The Mayor’s Community Safety Awards, sponsored by Bell, celebrates innovative Toronto-based and resident-led projects that help build safer communities.
Six outstanding projects (three community and three youth-led) that contribute to community safety in Toronto will be selected to receive funding to support their innovative approaches to addressing safety within their local communities.
Winners will receive a commemorative certificate and a $1,000 cash award from Bell (the sponsor since 2004) to continue their work to help improve community safety.
The Mayor’s Community Safety Awards is a longstanding partnership between the City of Toronto and Bell.
To be eligible for a Mayor’s Community Safety Award a project must:
Organizations may submit more than one eligible project; however, only one project will be selected annually from a group/organization for an award.
Note: Projects operated by the City of Toronto’s Agencies, Boards, Commissions, and/or Divisions, by other orders of government or have previously received a Mayor’s Community Safety Award are not eligible to receive awards.
The selection committee included two youth, two community residents, two representatives from the City of Toronto, and one representative from Bell and a Community Neighbourhood Officer from the Toronto Police Service.
Members of the selection committee declared any affiliations and/or conflicts of interest regarding reviewing nominations. Each application was screened for eligibility and reviewed and scored based on the impacts and effectiveness of projects/initiatives in providing supports and promoting community safety, community wellbeing, recovery, and resilience.
The 2021 Community Safety Award winners and honourable mentions are:
Founded in 2015, Mending a Crack in the Sky (MCIS) is a community healing initiative that was developed by women—many of whom are survivors of acute trauma—to address gun violence and its lasting impact on families in the greater Toronto area. Through the development of a Peer-to-Peer Crisis Support model, victims of gun violence are given support as well as connected to more resources from the City. Being able to work in partnership with the Toronto Police Service and Toronto Community Housing, they aim to solve the crisis of youth gun violence in the Somali community. Mending a Crack in the Sky encourages other residents to be a part of building a safety plan and works with them get more resources out into the community where it is needed most.
Reclaim Your Voice is a survivor-led organization that offers safe spaces where people who have experienced abuse and sexual violence can work through their trauma. By providing these safe spaces participants feel less isolated in their journeys and empowered to continue with their healing. The group looks for opportunities to introduce the openness of speaking about abuse and sexual violence in spaces where it was not usually discussed. Reclaim Your Voice has visited post-secondary institutions in Toronto as staff have recognized the value in providing students access to survivor-led initiatives.
Zero Gun Violence Movement is an awareness and advocacy movement that works across the city to engage people and organizations that are truly committed to being a part of the solution to reducing gun violence and also building safe and healthy communities, not for some, but for all. The Zero Gun Violence Movement has recently collaborated with more than 40 different community organizations, agencies, and programs across the City, committed to addressing structural and socio-economic conditions that contribute to the gun violence problem. As a movement, its core call to action and activity is inviting, building and strengthening partnerships.
440 Winona Tenant Association is a community safety committee that was created in response to a violent incident that took place in the neighbourhood that many tenants found very triggering., These tenants were either survivors of violence in their present lives or from their countries of origin. Following the incident, the 440 Winona Tenant Association has worked to provide a COVID-safe community project to promote emotional healing through counselling and art. The group sessions include participation from a counsellor, artist and a person experienced in supporting community safety committees. The project goes beyond simply asking for more police, and relies on tenant communication, strong relations with policymakers, self-help and strategic use of police resources.
The Afghan Youth Mentorship Program, developed by the Afghan Youth Engagement and Development Initiative serves ethnocultural and racialized minorities, newcomers, refugees, and most vulnerable population youth from low-income neighbourhoods. Through the mentorship program, participants increase their ability to pursue higher education and employment opportunities, thereby providing them with an opportunity to exit social assistance and poverty. The program’s goal is to build social and emotional wellness and instill knowledge-sharing amongst themselves and their respective adult mentors. By creating safe spaces to discuss issues that do not currently have a forum, youth are able to share and be open about topics such as mental health. All these activities contribute to the development of healthy, safe communities and promote the inclusion and support of youth.
Aura Freedom International started the Human Trafficking Peer Prevention Project (HTPPP) to prevent human trafficking and sexual violence through education and provide survivors anti-oppressive access to services. In just one year, Aura delivered presentations in more than 48 youth spaces across Toronto with more than 2,000 participants and where 24 survivors of sexual exploitation/violence came forward to received support. Youth gain knowledge to protect themselves from human trafficking, exploitation and violence. By collecting data on youths’ attitudes and beliefs, Aura has shared these findings with community organizations, government and police to better understand these issues to create safer communities and transform lives.
The Youth Leaders of East York came together to address concerns in the community through youth-led and youth-driven initiatives, such as forums to address the presence and impact of racism and the increased violence in their community impacting youth. They have uniquely tailored and blended social media, personal engagement, podcasts and online forums to engage on multiple issues and concerns for youth. The youth team is dedicated to building and demonstrating their capacity by receiving input and bringing it back to their community to inform and mobilize youth networks across the community.
Generation Chosen serves a large scope of black communities that are marginalized and underserved. Although their focus is on black youth, they service youth, newcomers, single parents, low income, LGBTQ+ persons, people with disabilities and more to interrupt the cycle and prevent gun violence and crime through education and opportunity for youth in their community. Through openly confronting mental health obstacles, dealing compassionately with harmful emotional tendencies, creating opportunities for educational matriculation, financial self-sufficiency, and meaningful mentorship, they aim to holistically support the development of those most vulnerable in our society and interrupt inter-generational cycles of poverty, disenfranchisement and trauma.
Learn more about previous award winners and honourable mentions.
Developed by the Task Force on Community Safety in 2002, the Mayor’s Community Safety Awards is an annual event that recognizes six outstanding projects that contribute to community safety in Toronto.
The awards celebrate projects that: