For an 11th year, finalists for the Pillar Community Innovation Awards have proven an ability to inspire the community and remind Londoners of the heart and work offered by non-profits, leaders and business.
Represented by four categories — Innovation, Leadership, Impact and Collaboration — the selected finalists are examples of those who are making London a better and brighter community.
Pillar Nonprofit Network announced this year’s finalists at a public unveiling held Aug. 29 at Innovation Works.
The three finalists in each category are as follows:
Positive Voice at Nokee Kwe
Childreach Wild Child Outdoor Playgroup
ATN’s Old East Village Grocer Project
George Bray Sports Association
SOUP: Southern Ontario Ukulele Players
Community Engaged Learning at Western University
London Interfaith Peace Camp and King’s University College
Care for Newcomer Children & Merrymount Family Support & Crisis Centre
Baby’s Book Bag: Literacy Right From The Start & Kiwanis Club
The Pillar Community Innovation Awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at the London Convention Centre.
Award recipients will receive $2,000 to be directed to the registered charity of their choice and will be presented with a custom-designed award, accompanied by their names engraved on the perpetual plaque in the Hudson’s Bay Passageway at the London Central Library.
The local vegan community has embraced the annual VegFest London showcase, but those looking for a quick taste of what’s to come — and enjoy some live music — can head on down to Vegstock.
Vegstock London is currently underway in Old East Village, across from Aeolian Hall, and features 11 vendors, mostly focused on food and drink, but not the ones frequent VegFest visitors might recognize.
“Vegstock is serving as pre-party to VegFest,” said VegFest chair Krista Kankula. “It’s focused mostly on food and drink vendors, beer vendors, some wine vendors. We want to give people the option to sample from all of them.”
Vegstock is a fundraiser for VegFest, as both events are driven by volunteers .
Fund raised at Vegstock will assist organizers in putting on the larger festival in November.
As if food, drink and plenty of sweets weren’t enough of an attraction, the first live band takes to the Vegstock stage at 6 p.m. with the last one finishing up around 10 a.m. Vegstock is set to close down by 11 p.m.
“Response so far has been pretty great,” Kankula said. “It’s been cool to interact with the different vendors that we wouldn’t normally see and they’re excited to connect with the vegan crowd.”
A counter-protest organized by People For Peace London and the Council of Canadians, London Chapter vastly out numbered those of the group Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West, which had originally called for the Aug. 26 rally outside city hall.
Some 700 people showed up, the vast majority opposing — rather loudly at times — the alt-right rhetoric they had come out to push back against. The pushing remained rhetorical, or maybe theological for the most part, as the approximately three-hour gathering was for the most part peaceful.
There were some heated discussions, and a little pushing and shoving, but London Police Service announced only two individuals at the rally had arrested and that charges were pending.
In a world seemingly overwhelmed with racial violence, Marci Allen-Easton has found herself feeling “really angry,” but she also discovered a reason to hold on to hope.
Allen-Easton joined some 400 of her fellow Londoners in Victoria Park on Aug. 16 in a solidarity rally held in response to the racial violence in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend.
“I can’t see why anyone would not want to be involved in this; there is no place to be except outraged and involved,” she said. “To be silent is to be wrong; to be silent is to just not care and how could anyone not care?”
The rally, put together by People for Peace London with the Council of Canadians London Chapter, saw various speakers stand up and speak out against violence and hate being spread by alt-right groups in not only the U.S., but Canada — and even London — as well.
For Allen-Easton, staying home wasn’t an option, particularly in light of the people she’s drawn inspiration from.
“(U.S. President Donald) Trump said there were two groups out there; he’s right, there was Nazis and there were Nazi fighters,” Allen-Easton said. “In my world, Nazi fighters are superheroes and I’m going to be one of them.”
Sue Clifford and Becky Ellis were two other participants in the rally, both motivated by the need to stand up and speak out against racism and violence.
Clifford said attending the rally was a “no-brainer” for her, adding, “I can’t just sit home and do nothing. I don’t know if this will make a difference, but it is doing something.”
Ellis said she took part because, “as a white person,” she said it is essential to be “really vocal against racism” and act in solidarity with people of colour who face racism every day.
“It’s unfortunate all this ugliness is coming out in an incredibly disturbing and violent way,” she said. “It’s easy to say it’s bad over there, but it’s not us. They’re so bad over there. But no, it’s us too. So it’s really important we take a stand against that in a really visible way.”
David Heap, a member of People for Peace London, said the message being sent by the rally is a simple one that Londoners have come together to reject hate, xenophobia and violence.
His greater concern, however, might be the perception that racial violence such as seen in Charlottesville is a uniquely American problem.
He was quick to add that’s not the case.
“It’s not creeping up, it’s here, it’s been here for a long time and unfortunately it’s becoming emboldened by events south of the border and, sadly, by some voices here in the community that legitimize that kind of violence,” he said. “We need to make it very clear that is a tiny minority and the majority of Londoners, the majority of us don’t accept that kind of violence. We need to call it out and we need to say not here, not against anybody.”
Heap, who besides being a dedicated social justice activist is also a Western University professor, added he is also concerned that he heard from some people they were afraid to attend the rally.
That, he said, sends “a very sad message” and so the community needs to stand up for a community that is welcoming of all peoples and works to make everyone feel safe.
Heap’s words were reflected in thoughts shared by one of his colleagues, Selma Tobah, who also spoke at the rally.
“Today friends, I am not at peace. I’m angry, I’m agitated; I’m outraged at what we are seeing happening, not only around the world, but here in our community as well,” she said. “London has seen protests of neo-Nazis and white supremacists that dare show their faces in our streets. They are unafraid, so neither should we be afraid.”
Tobah also shared the message that Canada is not immune to the violence and bigotry seen south of the border.
Instead, the country is also similarly built “on genocide and on slavery and on violence.”
To stand up to that, she explained, takes everyone getting involved and speaking out against racism, sexism and homophobia wherever they might find it.
“I ask today in this call to action that you confront the violence wherever you may find it, in whatever form, whether it be on your Facebook feeds or around your dinner tables or in your workplaces or in the mouths of your politicians,” she said. “I ask that we remain collectively and consistently outraged and pushing for change and that we always evaluate our actions in the pursuit of justice . . . that we organize consistently and collectively in the pursuit of peace for all.”