INSPIRE Awards Recipients & Nominees for 2015
Click the “+” button before each name to read the bio for the nominees and recipients.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo
Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, MPP Parkdale-High Park, was the first to officiate a “legalized” same sex marriage and is also responsible for Toby’s Law (an amendment to the Ontario Humans Rights Code to include gender identity and gender expression; the first of its kind in North America) named after her Transgender music Director, Toby Dancer. Voted Best MPP by NOW Magazine and a previous Grand Marshal of Pride Toronto, she is the first ever LGBTQ2S+ Issues Critic at Queen’s Park.
George Pratt was one of the first gay men to invest in Queer Entertainment in Toronto. Toronto Born and raised and coming from a Teaching background, he saw the importance of building sexual positive spaces in the Queer and Trans communities. A long time resident of The Village, he is a powerful activist who has challenged stereotypes of the LGBTQ2S+ community. He is a graduate of Toronto Teachers College and studied Psychology at York University.
Barbara Hall – Honorary
Barbara Hall is a Canadian lawyer, public servant and former politician. She was the 61st mayor of Toronto, the last to run before amalgamation. She was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. She retired after her term was renewed four times. She’s an avid LGBTQ2S+ rights advocate who has been often seen marching at Pride. She has recently seen the park adjacent to the 519 named after her to commemorate the great work she has done for our community. The park houses the 519 Green Space, the WorldPride Aids candlelight vigil and a Trans Mural.
International Icon Award
Judy and Dennis Shepard – Matthew Shepard Foundation
Judy and Dennis Shepard have shaken a nation when they built the Matthew Shepard Foundation following the loss of their loved Matthew. They have built great visibility for his living story in “Matthew Shepard is a friend of mine” showing great advocacy for the LGBTQ2S+ community. Since there loss they have channeled themselves into fighting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. They support LGBTQ2S+ youth through Matthew’s place and among many achievements have seen a 2009 law signed by President Obama extending hate-crime status to acts of violence based on sexual orientation.
Charles Roy Award for Activism in HIV/AIDS
Ashley was born with HIV and was on life-support until she was five months old. Ashley grew up to become an activist in battling the stigma and changing attitudes regarding HIV/AIDS. She is an in demand motivational speaker who speaks internationally. Ashley is devoted to helping other people with HIV/AIDS. She says, “When we shatter that box of normal, we free people to engage in what is rare, special, different and powerful in them.”
Dr. Shayne Ladak – Honorary
Dr. Shayne Ladak is a graduate of McMaster Medical School. He is a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with a special interest in neurological rehabilitation. He treats patients with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, MS, ALS, strokes, dementia etc. As part of his practice, he treats patients with neuropathic pain, an interest that developed as a result of the adverse effects of protease inhibitors and other HIV related medications.
As a medical student, Dr. Ladak did HIV electives at the Wellesley Hospital and at the Hassle Free Clinic. This training always held for him a strong commitment and resolve to support and give back to our community. During his time in practice at Lakeridge Health and the Durham Regional Cancer Centre in Oshawa, Dr. Ladak worked as a consultant physician, treating patients with HIV related dementia, peripheral neuropathy and AIDS related lymphoma.
Currently, Dr. Ladak has just completed a fellowship in Palliative Care Education and Practice at Harvard Medical School. He is a partner with a practice called DOCTORS MAKING HOUSECALLS where he treats patients with dementia and neuropathic pain in their home or hospice environments. This summer he is embarking on a Masters in Public Health degree at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where his research will be looking at The impact of HIV dementia on the quality-of-life, and function of people living with the disease.
Special Tribute to LGBTQ2S+ in Sports, the Pan Am & Parapan Am Games – Sports Hero Awards
Mark Tewksbury, Swimmer & Canadian Gold Medal Olympian
Mark is a Canadian swimmer who won the gold medal in 100 meter backstroke at the 1992 Summer Olympics. In 1998, he officially came out as gay and became a prominent advocate for gay rights internationally. He challenged the International Olympic Committee about the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games because of the deplorable anti-gay propaganda law in Russia. He co-founded OATH (Olympic Advocates Together Honourably) and was the co-president of the organizing committee for Montreal’s 2006 Outgaymes.
Fallon Fox, USA Professional Mixed Martial Arts Fighter
Fallon is an American mixed martial artist and the first openly transgender athlete in MMA history. In 2014, she was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. Coming from a conservative background, she has faced many obstacles, such as misrepresentation of transgender athletes, but has never given up her dreams. She is now a powerful writer and speaker.
