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Rev. John C. Holland Awards celebrate excellence in Black community

They are honour roll students, outstanding athletes, community leaders, social justice warriors, peer mentors, and people of deep and abiding faith.

And like Reverend John C. Holland, the first African Canadian to be named “Citizen of the Year” in any community in Canada, they are breaking down barriers.

On June 18, 2022 several graduating students from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board were recognized at the 26th Annual Reverend John C. Holland Awards for using their time and talents to better their community.

“I want to offer my congratulations to each of the award recipients for their outstanding contributions,” commended HWCDSB Chairperson Patrick Daly. “Each, through their varied activities and achievements, has contributed to the building of community in their schools and in the broader community.”

“I wish them all of God’s blessings and have no doubt that they will go on to transform the world.”

The Rev. John C. Holland awards were established in 1996 by the Hamilton Black History Council to celebrate and recognize the academic achievements and aspirations of Black youth by offering scholarships and support to assist them in accessing post-secondary education. Scholarships range from $1000 to $1500. Since their inception, more than 200 scholarships and awards have been provided to secondary students of African descent.

Adding his congratulations to each of the students recognized at the Rev. John C. Holland Awards, Director of Education David Hansen said, “Reading and hearing of some of the things these young leaders in our community have contributed is nothing short of inspiring. Their individual acts of service are a model for all of us – particularly younger students who look to their example.”

“They are truly difference makers. Congratulations also to Hamilton Black History Council for continuing to recognize excellence in our community.”

This year’s event also recognized dozens of nominees with Spirit Awards which aligned with the event’s theme: UMOJA: Connect, Empower, Unify.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients.

Honourees from the HWCDSB:

General Achievement Award

David Akintola, Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School

David is an active member of his school community. He initiated the Black History Month Committee at Bishop Tonnos, where he highlighted books by Black authors. Additionally, he was a Summer Camp Leader at Peoples Church and played tenor saxophone on his school’s band for the past two years. David has consistently been an honour roll recipient throughout high school and was named the Prodigal Sonz Battle of the Boards Tournament All-star for his skills on the basketball court.

Community Matters Scholarship
Judeny Belizaire, St. John Henry Newman Catholic Secondary School

Judeny has demonstrated a spirit of “community matters” through extensive volunteering. From an early age, Judeny has participated in programs that emphasize the importance of serving the local community. Judeny volunteers as a Baha’i children’s class teacher working to promote unity and support the foundation of a bright future for children. Judeny also volunteers at the Homework Help Club, and the Junior Youth Empowerment Program. Judeny has been named MVP for Track, Volleyball, and Basketball, was the Sr. Girls volleyball team captain, and has been on honour roll for all four years of high school.

Marlene A.S. Thomas Community Advocacy Scholarship
Thélia Badoana, St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School

Thélia is the co-founder of the uKnighted Against Racism Committee at her school, through which she has fought against racism and discrimination by spreading awareness, educating her school community, and improving her school environment. Additionally, she assisted in organizing the school’s Halloween 4 Hunger food drive, and volunteers at the Beth Eden Community Church. She was named to Honour Roll for the 2020-2021 school year and received the Micheal Monk Award from the Catholic Education Foundation of Ontario for founding uKnighted Against Racism.

Raymond G. Lewis Sports Leadership Scholarship
Martin Ndebay, Cathedral High School

Martin is an accomplished Soccer and Track and Field athlete with a strong community volunteer record. He was invited to be a part of SHAD Canada, a competitive national program that looks for youth that are curious, resilient, and risk takers to prepare them to take on social and economic challenges. Additionally, he assisted in organizing the We Scare Hunger food drive and volunteered at the Catholic Youth Organization where he interacted with youth through basketball and refereeing. Martin was awarded the Director’s Award in 2020, which is awarded to the top 4 students with the highest marks in each grade. Additionally, he was an honour roll recipient for his entire high school career and was nominated for the Student Athlete award in 2020 for his demonstrated leadership on several sports teams.

