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Community Patch Winners

GRAND PRIZE WINNER:

Sarah Jama

Nominated by: Jeremy F, Angelune D, Kristin A

  1. Sarah is an advocate for so many things right now - and for as long as I've been aware of her. Disability rights, BLM movement, CAREMongering, positive community development. I've just been impressed by every single thing she's touched. Since much of work often edges on the political I think the public recognition of her work is often held within close circles. Awarding her something like this I would hope shows her she's appreciated by many, and would share the positive message of her work to a broader audience.

 

  1. Sarah Jama does fantastic and vital work as the Senior Program Director of Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, and being the co-founder of Disability Justice Network of Ontario. She is a community organizer who is continually on the front lines, standing up for marginalized folks in our community, holding those in power accountable, and thoughtfully keeping us all informed and up to date about crucial issues in Hamilton. Sarah is an important voice in our community, one who gives me hope for the future of Hamilton.

 

  1. Sarah is a local Hamilton community organizer and the co-founder of the disability justice network of Ontario (DJNO). Sarah currently works at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion as an Outreach Coordinator and is also a Community Engagement Liaison to Councillor Matthew Green at the City of Hamilton. In her spare time, she acts as a consultant, and is currently working with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to create anti-racism training and peer support based curriculum for students at the school board.

 

OTHER WINNERS (in no particular order):

Samantha Cordialini

Nominated by: Claire S

Throughout quarantine she has been so active in her community. She painted BLM yard signs for her neighborhood and has been working tirelessly with vote nc to help motivate people to get out and vote. On top of that she just cares about everyone and trys to helps everyone she possibly can however she can.

 

Jo Gale

Nominated by: Mandi G

Since moving to Hamilton a few years ago Jo has dove head first into being a leader in her community. She does amazing work at goodbody feel, especially when it comes to creating safe spaces for joyful movement for ALL BODIES. She actively speaks out on issues that affect our community such as racism, transphobia, homophobia, fatphobia, migrant workers rights, defunding the police and so much more. Honestly, I’m so proud she’s one of my best friends! She has made lots of sacrifices to help others and she remains humble, willing to learn and spreads joy.

 

Dahlia Ishak (Turner)

Nominated by: Jess A, Jenna L, Paige B, Katie B, Robin L, Jacqui O

  1. I could go on! They helped form a design collective called Collective Form, connecting commercial designers from the area and organising events to bring creatives together. They also helped thousands of dollars at the start of the pandemic and have contributed to other awesome initiatives and charities.

 

  1. I’d love to nominate Dahlia Ishak, who is a freelance graphic designer and owner of the former Meanwhile Cafe (had to close but now Sunny Corner Bar) and Salty Espresso. When Covid shut down restaurants in the Spring she jumped into action with Totes Together. She made up a bunch of her own designs on totes (never promoting her own work) to raise money for local hospitality businesses. Customers could pick the design and pick their favourite restaurant to help out. She never took a cut for herself or promoted her businesses which were in dire need of help, all her energy and thoughts went into helping others.

    She raised $40,000 in bags and after paying for production costs and tax $20,000 went directly to the bars and restaurants people loved. 120 local businesses got paid and left over funds went to Food 4 Kids. She organized all of this designed, mailed out bags, made the web site, set up the printers all by herself and more while never asking for applause. When Salty turned into a pick up grocery store during the Spring she also collaborated with other local businesses making donation bags of fresh produce to send to local food bags.

    I wanted to promote her since she is such selfless person that has had a really hard time financially and emotionally during Covid but she never puts her self first. She mentors so many young designers and really takes care of all her employees. Even when times have financially been super tough for them she keeps thinking of others first and never asks for anything herself. So I’d love her to get some love and be able to treat herself.

 

  1. Through Salty and her other businesses, she has constantly created a welcoming community. Then when the pandemic hit, she create Totes Together to help others. I could go on and on about the things she has done.

 

  1. Dahlia is such a cornerstone of the creative and hospitality communities in Hamilton through her various businesses, always ensuring that people and businesses are welcomed and supported with open arms. She adds to the city in so many ways through her work and positive and inclusive attitude, always putting others' first and spearheading initiatives to give back, like the Totes Together campaign at the beginning of COVID.

