Living In Toronto

Aboriginal Affairs Award

The Aboriginal Affairs Award was established in 2003. This award will be given to a person(s) or organization whose volunteer efforts have made or are making a significant or ongoing contribution to the well-being and advancement of the Aboriginal community in Toronto.

Examples of contributions include services or advocacy work on issues such as health, shelter work, street work, governance or self-determination, employment, economic development, human rights or cultural activities.

2016 Aboriginal Award recipient

Fizul Sima

Fizul Sima has worked in areas that empower Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the United States. He joined the Canadian federal government in 2003 and was appointed as the National Council of Aboriginal Federal Employees' (NCAFE) Chair of the Toolkits for Success Committee in 2006. His work focused on issues relating to Indigenous employment and Indigenous cultural awareness.

From his time with NCAFE, Fizul was appointed Co-Chair of the Deputy Minister's Aboriginal Workforce Initiative in 2014. His recommendations and advocacy led to the launch of various federal public service initiatives including the Indigenous Inventory for University Graduates, an Indigenous leadership program and toolkits in Indigenous career recruitment, retention and advancement. This work has been shared nationally and locally in Toronto with the Dodem Kanonsha', Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.

In 2016, Fizul created videos on how to catalogue books and provided software for a lending library system to create Indigenous community libraries. His mentoring and leadership in book drives created the Scarborough Child and Family Centre Library at the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.

Prior to joining the Canadian government, Fizul worked for the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. and developed the first toolkit to promote distance education to Native Americans. His work was recognized by three State Governors and he was made an honorary citizen of North Dakota in 1998.

Fizul is Mi’kmaq, originally from Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia.


2015 Recipient Aboriginal Award

Joanne DallaireJoanne Dallaire

Joanne has made extraordinary contributions in the area of counselling, advising and education as well as empowering and capacity building with the the Aboriginal community in Toronto.  Joanne has worked with a variety of organizations including Ministry of Health Canada, the Royal Ontario Conservatory fo Music, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ryerson University, York University, Seneca College, Diabetes Association of Ontario, Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto as well as several First Nations and social service agencies. Her work has transformed lives and improved relations between the Aboriginal community elder, counselor and traditional healer and a deserving candidate for this award.

Joanne Dallaire, Shadow Hawk Woman of the Wolf Clan, is Cree Omushkego with ancestry from Attawapiskat, Ontario. For the past 10 years, she has worked at Ryerson as an Elder and Traditional Counsellor. In her role, she provides traditional openings and closings, presentations, information on Aboriginal issues and training and counselling for Aboriginal events or ceremonies and more.

Joanne has spent over 30 years in the areas of counselling, advising and educating Aboriginal and non­ Aboriginal individuals and organizations on various Aboriginal topics. In 2011, she was celebrated at Ryerson with an Honourary Doctor of Laws Degree by the Faculty of Community Services for her tireless and many achievements.  She is also a proud mother and grandmother.

As a leader, Joanne's philosophy is to shine a light on the path for others, empowering them to make their own choices, and assisting them with recognizing their own leadership qualities.

2014 Recipient Aboriginal Award

David AbbottDavid Abbott

David Abbott has made an outstanding contribution to the Aboriginal community in Toronto through his unwavering commitment to the Aboriginal Economic Business Development Project (AEBDP). David has played a pivotal role by bringing together stakeholders and facilitating dialogue in the public and private sectors for an initiative that will lay the foundation for a sustainable Aboriginal business community in downtown Toronto. The project, sponsored by the Metcalf Foundation, promotes new strategies to address access to business opportunities, quality jobs and economic livelihood for Aboriginal people in the GTA. 

The AEBDP seeks to create an environment where a diverse cross-section of Aboriginal groups and individuals can engage with academia, government, business and industry supporters to support a visioning process, allowing for multiple 'points of integration'. The project is the initiation of a long-term creative solution to build wealth in the downtown eastside and to increase the self-sufficiency and equitable employment opportunities for the growing Aboriginal population. 

This project will directly support the recommendations of the 2011 Toronto Aboriginal Research Project (TARP). These recommendations target both Aboriginal youth and adults and focus on meaningful skills development, mentorship, internships and 'experience with real life work situations'. The recommendations also call for program development between the private sector, trade unions, and educational institutions to 'create employment incentives, upgrading, apprentice, special education and training programs focusing specifically on the education and training needs of Aboriginal homeless people in Toronto'.

David has served on various boards including the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and the Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Board for the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada.

2013 Recipient of Aboriginal Award

Steven Vanloffeld

Steven Vanloffeld is Ojibway from Saugeen First Nation, Ontario. In both his professional and personal life, Steven has demonstrated a strong commitment to civic participation from the time he was elected the first Student Class president of Aboriginal decent at St. Mary’s high school in Owen Sound. He has since garnered a great deal of professional and volunteer experience advocating for the advancement and well-being of Aboriginal people.

Since moving to Toronto, Steven has worked tirelessly to build partnerships between Toronto’s Aboriginal community and key decision-makers at the grassroots, municipal, provincial and national level, within an educational and a non-profit community organization setting.

As past President of the Aboriginal People's Commission (APC-ON) for the Liberal Party of Canada and the current Toronto representative, Steven represents and promotes the interests of Aboriginal members and encourages the active and equitable participation of Aboriginal people at all levels of the party structure, with particular emphasis on civic engagement of Aboriginal people within the GTA.

Steven’s commitment to the advancement of Toronto’s Aboriginal community is further illustrated by his role as the volunteer founder and organizer of the 4 Directions Aboriginal Networking group, which brought together Aboriginal post-secondary students, Aboriginal community members and non-Aboriginal business people to identify solutions to common challenges. Steven also played an active role as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors for two Aboriginal service organizations, demonstrating a strong commitment to the well-being of Aboriginal men, children and families in Toronto.

Steven’s advocacy efforts further extend through his Master's thesis work on consultation of Aboriginal people within an urban environment.

Previous Aboriginal Affairs recipients

Award Recipient  Year
David Abbott 2014

Steven Vanloffeld

 Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto  2012
Rob Lackie 2011
Kenn Richard, Angela Connors 2010
Kimberly Murray 2009
Métis Artists' Collective, Yvette Nolan 2008
Vern Harper 2007
Eileen Antone 2006
Simon McNichol, Native Learning Centre, Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre 2005
Sandra Laronde, Bear 2004
Augustin (Gus) Ashawasega, Ruth Ann Cyr, André Morriseau 2003