Aboriginal Affairs Award
Sandra Laronde is an outstanding artist. She is an actor, singer, writer and producer who has made an outstanding contribution to the artistic advancement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal arts in Toronto. As the founder of Native Women in the Arts (NWIA), she has provided a venue for indigenous women to explore and express their cultural and artistic visions and through these efforts has fostered the careers of hundreds of women and youth at the local and national levels.
She has played a pivotal role in working towards getting access to creative opportunities for youth at risk and other under-served communities and has used her appointments with the Toronto Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council to obtain this goal.
Sandra has performed in many theatrical and film productions. She has been a playwright-in-resident, a choreographer and a co-artistic director of a leading Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. She is the creative director of Red Sky, a multi-disciplinary contemporary performing arts company.
Sandra's other activities include having served as the spokesperson for the International Committee for Toronto's Olympic Bid and joined Team Canada's trade mission to Russia and Germany. She has participated in national consultations with Aboriginal leaders regarding education, training and employment and she also worked with the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation.
Bear is the founder and volunteer Program Director with SpiritWatch Community Service. This program is a culturebased alcohol and drug certificate program in the Allan Gardens area. As a result of the success of SpiritWatch, Bear identified the need for additional programs and services and introduced three new talking circles for women, men and youth. Over 100 people have benefited from this program which has involved countless hours spent by Bear arranging meeting places, finding instructors, consulting elders and seeking solutions for clients' problems.
Bear is generous with time and money. He embraces his work in the community particularly with people who are homeless, socially isolated, under-housed and who are among the working poor. Bear can "speak" the language of the disenfranchised and is often found in the parks and other areas of central Toronto, giving support to those at risk of harm from alcohol and drugs.
Bear has recently joined the Anishnawbek Committee at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and the board of "Just Us", a group serving prisoners and ex-offenders. He has also volunteered with other organizations including Casey House Hospice, Thunder Bay District Health Council, Wellesley Hospital, 519 Church Street Community Centre and the AIDS Committee of Toronto.
In 2000, his contribution and work was recognized by being awarded the Provincial Human Rights Award from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Access Award for Disability Issues
William Brown is and has been a formidable advocate on behalf of disability issues and a range of human rights issues. Generous with his time, he has served and continues to serve on numerous boards and committees. Some of these volunteer efforts have been on the Olympic Bid, legislative reform such as the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and health care services for people with disabilities.
He is dedicated, forceful and effective in his advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities and for improvements and changes to all aspects of transportation access to planes, trains and buses and at the neighbourhood and community level.
His committee memberships have included the City of Toronto's Disability Issues Advisory Committee, GO Transit Accessibility Advisory Committee, Scarborough Hospitals Accessibility Task Force and the Rouge Valley Health System Accessibility Advisory Committee. He has been a consumer representative with the Canadian Standards Association, a member of the 2008 Olympic Bid Accessibility Committee, Toronto My City - A Safe City project and the Toronto Transit Commission's Advisory Committee on Accessible
Bill Brown has been a committed fundraiser by raising over $35,000 in cash register tapes that have been redeemed for $80,000 which were donated to numerous charities assisting women, children and health care concerns.
Bill is a recipient of numerous community awards including the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship (1995), Gardiner Citizen of the Year (1993), Bicentennial Civic Award of Merit (1996), Shirley Samaroo Memorial Community Award (1995) and the Award of Appreciation from Nellie's Shelter for Women (2002).
For over 35 years William Meider has been a generous volunteer member of many committees. He has worked on committees addressing issues such as transportation, race relations, disability health care, the Olympic Bid and children's breakfast programs such as the Children's Breakfast Club, and committees to address independent living. Despite many barriers, William has never allowed his own disability to be a barrier to participating in all aspects of public life.
His committee memberships include the Toronto Transit Commission's Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation, Transportation Action Now and committees with the Anne Johnston Health Centre, the 2008 Olympic Bid and March of Dimes.
William has also been a devoted fundraiser for the Toronto Children's Breakfast Club. He has been a lifeguard for physically disabled children and helped children with disabilities in the African Canadian community to participate in Black History Month activities.
William Meider's contributions over the years have been extensive and his advocacy has been passionate and relentless on behalf of people with disabilities.
Ing Wong-Ward has been a pioneer and role model in her journey to fulfil her dream to become a journalist. Throughout her career, from her early years with the Eyeopener and Ryersonian at Ryerson University to her current role as a producer with CBC Radio, she has been an excellent role model and has used her role to address social justice issues.
While working with the Eyeopener she wrote many stories about the barriers faced by students with disabilities at Ryerson University. Through this process she increased awareness among the general student body and among the faculty and university administrators.
Her work as co-host/reporter with the Disability Network provided her with a vehicle for people with disabilities to have their voice. This pioneering television program was produced by and for people with disabilities and laid a strong foundation at the CBC for experiences to be covered.
