It is so exciting to present the Young Professional Award, which not only highlights someone who has had a remarkable career so far, but someone from whom we can continue to expect amazing things for years and decades to come. I’m very happy to say that for 2023, Krystal Riddell is the recipient of the Young Professional Award.
Krystal’s journey began right here in Niagara. Following her high school graduation, she ventured to Toronto, where she enrolled at Humber College and eventually became a Licensed Funeral Director in 2007. Her journey in this profession commenced with an internship in St. Catharines, where she would go on to serve for an incredible decade. During this time, Krystal gained invaluable experience, learning and developing the highest standards of care, which she then extended to the countless families she had the honour to assist.
As she continued to grow into her role as a funeral director, Krystal has found many other ways to give back to her community. Her contributions as a Past President of the Niagara District Funeral Services Association, a Paul Harris Fellow, and a dedicated Rotarian for over six years have all had a big impact. Krystal is also a Past President of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines South, where she contributed her time and philanthropic support to numerous local organizations, including Rotary, Hospice Niagara, Community Crew, Mobile Closet, Start Me Up Niagara, Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, and many more.
As an environmentalist, Krystal has been a steadfast advocate and leader within her profession, encouraging and promoting eco-friendly death care services. She is a member and serves on the board of the Green Burial Society of Canada, further exemplifying her commitment to sustainable and environmentally responsible practices in her field.
Krystal’s deep desire to be a leader in her profession and her community has been evident over the past 18 years. She is profoundly passionate about helping families during their times of need and remains committed to serving all families with the highest level of professionalism and care.
In 2017, Krystal realized her dream by opening her own family-owned funeral service establishment in Niagara Falls, known as Essentials Cremation and Burial Services. In 2021, she proudly opened her second funeral home in Welland. She considers it a great honor to have the opportunity to look after those in need during some of their darkest times, making it her sole purpose to always support her community in every possible way.
One of the remarkable aspects of Krystal’s journey is her role as one of the youngest female funeral professionals who independently established her own business within the funeral profession, rather than inheriting or purchasing it.
When she started in 2017, she aspired to assist four families each month. By the end of her first year in business, she had served 74. Today, as Essentials finishes its sixth year, her team will have helped over 500 families since January. The transition from a one-person operation to having a dedicated team of four full-time funeral directors, a full-time funeral directing intern, a funeral director’s assistant, and six part-time support colleagues is an achievement she is incredibly proud of.
Krystal’s dedication to her business has enabled her to give back generously to the community through sponsorships and donations. For instance, Essentials contributed $50,000 to Hospice Niagara’s Capital Campaign and supported various initiatives through Rotary and other organizations.
The pandemic presented numerous challenges, but Essentials consistently demonstrated resilience and adaptability. Krystal and her team implemented safety protocols, live-streamed services, and created a safe environment for people to work, heal, and grieve in. Their ability to adapt ensured they could continue serving grieving families during a time when they needed it most.
One of her proudest achievements has been her advocacy for environmentally friendly death care options. Recognizing the increasing importance of sustainability in all aspects of life, Essentials took a proactive step by offering eco-friendly funeral and burial alternatives, including biodegradable urns, sustainable caskets, and eco-conscious cremation services. This commitment aligns the business with the growing demand for earth-sensitive and responsible choices.
Through the years, Krystal has received a multitude of recognitions, including being named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary. She has received the Young Professional Award and Excellence in Business at the GNCC Business Achievement Awards, was a recipient of the 40 Under 40 Niagara Business Award, received the Niagara Falls Community Volunteer Award from the City of Niagara Falls, and was recognized with the Niagara Impact Award. Most recently, she was bestowed the Philanthropist of the Year recognition through the organization Brilliant Minded Women.
As Krystal looks to the future, her goal is to nurture Essentials and continue enjoying her career as a funeral director. She aspires to establish a succession plan for her company and continue supporting women in business locally. Krystal remains dedicated to encouraging young women within the funeral service profession to explore leadership and ownership roles. Her ultimate dream is to establish or acquire a crematorium or the first “Recompose” facility in Ontario.
With even her new puppy undergoing training to become a therapy dog at Essentials, Krystal is committed to furthering her philanthropic endeavors. Her objective is to build a legacy and be known as a humanitarian within her profession and her local community. She serves as an inspiration to all, reminding us that through dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment to our communities, we can truly make a difference.
After all that, I believe that we can all agree that Krystal Riddell is a true symbol of business excellence and community leadership. She has demonstrated a profound dedication to the Niagara region and embodies the spirit of the Young Professional Award. Thank you, Krystal, for your outstanding contributions, innovative spirit, and tireless efforts in making Niagara a better place. Congratulations on receiving the Young Professional Award.