MONTREAL, MAY 16, 2016- The sixth annual Montreal Community Cares (MCC) Awards Gala honoured 17 individuals and organizations that are making a difference in our city.
Created with the mission to promote and celebrate community engagement, the MCC Awards have paid tribute to some 90 Montreal community champions since 2011, and have helped build bridges among the city’s many different groups.
The Gala was an evening of celebration and entertainment where local heroes, most of them ordinary citizens, receive the recognition they deserve. This year's Honorary Gala Chairperson was William Hlibchuk, partner at the global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.
The Foundation’s mission is: “To empower our youth by developing their leadership skills through our programs, workshops and events, and by building bridges between communities. Our youth hold the key to Montreal’s future.”
Denburk Reid, President and Founder of the Montreal Community Cares Foundation, explains: “Our message is simple – Be the spark, make it matter! That’s the gala’s theme and it’s what all of us need to be doing all year, every year – be the spark for community engagement in ourselves and others to make our city a better place to live and raise our families.”
This year’s Montreal Community Care Award recipients included four people directly associated with the EMSB: High School of Montreal Adult Education Centre Principal Ben Fagan, who will retire at the end of the present academic year after 41 years of devoted service, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award; Roen Higgins, a behavior specialist at St. Monica Elementary School in NDG and Malik Shaheed, a graduate of Westmount High School and a presence in many EMSB schools via his Youth Stores group, won Community Leader Awards; and Kathy-Anne Baptiste, director of the Black Board of Educators (BBE), won a Community Organization Award. BBE is very present at St. Monica through its homework program and plans to introduce a new initiative aimed at connecting youth with seniors.
Ben Fagan received his B.A. in sociology from Loyola College in 1970. He initially worked for Catholic Family and Children’s Services from with the unemployed in Point St. Charles, helping them navigate with government agencies. In October 1972, he moved to Ireland to pursue his Master’s Degree. While there he worked part-time for two years with Dublin street kids.
Back in Montreal in October 1975, Fagan started to work for Shawbridge Youth as an educational counsellor, trying to help young people stay in school. “It was a futile effort as once September 30 enrolment day came and passed, the schools asked these kids to leave,” he recalls. “So I and two colleagues asked management if they would agree to us starting a Shawbridge School in the city. They agreed, as there was no other solution to keeping them off the street and educating them. That was in 1976 and I began my career as a teacher.”
In 1977, the former Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal (PSBGM) took over responsibility for the school and Fagan became a school board employee. He stayed at Shawbridge School until 1981. It is today called Mountainview and located on Côte St. Luc Road. In 1981, he became a teacher at the Philip E. Layton School for the Blind. He was appointed principal in 1995. Two years later, he added the same title at the Mackay Centre School for the Deaf and Disabled.
Fagan moved on to his current assignment, principal of the High School of Montreal Adult Centre in Plateau, in 2006. During these years I was engaged also in volunteer work,” he says. “ I have served on the boards of Mackay Centre, Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre, Propulsion -an organization for the physically disabled - and the Canadian Deafness and Research Training Institute. Most recently, I finished a 16 year involvement as president of the Board of Habitations Tango, a housing unit for the physically disabled in NDG. I was in 1999 a founder of Tango and saw it through its planning, building and operational stages.
This year’s gala was hosted by Lori Graham of CTV Montreal, and Derek Aucoin of TVA Sports. It took place at the Eric Maclean SJ Centre of Loyola High School in NDG
For more information visit: http://montrealcommunitycares.com/gala-tickets.