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Awards and Grants
Access, Equity & Human Rights Awards
2003 award recipients
Aboriginal Affairs Award
Access Award
Constance E. Hamilton Award
Pride Award
William P. Hubbard Award
Diversity Management and Community Engagement
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* * Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards:
2003 recipients
* *
Aboriginal Affairs Award
Access Award
Constance E. Hamilton Award
Pride Award
William P. Hubbard Award
Read about the 2003 ceremony
2003 Photo gallery

Aboriginal Affairs Award

Augustin (Gus) AshawasegaAugustin (Gus) Ashawasega has spent close to 20 years in service to Toronto's Aboriginal community. His commitment spans both in the work and volunteer arenas, sharing knowledge, experience and leadership in the establishment of needed Aboriginal agencies and in his advocacy in human rights and race relations.

He has provided guidance in the founding of three needed Aboriginal agencies: Anishnawbe Health Toronto, Canada's first urban Aboriginal health centre; NA-ME-RES (Native Men's Residence), a shelter for homeless Aboriginal men in 1984 - of which he was the executive director from 1988 to 1993; and he was the founding president of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, which opened in 1985.

Gus sat on numerous committees of local agencies, services and societies including the United Way, Aboriginal Legal Services, Diversity Committee, Canadian Cancer Society (Central Toronto Unit).

As Aboriginal Liaison Consultant with the City of Toronto, Gus assisted Aboriginal organizations and supported many individuals in the Aboriginal community with concerns regarding employment and access to services.

He was one of the first members of the Aboriginal Employees Committee, which was influential in developing the First Nations City Celebration. Fist celebrated in 1995, this event brings awareness and better understanding of the diversity of Toronto's Aboriginal community. Gus' efforts in this program have placed a focus on artists and craftpersons in the Aboriginal community, thereby exposing their work to the broader community.

Ruth Ann CyrRuth Ann Cyr is the Diabetes Educator, Outreach Co-ordinator and Registered Nurse at the Native Canadian Centre where, through her leadership and commitment, the first Aboriginal Diabetes Support Group in Toronto was established. She provides information, referrals, blood glucose meters, nutrition and diet tips for the control and management of diabetes to several hundred Aboriginal people. Ruth also organized a health fair in 2003 that attracted many participants and provided support, information and testing for more than 500 people.

Through her involvement with other organizations serving the Aboriginal community, she works to provide culturally sensitive care to people living with HIV/AIDS, elders and people with disabilities. She also served as a board member to the Casey House Hospice, Street Health Nurses, Nishnawbe Homes and Frontiers Foundation.

Originally from Saskatchewan and a member of the Pasqua First Nations band, Ruth Ann believes in finding areas in need within the Aboriginal community. In keeping with this philosophy, in October 2003, she co-founded an Aboriginal cancer support group with Marda King, an outreach worker at the Native Canadian Centre, and in partnership with Wellspring.

Andre MorriseauAndre Morriseau has shown a love for his Aboriginal community, gaining a reputation for promoting and supporting Aboriginal arts and public affairs in his many endeavours.

He served as Chair for the Centre for Aboriginal Media and the imaginNATIVE Media Arts Festival for the past three years and Secretary of the Board for the Native American Journalist's Association for the past three years. This is Andre's second year on the Board of Directors for the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre.

Presently, Andre hosts Nation to Nation on Aboriginal Voices Radio CFIE 106.5 FM in Toronto. His show UrbaNative, which aired on Community Radio for two years, shared countless stores of Aboriginal people and their experiences. His freelance journalism has seen his work published in Native publications throughout North America.

Andre is an effective advocate and ambassador for Aboriginal arts and culture. His determination gives a voice to the Aboriginal community through their art and provides forums from which this work can shine.

Access Award for Disability Issues

Michelle AmerieMichelle Amerie is a tireless volunteer and a passionate activist who is committed to the issues of access, diversity and inclusion. As an advocate for disability issues, her involvement includes Transportation Action Now, Tetra Society of North America, Product Innovation Committee with Tourism Toronto, CSA Technical Committee for Disability Awareness, Ontario Linkages, Royal Bank Financial Group's Striders for MS, Canadian Abilities Foundation, Philia and Ontario Amethyst Award Selection Committee. She is also an ardent supporter of the MS Carnation Campaign (Toronto) where she is the official spokesperson and Honorary Chair of the Annual Super City Walk.

She has devoted much of her time to educating school children about multiple sclerosis and diversity, and has provided sensitivity training to many organizations such as Tourism Toronto, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association, and Motor Carrier Passenger Council of Canada. She is a prolific writer, adventurous traveller and sport enthusiast.

Michelle has received Ontario's Champion of Spirit award with Berlex Canada and Chatelaine magazine's "Women of Inspiration".

One of Michelle's achievements is her work to gain greater accessibility for disabled residents and tourists in the town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She co-ordinated a project where two retired City of Toronto Wheel Trans buses, along with wheelchairs, walkers and used computers were sent to benefit more than 30,000 people with disabilities living in and around the Puerto Vallarta area. As a result of the increased accessibility and the interest of the Mayor of Puerto Vallarta, that city is hoping to host an international disability conference in 2004.

