Read the stories of this week's CBC Toronto Front-line Heroes

CBC Toronto wants to introduce you to all the people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic through a series we're calling Front-line Heroes.

We’re introducing a new face each day, recognizing people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic

Front-line Heroes is a CBC Toronto series giving a shout out to workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic across the GTA. (CBC News)

CBC Toronto wants to introduce you to all the people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic through a series we're calling Front-line Heroes.

Each day, we introduce a new face on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, giving the person a shout-out for their important work. At the end of the week, you can find their stories here.

We want to hear your stories, too.

If you'd like to tell us about your front-line hero, send us a video explaining why they're a hero to you. Or you can send a short description to Be sure to include a few photos of the person either way.

Dr. Julie Nguyen, Jubin Alex and Bojan Stoiljkovic

From left to right, Dr. Julie Nguyen, Jubin Alex and Bojan Stoiljkovic. They are all health-care workers with the University Health Network. (Submitted by Dr. Julie Nguyen)

When the University Health Network (UHN) asked for volunteers to be redeployed to the city's long-term care homes, Dr. Julie Nguyen, Jubin Alex and Bojan Stoiljkovic stepped up.

Nguyen is a gynecologic oncology fellow with the UHN. She met Alex, a registered nurse with the UHN resource team, and Stoiljkovic, a registered nurse in the UHN transplant unit, when they were sent to help manage an outbreak.

"Our role was mostly as personal support workers. We helped feed patients, change them, provided support and socialized with them as they haven't been allowed to see their families for weeks," she said.

Nguyen is now isolated at home after contracting COVID-19 herself, but she wanted to send her colleagues on the front line a special shout-out.

"I really admire them for volunteering to be redeployed with such great energy and attitude in such a high-risk environment," she said. 

"I'm so glad I got to work with them, they are truly admirable nurses and colleagues. Initiatives like these make me proud to be Canadian!"

Shanai Grant

Leisa Washington's message for her niece, a nurse in Halton

3 years ago
Duration 0:43
Shanai Grant works with Halton Healthcare, and she says her fellow nurses have been her heroes and her support system during this pandemic.

Shanai Grant is a registered nurse with Halton Healthcare, and her aunt, Leisa Washington, is brimming with pride. 

"She was the first to graduate university in our family — and she's the first one to help humanity," Washington said. 

"From her sleepless nights thinking about COVID-19 and the effects on humanity — to being brave serving them. Our family salutes, honours and loves her very much."

When Grant heard her aunt's praises, her first instinct was to thank her coworkers standing by her side on the front line.

Shanai Grant, bottom right, is a nurse with Halton Healthcare. She's pictured with her colleagues, from left to right, Olivia Chan, Harveer Bining and Amrita Singh. (Submitted by Shanai Grant)

"The other nurses ... have been my heroes and support system during this time." 

Amelia Pendleton & Nicole Champagne

Amelia Pendleton, left, and Nicole Champagne are social workers with St. Michael's Hospital. (Submitted by Nicole Etherington)

When homeless shelters in the city deal with COVID-19 outbreaks, Amelia Pendleton and Nicole Champagne help people with no fixed address find safe places to isolate.

The two social workers with St. Michael's Hospital's emergency department ensure anyone experiencing homelessness receives appropriate care when awaiting a COVID-19 test result or when they test positive.

Colleague Nicole Etherington says: "They have put in long hours to train social workers who have been redeployed to help out in the ED. I don't know what the ED would do without them!"

Cheryl West

Cheryl West, left, is a nurse at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. She's pictured here with her colleague, Felicia Lau. (Submitted by Felicia Lau)

Cheryl West is a registered practical nurse with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital's specialized orthopedic and developmental rehab unit. 

West has spent hours trying to ensure her colleagues don't have sore ears after wearing their masks for extended periods of time, says her colleague Felicia Lau.

She says West "has been spending her own time and resources to measure our heads and sew buttons onto headbands, which makes each one completely personalized. I have been wearing mine and wow, what a difference it makes!!" she said.

"I can confidently say that she has helped us all focus less on our painful ears and more on our clients and their families at Holland Bloorview during these unprecedented times."

Dishni Jayasuriya

Ajax business offers free virtual art classes to kids of health-care workers

3 years ago
Duration 2:19
Dishni Jayasuriya says the 'Your Family Matters Too' campaign is meant to bring fun and laughter to the children of our health-care heroes.

While health-care workers focus their energies on keeping us safe during the pandemic, Dishni Jayasuriya felt it was important to show their kids that they matter too. 

That's why her business, Glama Gal Kids Spa Ajax, is offering free virtual art workshops for the children of health-care workers.

Amanda McCarthy, an intensive care nurse at North York General Hospital, says she's had to spend a bit more time at work and is thankful the classes are there for her daughter, Charley.

Tiziana Rivera

Tiziana Rivera is the chief nursing executive and assistant vice president of quality at William Osler Health System. (Submitted by Bianca Rivera)

Tiziana Rivera has spent the majority of her waking hours trying to ensure her staff and their patients are safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, says her daughter Bianca.

Rivera is the chief nursing executive and the associate vice president of quality at William Osler Health System.

"She is always keeping positive and even with sometimes 13-hour workdays, she always comes home with a smile on her face. I see her working endlessly at home to improve the facilities to decrease and manage the spread of COVID-19," Bianca Rivera says of her mom.

"She is so passionate about her role … I want her to know that all that she does for the community, her staff, and patients, is not going unnoticed! I am so proud of all of her hard work, planning, and decision making during these difficult times. She is truly my hero."

Sara Gouthro

Sara Gouthro is an employee at Sobeys in St. Catharines. (Submitted by Joe Gouthro)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sara Gouthro worked at the deli counter at a Sobeys in St. Catharines. Now, she's doing anything required to keep customers safe, says her father Joe Gouthro.

"She never complains but just asks, 'What can I do to help others?' … She has been redeployed to the lobby disinfecting carts and handing them out and as usual she has a big smile for everyone," he said.

"Her mother and I are so very proud of her for helping even though we worry."