Category Archives: Harmony Leadership in Education Award Winners

2017: Jeewan Chanicka


Jeewan Chanicka
Toronto District School Board

By Camille Logan

As a school administrator, Jeewan has established strong relationships and worked collaboratively with the students, staff, families and community to build a positive school climate. As an Education Officer with the Inclusive Education Branch of the Ministry of Education, Jeewan lead the development of Inclusive Design – an intentional and holistic way of supporting all students and communities.

Currently, Jeewan serves as Ontario’s first Superintendent of equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Here, he brings knowledge and proven leadership to the board’s Integrated Equity Framework Action Plan.

Jeewan has influenced many fellow educators by igniting passion and leading them through an inspirational journey of building positive traditions, establishing a strong sense of community and ensuring that student voice is always at the heart of our work in schools.

As a recipient of this award, Jeewan continues the legacy of ethical and servitude leadership. His continuous efforts to advance equity and inclusivity for all students, staff and families remain his mission. Jeewan demonstrates the possibilities of positive outcomes for every child!

Camille Logan is Superintendent of Education, Student Achievement, School Operations at the York Region District School Board. She is the recipient of the 2013 Harmony Leadership in Education Award.

Video: Jeewan Chanicka awards acceptance.

Anne Marie McDonald Photo

2016: Anne Marie McDonald

Anne Marie McDonald Photo2016 Mary A. Samuel Leadership in Education Award Winner: Anne Marie McDonald

Limestone District School Board

By Krishna Burra

Anne Marie McDonald is, first and foremost, an outstanding human being who enriches the lives of those students, families, and staff with whom she has the opportunity to work. However, she is also an outstanding educator who has high expectations for all students and staff, and advocates strongly for those who most need a voice.

Principal McDonald has demonstrated, time after time, a strong vision and resiliency in supporting the consolidation of students and staff from her previous school, Queen Elizabeth Collegiate, and her new school, Loyalist Collegiate. Placing the interests of those students who need us most at the forefront of her vision for equity has provided critical leadership for the communities she serves.

Having grown up in the communities she serves has provided Anne Marie with the first-hand experience and knowledge of what her students need from school. Her continual effort to make the provincial vision of Achieving Excellence come to life for her students is beyond admirable. She and her team consistently provide the best possible conditions for their students to achieve excellence, ensure equity, and achieve well-being.

Anne Marie is a very worthy recipient of this award because of her daily contributions and efforts to advance equitable and inclusive education for all of her students.

Krishna Burra is Superintendent of Education – Schools and Program at the Limestone District School Board.

Video: Anne Marie McDonald award acceptance.

Lori Taylor

2015: Lori Taylor

Lori Taylor

Lori Taylor

2015 Mary A. Samuel Leadership Award Winner Lori Taylor

Upper Canada District School Board

When Lori Taylor was four, all she wanted for Christmas was a Tonka dump truck. This is her first recollection of having a “social justice” conversation.

Changing the world starts with having a conversation, and Lori will make this conversation happen: from the neighbourhood where a youth has suffered discrimination and marginalization to the Trustees boardroom.

Lori embodies the true blending of humanity and professionalism. She is relentless with her passion, generous of her time and open to learning. Lori is a systems leader and is currently System Vice-Principal of Equity and Inclusion, Interculturalism and First Nations, Métis and Inuit programs with the board. She took the lead in bringing student voice to action on twitter with #SeeMyVoice.

Lori leads by example. She demonstrates the importance of continuous learning through visible and collaborative engagement in her own professional learning. Her enthusiasm and passion for social justice is infectious.

When it comes to student voice, equity and inclusion Lori pours her passion into the work. She is a giver and a very worthy recipient of the Mary A. Samuel Harmony Leadership in Education Award.

Susan Edwards is a supervisory officer with the Upper Canada District School Board. She is responsible for twenty-four schools and has system responsibilities for First Nations, Métis and Inuit, student wellbeing, equity, inclusion and interculturalism.

Video: Lori Taylor award acceptance.


Way Skinner

2014: Michael Way Skinner

York Catholic District School Board. 

Michael Way Skinner is a pioneer in Ontario on diversity, equity and inclusion. A passionate and spirited advocate of equity opportunities, his leadership has made a significant impact on the lives of so many in our York Catholic community and beyond.

Michael’s First Nations heritage provides him with a unique sensitivity and perspective about the realities of First Nations peoples. His own family represents a rich diversity of races, cultures, and abilities. Together with his wife, Christine, they and their family of five beautiful children embody diversity in every way.

Michael’s work with the LGBTQ community is widely recognized. He was the lead writer for “All God’s Children”, a resource providing pastoral support to LGBTQ students. Michael delivered the keynote address at the 2013 conference of the Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries and was awarded the Canadian Society of Yad Vashem’s Merit Award of Excellence for Holocaust Education in 2007.

