancing process begins by January 18, 2024, and the loan is paid back in full by March 28, 2024.
    • Businesses who refinance but do not pay back the loan in full by March 28, 2024, will still receive the preferrable 5% annual interest rate on the loan, which must be paid back in full by December 31, 2026 (the original repayment date was December 31, 2025). This scenario means loan holders who remain in repayment after March 28, 2024, will not be eligible for the forgivable amount.
    • Loans not fully repaid by March 28, 2024 will incur interest at 5% for a three-year period. Loan holders may have the option of making monthly payments equal to the interest portion during this period with the balance of the principal amount, coming due on December 31, 2026.
    • The above changes to the CEBA program also apply to the CEBA-equivalent lending through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).