A Hamilton student activist is one of three Ontario students to win the Lincoln M. Alexander Award for their commitment to anti-racism and equity in their communities.
Thursday, on Lincoln Alexander Day, , the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Chancellor of the Order of Ontario, announced the 2019 and 2020 award recipients.
Among the three recipients, Ahona Mehdi of Hamilton, age 18 received the Student Award. Ahona was a student trustee at the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. In August last year, as her term as trustee ended, Ahona accused some board members of making racist comments and condoning racist activity in the schools. Her comments garnered widespread media attention and prompted the board to launch an investigation. In presenting the award to Ahona the Lieutenant-Governors office wrote that Ahona, “has led and facilitated various programs that mentor and advocate for racialized and marginalized students both at the district schoolboard and provincial level.”
The Lincoln M. Alexander Award is given to up to three young people each year — students or community leaders — who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in working to eliminate racial discrimination. Each recipient receives a $5,000 award and a certificate.
“This past year has brought issues of inequality and discrimination to the forefront of the world’s attention,” said Her Honour, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. “Here in Ontario, we are not exempt from these struggles. The Lincoln M. Alexander Award, named after the first Black Lieutenant Governor in Canada, recognizes exceptional individuals who have shown leadership in working to eliminate racial discrimination. My deepest congratulations and respect go to the 2019 and 2020 recipients who have shown courage, leadership, and have set an example for all of us to follow. His Honour would have been most proud.”
The award was established by the Government of Ontario in honour of Colonel Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, the province’s 24th Lieutenant Governor. It recognizes his legacy as the first Black person elected to the House of Commons, the first Black Cabinet Minister, and the province’s first Black Lieutenant Governor.