Michael is a modern day prophet. An expression commonly used to describe a prophet’s ministry is that “they comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” This epitomizes Michael’s very essence. He is strongly committed to fostering courageous, but respectful conversations at all times as he insists that “love, not anger, brings change in people.”

Congratulations to a mentor, colleague and dear friend on this well-deserved award.

By Martina Smith

Martina Smith OCT is Program Consultant: Religious Education/Family Life/Equity for the York Catholic District School Board.

Video: Michael Way Skinner award acceptance.

Camille Logan

2013: Camille Logan

Even before having the privilege of working with Camille in the Inclusive School and Community Services unit of the York Region District School Board (YRDSB), she was one of my role models. Camille began her career as a classroom teacher committed to equity, inclusion and social justice initiatives at the school and community level.

Later, as Vice Principal, Principal, and seconded faculty in York University’s Faculty of Education, Camille continued to ensure that equity and inclusion were foundational to her work and in the learning of her students.

Maybe it was her education; after all she is a proud graduate of the YRDSB, or maybe it was her upbringing, being born to proud parents of Jamaican heritage in the small town of Guelph, but regardless the reason, we are proud of Camille Logan and all she has accomplished for students and parents in the YRDSB.

Currently, Camille assumes district-wide responsibilities as Principal of Inclusive School and Community Services; leading a team dedicated to supporting the work of equity and inclusive education practices.

Camille is a strong school leader committed to student achievement and well-being, equity, human rights and social justice. These principles serve as her pedagogy towards ensuring that all students, regardless of circumstance or social identities are provided with the opportunity and necessary supports to achieve.

By Kimberley Tavares-Carter

Kimberley Tavares-Carter is Teacher Liaison for African and Caribbean Communities, Inclusive School and Community Services at the York Region District School Board.

Photo: Darcie Sutherland Photography

Video: Camille Logan award acceptance.

Christopher Spence

2012: Christopher Spence

Born in Britain to immigrant parents from Jamaica, Dr. Christopher Spence was raised in Toronto and Windsor. After his undergraduate studies at Simon Fraser University, he was drafted as a running back for the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League. His professional football career would end three years later with an Achilles tendon injury.

And he has little time to look back. For almost two decades, Chris has led the way in public education as a teacher, principal, senior administrator, author and advocate. Since 2009, he has served in his current role as Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board, the largest school board in Canada, with close to 600 schools and over 250,000 students.

As an educator, Chris has helped to launch a number of successful, innovative initiatives. Such projects as Boys 2 Men and Project G.O. (Girls Only) have transformed educational practices, developing character and leadership in young learners. A successful author, his books include Achieving, Believing and Caring and The Joys of Teaching Boys.

Having worked closely with Chris at the TDSB, I have witnessed first-hand the deep commitment and passion he brings to his work. There is no one more fitting to be honoured with this year’s Harmony Leadership in Education Award.

By Shaun Chen

Shaun Chen is Vice Chair and Trustee of the Toronto District School Board. He is a past recipient of the June Callwood Harmony Scholarship.

Photo: Toronto District School Board

Video: Dr. Christopher Spence award acceptance.

Mary Samuel

2011: Mary Samuel

Mary Samuel has been a human rights activist for over four decades. With a Master’s degree in social work, she began her career as a case worker in Nova Scotia, advocating for initiatives to strengthen the viability of African Canadian communities in that province. She spent the early 80s in Ottawa developing vocational programs for individuals with physical and emotional disabilities.

In 1985 Mary came to Ontario to begin challenging the system in here, spending seven years working with the Ontario Human Rights Commission as a race relations consultant and later as a human rights officer. During the next decade, Mary was a human rights advisor to the president of George Brown College and finally landed in Peel region, where she has tirelessly worked for equity in the Peel District School Board.

Mary is a founding member of BCAN (Black Community Action Network) and the Equity Summit Group of Ontario. As a member of the Equity Summit Group, she continually mentors educators who have moved into equity positions, and shares her vast knowledge of human rights with those who are eager to learn. Furthermore, she has conducted anti-racist workshops for the span of her career and her sphere of influence knows no boundaries.

As the current Chair of AMENO (Anti-Racist Multicultural Education Network of Ontario), Mary oversaw the 20th anniversary celebration of this collaboration of activist educators. She has a reputation for being a vociferous advocate for human rights, especially the rights of students in the province, and speaks her mind to politicians and administrators alike when necessary.

With a tenacity that is envied by everyone in the field, Mary also has a sense of humour that is infectious. I am proud to call her my mentor but more importantly I am honoured to call her my friend. On behalf of all those that she has had a tremendous impact on, I would like to congratulate her on receiving this award tonight.

