A Greater Toronto Area community group has established a scholarship to honour the memory of Nelson Mandela.
The Hamilton Black History Committee, which administers the annual John Holland Awards every February, has created the financial award to honour young people who embrace human rights and social justice work.
The recipient will receive $1,000.
The committee held a memorial service last week to commemorate Mandela who died earlier this month at age 95.
The first Black president of a democratic South Africa and the first living non-Canadian to receive honorary citizenship, Mandela made three visits to the Greater Toronto Area after being released from prison on February 11, 1990 after 27 years’ incarceration. The first was in June of that year when he addressed close to 1,500 students from across the country at Central Technical School.
“We were thinking of how we honour the man himself locally and something the community can do at the grassroots level,” said awards founding member Evelyn Myrie. “We have one award for youth achievement, but this new one will focus on human rights and social justice. It will be for someone who is at school level and who is working around social justice issues, highlighting the lives of people who are marginalized and is working towards the eradication of what the issue is. It’s not just someone who volunteers at the St. Joseph’s Hospital which is nice to do, but it has to be in the context of changing the world.”
The 18th Holland Awards takes place on February 1 at the Michelangelo Banquet Centre. The deadline for nominations is January 10.
Hamiltonians and other Ontarians who have made significant contributions in the areas of art, business and community service and youth engagement have been recognized with Rev. John Holland Awards.
Born on Christmas Day 1882 to a runaway slave who came to Canada through the Underground Railroad in 1860, Holland was a railway porter for 33 years, the pastor at the historic Stewart Memorial Church and the first Black Canadian to be honoured for humanitarian service with Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year Award in 1953. He died a year later.
Previous Holland Award winners include entrepreneur Michael Lee-Chin; late Olympian, Ray Lewis, who won a bronze medal in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics 4 x 400-metre relay event and Jamaican-born Canadian soldier, Mark Graham, who was killed in Afghanistan seven years ago.