Kinnon Mackinnon, Canadian Power Lifter Competed at the Gay Games
In his teenage years, Kinnon Ross MacKinnon competed at the national level in both freestyle skiing and snowboarding, but like many other LGBTQ2S+ athletes, he quit sports after coming out at the age of 19. Years later, Kinnon found his way back into athletics and today he is a competitive powerlifter, having won several medals and team trophies in Ontario. In August, Kinnon became the first transgender man to win a gold medal in powerlifting at the Gay Games in Cleveland Ohio. Kinnon is also a PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and studies health equity issues including access to health services for trans persons, and LGBTQ2S+ inclusion in sport.
LUX Award for the Arts
Jane Rule who was born in the States is noted to have had a quieter Canadian voice. Susan Swan a Toronto Novelist who noted this, had also found that she had been the first Canadian woman writer to write about being gay as it was a normal part of life. Rule had first written the Desert of the Heart that would be made into a film. She followed this with This is Not For You, Against the Season and her best known work, The Young in One Another’s Arms. She authored a dozen books and three short story collections.
Person of the Year
Susan Gapka ⭐️ Recipient
Susan worked with community leaders and the Toronto Police Service to help set up the first LGBTQ2S+ Community Consultative Committee. She served as the Toronto representative on the National Consumer Panel of the At Home/Chez Soi Research Demonstration Project of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. She helped found Tenants for Social Housing: We are Not for $ale, a tenant led advocacy group. Susan also led a campaign to persuade the Ontario Ministry of Health to fund Sex Reassignment Surgery for transgender people in Ontario and to have the province amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to include gender identity and gender expression.
Kevin Beaulieu – Nominee
Kevin is the former Executive Director of Pride Toronto and he built World Pride 2014 to be the largest event in World Pride history. He was raised by a supportive single mother and became an advocate for LGBTQ2S+ Human Rights when he moved to Toronto. He has been involved in local politics for many years and has traveled extensively in his work for international LGBTQ2S+ rights.
Alex Abramovich – Nominee
Dr. Alex Abramovich is a nationally recognized leader in the area of LGBTQ2 youth homelessness and is one of few Canadian researchers studying the phenomenon of queer and trans youth homelessness. He has tirelessly fought and advocated for the rights of LGBTQ2S+ homeless youth for a decade. His work has led to concrete practice and policy changes municipally, provincially, and nationally.
Jacqie Lucas – Nominee
Jacqie Lucas is a human rights activist, DJ, co-founder of #ENDhatelaws and DOC Out, and an organizer with #TOWithRussia. Passionate about politics, social justice, queer, transgender and women’s rights internationally, she is a tireless advocate for human rights for those endangered due to their gender. She has been active in improving the environment for LGBTQ2S+ students in the TDSB. Jacqie is currently leading the International Grand Marshall selection process for Pride Toronto 2015.
Andrea Houston – Nominee
Andrea Houston is a Toronto journalist and human rights advocate who has covered a wide range of issues affecting LGBTQ2S+ people locally and globally. Andrea is known for the 2011 story that Ontario Catholic schools prohibited students from forming gay-straight alliances. Her reporting played a key role in the passage of provincial legislation that mandated all publicly funded schools be required to allow GSAs. Andrea co-founded #ENDhatelaws, a coalition fighting for an end to international anti-gay laws enforced in more than 80 countries.
Youth of the Year
Brandon Amyot ⭐️ Recipient
Overcoming mental health issues, discrimination and queerphobia at his then Catholic school. He co-founded Simcoe Pride to work towards a safe and inclusive Simcoe County when transferred to the public board. A member of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance for 4 years, he helped lead the process that led to the school getting a gender-neutral washroom. From Youth Representative to Secretary of the Board, he took a lead in pride week, organizing 13 municipal flag raising events. He was a Student Trustee on the Simcoe County District School Board for the 2013 – 2014 term; organizing the “That’s So Gay Campaign”and presenting a workshop at the Equity in Action Symposium.
Justin Romanov – Nominee
Justin has fought tirelessly for his rights in Russia and is proud to say he will now be calling Canada home. He has full refugee status and continues to challenge the Kremlin and his former country’s laws and government on the ground and via the media. He is planning protests to build visibility for the many issues LGBTQ2S+ folks face in Russia currently. He was in Children 404, a documentary film that unveils the neglect that has only recently surfaced during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
Jacob Montgomery Gal – Nominee
While at high school, he became a ‘York Pride Fest’ year-round volunteer, helping to organize York Region’s inaugural Pride Parade in 2013. In 2013, Jacob launched the Newmarket chapter of York Region Gay Straight Alliance (YRGSA). At the Jer’s Vision “Dare To Stand Out” youth leadership forum he has provided guidance and mentoring to other youth to empower them to create GSA’s in their schools. Jacob has spoken about “coming out” and other LGBTQ2S+ topics at the York Region District School Board’s annual “Fusion” conference. For the past year, Jacob has been assisting the Police Community Advisory Council (PCAC) of York Regional Police by facilitating youth forums that explore issues faced by the region’s youth.
