Winners of 11th annual awards include care bus initiative, Ma-Nee Chacaby, Cornelius Beaver, and more.
THUNDER BAY – Efforts to build community and support those in need were honoured Monday with the presentation of the 11th annual Mayor’s Community Safety Awards.
The honours were bestowed virtually on two residents and four community projects by Mayor Bill Mauro preceding the evening’s city council meeting.
Elder Ma-Nee Chacaby received the Community Hero award, Cornelius Beaver received the Young Leader award, and the care bus initiative, the Indigenous Food Circle, Matawa’s safe sobering site, and the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council’s on-call crisis response service each received an Outstanding Community Project award.
Each of those winners receives a $1,000 prize from a sponsor to support their work.
In a statement, Mayor Bill Mauro said he was honoured to be part of the ceremony.
“These awards have impacted so many deserving people and organizations in our community who work so hard to make Thunder Bay a better place,” he said. “This year’s winners are no different, and their efforts to make change in our community deserve to be celebrated!”
Shot videos on the recipients and their work are available at the city’s website, along with more information.
The winners of the 2021 Community Safety Awards are as follows:
COMMUNITY HERO AWARD
Ma-Nee Chacaby, Anishinaabe Elder
Ma-Nee Chacaby, a Two-Spirit Ojibwa-Cree elder and storyteller, generously shares her skills with the Thunder Bay community. Her visibility as an out and proud Two-Spirit person — in the film Fire Song, in text with her own story A Two- Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder, and through digital story-telling — helps increase public awareness for 2SLGBTIQ+ experiences, and broadens the conversation around crucial Indigenous history like the impacts of residential and day schools. For decades, Ma-Nee’s community work and volunteering has been extensive. She spends time counselling youth who find themselves at risk of poor outcomes, individuals struggling with addictions and homelessness, and people living with HIV. Ma-Nee encourages and supports language revitalization, ensures that cultural teachings survive to reach future generations, and improves a sense of community belonging and safety through her mentorship of youth. In addition to serving on many committees, including the City of Thunder Bay Elders Advisory Council, Ma-Nee mentors a number of grassroots groups and supports their vital community safety and well-being efforts.
Sponsored by Apex Investigation & Security
YOUNG LEADER AWARD
Cornelius is a creative, compassionate, courageous, Two- Spirit young person from Nibinamik (Summer Beaver) First Nation who inspires and supports youth and the creation of safe spaces. Since 2017, Cornelius has volunteered with the Regional Multicultural Youth Council to plan and lead community events for peers at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School. They welcomed First Nations students from remote and rural northern communities and provided outreach and support to children and youth in public housing. They facilitated Youth Embracing Diversity in Education workshops and staff development seminars for local school boards and played a lead role in coordinating a community forum at Lakehead University, where 250 high school students watched and discussed the film, Coming Together to Talk – Chi Pi Kaaki Too Yang. Cornelius uses storytelling to encourage change. Through Magnus Theatre in Education Project, Cornelius has helped produce plays that focus on residential school, reconciliation, consent, migration, invisible disabilities, and more. With Roots to Harvest, Cornelius worked in the Urban Youth Farming and Seasonal Horticultural Outdoor Worker programs, which led to collaborating with other youth to produce a podcast series, Growing Through it: Stories from the Ground Up.
Sponsored by Generator
OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY PROJECT
Matawa Safe Sobering Site
The Matawa Safe Sobering Site supports Matawa students from Aroland, Constance Lake, Eabametoong, Ginoogaming, Long Lake #58, Marten Falls, Neskantaga, Nibinamik, and Webequie who need safe and supervised detoxification and stabilization support. Matawa Safe Sobering Site is located on site at the Matawa Education and Care Centre (MECC) and provides a safe, culturally appropriate space for intoxicated students to stabilize. When students arrive at the site, they receive confidential services on a voluntary basis without judgement. Basic needs are met as well as access to harm reduction supplies. Under the direction of health care providers, MECC staff provide trauma-informed care, including supportive counselling to encourage harm reduction and prevent relapse.