She has worked on many programs including Big Life with Daniel Richler, Newsworld's news shows Politics and The Lead. In 1997, she moved to Midday and in 2000, joined CBC Radio's This Morning and in 2002, Metro Morning. In her career, she has worked on many stories from the war in Afghanistan, the attacks on 9/11, the Concorde crash, Clinton impeachment, Atlanta Olympics and Paralympics, the death of Pierre Trudeau, as well as many stories important to people with disabilities.
In her professional life, Ing Wong-Ward continues to make many efforts toward the integration of people with disabilities into all sectors of society.
Constance E. Hamilton Award on the Status of Women
Currently, the President of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Zanana Akande has worked towards equity in our society by addressing education, communications and the media, feminism, race relations and social change.
Since she began her professional life in 1961, Zanana Akande has had several careers. She was a teacher and administrator at all levels of the public education system. After her election as a Member of the Provincial Parliament in 1990, Zanana was the first Black woman to be appointed to the Ontario Cabinet. As the Minister of Community and Social Services she was responsible for the second largest portfolio in government in terms of staff and budget.
She has worked in the media with MTV and was the co-founder of Tiger Lily, a magazine giving voice to the perspectives of visible minority women. In addition to her work with the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, she is or has been a volunteer with many organizations such as the YWCA of Greater Toronto, United Way of Greater Toronto, the Family Services Association, Elizabeth Fry Society, Canadian Alliance of Black Educators, Federation of Women Teachers Association of Ontario, Toronto Child Abuse Centre, Toronto Arts Against Apartheid Festival, Community Unity Alliance, the Congress of Black Women and Harbourfront Centre.
Zanana Akande has been the recipient of many awards including the African Canadian Achievement Award for Education, the Onyx Award for Exemplary Service to Community, Black History Makers Award, the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, Awards of Distinction from the Congress of Black Women and the YWCA.
Nora Currie has almost two decades of experience working in the Toronto women's community regarding issues of gender, race and class, and how they affect women's equity.
Her focus has been on rape and sexual assault and the response of the police and the courts to those crimes. As well as her frontline involvement in shelters and crisis centres, she has played a central role in the design and implementation of police and government policy regarding sexual assault. Her personal experience and direct contributions on this issue have set legal precedent in Canadian jurisprudence and are cited in academic curriculum across the country. Her written work has garnered multiple award nominations and has raised awareness in Toronto and elsewhere about women's rights. She has described herself as a feminist, "card - carrying, with capital letters and without apology or equivocation" even in a time when that place is seen by many as problematic and no longer necessary.
Nora has also worked extensively in the arts and culture sector of our city, also focussing on the representation of diversity. For eight years she was a faculty member of George Brown and Seneca Colleges where she designed and taught classes in "Violence Against Women", "Women and the Law" and "Community Development". She has been involved in many public education programs and conferences addressing issues of racism, psychiatry, harm reduction, labour issues, child abuse and the rights of sex workers, to name a few. She is a popular lecturer who has toured the country and into the United States.
Nora Currie is a YWCA Woman of Distinction, a Chatelaine Magazine Woman of the Year, a NAC Woman of Courage and an Elizabeth Fry Rebel with a Cause. In 2000 she was the Toronto Sun/CFRB Newsmaker of the Year.
Since her arrival in Canada from El Salvador, Loly Rico has worked resolutely to support and empower refugee women from diverse backgrounds. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to social justice and the principles of anti-oppression and equity.
Since 1991, Loly has served as Co-director of FCJ Hamilton House Refugee Project that provides shelter and assistance to refugee women in need and their children. As a volunteer on the board of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, she has consistently ensured that issues pertaining to refugee women are addressed in policy, particularly in the areas of housing and shelter.
Loly was the driving force behind organizing local public education and strategic planning workshops on the Trafficking of Women and Children, which led to her involvement in government consultations and other advocacy initiatives. Loly has been a member of many other organizations working on refugee issues including the Canadian Council of Refugees, the NGO Steering Committee for the World Conference Against Racism, Interchurch Committee for Refugees, Maytree Foundation Leadership Program, Coalition of Shelter Providers for Refugee Claimants (founding member) and Mujer.
Loly Rico's hard work, courage and determination is a beacon for refugee women in Toronto. Her work is admired by her peers and those providing service and advocacy regarding immigrant and refugee issues.
Pride Award for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual and Two Spirited Issues
In 2000, Martin Bourgeois helped to establish Gays and Lesbians Parenting Together (GLPT) which has become a network of over 900 families providing invaluable support to gays and lesbians who are interested in becoming parents or who are parents. He has provided information and personal support, sent out newsletters, recruited members, paid expenses out of his own pocket and acted as a facilitator to this network.
Countless lesbian and gay parents can testify to the support and encouragement they received from Martin who made himself available to provide advice, useful information and practical support.
