2021's Bill 7 Award celebration was an incredible event that gave us a chance to celebrate the achievements of 21 impressive recipients. The Bill 7 Award exists to support and encourage members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ontario to pursue post-secondary education.
The Bill 7 Award Trust donors
Thanks to corporate and community donors like Community One and Consonant Skin+Care, alongside event sponsors including Manulife, IBM, and EY, led by the Bill 7 Award Trust's long-time premier corporate donor, RBC — and with the indispensable support of dozens of individual donors, the 2021 Bill 7 Award program was our biggest and best yet.
Toronto's Left Field Brewery, a major Bill 7 Award donor, made a surprise announcement: thanks to a successful run of their Rainbow Sour, award recipients would take home not $3,500 but $4,000 each! Big thanks to Left Field Brewery for making this possible.
The online and in-person "hybrid" event featured a silent auction and a large, diverse crowd of donors, recipients, and supportive families. Paul Ray opened the ceremony with a land acknowledgement before each recipient spoke or shared a video about their experiences. Let's get to know this year's Bill 7 Award recipients:
2021 Bill 7 Award recipients
Adryan Korzen is one of the multi-year, renewable scholarship recipients. Originally from Poland, Adryan's working on a double major at Western on a pathway to helping HIV patients. He gave a big thanks to his mom!
Rasheedat Fashola of the University of Toronto also received a renewable scholarship. She appeared via video to offer a big thanks to everyone who contributed to making the Bill 7 Award possible, and spoke about building a more inclusive Canada.
Melinda de L'Eveille, in Humber's Film and TV Production program, was the final multi-year recipient. They're thrilled to have the chance to share LGBTQ+ stories in their work.
Parker Bayer, studying drawing and painting at OCAD U, spoke about the award's positive effect in opening conversations around LGBTQ+ issues.
Oli Casford, in Women's Studies at Lakehead University, traveled all the way from Thunder Bay to take part in the event, then "just winged" a speech about his ambitions as a social worker.
Alexander Casucci spoke about a tough summer, and the Bill 7 Award providing a respite from his struggles. He's studying philosophy at Ryerson University.
Jacob Doskoris, pursuing Business Admin at the University of Windsor, gave a breathless speech of gratitude for the award.
Natalie Frankovitch, of the University of Waterloo's Physics and Astronomy program, and Keith Kole, in Humber's Film and Media Production program, both received a James Stewart Rainbow Grant from the Community One Foundation, and were overcome with gratitude.
Ro Newcombe appeared on video, thanking all the donors for their gracious support. Ro's pursuing East Asian Studies at York University.
Kiana Smith also appeared via video — perhaps no surprise, given she's in her third year of a Film and Media Production degree at Humber College! She's the first generation in her family to attend post-secondary, and she dreams one day of working for Disney.
John-Michael Koroloff of Glendon College's Linguistics and Language Studies program, said he isn't sure where he'll land in the future, but he's sure he'll land on his feet, thanks to the support of the Bill 7 Award.
Amélie Morrow is a self-confessed math nerd: perfect for her econ major in Ryerson University's Business Management program. Economics, she said, lets you change and improve policy to make the world a better place.
Jacob Nagy confessed that "this is a lot," speaking on their goal of reducing harm in the LGBTQ+ community. They want to bridge into social work at Ryerson University from their current studies at George Brown College.
Amanda Valentine, in Marca College's hairstyling and barbering program, was "extremely nervous," but gave a compelling speech on pursuing your goals no matter the opposition.
Thomas Vila spoke extemporaneously on studying criminal psychology in his first year at Queen's University.
Madison "Maddy" Young was from a tiny town, where she suffered in silence before coming out. She sees psychology as a way to help uncover her own sexuality. She studies psych at the University of Ottawa.
Mikayla Odut is an "opera-singing butcher," and she spoke about singing in Ottawa stores, the astronomical costs of transitioning, and her eventual goal of graduating from her Music degree at the University of Ottawa as a mezzo-soprano.
Lily Li spoke about her interest in industrial design and sculpture, and the challenges of coming out during the covid pandemic. Lily's pursuing a degree in fine arts at OCAD U.
Graham Sonko, of Herzig College's cybersecurity program, grew up in Uganda, and was resettled to Canada by the UNHRC. He was a leader in Africa's LGBTQ+ community, and was stunned by the gratitude of the Bill 7 Award Trust.
Code Lee-Leclair grew up in a big family, and is now pursuing a degree from Trent University in Child and Youth Studies, with the goal of developing an accessible daycare for neurodivergent children.
The 2021 Bill 7 Award recipients are an incredible bunch, with a wide array of stories and experiences to share. They're each chasing their goals, pursuing the education they need to make their hopes and dreams come true.
Join us in congratulating each of the 21 recipients! And once more, a big thanks to everyone who supports the Bill 7 Award Trust in making this scholarship program possible.
Congrats to all the recipients. We can't wait for next year!
Learn more about the Bill 7 Award