Meet CBC Toronto's Community Champions, including a man who made an app for Indigenous youth

CBC Toronto has been asking you to nominate GTA individuals and groups that are making their communities better — and now we want to highlight the winners' work.

Alejandro Mayoral Baños is the creator of the Indigenous Friends Mobile App

All week, CBC Toronto will reveal its community champions.

CBC Toronto has been asking you to nominate GTA individuals and groups that are making their communities better — and now we want to highlight the winners' work.

Over 100 entries were received during the contest, which aims to highlight some of the amazing work that continues to drive communities forward.

A panel of judges representing our broadcast shows: CBC Toronto News at 6, Our Toronto, Metro Morning and Here & Now had a challenging time just to narrow the field to ten finalists. Out of those ten, your votes helped decide these five winners, who are this year's Community Champions. 

Alejandro Mayoral Baños, who built an app for Indigenous youth

Alejandro Mayoral Baños says his app is all about creating a safe, digital space for Indigenous youth. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Alejandro Mayoral Baños, Executive Director of the Indigenous Friends Group, created the Indigenous Friends Mobile App in 2015 after realizing the need to develop a safe digital space for that community.

With the support of Indigenous elders and traditional knowledge, the app helps post-secondary youth tackle major issues preventing them from reaching their full potential.

The app has three main goals: creating Indigenous youth networks across Canada, helping users access traditional counselling, and highlighting what community resources may be available to youth.
Alejandro Mayoral Baños inside York University's Skennen'ko:wa Gamig (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Baños was nominated by his partner, Tauheed Omer, who said this about the project: "The Indigenous Friends app has been instrumental in creating a safe digital space for Indigenous Youth in Canada." 

Baños said he would like to continue his work as an Indigenous activist and scholar and connect youth from across Ontario and Canada. 

Listen to the Alejandro Mayoral Baños Interview on Fresh Air

Andre Smith, teaches financial literacy to Jamaican youth and new Canadians

Andre Smith has had a profound effect on young people teaching them financial literacy. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

A mentor and volunteer, Andre Smith has volunteered at the Jamacian Canadian Association, sat as a board member on the Black Coalition for Aids Prevention, and aided  Local Immigration Partnerships helping newcomers settle into Canada.

Receiving multiple nominations as part of the GTA wide initiative to find individuals or groups making their communities better, nominator Sheldon Nembhard had this to say: "Andre will always make time for the students, his knowledge is second to none, and he will always listen attentively."

Andre Smith inside the Black Coalition for Aids Prevention where he volunteers. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Sureya Ibrahim co-founded Mothers of Peace, a support group for those who have lost their children to gun violence

Sureya Ibrahim at Mothers of Peace, a support group for mothers who have lost their children to gun violence. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Co-founder of Regent Park Mothers of Peace, a support circle that helps mothers who have lost children to gun violence, Sureya Ibrahim has been instrumental in helping the organization grow and expand as an anti-violence group. 

Nicknamed 'Mayor of Regent Park', Sureya is deeply involved in social enterprises and the Regent Park Revitalization Project. 

Her nominator Uno Ramat had this to say about Ibrahim: "As a community activist, she has had a positive effect not just in her neighbourhood but Toronto-wide. She has attracted many young women from the neighbourhood to join the Centre's activities, programs and social enterprises, thus aiding their successful integration into Canadian society and the Regent Park community." 

Sureya Ibrahim inside Daniels Spectrum where Mothers of Peace meet regularly. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Listen to the Here & Now Interview

Olivia Dey, a seventeen year old advocate for female empowerment through sports

Olivia Dey at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre where she regularly trains for water polo. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

A victim of bullying and racial discrimination, Olivia Dey founded 'Just Like a Girl', a non profit that empowers girls through sports.  

In addition to being an advocate for female athletics, she has organized many awareness and fundraising events in the Scarborough Rouge Park area. 

As a Youth Councillor in the ward she has organized safe driving, cannabis and bully awareness events and fundraising events to support sports based mental health programs.

Nominated by her mother, Ranita Dey, she had this to say about her daughters ambitions: "Even though the program started in Scarborough she (Olivia) would like to expand the scope to all over Canada." 

Olivia Dey at Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Tony Colley, founded B12Give, the Uber Eats of food rescue

Tony Colley picks up surplus food that would otherwise be discarded and delivers it to local homeless shelters. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

What started as a passion project turned into a mission to feed the city's most vulnerable. 

Tony Colley created Be One to Give (B12Give) to combat food waste and food insecurity in the GTA, using a mobile platform to match food retailers who have an excess of product to various shelters in need.

Friend and nominator, Angie Camara, had this to say about Tony: "Tony turned his labour of love into a social impact start-up and I couldn't be more proud of him. This is his true calling."

Tony Colley, founder of B12Give (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)


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