Community activist, Susan Gapka, receives honorary “Key to the City”
Mayor John Tory will be presenting the Key to the City to seven distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions to the City of Toronto, including LGBT activist Susan Gapka.
Gapka is well-known as a tireless and effective campaigner for social justice. The Mayor is presenting her with a Key to the City for her long and proud record of addressing issues related to affordable housing, education, mental health, and community safety in the LGBTQ2S community. Susan has actively contributed to organizations such as Central Neighbourhood House, the 51 Division Community Liaison Police Committee, the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Save Our Structures and the Toronto Trans Coalition Project.
Gapka commented via Facebook, “Thank you Mayor John Tory for selecting me to receive a key to the City of Toronto. I am humbled to accept this honour. 21 years ago, when I was homeless I didn’t have a key to my own apartment. I worked hard to get one and have kept it since then. Now, with this key I can open doors for others at the City of Toronto.”
The other outstanding individuals include:
• Zanana Akande, politician and community leader
• Wilmot (Wil) and Judy Matthews, philanthropists
• Pat Moore, community advocate
• Peter Oundjian, musician/conductor
• Fran Sonshine, philanthropist.
All recipients will officially receive their Keys to the City at individual presentations that will be announced as they are confirmed over the coming months.
Tory stated, “This group of outstanding individuals is made up of leaders, community builders, trailblazers and role models. They have enriched our city in untold ways and we are forever grateful for their work and commitment toward making Toronto a better place.”
Here’s a brief synopsis of all the good work these other recipients have done for our city. Congratulations to everyone!
After serving for many years as an educator, Zanana Akande was the first Black woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the first appointed as a Cabinet Minister. She has served many organizations over the years including the YWCA, Centennial College, Harbourfront Centre and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. The Mayor is presenting Zanana with a Key to the City for dedicating her life’s work toaddressing equity issues in the community and improving the social, economic, cultural and political status of women in Toronto.
Wilmot and Judy Matthews
Judy and Wilmot (Wil) Matthews are civic leaders and philanthropists who give to a wide variety of Toronto-based organizations that support educational programs, medical care and advancement, cultural organizations and city-building initiatives. Passionate Torontonians, they are deeply committed to enriching the city and its residents. The Mayor is presenting the Matthews with a Key to the City to honour their philanthropic work including their $25 million donation to The Bentway, a unique and innovative public space that transforms 1.75 km underneath Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway into a new gathering place for our city’s growing population.
Pat Moore has lived in Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park for more than 40 years. The Mayor is presenting Pat with a Key to the City for working tirelessly to ensure that those without a voice in our city, have one. Pat is known as an advocate for the underdog on issues related to housing as well as youth and women’s rights. Over the years, her work has contributed to the creation of tenants’ associations, which help to protect the rights of tenants, as well as more available co-op housing within the community. She has raised awareness of the need to stop violence against women and has created community programs to support the growing youth population in her neighbourhood.
Peter Oundjian began studying the violin at age seven, before shifting his focus to conducting. After serving as Artistic Director of several international festivals and orchestras, he was named Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in January 2003 and became the first Canadian to hold the position since 1973. The Mayor is presenting Peter with a Key to the City for invigorating the TSO with recordings, tours, and innovative programming during his tenure. He has also found ways to grow the audience and improve appeal of the TSO which has strengthened the ensemble’s presence and popularity around the world. As Conductor Emeritus, his final season culminates in June 2018 as part of a month-long musical celebration of his career.
The Mayor is presenting Fran Sonshine with a Key to the City for being a philanthropic and volunteer leader in Toronto. She is the National Chair of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, which seeks to promote awareness of the Holocaust and its universal lessons through educational and commemorative programming, and has played a key role in fundraising for the building of Canada’s Holocaust Monument in Ottawa. Fran has led several boards in Toronto including the Baycrest Board of Directors as well as the North York General Hospital Advisory Board, the ROM Board of Governors and the Toronto United Jewish Appeal’s Annual Campaign. Fran has been honoured with numerous awards for her contributions to many organizations and campaigns.
Since amalgamation, 59 Keys to the City have been presented by Mayors of Toronto. The Mayor awards the key to inspiring individuals from diverse backgrounds who embody the spirit and potential of Toronto and have contributed significantly to civic life. The Key to the Cityrepresents the highest honour that the City can confer on an individual or a group.
Additional information on the Key to the City of Toronto is available here.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.