Robin Pacquing

How did you first discover The Lakes?: I’m grateful that I’ve always lived a km or two from Lake Ontario. When I was a young kid, my Dad bought a small fishing boat and he would take my brothers and I on boating/fishing trips around Humber Bay, all along the Toronto shoreline, and to the Toronto Islands after school and on weekends in warmer months. I appreciated then how big and beautiful our waterways were, even though we were far from the Ocean and my ancestral waters.

What inspires you about the LS community?: The happiness it brings to the lives of so many women. All women from different socioeconomic backgrounds, places of origin, creeds, shapes and sizes. They all just want to be in the water because it makes them feel happy. Being in the water gives everyone their own personal sense of peace and discovery.

Favourite places to surf?: I have so many on all the coasts, but nothing strikes my heart more than my original home break, Marie Curtis Park, after it’s been blowing hard NE overnight then switches to a light N on a sunny morning. That’s when you’ll find me riding clean long fun lefts with the regulars.

What scares you?: The thought that one day I may not be able bodied enough to surf.

What do you love?: I love my Family and all of my friends whom I consider to be Family. I love a good West Coast sunset session. I love being in a space where I’m the only human being I can see. I love my partner Ben and his support for me. I really love sleeping in.

Favourite food?: Sinagag (filipino garlic fried rice) and a crispy fried egg.

Motto: Just ride the wave - 12 year old me.

Favourite Quote: Youth is wasted on the young - Georg Bernard Shaw


Sonia Jaafar

How did you first discover The Lakes?: After purchasing my first SUP in 2009. I had just spent some time surfing in Nicaragua and had SUP’d there on flat days. I figured this would be my answer to water time when I was back home in Canada. I did not know then you could surf the Great Lakes. Grant Kennedy from Surf Ontario took me under his wing so to speak when I first started paddling, and from there I met Mike Sandusky. The two of them took me sup’ing and introduced me to lake surfing. They let me tag along on trips to Huron and Erie; places I have never been before. I have never looked back and will forever be grateful to the two of them.

What inspires you about the LS community?: The camaraderie of the LS community inspires me. A group of women doing something is always way more fun than doing it alone. I gather strength from other strong adventurous women.

What scares you?: I am scared of hold downs and subsequently am scared of big waves.

What do you love?: I love so many things! I love my family. I love to surf. I love the ocean. I love my friends. I love to travel. I love good food.

Favourite food?: Thai food. And chocolate of course.

Motto?: You can do this.

Favourite Quote: I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world This makes it hard to play the day. - E.B. White.


Shazia Mazhar

How did you first discover The Lakes?: I fell in love with surfing and SUPing while on vacations in other countries. I came hoe after a trip to Barbados and bought my first SUP from Surf Ontario in the middle of a snowstorm. Then I spent the summer learning skills with SUPGirlz…and I have loved every moment on our lakes since.

What inspires you about the LS community?: The stoke in our community is amazing. I have so much respect for those that have built the community and welcome us newer members. I have also gained a new respect for the lakes as a natural resource to protect.

Favourite places to surf?: I love surfing everywhere! Of course I love the lakes, but also love to travel and will surf anywhere and everywhere. Nicaragua will always hold a place in my heart as the place I fell in love with surfing.

What scares you?: Overconfidence scares me. I want to continually learn. Mother Nature reminded me of Her force. I always want to stay humble and in awe of the water.

What do you love? I love the exhaustion of a great surf session. I also love that moment of adrenaline when you just start to drop in. It makes me smile every time. And the people. Surfing is a community like no other.

Favourite food?: Is wine a food?

Motto or fav quote?: My personal mantra is Do it all. Go everywhere. It’s appropriate for a nomadic mermaid like me.


Kristen Hanna

How did you first discover The Lakes?: My parents used to walk me in my stroller from our apartment near Don Mills and Eglinton, all the way down to the beaches. Many of my childhood memories are from the Toronto waterfront. My parents made it a priority to teach me to appreciate this resource early on as it was our playground. Four years ago while rollerblading on the waterfront path I saw people on SUPs and that was the spark which ignited my journey to surfing here on the Great Lakes.

What inspires you about the LS community?: There is really nothing that compares to the positivity that a group of stoked women. From the very first Ladies of the Lakes event in 2014, it was clear that we had something quite special and must be shared and celebrated amongst all of us who call the lakes our home. Surf or no surf, we know how to have a good time and make the most of the conditions.

