John C. Holland Awards shine light on more than a dozen who improve life in Hamilton
The Hamilton Spectator
The annual awards honour African-Canadian achievement and contribution in the city of Hamilton.
Hamilton’s John C. Holland Awards, celebrating African-Canadian achievement and contributions to the life of the city, honoured several accomplished individuals, youth and adults, in a gala ceremony at LIUNA Station Saturday (Feb. 2, 2019) night.
“This was arguably one of the best events we’ve had,” said Hamilton Black History Committee member Terri Bedminster. “The energy and representation in the packed, 500-seat room was amazing.”
The youth winners were: Tyler Williams (Ethilda “Tilly” Johnson Bursary); Gabriela Roberts (Evelyn Myrie Political Action Bursary); Aba Ansa Sam (The Girls Rock Scholarship); Sonia Igboanugo (Lincoln Alexander Scholarship); Salsabil Sarhan (Marlene Thomas Scholarship); Rebecca Matsakawo (Nelson Mandela Scholarship); Tatyanna Burke (Raymond G. Lewis Scholarship); Faisal Mohamed (Rev. George Horton Scholarship); Cree Bell and Cordell James (Community Matters Award).
The adults winners were Israel Crooks (Jackie Washington Arts Award); Mark John Stewart of FlyPrint (Business Award); Albert Graham (Community Service Award); Ken Stone (Vince Morgan Ally Award); and Sandi Bell (Award of Merit).
Tyler Williams: Youth leader who owns a silk screen studio, where he designs original prints. He also performs as a rap soloist and produces original music in his home studio. Completed more than 140 hours of community service.
Gabriela Roberts: Active member of Nu Omega Zeta, Canada’s first all-black Greek Sorority, and helps children through Empowerment Squared’s Homework program. She helped to organize “Black is the New Black,” a community discussion on black identity, supported by the Violence Prevention Campaigns Initiative under the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan.
Aba Ansa Sam: Grade 12 student at Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School, she has created safe spaces for students, including the Bishop Tonnos Girls Summit. She’s won the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association Christian Service Award, the Bishop Tonnos Speak Up MVM Award. She’s also a member of the ECO club, math club, Titans for Titans (antibullying) club, and the head of the Prefect Council.
Sonia Igboanugo: Began the Black Aspiring Physicians of McMaster (BAP-Mac); initiated the launch of the BAP-Mac Mentorship Program, a platform to connect black pre-medical students with medical student mentors. Also involved with a wide variety of community leadership and advocacy-themed volunteer opportunities.
Salsabil Sarhan: A first-year student in the faculty of social sciences at McMaster University, and a recent graduate of Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School, she has been student council president, athletic council president, senior girls’ basketball team captain; Link Crew leader and mentor and founder of the Health Action Team.
Rebecca Matsakawo: Volunteer for social justice and charitable causes. As a member of her St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School’s Diversity Team, she assisted on campaigns to help the less fortunate in the community, as well as spearheading social justice projects, such as a campaign to petition Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise awareness about issues refugees are facing coming to Canada; Life Chain; We Are Silent; The Pilgrimage; and St. Mary’s Christmas Adopt-a-Family. Tutors math and science, member of Zonta e-club, Reading Buddy at HPL.
Tatyanna Burke: During high school she was on Cardinal Newman’s senior girls’ AAA City and Regional Basketball Ontario Provincial championship team. Silver medallist, Ontario Basketball League; bronze medallist, OFSAA senior girls soccer; and many other athletic medals.
Faisal Mohamed: Currently enrolled in the police foundations program at Mohawk College. Team captain all four years playing high school basketball. Volunteers with City Kidz, Neighbourhood Hoops, Youth Create, and Wesley Urban Ministries. Coached the Hess Street Elementary School’s senior basketball team and peer mentored at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School.
Cree Bell: Accomplished student athlete, entrepreneur and active volunteer, known for paying tribute to her roots. One of the city’s elite track and field athletes. Assists youth in phys-ed, selling her art at Wellwood Cancer Centre. She is the creative designer of books targeting grades 7 and 8 Indigenous youth, encouraging through Wilfrid Laurier University Jumpstart Workbooks and Indigenous Safe Communities Playbooks.
Cordell James: Sophomore in the honours bachelor of management and organizational studies at Western University. Student athlete, he played in the Ontario Hockey League and leads elementary students in talks about mental health, volunteers with Salvation Army and Seasons Centre for Grieving Children, and is co-founder of Western Mustang’s Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative.
Israel Crooks: In 2013 he created the impART Project, through which he has mentored at-risk youth in Hamilton, and Kingston, Jamaica, by helping them to cope with strong emotions through the canvas. Fully funded from the sale of his artwork, he works closely with area teens to help them to articulate their experiences through painting and drawing. In March 2018, he ran an “All in for Change” workshop, as part of Empowerment Squared’s Our Youth Our Future, a large-scale campaign to shine a positive light on the contributions and aspirations of black youth in Hamilton.
Mark John Stewart of FlyPrint: After10 years of running his company, FlyPrint, he also teaches strategic management at McMaster University and is chair of the advisory council of a Canadian-based international charity focused on youth development, called Empowerment Squared. Since 2007, he has been an adviser and supplier to the Hamilton Family Health Team, Empowerment Squared, the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, Vibez Caribbean & Southern Grill, Caribbean Flavah, New Vision United Church, and an endless list of other companies and groups. He hires co-op students and provides learning opportunities to young leaders.
Albert Graham: A Jamaican-Canadian who arrived in Canada in 1975, he worked for 30 years as a steelworker in Hamilton. Throughout his career and while raising his family he contributed to his community through Stewart Memorial Church. He was trustee and assistant treasurer. He also worked with the Out of the Cold program, the Jamaican Foundation of Hamilton, and Extended Care Hamilton. He turned the pain of the tragic loss of his son in Afghanistan into a perpetual gift, by establishing the Mark Anthony Graham Memorial Bursary at Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School. He also worked with the school to establish the Sir Allan MacNab track and field outdoor meet. He also sponsored a scholarship through the Mount Ward Alumni Association.