By RON FANFAIR
As Durham’s first Black councilor, Renrick Ashby understands the significance of his trailblazing exploits.
It’s an achievement he doesn’t take lightly and he is fulfilling a pledge to do his part to ensure that youth – particularly those in visible minority communities – get an opportunity to pursue post-secondary education and realize their dreams.
Last Saturday, the Ajax Ward Two councilor, aboard a Suzuki GSX-R 750, together with a few bikers in the community participated in a 160-kilometre ride through scenic cottage country to Buckhorn in the second annual “Ride for Youth Bike Ride” to raise funds for students attending J. Clarke Richardson High School and neighbouring Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School.
“This is not for the kids who are really doing well academically and will be eligible for all kinds of scholarships or the young people whose parents can afford to send them to college or university,” said Trinidad-born Ashby. “I am doing this for those young people who want to pursue post secondary education but might be unable to do so because their parents are not in a position financially to help them get there. There are many such youths in that position and those who are the ones I want to reach and help them along the way.”
Ashby said he started riding four years ago as a form of recreation.
“My eldest brother has two Harley Davidsons and I started riding with him and his friends,” said Ashby. “About four years ago, I took the special weekend course in Scarborough that helped me build confidence and taught me safety precautions. Riding a bike has made me a better motorist because it has made me more aware of my surroundings. Your mind is constantly working once you are on a motorbike.”
Ashby and the rest of the riders took lunch in Buckhorn before returning to Durham for a tour of the Harley Davidson dealership in Oshawa.
“For me, I think riding a motorbike for a worthy cause is unique,” he said. “Some groups play golf and engage in other efforts to raise money. What I am doing with the help of other supporters who embrace the cause is simply great, especially when the weather is this fantastic. This is a good way to bring friends and neighbours together to make a difference for Ajax’s youths.”
Ashby, who made history by securing 41 per cent of the votes in his ward’s by-election in March 2008, came to Canada at age four and attended Birchmount Collegiate, Seneca College and Ryerson University where he attained an Urban Planning degree.
In addition to his council duties that includes Budget chair and membership on the Diversity and Community Engagement Committee, Ashby is a City of Toronto senior planner.