Manitoba

'Absolutely honoured': Winnipeg homelessness advocate Hannah Taylor gets international award

A young Winnipeg advocate is receiving an international humanitarian award for her work to help the homeless.

Taylor, now 21, started Ladybug Foundation in 2004 to fight homelessness

Hannah Taylor, 21, is one of the recipients of the 2017 Muhammad Ali Six Core Principles awards. (Leif Larsen/CBC)

A young Winnipeg advocate is receiving an international humanitarian award for her work to help the homeless.

Hannah Taylor, 21, is one of six people who will receive this year's Six Core Principles Awards from the Muhammad Ali Centre.

"I'm absolutely honoured to be mentioned in the same sentence as him," Taylor said of former boxer Ali, who founded the humanitarian centre. "To have the opportunity to meet the other recipients is so exciting."

Ali, who died in June 2016, won the gold medal in boxing at the 1960 Olympics and later used his fame as a human rights activist and humanitarian.

Taylor started the Ladybug Foundation when she was eight years old in 2004. Since then, the foundation has raised around $4 million directly and indirectly, she said.

In September, she'll fly to the Muhammad Ali Centre in Kentucky with the five other recipients of the Six Core Principles Awards.

The awards honour people under 30 who are transforming communities and bringing about positive change in the world, the Muhammad Ali Centre website says.

Each recipient is recognized for one of the six "core principles": confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality.

'It just hit me in the gut'

Taylor traces her journey with advocacy back to a winter day when she was five. She was with her mom, driving down a Winnipeg back lane, when she saw a man searching through a dumpster.

"I've always lived a very fortunate life and I'd never seen homelessness before, and it just hit me in the gut. I think everybody has a moment like this, that just strikes them that they can't forget about, and for me, it was this gentleman looking for food," she said.

"I turned to my mom and I said, 'What is he doing? Why is he doing that?' And she said that he was down on his luck and he had to do that to eat."

She couldn't forget the man and his situation, and her concern eventually led her to fundraise to fight homelessness and then create the Ladybug Foundation.

Taylor is studying political science at McGill University and hopes to become a human rights lawyer.

With files from CBC Manitoba's Information Radio

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