For over thirty-five years, Skills for Change has honoured exceptional members of the community – immigrants who have not only worked to improve their own lives, but the lives of those around them. Every year they are awarded at our Pioneers for Change Gala, a night to celebrate community, newcomers, and their exceptional social impact. The award categories include Arts, Social Impact, Youth, Women in Leadership, Community Engagement and Entrepreneurship. This year, Pioneers for Change recognized the achievements of six outstanding individuals across diverse backgrounds, who have each contributed to the betterment of our society through their work and initiatives.
2018 Pioneers for Change – Denham Jolly, Huda Idrees, Paola Gomez, Svetlana Ratnikova, & Dr. Kwame McKenzie
The evening began with a welcome reception, where attendees met with our CEO Surranna Sandy and enjoyed drinks and food as they networked amongst colleagues. Prior to the ceremony, attendees had the opportunity to see the impact that the Skills for Change’s Step Ahead program has had on the Jane and Finch community through a video highlighting their work in the area. This was followed by the much-anticipated awards ceremony, wherein six upstanding recipients received awards.
Huda Idrees, the CEO of Dot Health, received the award of Excellence in Youth Leadership.
Svetlana Ratnikova, an entrepreneur, was the recipient of the Women In Leadership award. Dr. Kwame McKenzie was the winner of the Excellence in Social Impact award for his work in healthcare equality. Aisha Addo, the CEO of Drive her – a ride-sharing app for women by women – received the Excellence in Entrepreneurship award. Paola Gomez, an artist and social activist, received the Arts award and lastly Denham Jolly was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his own contribution to the arts. Each of these exceptional pioneers were recognized for their efforts, and each delivered inspiring words of wisdom and encouragement when accepting their awards.
Our performers were Toronto-based R&B group, rIVerse – who combine powerhouse vocals, clever songwriting, slick beats and stellar harmonies to create amazing music. We were thankful to have them as our entertainment for the evening! The night concluded with music, more networking, and dinner.
Skills for Change CEO Surranna Sandy & 2018 Pioneers for Change recipient Aisha Addo
We want to thank our corporate sponsor CPA, our table sponsor BMO, our media partner New Canadians and our supporters Don Mills Career College and Ross & McBride for making Pioneers for Change possible. This year’s event would not have been as successful without the support of our community of newcomers and the staff at Skills for Change. Everyone’s contributions helped to support our programs for marginalized and underserved youth. We welcome you to learn more about our youth programs and discover how you can become involved in our initiatives here.
We also thank our recipients and attendees, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year! Lastly, we want to thank everyone who attended to celebrate a diverse and inclusive Canada. Together we hope to continue to make a difference!
Be sure to like the Skills for Change social media feeds for news on our next mentoring events, upcoming job fairs, employment programs and so much more!
For over 36 years Skills for Change has supported the integration and well-being of immigrants and refugees in Canada. For more information on us please visit www.skillsforchange.org