 

 

  1. Dahlia has become part of the backbone of downtown Hamilton, especially within the restaurant and small business community, since moving here from Australia four years ago and starting Salty Espresso with her husband. When the pandemic hit, she was also in the process of opening a wine bar on James North. In the spring, all she wanted to do was help others in her industry who were struggling. She launched Totes Together, which was a huge success in raising money for restaurants across our community, creating a way for people to help when we didn’t know how. She poured hours and hours into the project. Dahlia also helped organize a walk to honour Scott Martin after he passed away, so that people could come together to grieve and celebrate his life. In her day to day life, she just cares SO much and is always asking how she can help, and offering what she has to others. She is basically a living, breathing community patch :)

 

  1. Dahlia is one of the most thoughtful and selfless people I know. As soon as Covid hit, she immediately dreamt up the Totes Together Initiative that engaged artists and supported restaurants/cafes forced to shut down. When the BLM protests began resurged after the death of George Floyd, she created a resrouce website with all the the anti-racism/anti-oppression resources she learned of - originally creating the list for her own learning, then realizing how the list could benefit others in their learning too. She donated her design skills to a collective that formed to amplify black owned business in Hamilton. I could go on and on! She often is putting collective need above her own. In the before times, she would be so welcoming and engaging at Salty with all guests. She's just the best and deserves to be celebrated as she does all of this quietly behind the scenes.

 

 

Rich Gelder

Nominated by: Leslie B

Rich has volunteered for twenty years with the CANUSA Games (annual competition between the cities of Hamilton and Flint, Michigan) and for the Hamilton Olympic Club and is the current club president. He consistently gives athletes the chance to compete in track and field by removing barriers to participation (i.e. waiving membership fees when needed). Rich has become active on a range of civic issues in Hamilton, including speaking out in support of public transit, bus lanes, light rail transit and cycling. As an HWDSB teacher, Rich is a big part of the Rainbow Prom organizing committee (Two-Spirit & LGBTQIA prom) and, as such, is an advocate in his school for all of his students. Rich devotes so much time to serving others in our community and, in my opinion, deserves recognition.

 

 

Robin Lacambra

Nominated by: Marin H, Toni-Marie G, Betta P, Emily M

  1. Robin is a MOVER in our community. She is generous and fierce. She creates opportunities and lifts others up. She is a creator and a speaker, and truly speaks up for what makes our community a better place to live. She believes in people, and the power of people, and creates space for sharing privilege. Robin is welcoming, and caring, and not afraid to use her voice. Through her business, GOODBODYFEEL, Robin has created safe space for members of our community. With BIPOC and LGBTQ+ classes, as well as a focus on movement rather than fitness, Robin emphasizes the need for self-care for community care. She is strong, resilient, and active in our community. In the face of a pandemic, Robin shifted GBF classes online, making them as accessible as possible. She is a teacher, a mentor, and a true force in our community. For all of this, Robin deserves the Community Patch.

 

  1. Robin is doing such amazing and important work in the wellness community. Her studio Goodbodyfeel provides every individual a safe place to move their body. She has such an admirable passion for spreading awareness and sharing privilege. I look up to her so much and have learned so much from her.

 

  1. If you live in Hamilton and are somewhat aware of the "fitness + wellness" services the city can provide you have definitely heard of GOODBODYFEEL and so you have probably heard of Robin. I remember reaching out to do the energy exchange program for GBF back in Feb. of 2019 and I have stuck around since because Robin has fostered such an amazing community of people. GBF made me realize that you should move your body because you love your body, not hate it, and instructors should be encouraging and not demeaning and in addition to that Robin sets the standard that people and the businesses they run should be founded on principles of anti-racism, anti-oppression, and inclusivity. We saw a collective shift during this pandemic as more people became aware of the systemic racism that exists in our world and I feel that Robin was there in the community offering her Sharing Privilege courses and sharing the voices of those who matter most. I could go on and on but Robin truly is a powerhouse, an inspiration, and overall a community leader.

 

  1. The first ever class I took at Goodbodyfeel was Robin's R&B pilates. To be transparent, I have never really had a self-motivated movement practice, let alone one that brings joy. I feel incredibly blessed that there is a studio in my city led by someone (and a team of someones) so fiercely dedicated to radical acceptance, transformation, and community care. Relationships to our bodies are such a personal thing, and I certainly did not anticipate how much I would come to enjoy group movement classes. From that first class with Robin until now, I have experienced laughter, joy, acceptance, and space to be and feel good (in my body and self). I am in awe of her leadership and so grateful to learn from her and with her. Recognition for this work is deeply needed and deserved!

