Nurturing potential, showcasing excellence

Currently only 1.2% of Ontario’s apprentices are represented by racialized individuals in the construction industry. Through Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) Black Youth are slowly being hired onto the construction sites of large Canadian infrastructure projects. CBAs are also opening opportunities for small to medium sized businesses interested in penetrating the Canadian construction supply chain.

On Tuesday, December 12, the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) hosted a breakfast to officially launch their Black Youth Mentoring Program. The plan applies a 2-pronged approach to changing the narrative around Black Youth. The first piece will mentor qualified Black Youth construction workers apprenticing in the trades known as the “Next-Gen-Builders” program. The second part will enhance the skills of a Black Youth consultancy known as the BYD Team. The goal of BYD Team is to fulfil on current and grow future construction industry social procurement strategies.

The Black Youth Mentoring Program Launch, which took place in the beautiful University of Toronto Faculty Club, was a fantastic experience. It was amazing to be in that room where high level representatives from the construction trades and industry professionals, mingled with equity seeking community members. It was especially refreshing to hear some of the Black Youth apprentices recently welcomed into the Canadian construction industry, speak of reluctance replaced by optimism through TCBN’s new mentoring program. Also interesting was hearing Pat Dillon, Business Manager and Secretary Treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, voice his support for TCBN and community efforts by recommending they approach the struggle “more aggressively”. With high profile support from the likes of Dillon, community must be optimistic that integrating the construction industry in the lifetime of today’s youth is a real possibility, right?

Also inspiring were the words of Grover Johnson, Vice President of the American chapter of LiUNA’s African American Caucus. Grover’s words clearly indicated the American Community Benefits movement is far ahead of our own. In his home state of Washington, they have progressed beyond the need to negotiate a CBA for every capital project, it is now policy. They now move directly to Workforce Development Agreements. It really goes to show that what we hear so frequently in the news about our neighbours to the south may be the cries from a group of reactionaries who are in their final death throes. These are certainly exciting times for the Canadian community benefits movement.

Spend more time together – it’s what the doctor ordered

Human connection seems to be on everyone’s minds these days, while we love the independence our devices give us without really realizing it, many of us are craving more time together. The rise of the individual has meant great improvements to individual rights and freedoms yet coupled with the rise of technology, it’s become easy to underestimate the value of community. We think we can go it alone at almost every turn and modern health care has shifted to accommodate these sentiments. Black Creek Community Health Centre (BCCHC) knows that coming together in community can not only mean prevention, it can also be the cure.


They say it up front and often, their vision statement reads: “We envision a healthy, resilient and empowered community where people are connected and support each other”.  Cheryl Prescod, Executive Director of the BCCHC says: “Our mandate is to address individual health needs as well as community needs, we know that if individuals in a community are healthy as a result the community will be healthy”. The Black Creek Family and Health Centre does more than simply acknowledge that community and individual health are intertwined – they live it. This year they held their Annual General Meeting at Black Creek Community Farm with who they partner. They offer a whole roster of programming that includes everything from fitness classes for the whole family to community gardening.


The centre has lots of individual care on offer. Everyone should have a General Practitioner, someone who knows the individual, their history and available supports. The centre can add additional support through some of the unique accessible community programs; programs like dietary instruction and a community kitchen to take that instruction from theory to practice. The holistic approach to treatment means your whole self and your whole family will be taken care of.  The communal approach to healthcare means that people look after each other. People feel less isolated and more connected to the people around them. It’s this connection that keeps the community coming back to Black Creek Community Health Centre. For more information visit them today at one of 2 locations in Downsview, The Yorkgate Mall at Jane and Finch and Sheridan Mall at Jane and Wilson.

Amazing Love

William Ashley started his career as a graphic designer. When he switched to a career in the fine arts, it was a natural step. For many years, he worked with oil paint and much of his early work was wildlife drawings. He was also always interested in photography. William switched from oil to acrylic, believing that acrylic allowed for more versatility in his work. For a while, he found himself painting portraits. His reputation preceded him and commissions started coming. At one point, he was asked to paint a portrait of Mayor Mel Lastman. The Mayor was overwhelmed with the portrait, crying when he saw it for the first time.

William has been working on an inspirational piece for the Jane-Finch community. William and his partner and Marketing Manager, Evadney, are long time residents and advocates in the community. For more than 18 years, William and Evadney ran a food-bank in Jane-Finch. They have also mentored many students and continue to advocate for the people of Jane-Finch. The piece that William has recently been working on will go on display at the Jane Finch Mall where community members can visit and receive inspiration from the positive message embedded in the work. The piece will incorporate some of the great minds that have come from the community, highlighting the accomplishments of the people of the Jane-Finch, including those of famous artists and professionals.

In 2004, William found faith and started featuring Christian scripture into his work. Some of his works can be customized by clients with some even having their photos incorporated in the designs. His work can also be very high tech as he uses the latest digital technology to get the designs just right. On September 28, 2018, William and Evadney will be launching a new brand and are holding an exhibit at the De Runa Banquet Hall in Toronto. Currently, they have a gallery in the Jane-Finch community which is open by appointment. For more details, you can visit