Pam McConnell will be remembered as a tireless advocate for women’s rights and social justice in the City of Toronto. She was a member of Toronto City Council from 1994 to 2017 and was the former Chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Standing Committee on Increasing Women’s Participation in Municipal Government. She was the Champion for the City of Toronto’s Protégée Program, a mentorship program matching young women with City Councillors intending to increase women’s representation in electoral politics.
The Pam McConnell Award for Young Women in Leadership was created in 2018 in memory of the late Deputy Mayor, who passed away in the fall of 2017. Throughout her career, Pam McConnell was a social justice advocate and worked tirelessly to increase women’s participation in municipal government. She was the Champion for the City of Toronto’s Protégée Program, a mentorship program matching young women with City Councillors and City staff intending to increase women’s representation in electoral politics.
In an effort to honour Pam McConnell’s legacy the Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC) has collaborated with the Youth Development Unit to present this annual award. The award is open to young Toronto women, between the ages of 16 and 29, who demonstrate exceptional leadership, a commitment to social justice and inspire other young women.
Applications for the 2023 Pam McConnell Award will open March 3, 2023. Before you begin, we encourage you prepare your answers in another document. Please have the following information ready:
The Award is open to young women residing in the City of Toronto, between the ages of 16 and 29 upon the application deadline who:
We would like to extend a very gracious thank you to Heather Ann for her support and honoring the legacy of her mother, Pam McConnell.
Thank you to the Selection Committee which was comprised of Heather Ann McConnell, community leaders, members from the Toronto Youth Cabinet and City staff.
We are honored to acknowledge and congratulate the 2023 winners.
Tara is one of the founders and Head Chef of Unity Kitchen. Since July 2020, and under Tara’s guidance, Unity Kitchen has been serving 130 meals a day to homeless and food-insecure people in the heart of downtown Toronto. As a young black woman, Tara can identify with marginalized people that access the program. Through her work, she strives to extend equal care and encouragement to all people she meets. Tara believes in the goodness of people and is conscious of trying to create an environment where each person can feel seen and respected for who they are no matter the troubles they may have endured.
From the outset, Tara was determined that Unity Kitchen should provide vulnerable people with a sense of dignity and belonging; a place where they would feel seen and validated while enjoying tasty, healthy, and exciting food. Currently, the people accessing the Unity Kitchen Meal program create a mutually supportive community hub that helps everyone fulfill their basic needs.
Tara creates an upbeat creative environment that the community enjoys; she keeps the music playing and she keeps the people moving. For Tara, the hungry homeless, and the food insecure are her Guests. She actively engages with Unity’s Guests and with the kitchen volunteers with friendship, care, laughter, and advice. Tara has seen how homeless people are ignored and neglected by society and does her part to help everyone feel seen and heard. Tara believes in social justice for all. Everyone is welcome at Unity Kitchen.
In her free time, Tara enjoys gardening, caring for her houseplants, cultivating her herbs, biking, and singing in a choir with her grandmother. Just like in the kitchen, she always has her music playing when she cooks, which she explains “gives life a soundtrack”.
Hanen Nanaa is one of the youngest social entrepreneurs in Canada. She is a war survivor and refugee from Syria who made Toronto her home in 2016. As the founder of the Books Art Music (BAM) Collective, Nanaa has created a powerful community hub to empower youth and equity deserving people through policy, art, innovation, and community engagement. Her commitment to social innovation was recognized when BAM Collective was awarded as the top finalist for the Toronto Arts for Youth Award in 2021.
Aside from her work as an advisor in politics, Nanaa is also a founding member of Waard Ward Collective, a social enterprise that creates floral arrangements, builds community gardens, and invites newcomers to train as florists. She has a major in politics and governance from Toronto Metropolitan University, where she served as the president of the Politics and Governance Association in 2021.
Nanaa is an award-winning leader in civic, environmental, and community-based initiatives, as well as social enterprises. She received the Alterna Prize for Women’s Social Leaders in 2022 and was named the UN Women – Woman of the Year at UofT in 2019. Hanen was also featured on CBC’s The Dream Team and received mentorship from Manjit Minhas, the famous venture capitalist from Dragons’ Den. This year, Nanaa has been shortlisted as one of the top finalists for the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.
We would like to acknowledge our shortlisted candidates, who received a certificate for their outstanding work and achievements in 2023:
Previous Award Recipients