2020 marks the biggest year ever for the Bill 7 Award Trust, which honours LGBTQ+ Ontario students in financial need.

The Bill 7 Award recognized and honoured recipients at a virtual event in November, 2020. The event was a great success, and featured entertainment, as well as a short address, from drag superstar Tynomi Banks. The Bill 7 Award honoured 20 recipients with $3,000 scholarships this year: the biggest group of winners in the award's history. Let's learn a bit about them!

Adryan, in his second year of studying medical sciences at Western, was the big winner in 2019, and he returned in 2020 to share his story. As a Polish immigrant, he was overwhelmed by the love and acceptance he found in Canada. Bill 7 helps support a better life for all, he said.

Parker, in her second year of sociology and health sciences at York University, spent five years as a professional dancer in New York City — a big chance of pace from her rural Albertan hometown. Bill 7 helped remind her of her caring community in a dark time, and helps bring her dreams a step closer to reality.

Alex, in their second year of computer systems technology at Seneca College, has helped develop the Pronoun Project at their school, so all incoming Seneca students will be allowed to specify their preferred pronouns. Alex wants to work in cybersecurity, helping victims of cybercrime.

Kari, studying his second year of social sciences, conflict studies, and human rights at the University of Ottawa, spoke of the profound impact of this community validation. He wants to become an educator, teaching students to respect themselve, which can be tough on youth who've had challenged upbringings, especially in the Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities.

Callie, in her second year of studying pure mathematics, has faced a lot of anxiety, especially around job searching as a lesbian trans woman. Winning a Bill 7 Award has helped boost her confidence — and given her more time to focus on her demanding schoolwork.

Linda, who identifies as a queer person, has worked half her life in retail environments. Now, she's finally got the chance to go to college, and she's studying to become a personal support worker. Her new career will let her give back to those who need help.

Elias was the first openly gay rugby player in the Ontario rugby association, is in his final year at McMaster, studying social psychology and business. He immigrated from Jordan in 2008 with no English skills, and at Mac has worked to make sports more open to the LGBTQ+ community.

Madison, in her second year of studying animal biology at the University of Guelph, hopes some day to become a veterinarian — after another six years of school! She's volunteered with Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind for years, and she and her roommates are fostering a new guide dog in their home.

Nicolas is in his fourth and final year at the University of Waterloo, studying sex, marriage, and family studies. He worked to develop an LGBTQ+ theatre group, and hopes some day to teach acting, which offers a safe space for creative, open expression and inclusion.

Noah, in his first year of biochemistry at the University of Windsor, was initially going to study at the University of Toronto, until COVID-19 convinced him to stay closer to home. He's working to become a physician, as the world needs more queer-sensitive doctors.

Dennis, a refugee from Uganda who came to Canada just last year, in 2019, is an active member of the church who sponsored his arrival. He's enroled in the personal support worker program at Mohawk College. As a queer person of colour, he's faced challenges and lost friends, but knows there are still people out there who care. The Bill 7 Award didn't just give money, he said; they gave a future.

Lauren, pursuing social science at King's University College, thanked those who've helped her on her journey. In volunteering and her academics, she's strived for fairness, equality, and justice. Her goal is to help eople in need, as all human beings deserve love and respect.

Matthew was the president of his high school's Gay-Straight Alliance, helped organize Halton Pride, and now studies nursing at Queen's University. As a nurse he wants to offer fair and equitable care to all people, and he's an active member of many local community groups, including the Halton Positive Space Network.

Emily, in her second year of studying journalism at Carleton University, thanked Bill 7 for listening to her story and investing in her future. She stressed the importance of seeing all the award recipients' personal stories as valid, important, and worthy of recognition.

Rachel, in her first year of Indigenous studies at Trent University, came out at a young age, but found healing through understanding and empathy with the Canadian Indigenous experience. She makes active attempts to reconcile for the country's abusive past and fight for the rights of Indigenous peoples and those of the LGBTQ+ community.

Alex, in their third year of concurrent education at Queen's University, seeks long-term systemic change to the education system. At age 11, they came out in a small town, facing hardship, rejection, and violence. Over time, they've come to appreciate their identity, and can finally say, "I'm proud to be queer."

Chloe, studying integrated business and humanities at McMaster University, is working on sustainable entrepreneurship. She got a chance to take a leadership role at Mac, and thanks to the Bill 7 Award's support, she took a leap of faith. The role has led to growth opportunities and she's grateful she took a chance.

Aimee-Marie, in her first year of a law and arts dual degree at Trent University, opened her application essay with the words, "I want to be prime minister!" She has been a long-time advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and will continue to do so as she builds a career in politics after graduation.

Georgina and Rashida had unfortunate tech difficulties and weren't able to speak at the Bill 7 Celebration event.

Tynomi Banks closed out the show with a speech about growing up LGBTQ+ and lacking supports like the Bill 7 Award. She said that she sees the fight and fire in each of the inspirational winners.

Congratulations to all 20 Bill 7 Award 2020 recipients! The Bill 7 Award will re-open in spring 2021 in an ongoing effort to support first-time LGBTQ+ students in Ontario.

Learn more about the Bill 7 Award