Favourite places to surf?: Depends on the direction of the wind. Abay because of my childhood. Kincardine has the most epic sunsets. Pleasant Beach on Lake Erie for its power and of course, Costa Rica for its consistency. Hawaii because it’s where I caught my first wave when I was 17.

What scares you?: I’m most scared of rocks, that’s why I tend to avoid them and stick to beach breaks. It takes a long time for me to scope out a new break and get comfortable.

What do you love?: Making the most of the weather, regardless of the conditions. Whether it’s cross country or downhill skiiing, SUP, skateboarding, etc. I also love cats. If that makes me a crazy cat lady, so what!

Favourite food?: Noodles of any kid and anything frozen.

Favourite quote of motto?: Whatever you decide to be in this life, just own it. Be yourself because everyone else has already been taken.


Jordan-na Belle-Isle

How did you first discover The Lakes?: I moved to Toronto around 2006 but it wasn’t until I surfed in Hawaii in 2013 that I really discovered Lake Ontario. I wanted to figure out to surf in Toronto and that led me to the SUP/surf community. It was amazing that I could paddle a SUP board on flat days and surf it on windier days right in my own backyard without having access to the ocean. Since then, I’ve tried out different routes and breaks on Lake Ontario and Erie - I have so much more of the Great Lakes to explore!

What inspires you about the LS community?: As I get older, the importance of community becomes clearer. The Lake Surfistas community is incredibly welcoming, inclusive and diverse; we have women that represent different cultural backgrounds, body types, ages, athletic abilities, and more. We are united by our love of surf and support each other in the pursuit of waves! The generosity and encouragement I’ve seen from our community is so uplifting. We really do become surf sisters in the water.

Favourite places to surf?: Anywhere with fun waves, really. Abay because it’s where I learned to SUP surf and have had great moments there. I also love Main Beach at The Bluffs. It’s such a small, gentle wave on a forgiving beach break with great views of the Bluffs as you ride in. I have lovely memories of looking at the brilliant fall leaves or marveling at the snow covered scenery while riding a wave.

What scares you?: A few things that I try not to think about while surfing. We all have our fears but we can’t let that stop us from doing what we love (see my motto, below).

What do you love? Oh I love so much! I love the people in my life, I love being outdoors and being active, I love my iSUP board. I love the hustle it takes to surf and SUP on a budget and without a car! I love being part of a community and making other feels welcome. I love sharing spontaneous moments. I love moments when I am brave enough to push past my fears and comfort zone.

Favourite food?: Nothing beats a classic chocolate chip cookie; that is my comfort food. And pie, delicious, delicious pie, sweet or savoury.

Motto: Love not fear. I repeat this to myself whenever I feel nervous or unsure of myself while surfing.

Favourite Quote: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool. - Lester Bangs as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous.


Lauren Schell

How did you first discover The Lakes?: I grew up in Grimsby, ON where Lake Ontario was in our backyard, so I have a lot of early memories of swimming in the lake or taking my friend's old crappy canoe out on the weekends. We would spend summer days hanging out in Sauble Beach and Long Point park: swimming, body boarding and going for late night floats under the stars- but Lake Ontario was always home. When I finished University, Toronto called to me so I could be close to Lake Ontario again. I learned how to paddle board with SUPGirlz 5 years ago and my connection to it just intensified from there.

What inspires you about the LS community?: The Lake Surfistas community is so spectacular and supportive. It’s so great to meet women from all walks of life who share in the same passion for the water. When you have a pack of women behind you-who understand you, cheering you on there really isn’t much you can’t accomplish. These connections are so vital and seeing the ladies get out there inspires me to keep at it.

Favourite places to surf?: Anywhere where my friends are!

What scares you?: Getting to the end of my life and thinking “oh gosh, I wish I had tried that.” The idea that I didn’t embrace this big, juicy life scares the crap out of me. So any other little fears always lose out to that one.

What do you love? Gosh. So many things. I love nature. I love people and their endless capacity for compassion and generosity.I love movement: surf and dance and yoga. I love poetry and art and capturing people in their happiest moments in photos. Puppies. Mangoes. Living a calm and joyful life. The water and her endless wisdom

Favourite food?: Mangoes. I can’t get enough of them.

Motto: “Be the reason someone smiles today”

Favourite Quote: “Cynics are simply thwarted romantics.” - William Goldman, The Princess Bride