 

Kylie Campbell
Nominated by: Beth T

Kylie is the owner of “The Brow Room” in Hamilton- she believes in supporting small local businesses (especially those that are female owned and/or owned by POC). She is constantly using her platform to cross promote other small businesses and give them exposure to her 6000+ following. She is an active advocate for the BLM movement. For her Nan’s 100th birthday, her and her family asked for donations to be sent to the family of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. In addition to this, she volunteers her time on the board for Lady Bird Animal Sanctuary here in Hamilton. She currently owns 4 cats (Binks, Booker, Beckett & Bash) and her super sweet dog named Buster. She passionately cares for animals and works to help anyway she can- including using her business as a way to help get donations for the Animal Rescue. Kylie has one of the biggest hearts out of anyone I’ve ever met. To know her is to love her. She has had an incredibly difficult year and I think some recognition would really be appreciated (although she would also be incredibly shy about it).

 

Tori Charron
Nominated by: Christiana K
Tori is the quietest changemaker I know. With a strong foundation in international feminist theory, Tori has volunteered as long as I've known her. Through undergrad, she volunteered with young mothers who needed support with their infant children but couldn't afford childcare. This is on top of working insane hours to put herself through school. More recently, she's been volunteering at SACHA in Hamilton on their crisis line. I don't know anyone who would be better in the role than her. At the same time, she was entering a new master's program at school and was pretty disappointed by the lack of training in diversity and inclusion within her program. So what did she do? She ran for the program's student government to make a change from within, and won. She's been collaborating with faculty and other students to ensure that facilitators who speak to the class are properly educated on how to speak about sensitive topics. She does all these things quietly, not posting in instagram about it or looking for any kind of acknowledgment for the hours of time she dedicates to making change in the world around her. It's just who she is. The other day I texted her and asked her what she was doing with her time off for reading week, and she casually explained to me how she had been researching relevant laws for Ontario classrooms around programming for kids with special needs, because she noticed a particular board had been severely neglecting their special needs students. She asked me what I was up to, and I told her about the show I was watching on Netflix. Tori cares so much about her community of friends and family, and every community she is a part of. Not only does she care, she has the tools to really foster change, and the gumption to use them.

Shelagh Griffin (Irving)
Nominated by: Jasmine F
She is so kind and supportive. A woman who has always worked and lived in Hamilton and brings light to everyone she encounters. She is truly a light! During the pandemic she kept instagrammers entertained by creating a fun game with her young daughter, and involved all of her followers. She supports all things Hamilton - from small boutique shops (like yours!) to tiny creative Instagram pages like mine. I could go on forever!

Alexandria Montague
Nominated by: Daniela S
I'm nominating one of my best friends, Alexandria Montague, for The Community Patch. Alex is one of the most amazing people I know. When we first met in highschool I was so stunned at how involved she was in the community and yet how quiet she kept her involvement. She's never done any of her work for the purpose of gaining recognition, but through the nominations of people who admire her she's earned both the 2015 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Award as well as a YMCA Peace Medal.
Alex truly loves Hamilton, if you ask any of her friends you'll hear us say that she's the go to for a Hamilton restaurant recommendation. And while attending Ryerson for 4 years, she was still back in Hamilton each weekend and every chance she got.
During this year Alex and her sisters, Ashleigh and Aby, have started the instagram account blkownedhamont, with the intention of shining light on black owned businesses in Hamilton. If I could nominate all three of them I would, but with Alex being one of my best friends for almost 5 years I wanted to take this chance to shine some light on her.
As with everything she does I know she is working tirelessly on this project, she is working to turn blkownedhamont into more than just an instagram account but a platform that celebrates and uplifts Hamiltons black business owners.
As a friend I am extremely proud of her, and as a Hamiltonian I'm so proud to have someone like her working for change and inclusivity in our community.

Sahra Soudi
Nominated by: Ariel B-S, Becky K, Betta P, Annie W
1. Sahra is the most dedicated and hard working person that I know. A compassionate activist, artist, human. They fight every day for the lives and livelihoods of Black people everywhere.
They are a sweet and care-giving friend who is dedicated to the well-being of their friends and wider community. They are constantly uplifting others, demonstrating shine theory in every move. AND the coolest DJ in town! The funkiest style! The brightest smile, funniest jokes.
Wow I love Sahra so much. They are so deserving of praise and awards and goodies.

