Central Ontario Branch

The Central Ontario Branch includes the regions of Toronto, Peel and York. 

Past Branch Activities:

Sock Drive for Seaton House 2017
For the third year, OASW Central Branch has partnered with a discount wholesaler to provide socks to those who need them most. In addition, The Bargains Group generously committed to matching our donation: for every case of socks that we purchased, they donated a case of personal care products (soap, shampoo, etc.) to residents of Seaton House.

2017 Annual General Meeting

This year's thought-provoking presentation looked at the devastating issue of Human Trafficking in Ontario, specifically in York, Peel, and Toronto.
65% of all human trafficking cases reported to police across Canada originate in Ontario. It is believed to be vastly under-reported, but of reported cases in Ontario, 70% are for the purpose of sexual exploitation. We have gathered together experts from across the GTA, including social workers, police, and the Indigenous Anti-Human Trafficking Liaison for the GTA & Golden Horseshoe regions. 

The panel included:

Lindsay Upton, Program Manager, Victim Services Toronto 
Constable Joy Brown, Peel Regional Police; Chair, Peel Human Trafficking Service Providers Committee
Lindsey Lickers, Indigenous Anti-Human Trafficking Liaison, Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto
Tehsin Jaffer, Manager, Human Trafficking Program, 360Kids, York Region
"Human trafficking” is a criminal offence and involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing or harbouring a person, or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person, for purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation. Human trafficking is a complex and often hidden crime and human rights violation that results in serious and long-term trauma for survivors. Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable in our society and use different tactics to control, abuse, exploit and profit from victims.

Past Branch Events:

Sock Drive for Seaton House 2016
For the last two years OASW Central Branch has partnered with a discount wholesaler to provide socks to those who need them most. In addition, The Bargains Group generously committed to matching our donation: for every case of socks that we purchased, they donated a case of personal care products (soap, shampoo, etc.) to residents of Seaton House.

2016 Pride Parade
This year's Pride Parade was dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 

"We are shocked and saddened by this horrible act," said Aaron Glyn Williams, Co-Chair of Pride Toronto's Board of Directors. "By dedicating the pinnacle of Toronto's Pride Month celebration to our brothers and sisters in Orlando, we are telling the world that we will not be silenced or intimidated. We will not respond to hate with hate. We will mourn and hold these beautiful family members in our hearts, as we continue to fight violence and discrimination against our community." 

On Sunday, July 3 at 2PM, the Pride Parade will began with a moment of silence and a reading of the names of the 49 people killed and the 53 people injured in Orlando by a gunman at a popular gay club in the early hours of June 12. 

"Pride has always been about creating a safe place where everyone can come together and be themselves," said Mathieu Chantelois, Executive Director of Pride Toronto. "Now, we are so painfully aware of the importance of standing up to hate with love and celebrating the beauty, diversity and strength of our community." 

Canada's first-ever Pride Month launched on June 1, 2016, and will culminate in the much-anticipated annual Pride Parade on July 3. Uniting and empowering people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions, the annual Pride Toronto festival has become a major Canadian arts and cultural event and the largest Pride celebration in North America. 

The OASW Central Ontario Branch has been participating in the Parade for close to 20 years. Our involvement originally began as a tribute to a former Branch Board member who was killed in a gay-bashing incident just blocks from the OASW office. We continue to march to support, celebrate, and advocate for equality and human rights for our LGBTQ members, clients, and the community at large.

The OASW Central Ontario Branch Board of Directors and staff invite you to join us as we march, along with the Mayor of Toronto, the Premier of Ontario, and the Prime Minister of Canada, in the 2016 Pride Parade on Sunday, July 3rd. This year's theme is "You Can Sit With Us." We hope that you will also stand with us. 

Soup Sisters & Broth Brothers
On November 16, 2015, 30 members of OASW Central Ontario Branch, staff, and members of both the Branch and Provincial Board of Directors participated in an evening of soup-making through the Soup Sisters & Broth Brothers organization. Approximately 200 litres of five different types of soup were made, packaged, labeled with ingredients and our names, and delivered to Eva's Initiatives to feed local youth. The group also enjoyed a light meal after all of their work, along with a glass of wine to celebrate a job well done. 

The evening was a success, and members suggested that we make it an annual event. We have booked another session for November 2016, and information will be sent out in early October, when registration opens. Consider joining us this year!

Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers is a non-profit charitable social enterprise dedicated to providing comfort to women, children, and youth through the making, sharing, and donating of soup. It is 100% volunteer-driven, and operates in 22 cities across Canada. The concept is simple. Each participant pays a $55 registration fee to join in a soup-making event at a local professional kitchen under the guidance of a chef facilitator. This fee covers the costs of the ingredients, venue, equipment, supervision, and facilitation, as well as a light dinner. 

Sock Drive for Seaton House 
Our Sock Drive for Seaton House was a big success! Thank you so much to all who contributed to this fundraising initiative. We raised a total of $1400, which allowed us to make an initial purchase of 720 pairs of socks in December, in time for every one of the residents to receive a pair of socks as a gift at their annual Christmas party. In addition, The Bargains Group (from whom we purchased the socks) contributed assorted personal hygiene products to accompany our donation. The remaining money will be used to help replenish the sock supply in February, when the need will again be great.

We recently received a letter from Lyndon Demas at Seaton House, who said:"On behalf of Seaton House, I would like to thank you for your generous gift that has allowed us to give socks and toiletries to our clients." 

Seaton House is the largest homeless shelter in Canada. Currently we assist more than 550 men with shelter in downtown Toronto. Many residents have been referred to us and/or evicted from other housing or long-term care homes because of financial issues. The goal of Seaton House is to continue to make a difference in the lives of homeless men. With the help of donations from supporters such as you we will continue to see improvements in areas that in the past have been of great concern. 

To most Canadians, things like socks, underwear, a toothbrush, or a bar of soap are objects that we just pick up at the store when we need them. Our clients suffer the humiliation of not having enough funds to buy them as easily as the rest of us. Your donation has gone further than you can possibly imagine.

Thank you for your generous contributions.
Board Members (Collective) 
Andrea D'Souza, Treasurer
Andrew Eaton, Co-Chair & University of Toronto Student Representative
Jake Farr
Wayne MacLean, Past Chair
Andrea Siomos, Co-Chair
Irene Ma, Secretary
Cheryl McPherson

Contact Information:

Central Branch Newsletters attached below: