Oshawa names its Community Legend and its Culture Counts winners


Published June 22, 2021 at 3:23 pm


Julian Ford, already a champion of veteran causes at just 15 years of age, is this year’s Oshawa Community Legends Award.

Since the age of eight he has been visiting veterans and handing out roses to thank them for their sacrifice and service. At thirteen he began constructing crosses and displaying them in his front yard eventually selling them to raise funds.

Ford has raised over $10,000 through his charity ‘A Rose to Remember’ for veterans.

He is a Canadian ambassador for the Free Riders Without Borders and has donated to Reno’s for Heroes to supply house repairs for veterans. Hiss crosses have also been displayed at Oshawa City Hall as well as Toronto.

Oshawa also named its Oshawa Culture Counts Awards winners. This year’s recipients include a professional artist, an emerging artist and an innovation and creating champion.

Professional Artist: Marissa Sweet

Marissa Sweet is an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists and Ontario Society of Artists who integrates the principles of Feng Shui into her artwork. Her practice in this ancient form of metaphysics has inspired her to create landscapes that bring awareness to our interconnectivity to nature.

Primarily self-taught, her art describes our relationship with the natural world where she is “renewed and inspired.” Her paintings evoke an escape from our busy lives and bring up memories of a happy simpler time. She finds inspiration in the creeks and marshlands, rural pastures and farmlands here in Durham She enjoys plein air painting in oil and has a long list of exhibitions and workshops.

With a BA Economics degree and years in various corporate roles, Sweet currently facilitates art workshops in Durham Region and at her home studio. In 2019 she was one of the 18 selected artists to participate in the inaugural Landscape Artist of the Year Canada TV show on CBC and Makeful TV. She is a member of the Oshawa Art Association and the Federation of Canadian Artists.

Emerging Artist: Leequette Santiago

Leequette Santiago said she has always had a “passion” for creativity and innovation. “In every setting I’ve been in I try to help others think outside the box and find new resolutions to ongoing issues. Having found my talent, I strive to motivate and inspire whoever I come in contact with.”

Santiago has been using her skills recently as a student at Durham College and Lakeridge Health Centre. She also teaches fine art classes at Michael’s.

“Teaching has helped me hone my leadership and critical thinking skills. Being a student has helped me view multiple perspectives and gain critical thinking skills that are useful in medical and general administration.”

One of her artworks was chosen for the Lakeview Park 100th Anniversary Banner Program.

Innovation and Creation Champion: Bawaajigewin

The Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle (BACC) is an Aboriginal-led non-profit agency in Durham Region. Bawaajigewin is an Ojibway word that means the action of taking something that is a dream and making it into something you can see in real life.

BACC was developed through numerous community partnerships and consultations in Durham, particularly through the assistance of the Carea Community Health Centre and the Durham Region Aboriginal Advisory Circle.

Their mandate is to build a strong sense of community, awareness and cultural pride by empowering Aboriginal voices, supporting family and community development, and celebrating the diversity of their knowledge, perspectives and teachings.

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