It was a night of glitz and glam as Londoners came together to honour groups working to make our community a better place.
Hundreds of people gathered at the London Convention Centre Wednesday night for the 10th anniversary edition of the Pillar Community Innovation Awards.
The night was kicked off by a Bollywood dance presentation that had crowd members clapping and swaying in their seats. Pillar Nonprofit Network’s Executive Director Michelle Baldwin and Board of Directors Member Kate Graham then welcomed all of the award nominees and other guests, thanking them for their support not only this year but over the last decade as well. Both praised the city for its continuous support of innovation.
Mayor Matt Brown also delivered greetings on behalf of the City of London, congratulating all those nominated for the four awards.
“You are all innovators, you are all leaders,” Brown said.
— Jess Brady (@JessBrady980) November 24, 2016
The Community Innovation Award was the first piece of hardware handed out during the ceremony and it was awarded to the GENTLE Program run the Thames Valley District School Board.
The initiative centred on working with Syrian newcomers between January and April of this year to help them adjust to life in Canada and London specifically.
Learning Supervisor with the TVDSB Sue Bruyns told AM980 working with the families was an amazing opportunity to hear their stories and witness their incredible resiliency.
“Some of their stories were very heartbreaking to hear, but these families wanted to be in Canada where they could be safe and their children could go to school,” Bruyns said.
Even though the program shut down in April because the volume of newcomers declined, Bruyns says they’ve continued to support the children and their families, having run newcomer programming through the summer and now following up with the little ones in their new schools as they navigate their first full year of classes.
Bruyns said they did was reward enough, but it was lovely to be recognized by the Pillar Community Innovation Awards. Seeing so many other deserving groups and individuals recognized Wednesday night was also touching, Bruyns said. The support GENTLE received from community agencies like the Cross Cultural Learner Centre made them proud to be part of the community as well.
“It really is an incredible city and we can see whey a number of newcomers want to settle here.”