The Toronto United Church Council’s annual Heart & Vision Awards
Concert celebrates our Church's commitment to social justice and recognizes individuals who
have contributed significantly to social justice initiatives in Canada
On May 15, 2017 Dr. Cindy Blackstock and the Very Reverend Stan
McKay were honoured for their advocacy for Indigenous peoples in Canada. Musical
entertainment by Jackie Richardson, Kelly Holiff, Richard Margison,
Monica Schroeder, Brenda MacIntyre, and Spirit Wind was enjoyed by all.
Host Jesse Wente and guest speaker the Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell
shared their wisdom. Funds raised through ticket sales and donations
associated with the event will support Council's Community Relief Fund. Highlights of the evening are featured in the video below. The full length award acceptance speeches and the guest address by the Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell can be viewed on Council's youtube channel along with footage from previous years.
Proceeds from the concert support social causes initiated by the church. In 2009 and 2010, the 40 Oaks project in Regent Park was the beneficiary of the evening’s fundraising. In 2011 and 2012, funds were raised for capital construction and maintenance at the children’s camps with which Council partners. In 2013 income from ticket sales and donations supported Council's work in church "greening" and in 2014 a wide range of Council's initiatives in youth programming, social outreach ministry, and environmental justice received funds.
Council is proud of this program which permits us to say “thank you” to those heroes in whose lives we witness an exemplary dedication to the betterment of society.
Dr. Cindy Blackstock
Dr. Blackstock, a member of the Gitksan First Nation, is the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and a Professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University. She has 25 years of social work experience in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights. Her promotion of culturally based equity for First Nations children and families and engaging children in reconciliation has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Frontline Defenders and many others. An author of over 50 publications and a widely sought after public speaker, Cindy recently completed a Master of Jurisprudence degree and currently serves as a Commissioner for the Pan American Health Organization Commission on Health Equity and Inequity.
The Very Reverend Stan McKay
Dr. McKay, a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba, is a spiritual leader, teacher, and activist. He served as the first Aboriginal moderator of the United Church of Canada and was director of the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre, a theological school that respects both Christian and Aboriginal spiritual traditions. Along with fellow members of the National Native Council of the United Church, Stan successfully advocated for the Church’s apology, issued in 1986, for its role in cultural oppression of First Nations peoples.Stan is the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. He has honorary doctorates conferred by the University of Waterloo, the University of Winnipeg, and the United Theological College of McGill University.
Dr. Roberta Jamieson
Dr. Jamieson is the President of Indspire, Canada’s premiere Indigenous-led charity. Indspires programs and financial awards for Indigenous students aim to close the gap in Indigenous education. The annual Indspire Awards celebrate Indigenous achievement. Dr. Jamieson has enjoyed a distinguished career of firsts: the first First Nation woman to earn a law degree; the first non-parliamentarian appointed an ex-officio member of a House of Commons Committee; the first woman Ombudsman of Ontario; and the first woman elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She has received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award; the Indigenous Bar Association’s Indigenous Peoples Council Award; the Council of Ontario Universities’ David C. Smith Award; and 23 honorary degrees. She has been named three times to the Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100 list and is a Member of the Order of Canada.
Dr. Marie Wilson
Dr. Wilson was one of the three commissioners on Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, exploring the injustices and harms of forced residential schooling for Aboriginal children. Dr. Wilson has had a successful career as a journalist, trainer, and senior executive manager. At the CBC she launched the first Daily Television News service for northern Canada. She developed programming to showcase northern performing artists and traditional Indigenous sports. She fought for the recruitment and development of Aboriginal staff and recognized staff excellence with the CBC North Awards. She delivered training as part of South Africa’s transition to democracy. She was an associate board member of what was to become the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Dr. Wilson is the recipient of a CBC North Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Northerner of the Year Award. She holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from St. Thomas University.
Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire
Dr. Mary Jo Leddy
Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire is a retired lieutenant-general, Senator, and humanitarian. He is President of the Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire Foundation; founder of The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative; an advocate for human rights; and a champion of genocide prevention initiatives, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and nuclear non-proliferation. As Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, he demonstrated an exceptional commitment to protecting those who sought refuge with the UN forces. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec, a Commander of the Order of Military Merit, and has received numerous awards for his humanitarianism. He is the author of Shake Hands with the Devil – the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda and They Fight Like Soldiers; They Die Like Children – the Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers.
