Two Niagara College grads win College Ontario 2022 Premier Awards

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Published November 29, 2022 at 2:56 pm

Niagara College President Sean Kennedy (middle) stands with alumni Murray Brewster (left) and Erica Williams (right) at Colleges Ontario’s 2022 Premier’s Awards presentation on November 28 in Toronto. (Photo: Niagara College)

Two former Niagara College graduates were selected as College Ontario 2022 Premier Award winners and they couldn’t be farther apart.

For starters, one was barely born when the other graduated the school in 1985.

With seven former alumni nominated, it seemed certain that Niagara College would likely get an award winner last night at the ceremony in the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. Since 1995, the college has had six winners.

However, two winners is an exceptional showing. One winner, Welland native Murray Brewster, is a long-time award-winning journalist who graduated the Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film program in 1985 and has worked for both Canadian Press and CBC News since that time.

The other, Erica Williams, is a local hero in both her native St. Catharines and through the Niagara Region. After graduating in 2018 from the Social Service Worker program, she has been on the forefront of relevant and much-needed social change since that time.

Through her organization, Erica’s Embrace Support Services, Williams and her team gather and distribute Black hair care and beauty products to women’s shelters across Southwestern Ontario. It is the only known service of this kind in the area.

Naturally, the college was overwhelmed by having two winners in one year.

“We are very excited that two of our amazing NC alumni have won Premier’s Awards this year, for the first time in our College history,” said Niagara College President Sean Kennedy. “

“We are immensely proud of Murray and Erica who are both exemplary members of our alumni community of more than 100,000 graduates who are making a difference throughout Niagara, across Ontario and around the world.”

Brewster, who is a Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Policy Reporter for CBC News, won in the Creative Arts and Design category where he has built a world-class career which has helped Canadians, as well as victims of conflict around the world.

He has been been recognized with over a dozen prestigious national awards, including 14 national Radio and Television News Director Awards; two Atlantic Journalism Awards; the Ross Munro Award for defence writing; the prestigious Michener Award Certificate of Merit for public service in journalism; and a finalist citation in the prominent National Newspaper Awards.

Williams, who won the award in the Recent Graduate category, is best-known as a dedicated social service worker and savvy non-profit entrepreneur, who has created necessary and otherwise overlooked support services for racialized individuals since graduating with her diploma only four years ago.

“Sometimes change starts with an idea and, sometimes, change starts with you,” said Williams afterwards. “I thank Niagara College for giving me the knowledge and confidence I needed to pursue my dreams.”

Williams recently made local news when she resigned from the St. Catharines Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, believing city councillors were paying little more than lip service to her group’s recommendations.

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