Lembi BuchananLembi Buchanan is a strong advocate for reform of the Disability Tax Credit which currently denies benefits to many of the most vulnerable members of our society, in particular those with mental illness.

Starting in 2001, Lembi began her quest to lobby the Federal Government for a fair tax system for all Canadians with disabilities. She formed a coalition of like-minded people and organizations in the fall of that year and for more than two years she has led this coalition through monthly meetings, national letter-writing campaigns, group presentations, national teleconference calls. In addition to these activities, she has written many articles for magazines and newspapers across the country to educate people on the impact of tax system on people with disabilities. In January 2002, she established a Web site,, to provide information about the initiative to reform the tax credit.

In November of 2002, Lembi Buchanan and the coalition finally tasted victory when the House of Commons unanimously supported the recommendations of the Subcommittee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities to improve and ease access to the Disability Tax Credit. Subsequently, Lembi became a member of the Technical Advisory Committee, which was established to advise the government on tax measures for persons with disabilities.

In 2002, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP recommended Lembi for the Queen's Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal for crusading for disability rights, and for becoming a voice for those marginalized in Canada's political system.

Ethno-Racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO), founded in 1993, is a non-profit consumer-run organization that works within an anti-racist framework. The coalition operates on the conviction that all people with disabilities want to be respected, live with dignity and enjoy full participation and citizenship. Ethno-Racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO), Mazin Aribi and Rafia Haniff-Cleofas
Mazin Aribi and Rafia Haniff-Cleofas

ERDCO has a membership of more than 200 people who devote countless voluntary hours to ensure that people with disabilities overcome barriers and gain access to services in the areas of housing, transportation, health care, social services, recreation, immigration procedures and family reunification.

This organization successfully completed many participatory research studies on subjects such as Ethno-Racial Women with Disabilities and Health, the Intersection of Race and Disability, Violence Against Ethno-Racial Women with Disabilities and the Cultural Sensitivity of Rehabilitation Services for People Who Have Sustained Neurotrama Injury. They produced a video Three Lives: A Journey Out of Darkness about three ERDCO members who came to Toronto as refugees or immigrants. The coalition's most recent project resulted in an 18-page booklet entitled, Building Inclusive Communities Tips Tool: How to ensure that your organization includes everyone.

Constance E. Hamilton Award on the Status of Women

Dr. Bonnie BurstowDr. Bonnie Burstow has been in the forefront of efforts to support, advocate for and empower women who occupy the margins of Toronto's society - psychiatric survivors, homeless women, imprisoned women, drug-addicted and refugee women. For 25 years she has devoted her life to this task as an outstanding scholar, teacher, community activist, innovative therapist and therapeutic consultant.

She successfully challenged the abuses of electroshock, including the disproportionate and sexist targeting of women. She has authored a number of books including, Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence and Shrink Resistant: The Struggle Against Psychiatry in Canada. She produced the video When Women End Up in Those Horrible Places and a television series for Maclean Hunter Cable in Toronto.

Dr. Burstow has been honoured with such awards as the Canada Council Explorations Grant, Brandeis Award and the Russell Gold Medal in Philosophy, as well as community awards including Rebel of the Year from the Elizabeth Fry Society. Dr. Burstow is a senior lecturer in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) and Associate Director of the Transformative Learning Centre at OISE.

Filomena CarvalhoIn 1981, Filomena Carvalho joined the staff of the Immigrant Women's Health Centre (IWHC) as the Portuguese counsellor. The centre currently serves Toronto's immigrant and refugee women in fourteen languages, and provides clinical services and multilingual educational material on sexual and reproductive health.

Filomena's leadership at the IWHC helped establish the Mobile Health Unit, a fully outfitted clinic in a van that travels to factories and workplaces all over Toronto. This unit is staffed by a physician, nurse-practitioner and counsellors, like Filomena, who provide education, counselling and referrals on issues related to birth control, sexually-transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.

She has also taught English as a Second Language in factories such as Adidas, S.R. Grant, Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. and Omega through the Toronto Labour Council.

This year Filomena also received the Marion Powell Award.

Margaret MurrayMargaret Murray is a Professional Home Economist who has been an educator all her adult life. She taught adults, high school and university students and retired from the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Since her retirement, Margaret has been the Vice-President of Public Policy for the Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulating body of professional home economists that promote high standards among its members. Between 1997 and 2000, she provided strong leadership as Chair of the Family Studies Action Group which resulted in new curriculum in Social Sciences and Humanities for schools and is used by adult education parenting classes through local community and social services programs.

Margaret is a founding board member of Common Ground Co-operative and supporter of people with intellectual disabilities. She is an active volunteer in political affairs as a fundraiser, campaign manager, candidate and mentor to women candidates. Margaret is also an active church worker, specifically in a program producing food for the Good Shepherd Mission.

Margaret's volunteer activities have touched many lives and her readiness to assume a variety of tasks has made and will continue to make fill and enrich the lives of women.

