The 2018 PozTO Awards were held Monday, December 10 in Tallulah’s at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre.
The annual awards show presented by Relentless Entertainment and PozPlanet was hosted by the incomparable Jade Elektra, long-time PWA supporter and champion of HIV/AIDS awareness.
The PozTO Awards are handed out annually honouring “10 individuals from our community who are activists or work in the field of HIV/AIDS.” This years’ recipients included:
- Playwright, filmmaker, and community fundraiser Allen Legacy
- Activist, champion of the U=U movement, and former publisher of Positive Lite, Bob Leahy
- Activist and Community Engagement & Ontario Positive Asians (OPA+) Coordinator at Asian Community AIDS Services, Christian Hui
- Haran Vijayanathan, Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention Executive Director
- Union & LGBTQ community activist , Black queer and trans community organizer, Nik Redman
- Activist and Asstant Professor and Chair of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Thorneloe University, OmiSoore H. Dryden
- Community fundraiser and President of Spearhead Leather and Denim Social Club, Robert Jeyes
- Shannon Ryan, Executive Director of Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention and community activist
Also included were PWA’s very own Chris Godi, Therapeutic Care Coordinator and Robb Walker, Philanthropy Officer.
Chris has a long history of involvement in the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities. Earlier in her career as a massage therapist, Chris championed the need open access to therapeutic care services for people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) at a time when too many health practitioners were uninformed and unprepared for treating PHAs. Her advocacy lead her to her current role providing leadership to PWA’s therapeutic care programming. Through coordinated partnerships with various therapeutic colleges across the GTA, PHAs can have free access massage and acupuncture services in clinics set up at PWA.
In addition to her therapeutic care coordination, Chris also oversee’s a variety of other client support focused programming working with multiple animal hospital partners to provide discounted or free services to PHAs; coordinating free access for families to Canada’s Wonderland, movies, live theatre and other cultural experiences; and providing daily one-on-one support to clients at PWA to name a few.
Robb is no stranger to the HIV/AIDS sector with over 20 years of fundraising and volunteer leadership for various ASO’s. Inspired by a close friend who passed away from AIDS, Robb’s life passion has been dedicated to contributing in meaningful ways to support our community. The former AIDS Walk cochair and Fashion Cares steering committee member was introduced to PWA through his involvement as a cyclist on PWA’s Friends For Life Bike Rally. A 12-time Bike Rally participant, Robb has held several roles on the event’s leadership steering committee contributing to millions raised ensuring access critical programs and services for thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS.
In 2016, Robb moved full-time to professional fundraising joining the staff team at PWA as Philanthropy Officer. Integral to his role is supporting many generous community partners – including Relentless Entertainment and PozPlanet, Spearhead, TICOT, and many others – in their fundraising initiatives.
In addition to acknowledging and celebrating the award recipients, the full-house audience witnessed spectacular performances by ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company, Sistah Lois, Jezebel Bardot, Halal Bae and Amanda Roberts. Raffle prizes were generously donated from Pop Music Record Store, Jack Daniel’s, Roots, and PWA. Special thank you to Relentless Entertainment and PozPlanet for generously choosing PWA as the beneficiary of funds raised through the raffle and PWYC cover. The event raised $760 for PWA.
PWA volunteers and staff who have previously received PozTO Awards include:
- Bill Handley, Income and Community Liaison (2013)
- Richard Durk, former Director of Finance and Administration (2013)
- Kevin Borden, former Food Programs Coordinator (2015)
- Serge Velleaux, Food Programs Volunteer (2016)
- Christine Decelles, PHA Speaker (2017)
- Mike Twamley, Director Philanthropy and Communications (2017)