Brandon Fiedler – Nominee
Brandon is a 19 year old transgender male who came out as his true self in September 2012. Beside assisting other trans youth in other programs he was participating in, he was invited to be a guest speaker in 2014 to the Durham Region Children’s Aid Society. He spoke at the 2014 Durham PFLAG Transgender Day of Remembrance. Brandon is enrolled in college to become a Child and Youth Worker, and will be dedicating his future to helping other trans youth to provide them with a better experience than he did.
Positive Business of the Year
Ferriera-Wells Immigration Services ⭐️ Recipient
Ferreira-Wells Immigration Services is a Canadian Immigration firm pioneering in same sex gay and lesbian Canadian immigration, and has been providing services to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community worldwide since 1995. Their LGBT clients include Canadian citizens and Canadian Permanent Residents who have foreign same-sex gay and lesbian partners who want to begin a shared life together in Canada, or gay and lesbian couples and individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada on their own.
Zipperz/Cellblock – Nominee
Trendy, buzzing gay bar & nightspot with DJs & dancing, plus special events such as drag nights. Zipperz / Cellblock is one of the only Village bars that features drag shows with kings rather than queens, and therefore it tends to bring out a predominantly female crowd. Cellblock, with a unique stainless steel dance floor, is known to host some of the best drag shows during the week and is a popular house DJ’s spot on weekends.
Ten Thousand Coffees – Nominee
Ten Thousand Coffees is a global marketplace that democratizes the opportunity for anyone to gain access to a meaningful conversation. The platform allows people to connect through mutual interests to share ideas and gain insights to help move them forward. Industry leaders and the next generation can identify which ‘Interests and Causes’ they are involved with or passionate about. Those with an interest in the LGBTQ2S+ community can tag their profile and/or search others interested in the same topic. When a coffee invite is sent or received similar tags will appear on the coffee invite allowing people to better identify their interests.
No. 1 Simply Property Management – Nominee
No. 1 Simply Property Management have been members of various community based organizations, Including Simcoe, Durham, Toronto and also have participated in other areas such as Hamilton, New York, Kingston, Belleville, Tweed, Simcoe and Toronto, either by way of the company or individually. They have supported several organizations in these communities including Spearhead, Ticot, D.A.A.S.C., A.C.D.R., Durham Pride, Toronto Pride, PFLAG as well as several other organizations in these outer communities. Currently they are working with Durham Communities and organizing and sponsoring the Pride events for June in Durham.
Lace Up Your Cleats – Nominee
Lace Up Your Cleats (LUYC) is a community driven company that incorporates elements of soccer and futsal in its skill clinics, and provides opportunities to play soccer and futsal in a fun and recreational to semi-competitive environment. Recognizing a need for community-oriented spaces, especially those that prioritize women, transgender, and genderqueer people, LUYC is helping to fill a gap in soccer and futsal programming in Downtown Toronto by offering a variety of events and opportunities for folks who have typically been on the margins of sports, particularly soccer and futsal.
Inspiring Community Organization of the Year
Casey House ⭐️ Recipient
Casey House is a specialty HIV/AIDS hospice with community programs including home nursing care and outreach. Founded in 1988, they were the first freestanding HIV/AIDS facility in Canada. Their commitment is to provide compassionate, inspired health care for people living with medically complex experiences of HIV/AIDS, in collaboration with their communities.
Centre for Spanish Speaking People – Nominees
The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples is a non-profit, charitable organization serving new immigrants from 20 Spanish-speaking countries as well as members of other communities. In 1979, the Centre started English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and in 1981, founded the Women’s Program. Today, the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples has added youth, volunteer and AIDS prevention programs. It serves tens of thousands of Spanish speaking peoples in Toronto and throughout Canada every year.
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre – Nominees
Founded in 1979, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre began with a production of Sky Gilbert’s Angels in Underwear staged in an old brewery on Queen Street East. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre creates vital Canadian theatre by developing and presenting voices that question sexual and cultural norms. Built on the political and social principles of queer liberation, Buddies supports artists and works that reflect and advance these values. As the world’s longest-running queer theatre, they are uniquely positioned to develop, promote, and preserve stories and perspectives that are challenging and alternative.
Outsport Toronto – Nominees
OUTSPORT TORONTO is an incorporated not-for-profit amateur athletic association. Their mission is to support the amateur LGBTQ2S+ sports community through promotion of sports, facilitation of networking and education, and effectively advocating to external stakeholders. OUTSPORT TORONTO and its predecessor, The Toronto Sport Alliance / Team Toronto, have been serving the needs of the amateur LGBTQ2S+ sport community in the GTA since 1989.