Dr. Mary Jo Leddy is a theologian, human rights and peace campaigner, refugee advocate, and author. She is the founder and Director of Romero House, a Toronto-based home for refugees committed to a spirit of respect and mutual assistance. Dr. Leddy was founding editor of Catholic New Times, an independent, award-winning national Canadian newspaper and alternative voice to the established church. She is the author of The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home, Radical Gratitude, At the Border Called Hope: Where Refugees Are Neighbours, Reweaving Religious Life, Say to the Darkness We Beg to Differ, and Memories of War, Promises of Peace. Dr. Leddy is a member of the Order of Canada and has received the Human Relations Award of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, and the Ontario Citizenship Award in addition to several honorary doctorates.
Shirley Douglas is a star of stage and screen who has performed internationally and in numerous acclaimed Canadian theatre productions. In Los Angeles in the 1960s, she took her social activist roots and putthem to work in the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements. Today, she
is one of Canada’s best known spokespersons committed to protecting Medicare. She speaks for the Toronto Health Coalition and Canadian Health Coalition and helped form the artist-supported group Friends of Medicare. She has received four honorary doctorates and the Variety Club has recognized her for her volunteerism. She has been awarded a place on the Wall of Fame at the National Arts Centre, a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, a Crystal Award from Women in Film and Television, a Lifetime Achievement Award from ACTRA, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and a Gemini for her role in Shadow Lake She is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Jackie Richardson is one of Canada’s foremost singers of gospel, blues, and jazz and a sought-after theatrical performer. Her love of music has taken her from singing Motown with The Tiaras in the 60s to acting in the world of theatre, film, TV & radio and singing jazz, blues and gospel in concert halls across Canada. Jackie is committed to the success of Toronto’s communities and shares a mutual admiration with those charities that have benefited from her talent and popularity, including the Regent Park School of Music with which she has a longstanding special relationship. Jackie has received the Canadian Actor’s Equity Lifetime Achievement Award, a Gemini Award for her leading role in The Gospel According to the Blues, a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Cookin’ at the Cookery, Toronto Blues Society and African Canadian Lifetime Achievement Awards, as well as a Jessie Richardson Award, Betty Mitchell Award, Juno and NAACP nominations.
Margaret Atwood is a novelist, an essayist, and a poet, whose compelling voice has helped shape a unique Canadian literary tradition. Her work engages with some of the thorniest social issues of our time, challenging us to consider questions of gender and power and to recognize the urgency of caring for the environment. Her novels include The Edible Woman, The Handmaid’s Tale (Governor General’s Award), The Robber Bride (Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Canadian and Caribbean Region), Alias Grace (Giller Prize), The Blind Assassin (Booker Prize), Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007 and her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth appeared in 2008. The Penelopiad, her first theatre play, has been performed to critical acclaim. She is the recipient of innumerable national and international awards. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and has been invested in the Order of Ontario.
The Hon. William G. Davis
The Hon. William G. Davis was Ontario’s 18th Premier. His political leadership advanced education in the province and helped lead Canada’s response to the environmental challenge of Acid Rain. As Minister of Education his accomplishments included the creation of Ontario’s Institute for Studies in Education and the establishment of Ontario’s community college system. He played an important role in negotiating Canada’s constitutional accord, promoting the spirit of compromise that made the agreement possible. From 1985-1986 he served as Canada’s Special Envoy on Acid Rain. Mr. Davis has been awarded Honorary Degrees by a dozen Ontario Universities and international institutions and has been recognized with Honorary Diplomas from three Community Colleges. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada, has been invested in the Order of Ontario, inducted into the Queen’s Privy Council and, as a Knight, into l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur by the Ambassador of France in Canada.
Maude Barlow receives the Heart & Vision Award as one of Canada’s most prominent activists who has tackled the major social issues of her generation with unflinching commitment and hope. She is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of the Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is well known for her work on water conservation. In 2008/2009 she served as the Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. Maude has received 11 honorary doctorates and numerous awards including the Right Livelihood Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards, the Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, the Planet in Focus Eco Hero Award, and the Sierra Club’s EarthCare Award.
The Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes
The Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes receives the Heart & Vision Award for his leadership in providing spiritual care to the LGBTQ community – and also for the leadership he offers to all Canadians’ understanding of our “Just Society.” Since 1977 he has been Pastor at Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto, creating a safe space for LGBTQ individuals and their families to worship. He was a strong voice for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. In 2001 he officiated at North America’s first legal same-sex marriage. Brent has received the City of Toronto Award of Merit, the Global Citizen Award from the United Nations Toronto Association and the Spirituality Award of Pride Toronto. In 2007 he was the first LGBTQ activist to be appointed to the Order of
The Heart and Vision Award is presented to Gordon Lightfoot for a rich body of work, which in its totality, tells a story of our shared humanity. His songs recognize members of society who have often been excluded or marginalized and render compelling portraits of an environment worth protecting. Gordon’s unique ability to evoke human empathy and appreciation for the natural world has inspired generations of young people, feeding the roots of social and environmental justice. Gordon grew up singing in St. Paul’s United Church choir in Orillia but soon his powerful voice reached a global audience. His professional success promotes the positive human qualities on which his music sheds light. He has recorded more than 20 albums and influenced countless artists. Throughout his highly celebrated musical career, Gordon has received 5 Grammy nominations, 19 Juno Awards and the Governor General’s Arts Award – Canada’s most prestigious award for artists. He is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and has been appointed to the rank of Companion in the Order of Canada.
