anne_marieLoved by so many friends and strangers alike, Anna, with her unyielding motto “live, love and laugh” raised millions of dollars for numerous charities in the city. Together with her husband of almost 25 years, Anna and Ivan brought glamour and glitter to the Toronto scene. She always made the hard work and commitment to fundraising a fun time. Anna Maria, with her amazing energy and courage fought a nine-month battle with cancer without a complaint, sadly she passed away on Tuesday September 18, 2007. She will be dearly missed.


Anna Maria and husband Ivan de Souza at the Brazilian Ball in 1995.

As the Founder, President and CEO of the Brazilian Carnival Ball, Anna Maria for more than 42 years organized and involved herself selflessly in various fundraising activities for a number of charitable institutions in Canada. Her principle commitment was the Brazilian Carnival Ball, which she founded in the basement of a church in 1966.

(Image: Anna Maria and husband Ivan de Souza at the Brazilian Ball in 1995.)

Her efforts resulted in more than $55-million net raised for various charities, most of them in the City of Toronto, and most in the area of healthcare. As well, her Brazilian Carnival Ball has funded a great number of institutions in Brazil. These contributions to Brazil have included medical diagnostic equipment and funding to build hospital facilities and seniors’ homes.

Each year, the Brazilian Carnival Ball attracts over 1,800 guests and raises more than $2-million, making Anna Maria’s Brazilian Carnival Ball one of the largest fundraising galas in Canada. Every year a different charity is selected as the beneficiary of the proceeds.

The Brazilian Carnival Ball has gained an international reputation. In September 2002 the Ball was held at the Château de Versailles in France. The Ball’s recipient was the Louis Pasteur Institute. It was held under the presidency of Madame la Comtesse de Paris, Her Royal Highness the Princess Isabelle d’Orléans-Bragance. Honorary committee members included: Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Prince and Princess d’Arenberg, His Excellency Mr. Raymond Chrétien, Mr. Hubert de Givenchy, Her Highness the Duchess Rixa von Oldenburg, Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess d’Orléans, Princess Radziwill, Prince and Princess Alexander Romanoff, Baroness Nadine de Rothschild, Their Royal Highnesses Victor-Emmanuel and Marina de Savoie, the Prince and Princess of Naples, and the Duke and Duchess d’Uzès.

For her charitable work and support of a variety of organizations, Ms. de Souza was granted many awards and honours including:

  • Queen’s Medal of Honour, awarded by the Governor General of Canada
  • Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, awarded by the Governor General of Canada
  • Order of Rio Branco, awarded by the President of Brazil
  • Arbor Award, presented by the University of Toronto
  • Civic Award, presented by the City of Toronto
  • Variety Club Diamond Award
  • A ordem do Grande Colar do Brazao, awarded by the Mayor of the City of Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Minas, Brazil
  • The title of Cidada Benemerita, given by the Mayor of the City of Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Minas, Brazil
  • Outstanding Volunteer Award, presented by the National Society of Fundraising Executives
  • Biography listing in The World Who’s Who of Women, Cambridge, England
  • Woman of the Year 2000, awarded by American Biographical Institute
  • May 12 2008 – Government of Ontario – Premier Dalton McGuinty announces a $15-million grant to fund The de Souza Institute – A Knowledge Transfer Centre for Oncology nurses at Princess Margaret Hospital.
  • May 26 2008 – 39th Parliament of Canada. Recognition of Anna Maria de Souza’s dedication and commitment to the citizens of Canada and Ontario through the Brazilian Carnival Ball.


Tribute from PMH

PDF: “Live, Love & Laugh.”

Oncology Center

PDF: “The 2008 Brazilian Carnival Ball reaches a landmark achievement”


PDF: “Treasuring the Legacy of the Brazilian Carnival Ball”

Celebrating a Life

PDF: “ANNA MARIA DE SOUZA: Celebrating a life”

de Souza Institute

PDF: “The de Souza Institute: Advancing Oncology Nursing Practice in Ontario”

For more information please visit:

Note: The hyperlink above, accesses an information sheet in Adobe Acrobat pdf format. A free Acrobat Reader is available from Adobe.

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