Community News Update - December 18, 2023

Dear Community, 

This week on December 21st, Ontarians across the province and beyond will celebrate Yule (Winter Solstice) and Dongzhi (Chinese Winter Solstice). The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. These traditions honour nature’s cycles, family bonds, and the symbolism of warmth and light during the winter season. I am sending warm wishes for a peaceful Winter Solstice and Dongzhi to all who celebrate. 

This holiday season, I am wishing everyone in our community peace and togetherness. The holidays are often a time for reflection, a time to spend time with those we love and remember those we've lost. May we do our best to show up for one another in the new year. 

On this note, this is a reminder that our office will be closed from December 21st until January 2nd for the winter holidays. Be well and we look forward to connecting with you all in the New Year.

Earlier last week, I returned to my hometown Scarborough to celebrate 11 YEARS of excellence with the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals. THANK YOU to the team at CEE Centre for the generous invite to celebrate Black excellence and to acknowledge the outstanding donors, sponsors, and volunteers who keep the momentum going!

Thank you for asking me to speak. We are truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams and with continued social, cultural, and economic investment we will only continue to thrive! 

On Friday, it was wonderful to join the Central Eglinton Community Centre (CECC) for their annual Older Adults Holiday Lunch. It’s always a JOY to reconnect with seniors in our St. Paul’s community. 

A huge thank you to ALL the incredible staff and volunteers for your HEARTwork in making this event happen. CECC provides essential space for community to gather and thrive! They deserve robust public investment so programs like the annual holiday lunch can continue to grow and serve our community. A huge THANK YOU to CECC for having me! 

Also on Friday, I attended the Saint Vincent de Paul Society at the Holy Rosary Parish for their Christmas gathering. Thank you to ALL the volunteers for the work you do for the most vulnerable in our community. It was also a pleasure to meet Wany, a fabulous volunteer AND brand new member of our Toronto community! Welcome Wany!

Over the weekend, I attended the Winter Solstice ceremony at St. Matthew's United Church. Unfortunately, due to the rain and cold the ceremony wasn't able to take place in the Noojimo'iwewin Gitigaan Garden and we moved indoors. Thank you Elder Pedhubun Migize Kwe and Elder Catherine Brooks for leading the beautiful ceremony. 

Also while at St. Matthew's, I visited the annual Christmas Fair and perused a lovely selection of seasonal baked goods, chocolate, and handmade gift items. Shout out to the Togogos Grannies who co-organized. This group was formed by members of the Bloor Street United Church in 2006 with the goal of supporting grandmothers and grandOTHERS in Africa who are raising their grandchildren after losing their own children to AIDS. You can learn more about their HEARTwork here. 

Thank you, Mom, for joining me. It’s always a treat to have you as my plus one! ♥

Applications for Black Women in Motion's Black Youth Employment Assistance Program (BYEAP) are now OPEN!

BYEAP is a 13-week, virtual employment and entrepreneurial-focused program for Black survivors of gender-based violence. BYEAP provides employment-focused training opportunities and mental health resources to support survivors in developing their employability skills, business ideas, and wellness strategies for job retention.

For general inquiries, please email us at [email protected] 

Registration for the Winter/Spring 2024 cohort closes on Thursday, January 18th, 2024, at 11:59 P.M.

Interested applicants are asked to email their resumes to [email protected] with BYEAP-2024 in the subject line.

Calling all poets of St. Paul's and beyond! The Legislative Assembly of Ontario is seeking nominees for the next Poet Laureate of Ontario. The role was created in 2019 in honour of the late Gord Downie.

The application is open until January 15, 2024. Click here for more information.

In Ontario, 1,400 people on average are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant while thousands more are in need of a life-changing tissue donation. They are our friends, neighbours, colleagues, and, in some cases, members of our own families.

When you register as a possible organ and tissue donor, you have the potential to change the story for someone in need.
One donor can help over 80 people get back to life.
Register your consent to become an organ and tissue donor after your death and tell your family so they can help honour your wishes.
Did You Know?

  • Any Ontario resident who is 16 years or older and has an Ontario health card is eligible to register as an organ and tissue donor
  • Everyone has the potential to be an organ and/or tissue donor, regardless of age or health.
  • People from every major religion have donated. Many religions support donation or respect and individual’s choice.
  • The first and foremost concern for health care professionals is to save lives. Only when a life cannot be saved does organ and tissue donation become an option.
  • It takes two minutes to register or check your status at You can also register in person at any ServiceOntario location.

More information about the donation process, who can register, and the importance of speaking to family can be found online at

This is a reminder to get up-to-date on your COVID-19 boosters. The XBB 1.5 updated boosters are NOW available. I got mine and I encourage you to join me! 

Consult this page for information about where you can get vaccinated.

Each year across Ontario, thousands of lives are lost to overdoses. We need every level of government to prioritize implementing harm reduction strategies to combat these senseless deaths, and you can help.

As many of you know, Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, and these kits are FREE with training at participating pharmacies across the city. Together, we can prevent unnecessary deaths and work toward a more compassionate society that is safe safe for everyone.

Find a pharmacy with Naloxone kits near you, and make sure you can recognize the signs of an overdose.

In solidarity, 

Dr. Jill Andrew

MPP Toronto-St. Paul's

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