The Very Reverend Dr. Lois Wilson
The Heart and Vision Award is presented to Lois Wilson for her tireless work in support of human rights. She was the first woman to serve as the United Church Moderator, the first woman President of the Canadian Council of Churches and the first Canadian President of the World Council of Churches. In each role she advanced the Church’s work in human rights causes around the world. Lois spoke out on the 20th Century’s most pressing social justice issues: from opposing apartheid in South Africa and grave human rights violations in South Korea and Chile, to promoting equality for women and for gay and lesbian/LGBTQ people in the church and in Canadian society. Lois has worked diligently to build bridges within and between faith communities and also in the wider, secular world. In 1998 she was appointed as an Independent member of the Canadian Senate. Before she retired in 2002 she became Canada’s Special Envoy to the Sudan, co-founded the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights and cochaired the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security for the UN. She has earned the World Federalist Peace Prize, Canada’s Pearson Peace Medal and the rank of Companion in the order of Canada.
Dr. Cathy Crowe
Cathy is presented with the Heart & Vision award for her tireless efforts in caring for homeless citizens of Toronto. As a Street Nurse in downtown Toronto for 20 years, Cathy has become one person who doesn’t sugarcoat her description of Toronto’s true nature. No boosterism, no glossing over the city’s wounds in hope that the future will make things better for everyone. Her love of the city includes a stark understanding of the failure of our society to apportion resources equitably. Cathy grew up in eastern Ontario, the daughter of a strong nurse. She studied nursing in Toronto and did post graduate studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (M. Ed.). Her passion and work have earned her two honourary doctorates. Cathy knows that her profession is her vocation. She knows that caring for other people’s health starts with her, and that given the disparity in the delivery of health services in Canada, she is committed to ensure that those at greatest risk receive care. Cathy is that rare individual whose anger has been made into a positive force. The “rough stone” which was her initial disbelief of the atrocity perpetrated on a vulnerable population has been carefully cut into a shining diamond. This energy is her strength and her gift to us all. In 1998 Cathy co-founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC). She has given the homeless citizens of Toronto and Canada a voice that they did not have. She is committed to her cause. In some traditions her life would be called a demonstration of faith.
The Honourable David McDonald
David is presented with the Heart & Vision award for his bold work in social justice both overseas and in Canada. Never a follower, when he started his fi rst job as a United Church minister in Alberton, PEI in 1962, he shocked everybody by teaming up with the local priest to tackle local social issues – and this boldness of style has been a characteristic of his life. In 1965 he was elected to parliament as a Progressive Conservative. He was the only MP to vote against the War Measures Act in November 1970. In the 1980s, he educated himself about the African famine, and persuaded Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to send him as emergency famine co-ordinator and later Ambassador to Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti. His presence made a difference! David understands that in the resolution of problems, forward movement requires participation from all sides. He is the consummate bridge-builder. Since 1998, he has been a special advisor to the United Church of Canada on Residential Schools. David’s commitment to the environment was first evident when he became chair of Canada’s first parliamentary committee on the environment in 1979. He remains a leader on the environment, leading a multi-sector response to the crisis of the global ocean. As a parliamentarian, diplomat, preacher, environmentalist, famine relief coordinator and social justice advocate David has given to his work boundless energy and creative leadership.
Reverend Gordon Winch
Reverend Gordon Winch was ordained as a United Church minister in 1952. In 1964 he took a sharp non-traditional turn by moving his work into the bars and taverns on Yonge Street earning him the nickname the “Padre of the Pubs”. It was here that he discovered that the greatest work he could do was to simply listen to and recognize the many disenfranchised and forgotten people living on the edges of society. With a ginger ale in one hand and an open and understanding ear he tended to an urgent need. Rev. Winch’s discovery of this fundamental need for people in distress to talk to someone led him to found Toronto’s Distress Centre in 1967. This was followed by the founding of Alpha House in 1971, a residential centre for men committed to overcoming drug and alcohol addictions. In 1979 Rev. Winch was instrumental in establishing the Survivor Support Program for people at risk of attempting suicide. In 1985 he helped set up the Assaulted Women’s Helpline. A member of the Order of Canada, Rev. Winch, now retired, continued to serve as a volunteer at the Distress Centre for many years. “I don’t know of anything more worthwhile,” he says, “Almost inevitably you feel you’ve been some use to somebody, and sometimes a lot of use to a lot of people.”
