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FORUM: Celebrating our local leaders (Spring 2022)

April 11th, 2022 · No Comments

MPP Jessica Bell pays homage to community contributors

By Jessica Bell

Our Community Recognition Awards recognize the people who help make University-Rosedale a wonderful place to live. Here’s some of our recent award recipients. 

Seniors’ Advocate

The residents of Mon Sheong Home for the Aged suffered horribly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As chair of the home’s family council, Helen Lee led the fight to improve care and save residents’ lives. She organized vigils, spoke to the media, and worked to secure more staffing, masks and health care. 

Tragically, Helen’s grandmother, and Toronto activist, Foon Hay Lam, died of COVID-19 in Mon Sheong, in 2020. Helen continues to organize for higher pay and more staffing in long-term care homes. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Alan Miller has been volunteering at the ArQuives for 41 years, often volunteering five days a week. His work has helped the ArQuives become the largest independent LGBTQ2+ archive in the world. It is recognized internationally for its extensive periodical collection. Thank you, Alan, for preserving our history. 

Business Leader

For more than 40 years, the Lee family has been running the iconic Korean grocery store, P.A.T Mart Central, in Koreatown. Mr. Lee has supported various cultural events and organizations that celebrate Korean culture, including organizing the painting of the large mural showcasing Korea’s history on the side of their store.

Safe Streets Advocate

Samantha VanClieaf is a school crossing guard on Harbord Street. She keeps our children safe as they walk to and from school every day, and she adds sunshine to our community with her compassion for people and animals. Once the kids are safely in school, you often find her on the corner petting her doggy friends and chatting with their owners. We’re so grateful to have her as part of our lives. 

Environmental Advocate 

The Palmerston Area Residents’ Association (PARA) green committee advocates for the city’s TransformTO plan, while hosting park cleanups, encouraging residents to protect and grow our precious tree canopy, and partnering with schools and churches to plant pollinator gardens. They are so busy. For inspiration, I encourage you to read PARA’s thoughtful and practical Green Plan at   

Safe Streets Advocate

Cycle Toronto is a charity that works to make Toronto a healthy, safe, and vibrant cycling city. They build political and public support for high-quality, protected bike lanes in all 25 wards, and they champion and promote road safety initiatives like the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan and Bill 54, The Protecting Vulnerable Road Users Act. Thank you, Cycle Toronto, for making our streets safer for all.

Housing Advocate

Kensington Market is under tremendous economic and development pressure. Renters are being pushed out. Food sellers are losing their stores. Diversity and affordability—the  very soul of the market—are under threat. In response, the Kensington Market Community Land Trust (KMCLT) was established to buy land for the benefit of the community, not to generate profit. The KMCLT celebrated its first purchase of a residential and commercial building at 54-56 Kensington St. in 2021: what an accomplishment.

COVID-19 Heroes

Marcia Palmer and Beverley Gay have worked as Personal Support Workers (PSWs) at St. George Care Community for decades. Both worked long shifts and nights, with no respite, throughout the pandemic. 

Due to staffing shortages and cuts, one PSW would often be responsible for an entire floor of residents during the night. They both contracted COVID-19 and suffered greatly.

In response to our advocacy, Premier Ford announced that PSWs will receive a permanent pay increase, and long-term care home residents will be guaranteed four hours of staffing care a day. For Marcia, Beverly, long-term care residents and healthcare workers, let’s keep organizing to ensure these promises are funded in the upcoming budget. 

Community Leaders

The Avenue Road Food Bank helped feed over 13,465 people in 2021. I visited the food bank at the Church of the Messiah at 240 Avenue Rd. in March, and I was struck by the volume and quality of the food, the dedication and care of the volunteers and staff, and the team’s commitment to treat people who use the food bank as true guests. Special recognition goes to Robert Mandel and Elliot Shulman for their commitment to helping people in need. 

For all the award recipients go to

Jessica Bell is MPP for University–Rosedale.


Tags: Annex · Opinion