INSTITUTE FOR CHANGE LEADERS
On Monday, Aug. 22, the Institute for Change Leaders (ICL) and the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation announced that Barrie organization Ryan’s Hope was awarded an honourable mention at the Jack Layton Activism Award Celebration for their work supporting Barrie’s homeless population.
The organization was born out of the tragic loss of Ryan Nayler, a young man in Barrie who died from an overdose. Ryan’s mother, who started Ryan’s Hope with her husband, Tom, accepted the honourable mention in Toronto at a celebration marking the 11th anniversary of Jack Layton’s passing.
“Even in the most difficult times, there are so many people fighting every day to build a future of love, hope, and optimism,” says Olivia Chow. “Ryan’s Hope (is) making a huge difference by providing community, connection and compassion each and every day. Jack would be proud of their work.”
The jury noted in particular the organization’s innovative peer support program, which engages volunteers who have lived experience and provides a vital sense of community.
Following a public call for nominations, award organizers received over 100 submissions from people working for change at all levels across the country, including efforts to end homelessness, address food insecurity, help women escape domestic violence, strengthen reconciliation, and much more.
Roots Community Food Centre of Thunder Bay was selected as the winner of the Jack Layton Activism Award. Roots CFC executive director Erin Beagle accepted the award over Zoom, live-cast in front of an in-person celebration in Toronto marking the 11th anniversary of Layton’s passing.
The winner was decided upon by an expert panel of judges from across the country with deep ties to Jack’s life and work: activist and former MP Libby Davies, former Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan member Yens Pedersen, community advocate Darnel Harris, former MP Hélène Leblanc, and Jack’s former chief of staff, Bob Gallagher.
The event also featured a panel discussion between Bob Gallagher and Anne McGrath, the current NDP federal director. This discussion was moderated by Karl Belanger, Jack’s former press secretary and currently the president of the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation.
The Layton Activism Award, part of the Layton Legacy project, carries on the late Jack Layton’s important work by recognizing and supporting activists who are powerful changemakers.