 

  1. Sahra is a tireless activist, artist, community arts practitioner, arts administrator, musician, organizer, ally, and loyal friend. They have been instrumental in our city's pursuit for justice and liberation for communities marginalized by the harmful status quo. They are heavily involved in various endeavours and organizations throughout Hamilton and beyond, including the Disability Justice Network of Ontario. I seriously don't know or understand how they do it! They must never sleep. Honestly, Sahra has inspired myself and many many others to get more involved, and our city is better for it. A Hamilton Hero/ine in the truest sense of the word <3

 

  1. Sahra is a community organizer, an activist, an artist, and more. I met Sahra in university and I am always grateful when our paths cross because I get to see the amazing work they do. Sahra is constantly using their voice to rally for change in our community, they are a leader for the Black Lives Matter movement and I feel they have been a strong voice in advocating for defunding the police. I am constantly inspired by Sahra and so appreciative of the work they do and that is why I feel they deserve this award.

 

  1. Sahra rarely says no. If they are asked to help, they are always there. Even if they aren't asked to help, they're usually there :) Sahra has been leading initiatives to keep police out of schools, to keep vulnerable communities fed, to keep houseless folks safe - to name just a few recent projects, all of which were occurring during the pandemic, yet Sahra is there to lend a hand and keep our community safe, happy and healthy. Sahra was at the heart of HAVN (the Hamilton Audio/Visual Node), always there to dj/clean up/hang out/make space/show work - you name it! All of this and Sahra is also an incredible visual artist, extremely knowledgeable student (of life - even after graduating!), immensely valuable coworker (we have worked together at art camp with the littlest of kids, and Sahra's big heart and lively brain kept everyone engaged and safe), and a true friend. I can't think of anyone I've met who is more dedicated to their community than Sahra. I hope that you agree!!

 

 

Amanda Raposo

Nominated by: Jessica A

She has been our next door neighbour for years, back when I was in elementary school and I am now about to graduate university. She has been the big sister I’ve never had, and helped me secure my first job when I was 16 with her. She is always there for me and has continually throughout the years taken care of me when my parents were away and made sure I was okay. As well as this, she is the most caring individual I know.

 

Heather Elson

Nominated by: Lauren A

Helped start We Feed The Need in Hamilton. They fundraised to feed frontline workers during quarantine while supporting/ highlighting local restaurants during quarantine.

 

Cheryl Hill

Nominated by: Crystal C

Cheryl works for Dofasco during the week. On her spare time and free days she volunteers as a crew leader on build sites for Habitat for humanity Hamilton, and also is a cashier and helper in the Habitat for Humanity Restore. She goes out of her way to donate her hours to people who need a home and helped one family this year achieve home ownership by donating 150 hours of her free time volunteering towards their goal. She is kind, caring and goes out of her way to help our community. Please recognize her for the community award.

 

Raghad Azzam

Nominated by: Ilda A

Raghad has spent countless hours volunteering for the food bank through Miskha Social Services with the Muslim community but also started her own volunteer organization called Sawa, which promotes inclusion and anti-racism in HWDSB schools, especially with newcomer children. She's amazing. I could write a book about her: )

 

Maria Felix Miller

Nominated by: Amy E

As the Ward 3 School Board Trustee, Maria has prioritized the voices and experiences of BIPOC students - she has fought to (successfully!) end the police liaison program in Hamilton schools, has stood behind students who have experienced racism, and always works toward building a more equitable school environment. As well, she has worked to secure the resources needed for Hamilton schools during Covid when the province wouldn't, and helped to spread essential information and resources to support students and families. Maria is so devoted to making Hamilton more equitable (and beautiful, and fun!) for all children and families, and she deserves huge recognition for all she does!

