Building Diversity Awards Celebrates a Decade of Achievements

Rosemarie Powell, Brenda Ireland, Anishinaabe Elder, Marilyn Horrick Senior V P. Desjardins Group

Toronto’s construction and labor sectors came together for a night of celebration and recognition at the 4th Annual Building Diversity Awards (BDA), hosted by the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN). Held at the Meridian Arts Centre on June 14, this year’s event marked TCBN’s 10th anniversary with a national scope.

Rosemary Powell, TCBN’s Executive Director, in her opening remarks,  highlighted the organization’s growth and achievements. “Because of you, together we are stronger,” Powell declared, thanking sponsors like Desjardins and various community and labor partners who have been instrumental in TCBN’s success.

Powell emphasized the collective effort in scaling up the BDAs to a national program, acknowledging supporters from the labor sector such as the Carpenters Union, Local 27, and the International Union of Electrical Workers, Local 353. Community partners like the Labor Education Center and George Brown College were also praised for their contributions.

Deborah Flint, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority

Deborah Flint, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), delivered the keynote speech. Flint spoke passionately about the transformative power of diversity in the construction sector and the broader economy. “Diversity doesn’t hinder us; it makes us better,” Flint stated, highlighting GTAA’s initiatives like the Ready to Work program, which has successfully placed many BIPOC women in meaningful jobs at the airport.

Chris Campbell, Chair of the TCBN Board, reflected on the network’s origins and its impact on the construction industry. “Ten years ago, we put together something called the Toronto Community Benefits Network,” Campbell noted. “We wanted to make sure that decision-makers at every level were part of this journey to build a city and a country that’s inclusive.”

Mayor Olivia Chow and Chris Campbell

The awards portion recognized outstanding contributions to diversity and inclusion within the construction industry. They were:

-Daniels Corporation received the Leading on Diversity Owner-Client Award

-NCC Investment Group was honored with the Leading on Diversity Contractor Award

-The Canadian District of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA) took home the Leading on Diversity Union Award

-Bubba Qwulshemut received the Mentor award for his dedication to guiding young professionals

-Nikki Muswaggon was celebrated as the Mentee for her outstanding progress and commitment

-Purpose Construction was honored with the Employer award

-Brenda Ireland was awarded the Community Benefits Champion

-Trades NL: Building Trades of Newfoundland and Labrador was recognized with the Community Benefits Coalition award

-The Rexdale-Casino Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement was awarded the Community Benefits Project of the Year

The Contractor to Watch awards highlighted emerging companies making significant strides in diversity and inclusion within their operations.

-Keyz To Your Home Renovations was recognized for its innovative approach to offering career opportunities to women and non-binary individuals

-Fastwel Contractors Inc. in Ontario, Retrofit Construction in Quebec, and Carvery’s Construction Ltd. in Nova Scotia were all celebrated for their dedication to inclusive hiring practices and community engagement.

Sebastian Clovis and Patricia Jaggernauth

A special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Clifton Donegal, David Lepage, and Jane Wilson for their enduring contributions to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the construction industry. Their decades-long commitment to these principles has left a lasting legacy and set a standard for future generations to follow.

As the evening drew to a close, Powell reflected on the future, emphasizing TCBN’s ongoing mission to integrate community benefits and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into every facet of their work. “We are seeing community benefits and EDI really starting to be the norm,” Powell concluded. “Together, we are stronger.”