Hamilton has fastest-growing human rights-focused charity in Canada


Published February 9, 2023 at 9:43 pm

The influential Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion has earned national recognition as the fastest-growing charity in Canada that is focused on human rights — and among the 20 fasting-growing overall.

The Veritas Foundation, which strives to show which charities in Canada are attracting donors, honoured HCCI and counterparts at a ceremony in Toronto on Thursday, with outgoing executive director Kojo Damptey collecting the award. Per Veritas, which pores through charities’ revenue from individual donors, based on tax receipts from the previous five years, HCCI had a 17,332-per-cent increase in support, ranking No. 17 nationally. It went from $2,300 in individual donors in 2016 to over $366,000 in 2021. It was also both the sole Hamilton-headquartered charity and the only one in the human rights category in Veritas’s top 50.

The honour was also presented near the end of the first full week of Black History Month.

“This is a testament to our board of directors, all that folks that continue to work with HCCI, and support us,” Damptey said in a Twitter video on Thursday. “Monthly donors, folks that work with us… this is great because this is my last month as ED. Big shout-out to Sarah Jama, who has worked hard to get us to this point.”

Jama, who is the Ontario New Democratic Party candidate for the as-yet-unscheduled Hamilton Centre byelection, was previously HCCI’s senior program coordinator.

The non-profit HCCI, which is located on King St. E., offers programs in EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) training, civic leadership, and mentorship for Black youth. It is also attempting to develop a user-friendly community based online hate reporting platform to tackle hate on an individual and societal level.


When COVID-19 vaccination uptake among Black and racialized Hamiltonians lagged behind the general population in 2021, HCCI teamed up with Hamilton Public Health and community health groups to set up COVID-19 walk-in clinics and collect of socio-demographic data. That initiative closed the gap over a period of a few months.

Another effort by HCCI under Damptey involved holding the first anti-racism conference in Hamilton,. It had more than 20,000 views after being held virtually due to COVID-19 health protections.

That symposium came after Damptey and HCCI received hateful threats after he spoke during news coverage of a right-wing fringe political party’s event in Hamilton during the 2019 federal election campaign.

Improving inclusion and health outcomes for equity-seeking groups has drawn significant attention in recent years in Hamilton, hich is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas. Around 1 in 4 residents of Hamilton are racialized. Around 5 per cent of Hamilton residents identify as Black, and 3.3% identify as Indigenous.

Damptey, a climate justice activist and accomplished Afro-soul musician, who has also taught at McMaster University, has his last day as executive director at HCCI on Feb. 28. The centre said last fall that it will take a few months to find his successor.

The Ontario government, meantime, has until Feb. 17 to announce the date for the Hamilton Centre byelection. All four major parties have named candidates for the race to fill the seat that Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath vacated last summer when she switched to municipal politics. Along with the NDP’s Jama, the candidates are, in alphabetical order, Lucia Iannantuono, Green Party of Ontario; Deirdre Pike, Ontario Liberal Party; and, Peter Wiesner, Ontario PC Party.

(Images: Google Street View, YouTube.)

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