First Pam McConnell award to be presented on International Women’s Day
The two young women who will receive the first-ever Pam McConnell leadership award would have made the late city councillor “unbelievably proud.”
Winners Yusra Khogali, Black Lives Matter co-founder and leader, and Talisha Ramsaroop, Jane-Finch community leader, will be recognized on International Women’s Day, Thursday.
“When someone says you won the Pam McConnell Award, you’re like yeah, no way,” said Ramsaroop, who received the news last week.
“She is a hero of women doing activism work all over Toronto. She has left a really big gap to fill.”
McConnell served as a city councillor since 1994 and before that she was a school board trustee. When she died last July at the age of 71, she was remembered for fiercely advocating for social justice, fighting poverty, and bringing attention to issues affecting women and children.
Ramsaroop and Khogali were selected as winners of the Pam McConnell Young Women in Leadership award for their dedication to similar causes, said city spokesperson Olga Lukich.
McConnell’s daughter Heather Ann McConnell was part of the selection committee and said she was amazed at what all of the 11 award candidates have achieved.
“My mother would’ve been just so unbelievably proud of the work these young women do,” McConnell said.
Ramsaroop was selected for her “absolute commitment to her community” said McConnell. Ramsaroop has been instrumental in creating programs for youth focused on body image, sexism, health, well being and bereavement. She is also behind the Lotus Project, which focuses on creating space for Indo-Caribbean women to share their stories and build capacity.
Ramsaroop’s inspiration is the Jane-Finch community where she grew up, she said.
“The older generation of women in this community have always been supportive of the younger generation, provided me with a lot of resources and helped me find my way,” said Ramsaroop, who works at York University as a community projects co-ordinator.
“I want to provide such a wonderful experience to others.”
Khogali had to put herself in jeopardy and in the face of opposition to do the important work of Black Lives Matter, an organization that benefits not only Toronto, but also Canada and North America, McConnell said.
with organizing conferences, rallies, educational programs, gatherings
and healing circles for the black community, Khogali is also an artist,
said Lukich. She recently completed a residency with acclaimed artist
D’bi Young at the Watah School.