Announcing our 2020 ICL Alumni Awards Winners!

On November 12, 2020, we presented our second annual Alumni Awards as part of the Institute for Change Leaders' Fourth Anniversary Celebrations. This is a chance to showcase the hard work and successes of our incredible community of organizers and activists.

We’re so proud of the varied, creative, inspiring ways that these groups have used our curriculum to achieve social change. 

So, without further ado… 


CWA Canada Storytelling for Change Award

Terry Hartwick of the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes Long-Term Care Coalition is the winner of this year’s CWA Canada Storytelling for Change Award for the most effective and powerful public narrative and communications work.

Terry is a family advocate for better conditions in long-term care. She joined ICL’s long-term care worker connect-and-share sessions earlier this year to learn how to use the power of her family’s story to further her advocacy. Terry started volunteering alongside long-term care workers after moving her mother into a long-term care home. Years of underfunding by the government led to severe leaks in the roof of her mother’s facility in February 2019, forcing elderly residents to evacuate.

“The tragedy is that this disaster didn’t have to happen,” Terry says. “Why should our elders, who look to us in the end for care, not even have a safe roof over their heads?”

Terry has stepped up her activism amid the pandemic, and is working to empower local residents, families, and concerned citizens to build community power for improvements to long-term care through taking organized action, lobbying decision-makers, and applying pressure to public officials. The new campaign has enjoyed real results early on, including increased awareness and public engagement, strong participation in the Ontario Health Coalition's recent Day of Action, and concrete assistance to the local LTC Family Council.

“It’s time for us, for me, to stand up, give my voice, and act for those who’ve done some much for us, but have so little voice themselves,” Terry says.

Strategic Win for Change Award

The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) are the winners of the 2020 ICL Alumni Strategic Win for Change Award, presented to campaigns that accomplish their strategic goals and win a real victory for social change.

During this time of intense confusion and fear, AECEO organized Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) from across the province to secure funding to sustain the child care system amidst the pandemic. Through training sessions, networking, individual support, and mass events, AECEO supported ECEs to speak directly to their elected officials and share their experiences and concerns, and to request funding be made available, as soon as possible, to prevent the crumbling of an already overburdened Early Childhood Education & Care system. 

ICL supported AECEO through large-scale trainings in our core organizing curriculum, and individual events such as widely attended "how to meet your MP/MPP" webinars.

On September 23rd the Federal Government announced that $625 million of the Safe Restart Agreement was was to be used to "address the reduced availability of child care spaces and the unique needs stemming from the pandemic."

The AECEO called it a “bold statement which shows the power of advocacy and raising our collective voice.”

Hear, hear!

Team Building for Change Award

Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois (UUANI) is the winner of the ICL Alumni Team Building for Change Award, for campaigns that built power and new capacities through effective recruitment, deep relationship-building, and leadership development.

UUANI organized ‘get out the vote’ efforts in Illinois during this year’s presidential election, part of their ‘Voting our Values’ – Engaging Our Neighbors’ campaign to engage UU congregations in conversations around the values and visions in play in the 2020 elections and beyond. UUANI built leadership in congregations to develop relationships with community members around participating in the democratic process. 

ICL worked with UUANI to hold trainings in narrative storytelling, deep canvassing, and building teams for growth and leadership development.

The campaign established a team of state leaders who monthly reached out to each congregation to discuss what they were doing, what they needed help with, and what resources they had developed. WIth an estimated 380 volunteers engaged in the campaign, UUANI was able to reach 33,500 voters, including thousands in swing states around the country.

Youth for Change Award

Elijah Gyansa and Monica Tonlé are the winners of the 2020 ICL Alumni Youth for Change Award, for youth (under the age of 19) who organized and brought people together to achieve change in the face of uncertainty.

Elijah and Monica were participants of the Black Youth Leadership Program, an ICL partnership with For Youth Initiative (FYI), who themselves trained to be facilitators after graduating, and went on to support the training of the final summer cohort. As the program wrapped up, they acted as lead organizers of a virtual celebration for the 200 Black youth who participated in the program. Due to their hard work and dedication to their community, the event was a huge success.

“Our involvement with the Black Youth Leadership Program has been a refuge for us amidst the global pandemic,” say Elijah and Monica. “It has given us a feeling of belonging, especially living in a world where it's rare to see people who look like us succeed. 

“We are using our new and refined skills to continue to combat the injustice Black people face and work to inspire others to join and change the status quo. We have been able to expand our perspectives and grow as individuals, and feel motivated to inspire the next generation of Black leaders.”

Honourable mentions

Newcomer Women's Services: Sister2Sister Program

From October 2019 to October 2020, Newcomer Women's Services, Toronto: Sister2Sister Program brought together twenty immigrant women organized community support through public forums, storytelling, photo-voice projects, forum theatre for social change and innovative fund-raising to build awareness and allyship to combat gender violence and domestic abuse. 

“The Institute for Change Leaders inspired the sisters and provided tools and especially wisdom to connect to the heart to tap into sources of hope and empathy and tell stories that show how people overcome challenge,” saus Judy Fantham, Executive Director of Newcomer Women's Services. “ICL allowed our participants to engage in different learning activities such as building their stories and using them as a tool for social change. The women left the training with a bold vision to transform their communities and advocate for equity and justice.”

Young Adult Cancer Canada

YACC organized a group of young adult cancer survivors (YACCtivists) to share their stories by bringing them together in a full weekend training and ongoing training and supports so they could create awareness around young adult cancer issues and help their peers. 

The Institute for Change Leaders joined YACC in the summer of 2019 and helped to train YACCtivists in public narrative. The PR campaign came straight out of this training weekend and all of the skills our YACCtivists learned were put to good use.

Their first campaign was the dissemination of the results of a large research project YACC is involved with (YAC PRIME). They did this through news releases to formally announce findings from the study; proactive and targeted media outreach offering interviews with the YACCtivists and having them tell their stories in key cities. Their reached millions of Canadians, and helped more people learn the challenges of being diagnosed at such a young age.

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