By RON FANFAIR
Winning the Lincoln Alexander youth award in a sense justifies Antonius Clarke’s decision to run for a Toronto City council seat.
The York West candidate finished third with 1487 votes behind winner Anthony Peruzza and Peter Li Preti in last October’s municipal elections.
“The election was a dogfight and to win this award is absolutely gratifying,” said Clarke, a 2010 New Pioneer award winner who lived in St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines before coming to Toronto in 1990. “I learned a lot from campaigning that has made me stronger. It took a lot out of me and I am now resting and taking a social justice pause. I will however be back stronger next year.”
The Jane-Finch resident promises to use the $5,000 prize that accompanied the award for four community projects he intends to launch next year.
Six years ago, Clarke helped establish the youth-led Friends in Trouble (FIT) organization to provide a platform for youth to collaborate and share their feelings and experiences without any fear of harsh consequences and judgment.
He has also partnered with other community organizations, including the Jamaican Canadian Association, the Promoting Economic Action and Community Health (PEACH) group and Breaking the Cycle which is a gang-exit program to devise approaches to stop the violence.
Created in 1993, the Lincoln Alexander youth award honours young people who are committed to promoting racial harmony.
University of Western Ontario first-year Medical Studies student Sophia Kemeh who graduated from Turner Fenton Secondary School in Brampton and Mariajose Lopez of Central Collegiate joined Clarke as this year’s winners.
“Their efforts exemplify the strength we, as Ontarians, admire,” said Lieutenant Governor David Onley.
Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Dr. Eric Hoskins also paid tribute to the winners.
The marking of “Human Rights Day in Ontario (was) the perfect time to celebrate these outstanding young people and their commitment to fighting discrimination,” he said. “Like Lincoln Alexander, they are change-makers and their example inspires us all to be better citizens.”
A total of 48 young Ontarians between the ages of 16 and 25 have received the award over the past 17 years.