TCBN celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion at gala


    Ontario Construction News staff writer

    The Toronto Community Benefits Network presented its third annual Building Diversity Awards gala at the Design Exchange in Toronto earlier this month in a “celebration of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

    The 120-member community-labour coalition recognized recipients “for one or more steps they are taking that correspond to the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks (standards for organizations around the world), as adapted by BuildForce Canada.”

    With assistance from presenting sponsor Desjardins, the gala also included entertainment and speakers such as Patricia Jaggernauth, an EMMY Award winning television and media personality and Majora Carter, a real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant and MacArthur Fellow.

    2023 award recipients:

    Dream Maker Developments

    The black-led firm responsible for more than 10 high-profile developments including Dream Residences at Yorkdale is led by Isaac Olowolafe Jr. who encourages inclusivity and diversity in the construction environment. The company has created and is part of institutions that promote diversity.


    A developer and builder of condominium residences in the Greater Toronto Area, Tridel has partnered with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation on the revitalization of three communities: Alexandra Park Phase 2, Regent Park Phases 4 and 5, and Leslie Nymark. Each community includes community economic development or community benefits initiatives to support residents of the community.

    International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

    IUPAT opens doors and provides apprenticeship support to racialized groups. An example of this commitment is Ivan Dawns, an IUPAT black journey person who worked 13 years as a drywall finisher before taking on the role of Political Director for the purpose of attracting more black youth into the union. The union sanctioned this role as an advocate and representative for the union.

    Chinyere Johnson

    Chinyere continued her career in construction at EllisDon as an Assistant Project Manager where she worked for just over a year since her emigration from Trinidad. However, she quickly outgrew that role and accepted the opportunity with Deloitte in her current role as manager of infrastructure and Capital Projects. Taking her mentors advice and advice from others, she has already broken through the glass ceiling.

    Brandi Ferenc

    A mentor for women in skilled trades and HVAC apprentices at Support Ontario Youth, Brandi also teaches HVAC at Georgian College and works as an HVAC mechanic at Southlake Hospital. As a female, Brandi represents 0.4 per cent of her industry and for two decades has been the voice of advocacy to shift the mindset of the skilled trades industry and create a safe workplace for equity deserving groups.

    Building Up

    Building Up runs a pre-apprenticeship trades training program for individuals who face barriers to employment. Building Up’s experienced tradespeople collaborate with trainees previously facing barriers to employment to provide Toronto with a range of high-quality construction services. Building Up’s vision is to break cycles of systemic inequity, by leveling the playing field through a holistic network of supports that prioritize long term impact for its participants. The profits generated by our work fund this social cause.

    Brandi Jonathan

    As a Diversity Liaison with Canada’s Building Trades Unions in the Trades Apprenticeship program, a federal funded program that provides financial incentives and training support for unionized small and medium-sized contractors, she works closely with community organizations and programs that work to recruit and retain underrepresented groups to the construction industry. Brandi has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of the Indigenous workforce on a local, regional and national level.


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