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2017 Mayor's Community Safety Awards

Two individuals and four community projects were recognized this evening during the 7th Annual Mayor’s Community Safety Awards ceremony for their work to make Thunder Bay a safer community.

“I wish to offer my sincerest congratulations and thanks to each of this year’s recipients,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “They are setting an example through their outstanding efforts to make our community safer and more welcoming for everyone. Since these Awards began in 2011, 39 deserving individuals and projects have been recognized for their hard work and dedication to making Thunder Bay a better and safer place for everyone.”

Sponsors of this year’s event include Mac’s Convenience Stores, Union Gas, Thunder Bay Police Services Board, Matawa First Nations Management, Generator and Apex Investigation & Security.

Winners and sponsors




Ken Miller - small

Sponsor: Apex Investigation & Security


Ken Miller has spent the last seven years dedicated to community service. He makes a difference every day as an Outreach and Engagement worker with Elevate NWO, an organization that is a leading resource in Northwestern Ontario for confidential HIV/AIDS/ Hepatitis C education, prevention, advocacy and support. He promotes harm reduction and testing within the community, and provides essential needs to people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, under-housed and/or awaiting appropriate services.

After three years on the board of Thunder Pride, Ken has recently become Chair, and is also active on the national scene as Canada Pride Region Director. He volunteers his time to run workshops to educate businesses and organizations on how to be open and inclusive to the LGBTQ2S+ community and on the importance of proper pronoun use. Organizing events that provide safe spaces is important to him, since he feels there aren't enough spaces dedicated to LGBTQ2S+ people where they can be themselves and socialize. 

He is also known by many people who frequent local shelters because of the time he spends there and the joy he brings. His career in community service began with volunteering at Shelter House.



YOUNG LEADER AWARD: ardelle sagutchewayArdelle Sagutcheway-small

Sponsor: Generator

Ardelle Sagutcheway is a strong and thoughtful individual who is a dedicated advocate in Thunder Bay for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. 
Originally from Eabametoong First Nation, she moved to Thunder Bay to attend high school.  She was a member of the Youth Advisory Committee with the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and was involved in the Seven Youth Inquest. She wrote an article about her experiences on the inquest which was presented to future health care providers at Lakehead University to inform them of the risks that Indigenous youth face and the importance of recognizing the systemic factors that lead to their lack of safety.

She is also a writer and poet who excelled academically, and in 2013 was recognized with an Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award for academic achievement while attending Lakehead University.

She is one of the creators of the film Chi Pi Kaaki Too Yang (Coming Together to Talk), which gave Indigenous youth a platform to tell their stories so that others can better understand the perspectives and resilience of Indigenous youth. The film explores issues and realities facing Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay and how they would like to see things change.



Sponsor: Matawa First Nations Management

BaySafe is a non-profit, harm reduction service in Thunder Bay. It was founded by Marcus Agombar and Ashley Brimmell in 2016. Their priorities include education, safety, confidentiality, empowerment and community.

Baysafe promotes the safety and well-being of young adults in Thunder Bay by providing accurate information about the risks associated with partying. This includes substance use, sexual activity and noise level. They also provide drug testing kits so that people are better informed about what they are taking. BaySafe neither condones nor condemns substance use, but believes that accurate information is important for those who choose to use substances. By engaging young adults in an open dialogue about partying, they are promoting informed decision making and harm reduction.

The founding members have connected with multiple service providers, local festivals and local licensed establishments to explore ways to provide their services.

BaySafe has made many inroads in the Thunder Bay social service sector, as well as with schools, local businesses and the local festival scene. They have developed strong working relationships and partnerships with organizations such as the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy (where they now sit as members) with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Elevate NWO, PACE and many more. They have also engaged with several of the local bars to partner on offering their service during events to further increase reach and promote informed decisions and harm reduction services. By collaborating with multiple sectors, BaySafe is building a stronger and safer community for all citizens. 



Youth Outreach Workers
OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY PROJECT AWARD: youth outreach worker program

Sponsor: Mac's Convenience Stores

For ten years, the Youth Outreach Worker (YOW) Program has been making a difference with the youth of Thunder Bay. The Youth Outreach Workers are a dedicated group who meet the needs of youth aged 12-21 by providing support, guidance, advocacy and their time. 

The Program is offered by Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and offers a variety of prevention, engagement and community safety awareness activities throughout the City. Through community focused initiatives and partnership development, the YOW Program reaches youth and their families in identified, high-priority neighbourhoods.
The Youth Outreach Workers, who refer to themselves as ‘YOWs’, go to wherever youth at risk are located and speak to them to see if they require assistance. Sometimes it’s as simple as needing a bus pass, or to be put in touch with another service agency. 

Since they are out in the community and are always willing to talk and lend a hand, they become a trusted resource for youth. Since their approach is completely client-centred, they can offer individual solutions to meet the needs of each person they work with.

They also provide education and awareness activities on topics including community safety practices, substance addiction and recovery, bullying prevention, gang prevention, food security and housing procurement. They work closely with other community stakeholders to broaden the reach and services they provide. 

They motivate youth who find themselves at risk, support them in their capacity to make healthy life choices, promote the development of skills and encourage civic participation to ensure that every youth in Thunder Bay has the same opportunity to reach their full potential and enjoy a bright future.


Bear Clan patrol


Sponsor: Union Gas

Since December 2016, people in orange vests have been patrolling the watercourses, rivers, streets and trails of Thunder Bay in an effort to help those in need and at risk of harm. They are members of the Bear Clan Patrol, an organization of dedicated volunteers who promote safety, security and well-being.
Members of the Bear Clan Patrol make a difference to community safety in Thunder Bay by talking with homeless and vulnerable people, and making sure they are safe. Care packages, clothing, blankets and other items are given to those who need them.

Respect is a prominent theme of the Bear Clan Patrol. They promote confidentiality and ask volunteers to “reach out with polite greetings.” The group also requests that participants respect those who find themselves at risk, and they try to make every reasonable effort to manage situations without involving the police. Their mandate also includes helping to search for missing persons.

Volunteers are trained to call police when they encounter suspicious or criminal activity. Carrying flashlights, donning gloves and reflective vests, volunteers patrol between 9 pm and 2 am on a regular basis.

The grassroots, Indigenous-led initiative is organized as the Bear Clan because this Clan, historically, has had the responsibility for peacekeeping.




Sponsor: Thunder Bay Police Services Board

Grace Place, a registered charity and non-denominational church on Simpson Street, has served over 45,000 meals to the City’s vulnerable population. It is completely dependent on volunteers and donations.

Grace Place was founded by Gary and Melody Macsemchuk and they credit the hard work of their 110 volunteers for its success.  Compassion and empathy are evident to those who walk through their doors. Grace Place offers free clothing, a compassion cupboard, a monthly food hamper, free haircuts, medical assistance, free homemade meals and a sense of community. 

Grace Place alleviates some of the financial burdens of those who visit them. No one leaves hungry (with seconds and take-outs offered) or not properly clothed. Each year Grace Place hosts ‘The Coldest Night of the Year’ walk that raises money for the homeless and at risk populations. Last year the walk raised over $67,000.

Unity in the Community is the motto of Grace Place and they realize the importance of strength in numbers. Grace Place has teamed up with numerous agencies in Thunder Bay and strives for the betterment of those less fortunate. These agencies come to Grace Place to connect with people who need their assistance. It is a safe and welcoming space for all.

Over the past ten years, they have served over 300,000 meals.