The YMCA Peace Medal Breakfast took place at the Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s. This years event attracted more than 400 people, who came to recognize the efforts of the medal recipients and listen to author and keynote speaker Clare Morneau speak on issues of social justice. The YMCA Peace medals were awarded to five local individuals/groups that have made outstanding contributions to promoting tolerance, social justice and community cohesion.
In honour of the 30th anniversary of the YMCA Peace Medal, the YMCA announced the new Farah Family Youth Peace Scholarship, funded by Joseph and Elham Farah. This annual scholarship invites youth and school groups in Hamilton, Burlington and Brantford to apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to support youth-led projects that encourage peace, promote non-violence and supports leadership in global awareness among young people.
2017 YMCA Peace Medal recipients are as follows:
ADULT INDIVIDUAL WINNERS
Sarah Ahmed, Burlington
Sara Ahmed is a remarkable person who is volunteering with HMC Connections, the Halton Islamic
Association, and Food for Life. She is a social assistant and settlement volunteer. She develops programs to assist newcomers settle in Canada, and delivers cultural competency and diversity training to local organizations. Most recently she has conducted research on the prevalence of hate crime in Halton among youth and adults and is working towards the creation of an educational campaign.
Nick Petrella, Mohawk College, Hamilton
After announcing his personal challenges with mental illness, Mohawk College Health and Wellness
professor, Nick Petrella has become a well-known advocate working to break the stigma associated with mental illness. As a Mental Health First Aid Instructor he has certified over 200 students in the Hamilton area. He is cofounder of the peer-to-peer initiative, Mental Health in Motion, at Mohawk College. Each week he visits students of all ages on behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association's TAMI. He is a positive role model for his students and athletes, creating a safe, open and honest environment to support each other.
YOUTH INDIVIDUAL WINNER
Jessika Buick-Paul, Hamilton
Jessika educates staff and peers at her school on chronic illness and disabilities that people cannot see. Her initiation of a mental wellness program at her school brought in therapy dogs as a coping mechanism for stress during exams. She volunteers with several women’s shelters throughout Hamilton in an effort to help provide a safe place for women and their children dealing with abuse, violence, homelessness, poverty and mental illness. Additionally she volunteers with the Good Shepherd men’s emergency shelter.
YOUTH GROUP WINNERS
Gael Guides, Cathedral Catholic Secondary School, Hamilton
From Cathedral Catholic Secondary School, the Gael Guides are focused on creating a welcoming
environment for new students or those entering high school in order to increase their chances of a
successful educational experience. They create innovative student-driven activities such as fundraisers,
awareness campaigns and role modeling, to make the transition to high school a safe, positive and
supportive experience for all. They offer anything from a friendly smile to words of encouragement.
Husky Peer Leadership Group, Nora Frances Henderson Secondary School, Hamilton
When two schools merged into the new Nora Frances Henderson Secondary School, students were brought together to discuss issues such as understanding identity, leadership, discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes. The Husky Peer Leadership Group is focused on educating students about diversity;
encouraging respect; fostering community within the school; and providing student leadership
opportunities, through workshops, school events, activities and speakers, organized to improve and
promote a positive school culture.