 

Krista Rao
Nominated by: Andrea G, Smantha P

  1. Well, where do I start? Krista is a mom of 2, creative genius, giver extraordinaire, thrifter, friend, wife, chauffeur, hockey mom, knower of all cool community happenings and organizer of many of them. Krista works for Welcome Inn; she loves her work and community and cares an awful lot! She truly listens to the people who enter the Welcome Inn doors and often we will be downtown and someone will approach us and they will continue to share their story with Krista and in turn she gives them her ear, time and heartfelt advice. Ever engaged in the community, Krista is a leader of her peers. She truly cares and it shows and it it felt by those she touches on a daily basis. Krista deserves this award. She is a true giver to the community and lover of giving back!

 


  1. I am nominating Krista Rao for the community patch. Krista is my older sister (by ~12 years), and from as far back as I can remember, she was ahead of her time in everything she did or created. She spent a year in Korea teaching English before it was a 'thing' to travel abroad and volunteer, she was making quilts and hand sewn dolls before they were mainstream/'hip', and growing up and as a small kid she was always first to support my interest in and teach me more about inclusion and alll the 'isms' (racism, sexism, etc). After spending years as a mental health nurse and raising her kids through the preschool years, she entered back into the job market as an employee at Welcome Inn - a community centre and foodbank in her North Hamilton neighbourhood. Krista started there running the food bank, and quickly became immersed in everything happening at Welcome Inn - not nearly restricted to food bank business only. From talking with her, it seemed she knew details of all the lives of the people who visited Welcome Inn, and she had tons of people coming to her for help with all sorts of life issues and advice - understandable, because she is approachable and always has some way of helping, if not only for a thoughtful follow up card or custom handmade gift. When Hamilton began to become home for many new Syrian refugees, I saw a change in Krista's work and most of her focus was around serving and helping these newcomers to Canada. Krista listens to all of their stories and tries to help in any way possible - Krista has even learned Arabic solely to be able to better communicate with all of the families at Welcome Inn. I would honestly say that the safety and wellbeing of the refugee families who attend Welcome Inn has become much more than part of Krista's job and is now engrained in her daily life. In the interest of not rambling on, I am going to list some additional reasons why Krista deserves this award:
    - In her time at Welcome Inn, Krista has partnered with Diva Cup (menstrual cup company) to provide a free Diva Cup to anyone who needs one. This greatly helps homeless or low income people as they do not have to keep buying feminine supplies monthly and can simply keep their Diva Cup for that time of the month each month (and can always go back to Welcome Inn if they need a replacement).
    - Krista set up a program for anyone to have their taxes done for free, in addition to encouraging community members to use this service and file their taxes (very important for low income people as they often are not taking advantage of tax credits, etc available to them).
    - She individually and personally assists and guides refugee/immigrant families through bureaucratic processes that are difficult enough even for people who grew up in Canada, let alone being new to this country and not speaking English (for example, sponsoring a family member to come to Canada, getting free legal advice, etc)
    - After discovering that a new company that purchased 2 buildings that provide decently priced housing mostly for immigrants and refugees has the end goal of 'flipping' the building to high priced condos, Krista has taken it upon herself to communicate all the correct facts to protect the residents of these buildings. She has been in contact with lawyers, the City and the new landlords to get all the facts straight, and has posted posters in many different languages to help inform residents - to communicate the facts to them so they are not bribed/bought out of their reasonably priced housing only to find there are not many other affordable options out there.
    - Learning about Arabic culture and traditions to better connect with families visiting Welcome Inn
    - Lending her car to people who are new to Canada and learning to drive
    - Taking families from Welcome Inn 'thrifting' for some good finds at Value Village (something she has always been good at:) )
    Just a few examples of why Krista deserves this award !! Serving the community is much more than just a job to Krista, especially when it comes to helping those families that are new to Canada - it has honestly become part of her life. Krista loves your shop (along with her daughter, Ava), so I know this $200 gift card and opportunity be involved in starting a new community initiative would go a far way and mean a lot :)

Emily Bennett

Nominated by: Nadine R

Dr. Emily Bennett is a naturopathic doctor, activist, mom, and good friend of mine. I have known Emily since she moved to Hamilton 5 years ago and ever since setting foot in Hamilton she has been dedicated to making naturopathic health care accessible to everyone who needs it. I want to nominate her because the pandemic affected her business in a big way. She had to close down Inland Island—Community Wellness Centre, which was such an amazing space that housed many other wonderful health practitioners. With all these big changes afoot for her, I just want her to know how lucky Hamilton is to have her. And, I guess I really want to remind her that her work here is so important and that she has changed so many people’s lives for the better!