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Viola Desmond Award

Woman who writes history

Because of the importance of celebrating Black women, the SIFN team created the VIOLA DESMOND award. This award is in honor of Mrs. Viola Desmond’s fight for the civil rights of Black communities in Canada. Not only is she the first woman, but the first Black woman appearing alone on a $10 vertical note.
Each year, this award will highlight the contribution of a Black woman who led the way with her work, her convictions and her perseverance. A woman who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of women at a time when she was not always allowed to take her place.

Récipiendaire 2023 : Mme Marjorie Villefranche

Mme Marjorie Villefranche, Montréal (Québec)

Mme Villefranche est la directrice générale de la Maison d'Haïti, militante féministe, elle se consacre depuis plus de 40 ans à l’éducation et à la défense des femmes immigrantes et des demandeurs d’asile. La lutte contre le racisme, la discrimination et toutes les formes d’exclusion font partie de sa vie quotidienne.

Nommée depuis 6 ans membre de la Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse, par l’Assemblée Nationale du Québec, honorée par plusieurs prix dont, Citoyenne d’honneur de la ville de Montréal en 2021, Grande Bâtisseuse de la cité en 2017. Personnalité de la semaine, la Presse, Radio-Canada en 2012, Marjorie Villefranche est actuellement une des voix les plus influentes de son milieu.

2022 Award Winner : Mrs. Taylor Lindsay-Noel

Taylor Lindsay-Noel is a 28-year-old entrepreneur from Toronto. She is owner of Cup of Té Luxury Loose Leaf Teas which was just featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things List 2020!

14 years ago she was a Canadian national gymnast but in 2008 under the coercion of her coach she had a devastating accident that instantly paralyzed her from the neck down for life. Since then Taylor has persevered through adversity and has received a BA in Radio and Television Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University (Ryerson University).

She is currently balancing being a motivational speaker, disability advocate, council member of the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity. She recently was also announced as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Awards, Canada’s most prestigious award celebrating black excellence.

2021 Award Winner : Mrs. Honourable Jean Augustine

Jean Augustine immigrated to Canada in 1960. Before embarking on a career in politics, she worked as a nanny, teacher, principal, and later chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority while raising two girls. In 1993, she became the first Black Woman elected to Parliament, then Cabinet Minister  and Deputy Speaker  – successfully championing the Black History Month and Famous Five Motions such as “That this House take note of the important contribution of Black Canadians to the settlement, growth and development of Canada, the diversity of the Black community in Canada and its importance to the history of this country.”

In March 2007, the Ontario government appointed her the province’s first Fairness Commissioner. The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) ensures that qualified foreign-trained professionals (e.g., in medicine, teaching) can get the required licences to practise in the province. Now retired, along with service via her Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment; she is working hard to raise much-needed funds to fully endow the   Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora at York University to help drive social justice policy for generations to come.

2019 Award Winner : Mrs. Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Celina Caesar-Chavannes is an independent member of Ontario’s Whitby constituency. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto, an MBA in Health Management and an Executive MBA from the Rotman School of Management. Before embarking on a career in politics, she was an entrepreneur, consultant and an international speaker.

Through the many leadership positions, she has held within councils and organizations, Mrs. Caesar-Chavannes has addressed important issues facing the Black community to Canadian Parliament such as the micro-aggressions and racism that Blacks experience, especially Black Women in Canada. Mrs. Caesar-Chavannes also dared to speak openly about mental health issues in Black communities, a subject which is still a taboo.


2018 Award Winner : Dr. Yvette Bonny

Mrs. Bonny is a pediatrician and hematologist from the first generation of Haitians who arrived in Quebec in the 1960s. She was the first Black resident at Sainte-Justine Hospital, and, in 1980 was the first to perform a bone marrow transplant on a child in Quebec.