Joanna Parris passes on
October 11, 2017
Certified bridal planner and consultant Ettie Dawkins was a bit confused when retired banking administrator Pat Gloudon called her last Friday to ask her if she had heard about Joanna.
“I inquired which Joanna and she asked me how many of them I knew,” Dawkins recounted. “I said three and one them, Joanna Parris, is coming to Toronto on Saturday to spend the Thanksgiving weekend at my residence. When she told me she wouldn’t be coming because she passed away a few hours earlier, I lost it.”
The etiquette and image consultant, who lived alone, was found dead in her Windsor home.
Dawkins last spoke with Parris on October 3.
“Joanna sounded like she had a cold, but she said it was her allergies and she would see a doctor when she returned from Toronto,” Dawkins said. “She was supposed to arrive at Union Station by train at around 4.30 p.m. and then catch the subway to my house which is right across the road from the subway station. She loves Pinot Gris wine, so I bought a few bottles. I was really looking forward to spending the weekend with her because she had lots of magnificent plans that included starting a Cotillion Ball in Windsor. I will miss her because she was kind genuine and just a fine person.”
She was a Black Business & Professional Service Board member when Hugh Graham served as president from 2001 to 2007.
“I was shocked when I heard the news,” he said. “Joanna was very classy, organized and a hardworker.”
Parris was a school teacher in her native Trinidad & Tobago when she was encouraged to take part in a fashion show.
“I was walking along Frederick St. and this beautiful, petite woman who was literally gliding down the street stopped me, told me I was beautiful and asked me to audition for a fashion show,” she once recounted. “I was floored. I thought she was being funny because I was accustomed to being teased. Being thin where I came from wasn’t fashionable. This woman, however, turned out to be real and I did have an audition. My life changed and suddenly I was on a catwalk with people applauding.”
After participating in the Commonwealth Fashion Show in England that resulted in international modelling stints, Parris moved to New York and taught modelling at the Barbizon Modelling Studio & Agency. She also took image and etiquette courses before returning to the twin-island republic where she launched Joanna’s Looking Glass, co-founded a fashion boutique, Toute Baghai, hosted radio and television programs and trained Miss World and Miss Universe contestants.
Migrating to Canada in 1998, she co-founded the Association of Image Consultants International Toronto chapter, founded Best Opportunity to Support Self (BOSS) in 2002 that evolved in Etiquette Nanny launched in 2012 to help young people enhance their social skills.
She also worked in the Caribbean Cultural Committee – the then organizers of the annual Toronto Carnival – office in the early 2000s.
“That was where I met her and she carried herself well,” said community organizer Joan Pierre. “She was always positive and very forward-thinking.”
Parris is survived by her daughter Nichola Blanchfield.