Reverend George Horton Law Enforcement Scholarship
Kaileez Joseph, Cathedral High School

Kaileez is an inspiring entrepreneur who hopes to establish her own law firm in the future. She received the Academic Proficiency Award, given to two females and males in each grade with the highest averages. Additionally, she was named to honour roll in both 2020 and 2021. She was nominated as the Jr. Female Athlete of the Year for her exceptional athletic abilities. She is an active member of her community, volunteering at basketball tournaments and helping those in her local community by shovelling driveways.

Immigrants Matter Scholarship
Omolade George, Cathedral High School

Omolade immigrated to Canada from Nigeria in June of 2018 and in a short time has embodied the spirit of “immigrants matter.” She has made a positive impact on her community by volunteering with the Green Ventures of Hamilton, where she educated participants about environmentalism. Additionally, she volunteered for the McMaster Children Hospital, making colouring pages for children who were patients. Two years ago, she decided to use her social media platforms to spread awareness and educate her followers on the murder of unarmed Black people in her community, the ignored disasters happening in African countries, and ways to help and become allies to the communities. Omolade was named to the Honour Roll in 2020 for her academic achievements and received special recognition by the principal of Cathedral high school for her volunteer efforts.

Connect Awards
Samrawit Mulugeta, Cathedral HS
Jeannette Nanteguza, Cathedral HS
Koailoach Keak, St. Thomas More CSS
Omolade George, Cathedral HS
Judeny Belizaire, St. John Henry Newman CSS
Thélia Badoana, St. Thomas More CSS

Empower Awards
Ellycea Burke, St. John Henry Newman CSS
Obaro Enuekwe-Krubu, St. John Henry Newman CSS
Ashanti Allen, Cathedral HS

Unity Awards
David Akintola, Bishop Tonnos CSS
Tianne Lewis, St. Thomas More CSS
Imani Washington, St. Thomas More CSS
Samrawit Mulugeta, Cathedral HS
Zinachika Agbassi, St. Thomas More CSS
Martin Ndebay, Cathedral HS





Photo: Dejehan Hamilton / Tune-In Media
Photo: Dejehan Hamilton / Tune-In Media

Thélia Badoana, a Grade 12 student at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, was recognized for community advocacy at this year's Rev. John C. Holland Awards.
Thélia Badoana, a Grade 12 student at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, was recognized for community advocacy at this year's Rev. John C. Holland Awards.

St. John Henry Newman Catholic Secondary School's Judeny Belizaire was presented with the Community Matters Scholarship at this year's 26th Annual Reverend John C. Holland Awards.
St. John Henry Newman Catholic Secondary School's Judeny Belizaire was presented with the Community Matters Scholarship at this year's 26th Annual Reverend John C. Holland Awards.

Omolade George, a graduating student at Cathedral High School, was awarded an Immigrants Matter Scholarship at the annual Rev. John C. Holland Awards on June 18.
Omolade George, a graduating student at Cathedral High School, was awarded an Immigrants Matter Scholarship at the annual Rev. John C. Holland Awards on June 18.

Kaileez Joseph, a Grade 12 student at Cathedral High School, won the Reverend George Horton Law Enforcement Scholarship at this year's 26th Annual Reverend John C. Holland Awards.
Kaileez Joseph, a Grade 12 student at Cathedral High School, won the Reverend George Horton Law Enforcement Scholarship at this year's 26th Annual Reverend John C. Holland Awards.

David Akintola, a graduating student from Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School, was awarded a General Achievement Bursary at this year's 26th Annual Reverend John C. Holland Awards.
David Akintola, a graduating student from Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School, was awarded a General Achievement Bursary at this year's 26th Annual Reverend John C. Holland Awards.

Cathedral High School's Martin Ndebay was awarded the Raymond G. Lewis Sports Leadership Scholarship for sports leadership.
Cathedral High School's Martin Ndebay was awarded the Raymond G. Lewis Sports Leadership Scholarship for sports leadership.