Students leave with a discharge/recovery plan that includes referral to appropriate treatment including: MECC mental health workers, St. Joseph’s Care Group mental health and addiction counsellors, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists and psychologists, and family counsellors. Everyone works together to find positive solutions to help students academically, socially, and personally. Redirecting students who are intoxicated to a culturally appropriate place of care and compassion reduces strain on Thunder Bay Police Service and Emergency Medical Services resources, and students are cared for through a lens of harm reduction and healing, rather than criminalization.
Sponsored by Enbridge Gas Inc.
OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY PROJECT
On-Call Crisis Response
The Seven Youth Inquest made strong recommendations for funding to support youth transitioning to Thunder Bay from remote northern communities to attend high school. Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC) responded by establishing an On-Call Crisis Response service to provide respectful, culturally-appropriate after-hours support to ensure students’ well-being and safety. On call workers frequently check known ‘hot spots’ where students might engage in unsafe activity, report incidents, track calls, follow up with students receiving medical attention, talk to boarding parents, ensure students are home by curfew, and become part of the students’ lives. If a student is missing, on-call workers follow established missing student protocols. When crises occur, on call workers use non-physical interventions. If safety is threatened, they work closely with Thunder Bay’s emergency services, including Thunder Bay Police Service and Emergency Medical Services. In addition to providing healthy living and role modeling to their students, on-call workers participate in daily NNEC school-organized recreation and community programs. They also interact with St. Joseph’s Care Group’s Balmoral Centre, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Shelter House Street Outreach Service (SOS), City of Thunder Bay sports and recreation programs, Youth Council Workers, the Regional Multicultural Youth Council, and other service providers to ensure the best possible outcomes for students.
Award sponsored by Circle K
OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY PROJECT
The COVID-19 pandemic increased the risk for people experiencing homelessness. Grassroots community groups called for the community to find an immediate community response to individuals who have limited supports and access to warm spaces. This call to action was made due to individuals dying in our community. The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board collaborated with NorWest Community Health Centres, Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, and People Advocating for Change through Empowerment to develop and launch a Care Bus in partnership with Thunder Bay City Transit. The Care Bus was implemented for a 7-week period in March 2021. A City Transit bus, staffed with Harm Reduction Outreach Workers and System Navigators, provided a safe, warm, dry place for individuals to seek shelter, rest, supplies and supports. The Care Bus provided assistance to over 3600 individuals by providing food and water, hygiene supplies, personal protective equipment, warm clothing, first aid, social support services, transport to the warming centre, COVID-19 isolation shelter or emergency shelter, and aided safer consumption through distribution of harm reduction supply kits. In addition, individuals who needed access to withdrawal management services or medical support were assisted with transport to service organizations. The Care Bus initiative offered an innovative, empathic, compassionate and collaborative response and provided an immediate and timely response to thousands of individuals with emergent, life-threatening needs.
Sponsored by Matawa First Nations Management
OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY PROJECT
Indigenous Food Circle
Since 2016, the Indigenous Food Circle (IFC), a coalition of Indigenous-led and Indigenous-serving organizations in the Thunder Bay region, has worked to increase Indigenous food security and food sovereignty. When COVID-19 struck, federal and philanthropic funding allowed IFC to connect pandemic response teams in remote communities with regional food suppliers and distributors so they could develop their own relationships for bulk food ordering.
IFC also partnered with the Good Food Box program to facilitate fresh food distribution to households in nine road accessible First Nations. To help get fruits and vegetables to elementary students in Northern Ontario, IFC connected the Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program (NFVP) to 13 remote Indigenous communities. With funding from Community Food Centers Canada, IFC provided direct food supports to communities facing significant struggles, and supported remote First Nations to choose projects they deemed most beneficial for their communities. Twenty-nine communities benefited through immediate food orders, increased food storage infrastructure, tools to help build self-sufficiency and equipment for sourcing traditional foods. IFC contributed, along with numerous other community organizations, to the development of a Community Emergency Food Response Plan to strengthen networks, streamline communication, avoid duplication, and utilize resources more efficiently.
Award sponsored by Thunder Bay Police Services Board