By Chris D'Souza

Chris D’Souza has been an educator for over twenty-two years and a passionate advocate for human rights, environmental ethics and inclusive schools. He is the author of two books, his latest is the children’s storybook Why are all the Taxi-Drivers..?

Viki Bismilla

2010: Vicki Basmilla

Vicki Basmilla, Vice-President, Academic and Chief Learning Officer, Centennial College. 

 I first met Vicki Bismilla at an award presentation ceremony at the York Region District School Board in 2003. Vicki was Superintendent of Education at the school board, while I had just finished facilitating the first-ever Diversity Leadership Certificate Program for Harmony Movement at one of her schools. I had to find out who she was, and I was impressed with what I found.

Born to a South African family heavily involved in the anti-apartheid movement, Vicki started her equity work at a young age. She immigrated to Canada in 1970 and began working as a teacher in Scarborough. Over her long career as an educator and activist for social justice, Vicki has not only improved the lives of many students, educators, and educational administrators, but has also effected lasting change that will benefit others for years to come.

In her role as Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, then later as superintendent at York Region District School Board, Vicki used her position to create significant changes within the education system. As Vice-President, Academic and Chief Learning Officer of Centennial College since 2007, Vicki has been involved with embedding global citizenship and equity competencies in all curricula, implementing a compulsory general education requirement in global citizenship and equity for every student, as well as reviewing service to students for whom English is an additional language. Vicki was one of the major reasons why I decided to join Centennial College.

Despite her many responsibilities – she is also on the Board of Directors for both Scarborough Grace and Scarborough General hospitals – Vicki found the time to earn her doctorate in Second Language Education, as well as maintain an active research career, participating in collaborative research projects and co-authoring a number of publications.

While Vicki’s personal accomplishments are numerous, she also works to empower and mentor others to achieve excellence. In each of her leadership roles, Vicki has created mentor groups to help others realize their own goals. It is Vicki’s hope that participants will take it upon themselves to mentor others so that this cycle of personal and professional growth may continue.

What makes Vicki truly deserving of this award is not simply the immense impact she has on those around her, but the longevity of that impact, as she inspires others to create and sustain more equitable, inclusive educational practices.

Yasmin Razack is Manager of Diversity Education at Centennial College. She received her Masters of Education from York University and served as Program Director at Harmony Movement, where she launched its diversity education programs in 2003.

Christopher D’souza

2009: Christopher D’souza

York University
By Yasmin Razack

Chris D’Souza has been an educator for over twenty years at Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, as a teacher and as its Equity and Diversity Officer. During his tenure at the school board, Chris has conducted over 1,500 lectures and workshops with a focus on human rights and inclusion.

I first met Chris at an AMENO Conference in 2003 when I was with the Harmony Movement. I attended Chris’ workshop and was blown away at his ability to make every single person in the room engaged with issues of diversity, equity and the “power of one.” His message was clear: one voice, one action, one thought can start a movement.

Once our conversation on the goals and mission of my organization, Chris said, “We’ve got to get Harmony in our schools.” He was not lying. With his help, we piloted our Diversity Leadership Certificate Program at St. Francis Xavier. Chris was instrumental in getting our programs into his schools because he believed in our work and its positive impact on youth. This was the beginning of a very special partnership between Chris and Harmony.

Chris is the author of Empowerism: A Lifestyle Guide to Environmental Ethics, which took me only hours to read because it speaks volumes to the objectives of our work at Harmony. So I ordered boxes and boxes of his books to give to each student in our program. As a bonus, Chris offered speak in person to our students about the book and the important issues contained in it. The youth were so moved by what he had to say that he was able to empower them to make a positive impact in their respective communities.

Chris is currently teaching in the Faculty of Education at York University and conducts professional development for health care facilities, law enforcement agencies and school boards in the province. He is also the author of a children’s storybook Why are all the Taxi-Drivers…? As the proud father of Dakota, Cadence and Jamie, I’m sure Chris reads to his children every night and looks forward to a society where they can grow up free from bias and discrimination.

Exactly how much Chris D’Souza has helped advance the goals and mission of the Harmony Movement cannot be measured. It is unprecedented how he has relentlessly advocated on our behalf through his dedication and commitment. He truly deserves this year’s Harmony Leadership in Education Award.

John Morrison

2008: John Morrison

John MorrisonJohn Morrison, Principal, Anderson Collegiate, Durham District School Board. 

John Morrison is the founder of Culture of Peace Program. This student-driven program has provided a safe haven and springboard for action for many students who have been victimized, while also providing a platform for leadership development and social action for thousands of others. Embedding a commitment to diversity, equity and human rights into the central narrative of his school has been one of John’s primary goals.

John and the staff of Anderson have presented this model across southern Ontario and many schools have adopted this highly effective approach to student empowerment. As a result of John’s influence, five current and past students from three different schools where John was principal have received June Callwood Harmony Scholarships.