Pride Award for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Transsexual Two Spirited Issues

Rev. Dr. Brent HawkesRev. Dr. Brent Hawkes has been a senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto for 26 years. He is an outspoken human rights activist who fought to include sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights Code and for the humane treatment of gays by the Toronto Police Service. He has sought financial support and services for those with HIV/AIDS, supported educational curricula that supports studies on sexual orientation and has been a leader in working with other Christian churches to become inclusive of gays and lesbians.

Dr. Hawkes is a person of firsts. He was one of the first clergy to reach out to the Muslim community and condemn intolerance of Islam in the wake of September 11. Dr. Hawkes was also the first minister to perform a same sex marriage, and the first openly gay minister to lecture at the Charles O. Bick Police College, where he trained police recruits on issues facing the LGBTT community.

He was awarded the Queen's Global Jubilee Medal for Human Rights, a commendation from the Premier of Ontario, the Golden Citizen Award from the United Nations Toronto Association, honoured as patron of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches' Human Rights Award.

Lesbian Gay Bi Youth LineIn 1994, the Lesbian Gay Bi Youth Line was established to provide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual youth across Ontario with a confidential peer-support service. The Youth Line volunteers work to alleviate loneliness, prevent youth from making self-destructive choices because of overwhelming isolation, and to affirm youth sexual identity. The Youth Line is a by youth for youth organization where hundreds of youth and adults have volunteered and learned about community engagement and development. There is a current roster of more than 60 volunteers.

Over the years the Youth Line has helped more than 30,000 young people by providing them with information and referrals.

The Youth Line also hosts regular community events such as the Annual Community Youth Line Awards Banquet, the Interzine Kare Dance-a-thon and the Youth Line Art Action.

T.E.A.C.H. (Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia) program of Planned Parenthood of Toronto, a United Way member agency, uses an anti-oppression approach to deliver anti-homophobia peer education activities in high schools, group homes and community settings across the City of Toronto.

Emphasizing skills building and partnership, T.E.A.C.H. trains dynamic youth peer facilitators

T.E.A.C.H. (Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia)
Mateo Francino and Amina Jabbar

to lead anti-homophobia activities that encourage participants to think critically about homophobia and heterosexism in their communities and the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

This past year T.E.A.C.H. volunteers delivered 140 workshops, the majority in school settings. As part of a partnership with the Toronto Children's Aid Society, volunteers delivered an additional 50 workshops in CAS-Toronto group homes and 13 training sessions for CAS-Toronto staff. The program celebrated its tenth anniversary this year and was selected as the Honored Group by Pride Toronto and T.E.A.C.H. volunteers led this year's Pride Parade.

William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations

Pramila AggarwalDespite a busy life as a professor in the Community Worker Program at George Brown College, Pramila Aggarwal worked for years as a volunteer to help build and strengthen her community.

Pramila's previous volunteer activities, which focussed on labour force issues and marginalized workers, include serving as Committee Chair for the York Help Centre, representing equity groups for the Federal Task Force on Labour Adjustment of the Canadian Labour Force Development Board, Advisory Committee on Women and Literacy Research Project and Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women.

Her community work has included involvement with the Anti-Racism Centre and South Asian Workers Forum. She is currently a board member of Stop Community Centre as well as Toronto Organizing for Fair Employment.

Pramila has published a number of articles on democracy, labour force issues and violence against immigrant women. She is working on a project funded by Community University Research Alliance to conduct, research and organize workers in precarious employment situations. Her enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance in offering analysis and contributing to the development of advocacy, education and building of organizations has been instrumental in assisting marginalised communities.

Pramila is also a past recipient of the George Brown College Board of Governors Award of Excellence for outstanding service to the community.

Dr. George J. Sefa DeiDr. George J. Sefa Dei is currently a professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education where his teaching and research interests are in the areas of anti-racism education, development education, indigenous knowledge and anti-colonial thought. He has published a number of scholarly books on education, anti-racism, feminism, race and white privilege, and black education and minority youth disengagement from school. He was also invited to give keynote addresses and make conference presentation on these subjects in Canada, United States, Europe and Africa.

Besides Dr. Dei's professional work, he serves on the boards of many organizations including the Ghanaian-Canadian Union where he serves as president, the Harry Jerome Scholarship Awards of Canada, the Central Neighbourhood House and the Black Secretariat. He is a member of Tractors for Our Daily Bread, Unemployed Professional Men, Black Educators Working Group, Cross-Edge Network and Uhuru Collective at OISE, University of Toronto. Currently, Dr. Dei is also the Honorary Patron of Anansekrom of the African Cultural Heritage.

He is the recipient of a number of awards including the Race, Gender and Class Project Academic Award, the 2003 Community Building Award and 2002 Community Partnership Award form the Toronto District Catholic School Board, the 2002 Community Service Award from the Brong Ahafo Association of Ontario, the Ghanaian News Award, the Volunteer Services Award from the Ministry of Citizenship and the National Council of Ghanaian-Canadians Award for Community Services.

Previous recipients, Access Award
Previous recipients, William P. Hubbard Race Relations Award
Previous recipients, Constance E. Hamilton Award


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