Community organizer Syrus Marcus Ware is the winner of this year’s Steinert & Ferreiro Award, one of the largest cash prizes presented to a Canadian individual in the queer community.
The Community One Foundation will present Ware with the award and $10,000 at a fundraising event on Oct 11.
“I feel really honoured,” Ware says. “It’s a moment to look back on what one has done.”
Liz Hurly, co-chair of the Community One Foundation, says there were a lot of strong candidates this year. “It was a hard decision to make.”
The cash prize is a nice extra, but Ware believes the most important aspect of the award is the appreciation of his work. “I haven’t even got my head around that.”
Ware says most of the money will be invested in his young daughter’s future. He also plans to put some of it toward community projects that need funding.
Community organizing is near and dear to Ware’s heart.
He is one of the founders of the Trans Fathers 2 B program, a pioneering course for trans men contemplating parenting. The Community One Foundation funded the program, which is run out of the 519 Church Street Community Centre, when it began in 2005.
“They do amazing work,” says Ware, who encourages people to support Community One.
Ware also helped develop Primed, one of the world’s first sexual health resources for gay trans men. Additionally, he is one the organizers of Blockorama, the black cultural space at Toronto Pride.
“The words ‘totally amazing’ come to mind when I think of what he’s done,” Hurly says.
A visual artist, Ware has been showing his work since the early 2000s. He regularly incorporates elements of his life as a black and queer individual into his pieces.
“A lot of my work explores the experience of people at the margins,” Ware says.
As the coordinator of youth programs for the Art Gallery of Ontario, Ware has mentored youth daily since 2004. He also works with trans-identified youth as part of Supporting Our Youth’s (SOY) TransFusion Crew.
“Syrus embodies all that the award is about,” says Doug Kerr, a volunteer with the Steinert & Ferreiro Award committee.
The award was established in 2005 in the names of partners Jonathan Steinert and Fernando Ferreiro.
“This was their way of giving back to Toronto,” Kerr says. “They really wanted the award to go to people who were promoting acceptance of the LGBT community.”
Ferreiro immigrated to Toronto from Chile in 1973. He met Steinert while on vacation in San Francisco in 1985. Steinert soon moved to Toronto and helped Ferreiro run his medical practice.
In 1990, Steinert was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and died shortly after. Ferreiro died from AIDS-related complications in 1992. The men had their estate create a permanent award to recognize leadership in Canada’s queer community.
“We hope this award will inspire others to leave their estates with us and other LGBT groups,” Hurly says.
On the evening of the award’s ceremony, the Community One Foundation will host Prohibition and Provocation, a 1920s theme party, at the Steam Whistle Brewery.
Event organizers expect approximately 200 people to attend and hope to raise at least $15,000.
All proceeds will go to the Community One Foundation, which aims to provide financial support for projects, programs and individuals in the Greater Toronto Area’s queer community.
Prohibition and Provocation
Thurs, Oct 11, 7pm
Steam Whistle Brewery
255 Bremner Blvd