Bus operator Kyron Lewis is the recipient of the TTC 2022 CEO Award

By Lincoln DePradine

Kyron Lewis

The May 2020 police murder in Minneapolis of African-American George Floyd had a ripple effect outside of the United States, including in Canada, with calls for greater action to improve workplace and community behaviour relating to people of African descent.

One employee at the Toronto Transit Commission decided to do something, he said, to make a difference that led to the founding of the Black Transit Workers’ Association (BTWA).

“I realized that minorities didn’t have much of a say in the organization,’’ said BTWA president Grenada-born Kyron Lewis. “We’ve been working there but not in the leadership roles; not in the front office.’’

The aims of the BTWA, said Lewis, are to be “a voice to highlight Black issues, celebrate Black accomplishments and advocate for Black rights within our workplace, within our industry. It’s the first ever Black-focused group within any of the transport systems in Canada’’.

For his work, Lewis was included in this year’s TTC “best-of-the-best sixth annual Rewards and Recognition celebration’’.

The TTC, in hosting the event, compliments employees for “exceptional achievements in customer service, safety, innovation and creativity, leadership, teamwork and diversity’’.

Lewis, a bus operator of 18 years, is the recipient of the 2022 CEO Award.

A former president of the Grenada Association (Toronto), and head of his own charitable organization called Cover Me Foundation, Lewis has volunteered his time in causes in the Grenada and broader Caribbean community, particularly with relief assistance for nationals living in Grenada and Dominica.

“He has always been an advocate for the Black community, and in 2019 brought together workers from across the TTC to give a voice to the frontline experience of Black TTC employees,’’ the Transit Commission said in announcing the award to Lewis.

Lewis’s CEO Award will be presented May 20 at the TTC’s head office at 1900 Yonge Street.

“It’s an affirmation that you’re doing something right,’’ Lewis told The Caribbean Camera, in commenting on his award.

“When you think you’re doing insignificant stuff, there are those who notice what you’re doing and who think that it’s more than just insignificant. You’re actually making a difference. They can see what you’re doing; you don’t need to go out and publicly announce what you’re doing. The right people are always looking, so they see you.’’

Lewis, in his words, describes himself as a “servant’.

“I try to help where I can; I try to fill needs where I can,’’ he explained. “So far, I can say, I have been blessed with a little bit of success in assisting where I can. I think I will continue to do that as time passes and the opportunities arise.’’

Lewis said the BTWA has had the support of senior TTC management, including the chief operations manager and the chief executive officer.

“I made a proposal to start an organization within the TTC to raise awareness of Black voices. I laid out a plan on how I’m going to do it and what I’m to do,’’ he said. “Out of that initiative, we now have within the TTC a diversity, equity and inclusion department.’’