This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Reverend John C. Holland Awards held at the lovely LIUNA Station. This event celebrates black excellence in our Hamilton community in a night filled with performances, awards, food, music, and inspiration! It was so inspiring to see a room filled with so many Afro-Carribean’s making waves in our Hamilton community! I am so proud to be a member of this community and I left the event feeling uplifted and inspired for the future of black Canadians.
This year marked the 24th year of these awards so I wanted to talk a bit about who Reverend John Holland is, I actually did not know about these awards prior to this year! So I think its only right that I let as many people know about events like this that are happening in our city.
John Christie Holland (25 December 1882 - 22 June 1954) was the son of an escaped slave from Sandy Spring, Maryland. It was claimed that he emigrated by swimming across the Niagara River in 1860 into Canada! His parents met and settled in Hamilton, Ontario opening, a flour and feed store downtown. He was one of thirteen children in the Holland family and begun his entrepreneurship at a young age selling papers for the Hamilton Spectator and working his way up for the Hamilton, Niagara and Buffalo railway in hopes of paying his way through university to become a reverend. He worked his way up, all while attending college, raising a family of his own and working to better our Hamilton community and his church community.
In 1925 he was ordained through the Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforece, Ohio. He went on to become the minister of Stewart MemeorialChurch in 1937 and held that position for 11 years. Rev. John Holland was revered as an exceptionally kind and caring man who was passionate about helping others in the Hamilton community, even individuals outside of the church. Living by the values that it is all of our responsibility to reach out and help those in our community who are struggling with poverty and racism. He continued his work even into his retirement and was the first Canadian of African heritage to be awarded the Citizen of the Year award in 1954 in Hamilton and he sadly passed away months after receiving this award.
In honor of John Holland’s life’s work, the Hamilton Black History Community chose to name an annual awards event that recognizes the contributions of the African Canadian people to our community.
In the 24 years of these awards, recipients have included Michael Lee-Chin, Lincon Alexander and Jean Augustine. These awards have grown and now include both youth and adult awards, including the Jackie Washington Arts Award, Community Service Award, the Business and Professional Achievement Award, and the HBHC Award as well as 20 youth awards and bursaries.
This year’s performances included inspirational speaker Jessica Opoku, the founder of Women with Passion and Purpose alongside Tyshan Knight a born and raised Hamilton recording artist and Esie Mensah.
We had such a fantastic time, meeting so many amazing people and having loads of laughs and making memories with friends old and new! For more on the awards and how you can apply or get involved click here.
I think it is so important to encourage and promote diversity within our community, not only because I myself am a person of colour, but because I think it is our differences, not our similarities that foster creativity and innovation. Thus, I think is it so very important to ensure that all people feel reflected and comfortable in ALL spaces. Including the online spaces, maker spaces, and so on!
We at Shop HamOnt recognize that there are STILL barriers that exist which affect the everyday lives of so many marginalized groups! And as a black business owner, and blogger I feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure all people feel included and represented in our business and products.
In response to this, we have taken it upon ourselves to create a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative to encourage and grow our store and ensure we have products that speak to all people. This application will grant a successful candidate 50% off the maker’s membership! It is our hope that these savings will be our way of investing in YOU and becoming a positive and uplifting part of your business journey!
We invite you to share this application with anyone who you think would like to know about it and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Applications will be awarded on a monthly basis, one application a month (12 total for the year). This is to ensure we can share and highlight your business properly during the onboarding process.
Thanks for reading,
Peace and love, The Hamilton Hippie
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