By Lincoln DePradine
Twice in the last two weeks, trade unionist Chris Campbell had to take time off to receive awards in recognition of his contribution to the community and also to the construction sector.
The second of the two awards was presented to him last Thursday at the inaugural Building Diversity Awards’ (BDA) Gala of the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN). The event was to honour “exemplary contractors, unions and client/owners, as well as industry champions, who are leading in diversity, equity and inclusion’’.
“This it is a true demonstration of the industry’s commitment to our collective vision of increasing diversity in construction,’’ said TCBN executive director Rosemarie Powell.
In hosting the gala, TCBN engaged several collaborative partners, including community, labour and construction industry representatives such as the Ontario General Contractors Association, EllisDon Corporation, AECON and Tridel.
“We thank our generous sponsors, our representatives from all levels of government turned out to demonstrate their support, as well as well as our volunteers and mentors who give of your time to support the next generation of builders,” Powell said.
The speakers’ list for the evening’s program included MP Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of infrastructure and communities; MP Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development; Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford; Toronto Mayor John Tory; Geoff Smith, President and CEO of EllisDon; Dahabo Amed-Omer, executive director of Black North initiative; and Ehren Cory, CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
“Diversity truly is Canada’s strength,’’ McKenna said in remarks at the BDA ceremony. “A community can’t be at its best unless everyone has a voice and a chance to be part of all the opportunities a great city like Toronto has to offer. The government of Canada understands this too.’’
Although the federal government’s top priority “remains keeping Canadians healthy and safe, we’re equally committed to building a more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive Canada; and all of you here today are helping us to achieve that’’, said McKenna.
Keynote speaker, David Moody, also referred to the issue of inclusion, saying “when we have true inclusion, everybody wins. Companies grow and so many great things happen’’.
Moody is President and CEO of C. D. Moody Construction Company, Inc., one of the largest African-American-owned construction companies in the United States
“Keep working on your diversity and your inclusion,’’ Moody urged. “It is so important because everybody wins when we share. The pie is big enough for everybody. We can share and win.’’
In presenting the awards at the gala, John Cartwright – a TCBN founding co-chair – said the BDA was honouring a “wonderful number of people’’.
Cartwright, a carpenter who is retiring as president of the Toronto York Region Labour Council, noted the work of Chris Campbell, who recently was recognized by the Black Action Defense Committee with a 2021 Dudley Laws Memorial Award.
Campbell is business representative of Local 27 of the Carpenters’ Union, equity and diversity representative of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario and a TCBN co-chair.
Campbell is “truly deserving’’ of the Community Benefits Champion BDA, Cartwright said. “Year over year, his work has engaged his colleagues and inspired his union to do more and 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.’’
Other awards were presented to one individual, Kimoy Francique, and three corporations.
Francique, a licensed electrician, has been a mentor to many young people.
The other award recipients were:
- Metrolinx (BDA Leading on Diversity – Client/Owner). The recognizes that its major infrastructure investments should also provide benefits for the communities in which it works. “Metrolinx has therefore committed to include a community benefits program for the rapid transit projects, beginning with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. The program represents a new standard for projects being integrated into communities,’’ says Phil Verster, Metrolinx President & Chief Executive Officer.
- Crosslinx Transit Solutions (BDA Leading on Diversity – Contractor). Over the past five years, Crosslinx Transit Solutions has hired new apprentices “from underrepresented groups, which allowed these individuals to secure a livelihood for themselves, provide for their families and to have a career that they enjoy’’, says Monique Gordon, People & Culture Services Manager and Business Partner at Crosslinx Transit Solutions.
- LiUNA Local 506 (BDA Leading on Diversity, Union). Local 506 “has exceeded the combined efforts of all other unions that supply apprentices for Crosslinx Transit Solutions’’, says David Galvin of Crosslinx Transit Solutions