Martin has also worked towards providing services to those who face barriers because of HIV/AIDS. He has contributed his services to children or parents who have limited funds and has paid the rent and other household bills for people in need. At a time when dentists often refuse to treat people with AIDS/HIV, Dr Martin Bourgeois has provided this service in a caring and accepting environment.
His dedication towards assisting people to be proud of who they are and the families they have or will have is such that he provided public awareness through his personal sponsorship of a film about lesbian and gay parenthood at the Inside/Out Festival.
Susan Gapka is committed to the empowerment of the marginalized community of transgender and transexual people through her dedication to social justice and her activism. She has worked with numerous committees within the Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender Two-spirited (LGBTTT) communities including TBLG Commissioner for Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, LGBT Police Community Advisory Consultative Committee, Donwoods Gay/Les/Bi Program Advisory Committee, City of Toronto's LGBT Issues Advisory Committee, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Student Association of George Brown College and Rainbow Services Gender Identity Clinic (CAMH).
She is a frequent speaker and co-facilitates numerous workshops and training sessions for health care and social service providers and has appeared in various media interviews. She has been vocal in her lobbying the government for the rights of transpeople.
For her contributions she has received numerous awards including the Courage to Come Back Award from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Ross MacMillan Award and Masters Award for Outstanding Achievement both from McLaughlin College Council, Volunteer Recognition Certificate from Parkdale Community Health Centre, President's Award from the Student Association of George Brown College and Volunteer of the Month from the Daily Food Bank.
Pride Toronto hosts and coordinates Pride Week, the annual arts and cultural festival in celebration of Toronto's LGBTTQ communities and culture. Pride Toronto is an organization that exists through the contribution of over 700 volunteers.
From its beginning in 1970 as a community picnic on Hanlan's Point, Pride Toronto has grown to become one of the most important festivals in Toronto. Toronto's annual Pride Festival is the largest in Canada and the third largest in the world featuring two parades, eleven entertainment stages, a marketplace, a street fair and many events.
The 2004 Pride Festival included over one million participants in this celebration of love, life and diversity which has also provided an important opportunity to educate the general public about the barriers faced by members of this community. Pride Toronto fosters community partnerships through active outreach. The Pride Festival honours the past and has grown by being innovative, forward-thinking and just plain fun.
William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations
Lillian Allen is an award-winning internationally renowned poet, author and playwright. A pioneer of "dub poetry" she specializes in writing and performing this highly politicized form of poetry, which is sometimes set to music. Her recordings "Revolutionary Tea Party" and "Conditions Critical" won Juno Awards in 1986 and 1988, respectively. She has spent almost three decades writing, publishing and performing her work internationally. Her works appear independently and in anthologies. Lillian has also worked in film as a featured artist, co-producer and co-director.
She initiated and facilitated the establishment of a number of organizations in a variety of culturally diverse communities, and has worked within several established organizations to create access and change.
Lillian is a former member of the Racial Equity Advisory Committee of the Canada Council, the Experts Advisory Committee to the International Cultural Diversity Agenda and an executive member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Currently, Lillian is a professor of creative writing, a part of the liberal studies department at the Ontario College of Arts & Design.
Despite personally feeling the backlash on Muslims following the attacks on 9/11, Naheed Dosani decided to better understand the cause of the increase in the verbal and physical abuse towards Muslims and those of Afghani descent. Realizing that one of the reasons for the rise in discrimination was a lack of awareness, Naheed made it his personal goal to educate his fellow students that not all Muslims and Afghans were involved in terrorist activities.
At Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate in Scarborough, Naheed formed a committee of fellow students to work towards the goal of dispelling the stereotyping and anger towards Muslims by educating the student body about the plight of the Afghani people, in particular the Afghan children.
Under his leadership, through the Coins for Afghanistan Drive, he raised funds for schools, orphanages and hospitals in Afghanistan. Naheed also wrote numerous articles for his school paper on world affairs to help students to better understand and appreciate cultural difference. His efforts have contributed towards a reduction in the backlash on the Afghan and Muslim population in Scarborough.
The Immigrant Women's Health Centre (IWHC) has been a beacon of cultural and racial inclusiveness for the past three decades. Founded in 1975, IWHC provides culturally appropriate reproductive health services in fourteen languages to Toronto's immigrant and visible minority women, who often do not speak English and who have little or no access to standard reproductive health care.
On an annual basis about 12,000 women benefit from free medical, counseling and educational services. The staff women of IWHC, all members of the immigrant and visible minority communities they serve, are equipped to address barriers in an innovative and cost-effective way.
The landmark program for which IWHC is best known is their Mobile Health Clinic that has taken health care directly to women in their workplaces for the past twenty years. The Immigrant Women's Health Centre provides a vital service in a city whose population is one of the most multicultural and multiracial in North America. The Centre set a new standard for inter-cultural and inter-racial cooperation by providing culturally appropriate and innovative programs.