2023 was a huge year for the Bill 7 Award, and it's thanks to the ongoing support of our donors that the Bill 7 Award Trust was able to offer 24 scholarships of $4,000 each to 2SLGBTQ+ students in Ontario.
Before we meet our 24 recipients, let's take a second to thank our supporters! Corporate sponsors include premiere sponsor RBC Royal Bank, as well as IGM Financial, IG Wealth Management, Mackenzie Investments, EY, McMillan LLP, Manulife, and IBM — not to mention Beamsville's Malivoire Wine Company, and Toronto's Left Field Brewery, who alone has raised over $15,000 for the Bill 7 Award Trust!
Of course, the Bill 7 Award wouldn't be where it is today without the Community One Foundation, or Supporting Our Youth — nor would we be where we are today without the generous support of hundreds of individual donors at all levels. Whether you can give a lot or a little, every dollar counts when supporting 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Huge thanks to everyone who's donated to the Bill 7 Award Trust. Every cent goes back into scholarships for students!
Let's meet our 2023 Bill 7 Award recipients
2023 was a banner year: 24 incredible recipients. Let's meet them!
Multi-year Bill 7 scholarships
Thanks to an incredible five-year commitment from RBC, the Bill 7 Award Trust is able to offer four multi-year scholarships of up to four years each; the recipients of these awards will continue to receive financial support each year throughout their diploma or degree.
(One quick note: Adryan Korzen, the first recipient of a multi-year scholarship back in 2019, has since graduated from Western University, and this year helped the Bill 7 team select the next batch of recipients! Congrats, Adryan.)
Rasheedat Fashola's in her final year at the University of Toronto, studying psychology and biology for health sciences. Unfortunately, she couldn't attend the November gala, but we wish her the best in her last year at UofT!
Melinda de L'Eveille is continuing at St. Clair College after transferring from Humber, and she's studying journalism in her second year. She faced a tough year, but the support she receives from her loving family, her girlfriend, and her GF's family, makes all the difference in the world.
Arjun Kalra makes his return as a second-year acting student at Toronto Metropolitan University. He feels like his identity is "not a curse, but a super power," and has found a place of joy in Toronto's ballroom community.
James Svoboda is a first-time multi-year recipient, and he attended the Triangle Program, Canada's only 2SLGBTQ+ high school. He's committed to community engagement and creating safe, affirming spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Now, he's in public admin and political science at the University of Ottawa.
One-time Bill 7 scholarships
Each of our twenty remaining recipients receives a one-time scholarship of $4,000, thanks to our amazing donors. Let's meet our scholarship recipients:
Alessandra Grant is in her first year of mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo. She faced plenty of casual homophobia, but receiving a Bill 7 award helped lift that burden. She's deeply "honoured, grateful, and hopeful."
Ella Johnston's in her second year of the exclusive Acting program at Toronto Metropolitan University — which incidentally also includes Arjun Kalra! — and she's eager to use her voice as a queer person of faith. Ella cites Vicky Beeching's book Undivided as a major source of inspiration.
Nancy Lanuza Villatoro, a first-year engineering student at Toronto Metropolitan University, is grateful the diverse supporters of the Bill 7 Award, and to her two best friends. She aspires to one day become a professor and help teach and inspire others.
Ryan Bostrova's in their first year of Sheridan College's animation program, and after coming out didn't go so well, they weren't sure about the stability of the roof over their head. They're thankful to organizations like Bill 7 for giving space to queer and trans kids to feel safe. "This is just the beginning!"
Avril Deniz-Castelli, in their first year of the Univerisy of Guelph's Sexualities, Genders, and Social Change program, has spent many hours in queer discussion groups, and is looking ahead to a career in education. No wonder: two of their teachers were present at the gala to support them!
Divine Dorego's in the first year of Humber College's user experience design program, where she's learning to design with empathy for all kinds of users. It's important for members of marginalized communities to claim their identities in programs like these, and she thanks her future lover, "whoever she is!"
Romy Yousefi, in second year of Toronto Metropolitan University's sociology program, is an active volunteer at Toronto's 519. They grew up in a country where their identity was stigmatized, but arriving in Canada, found peace within the queer community. Romy gives thanks to their GF, Jill, for the encouragement to apply for a scholarship!
Abishak Jeyaseelan, a first-generation newcomer, and the first in his family to attend post-secondary education — in his case, Humber College's Community and Justice Services program — has amassed an incredible number of hours volunteering with the 2SLGBTQ+ community. He's glad for the chance to blossom.
Gen Renaud, in first year of performance production at Toronto Metropolitan University ("it's theatre," she says), had a full-ride scholarship to private high school Appleby College, and she's long been involved in activism despite the challenges of mental and physical disabilities.
Cris Nippard, a first-year journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University, is grateful to be celebrated for her identity that in other times and places would have got her in trouble. As a Black, non-binary, fem-presenting lesbian, she recognizes the importance of intersectionality — and using your voice!
Rithik Kumanan is an artist and member of Toby's Place in Scarborough, while attending York University's digital media program. He's faced hardship for his identity, and is so glad to be able to afford residence at York, thanks to Bill 7 donors. (Check out the mural he helped paint at the Ted Reeve Community Arena!)
Charlton Sinclair, a first-year commerce student at the University of Toronto, and received Brampton's Citizen of the Year award in 2022! He's put thousands of hours into volunteering, and though he's been through some tough times, support from organizations like the Bill 7 Award helped him see the light at the tunnel's end. Soon, he'll travel to New York's Change the World conference as a speaker!
Zee Dunlop, of Brescia UC's psychology and philosophy program, is a proud NB transmasc student, who thanked their family, and their chosen family, and advocates for legislative change, especially for students living with disabilities. They're excited and determined to give back to the 2SLGBTQ+ community in whatever ways they're able.
Once more, let's give a huge round of virtual applause to our recipients! Now, astute readers will note that though the Bill 7 Award had 24 recipients this year, we didn't highlight 24 names. That's because many members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community face continuing stigma at home and at school — and 2023 in particular has been a tough year for anti-queer, anti-trans rhetoric here in Canada and abroad.
Reactionary pushback to equal rights for the queer community means organizations like the Bill 7 Award Trust must work harder than ever to support 2SLBTQ+ youth in a time when anti-queer pressure seems to be gaining momentum.
The Bill 7 Award is one small piece of the puzzle, and we couldn't offer scholarships to so many amazing students like these without the support of corporate and individual donors. Please consider becoming a monthly donor to the Bill 7 Award Trust — our goal is to offer 30 scholarships of $5,000 each in 2025, but we need your help! (Stay up to date on all things Bill 7 Award on Facebook and Instagram.)
Again, congratulations to all our recipients. We can't wait to see what incredible things you'll achieve next!
Get more info on the Bill 7 Award