TORONTO – The inaugural Building Diversity Awards (BDA) were presented virtually May 13, recognizing contractors, unions and individuals who are championing the increased participation of racialized and underrepresented workers in the construction industry in Ontario.
The Building Diversity Awards and Recognition Program, presented by the Toronto Community Benefits Network, in partnership with community, labour and construction industry partners, was an initiative that came out of the Building Diversity Leadership Table. After months of planning and preparation, the program culminated in an awards gala where winners were announced and accepted their awards on a virtual platform.
Award recipients were recognized for one or more steps they are taking that correspond to the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks (standards for organizations around the world), as adapted by BuildForce Canada.
Winners of the 2021 Building Diversity Awards are:
Community Benefits Champion – Chris Campbell, equity and diversity representative, Carpenters’ Local 27
Campbell was recognized for engaging his colleagues and inspiring his union to do things differently to ensure that Black, Indigenous and other racialized youth and adults including women and newcomers know about, are prepared for and can access employment and apprenticeships. In 2016 he recruited his colleagues to participate in TCBN’s ready to build program supporting group mentoring and community host outreach presentations about skilled trades and apprenticeships.
“In 2018 he recruited his network of Black colleagues, journeypersons, trade trainers and leaders in their own right to join the NexGen mentoring program for Black youth,” said John Cartwright, co-chair of the TCBN and president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, as he presented the award. “As a union leader he has consistently raised issues arising from negative workplace experiences of Black and racialized workers on construction projects with his own union and has worked directly with union and management leaders to find solutions.”
Leading on Diversity – Contractor – Crosslinx
Crosslinx received the award for being the first contractor of a large-scale infrastructure project in Ontario to be a signatory to a community benefits program with commitments related to employment, apprenticeship, journeyperson and professional administrative and technical positions, social procurement, neighbourhood and environmental improvement and community oversight.
“These achievements required adjusting traditional recruitment, hiring and procurement practices to incorporate more inclusive approaches to attract employ and retain individuals from previously excluded groups including women youth newcomer Indigenous and other racialized people,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations for the Residential Construction Council of Ontario.
Leading on Diversity – Client Owner – Metrolinx
Since 2014 this award winner has implemented the requirement for community benefits agreements on three large rapid transit projects, the Eglinton Crosstown, the Finch West and the Hurontario LRTs.
Leading on Diversity – Union – LIUNA Local 506
The award was presented to the union which represents 8,000 workers in the ICI and industrial sectors for their success in exceeding the targets and supplying apprentices from under-represented groups to fulfill Crosslinx Transit Solutions Community Benefits Agreement. The union was also the first to appoint the first Black business representative in Canada and members participate in Ontario’s District Council Minority Group and were involved in establishing the African American and Canadian caucus with the mission of identifying, promoting and supporting issues that address the needs and interests of their members of African descent and their families.
NexGen Builders Champion – Kimoy Francique
Francique, an electrician with IBEW Local 353 and a mentor in the NexGen Builders program, was given the honour for her work in advancing equity and diversity over her 18-year career. She is a longtime member of IBEW’s human rights committee and vice-president of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus Ontario, applying for charter status in 2021. She is also a member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unions, was recently appointed an apprentice adviser of the Electrical Apprentices Training Alliance and is one of the founders of the Afro Canadian Contractors Association.
The gala also featured a variety of speakers and performers and focused on providing opportunities for the community to connect and network virtually.
Rosemarie Powell, executive director of the TCBN, thanked the groups who came together to recognize the champions of diversity.
“Tonight your vision has materialized and it is the start of a new journey towards an even stronger partnership with the industry to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the construction workforce,” said Powell. “Congratulations to all the nominees and the award recipients because it is truly your leadership that is creating real change for those that need it the most.”