Norman Jewison’s films have been nominated for forty-six Academy Awards and have earned twelve wins. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 1999 he was presented with the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He is the founder of the Canadian Film Centre which recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary. He is both an Offi cer and a Companion of the Order of Canada. The Los Angeles film community got together this past April to pay tribute to his body of work. But it is the content of his films, what they say, the thoughts and feelings they provoke, that has earned Norman Jewison the Heart & Vision Award. Mr. Jewison himself has stated, “it is the movies that address civil rights and social justice that are dearest to me.” These movies include the trilogy of racial injustice films In The Heat of the Night (1967), A Soldier’s Story (1984), and The Hurricane (1999). From the theme of cold war paranoia in The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming to the theme of a corrupt legal system in …And Justice for All, Mr. Jewison’s films never fail to make us think, to question and to champion social justice.
Jesse Wente is the Director of Film Programmes at TIFF Bell Lightbox, overseeing theatrical, Cinematheque and Film Circuit programming. He has also programmed for the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival. He has appeared on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning as film and pop culture critic for 20 years. He is a self described ‘Ojibwe dude’ who encourages audiences to consider diversity and inclusion through all of his work.
Bob Rae is a lawyer, mediator, speaker, and writer and was Ontario’s 21st Premier. He was elected eleven times to the House of Commons and the Ontario legislature and works as a lawyer with a focus on first nations issues. He teaches at the University of Toronto, and is a respected writer. He is a Privy Councillor, a Companion of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a member of the Order of Ontario.
Michael Williams is an award winning, talented producer and host of Talk, Interview and Music related radio and television programs. From 1984 to 1993 he worked at Much Music, where he hosted live TV shows including: Soul in the City, Rap City, and Intimate and Interactive. Soul in the City was syndicated in 19 countries in Europe and Japan (as well as being number one in Canada for 5 years). Over the years he has interviewed numerous world-renowned music and film artists, politicians and news makers. He is currently teaching radio broadcasting and music distribution in the digital age at the Trebas Institute.
From stages home and abroad to screens large and small, our emcee has been a part of the cultural fibre of Toronto for decades. Be it funking it up with Rick James, dancing the two step with Gene Kelly, or acting alongside Kim Basinger and Michael Douglas, Tabby has enjoyed a rich and fruitful life. She is the proud holder of an American Music Award, a NYC Children’s Television Award, a Gemini nomination, a Dora Mavor Moore nomination, and a New York Cabaret Award nomination.
Steve Paikin is the anchor and senior editor of TVO’s current affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin. He has also hosted TVO’s Diplomatic Immunity, and co-hosted the network’s Studio 2. He has produced several documentaries and co-produced A Main Street Man, which chronicles the life of former Ontario premier William G. Davis. He is the author of four books and has moderated both Provincial and Federal election debates.
Kelly Walker is an author, therapist, storyteller, public speaker and musician. He is one of Canada’s experts on the questions of transition, change, and burnout. He has taught at numerous theological schools across Canada and continues to lead workshops and retreats. He is the author of three books: Loss of Soul: Burnout, Dancing on the Ark: facing change in uncertain times, and Growing Somewhere: living life after mid-life.
Debra McGrath is an actor, writer and comedian. Her credits include both feature films and television, among them a current role on Little Mosque on the Prairie. In 2002 she won the Canadian Comedy Award for her leading role in feature film Expecting. It was while serving as Director of the Second City comedy company that she met her husband, fellow comedian Colin Mochrie
Colin Mochrie is one of Canada’s best known comedians and has featured on both the British and American versions of the popular television show Whose Line is it Anyway. He has toured live and starred in numerous TV series including Getting Along Famously with his wife Debra McGrath and This Hour Has 22 Minutes, for which he received a Gemini Award.
Andy’s broadcast career started at summer camp when he was nine. He was assigned to wake up the campers every morning over the public address system. His career took him to Washington DC, Montreal, and then to Toronto, where The Andy Barrie Show, and CBC Radio’s Metro Morning Show with host Andy Barrie became the top rated radio shows in Toronto for many years. He is well known for his deep baritone voice, incisive questioning, and for his love of Regent Park.
Don is a Canadian actor, director, comedian and musician. He is best known for his character Charlie Farquharson, a comedic social commentator and Canadian television legend who premiered on CBC TV in 1952 and later became a staple of the Red Green Show in addition to appearances on the U.S. television show Hee Haw. In 1980 Don was appointed to the Order of Canada and in 2000, and to the Order of Ontario in 2000.