Meet OCASI 40th Anniversary Award Recipients


Meet OCASI 40th Anniversary Award Recipients

OCASI celebrated people and organizations in Ontario who make a difference in the immigrant and refugee serving sector at a Gala held on November 6, 2018.


The OCASI Lifetime Achievement award is a rare honour conferred by the OCASI Board of Directors in recognition of extraordinary leadership and contributions by an individual in the struggle for social justice for refugees, immigrants and migrants in Ontario. In OCASI’s 40-year history this will be the third time the lifetime achievement award is presented.


Avvy Go is the Clinic Director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. As a lawyer, she has worked exclusively in the legal clinic system, serving the legal needs of low income individuals and families, the majority of who are non-English speaking immigrants and refugees. Avvy has launched many legal challenges to advance the rights of racialized immigrants and refugees and has appeared before all levels of Courts including the Supreme Court of Canada on these cases. She has also deputed before a number of UN human rights bodies, Senate Committees and Parliamentary Committees seeking to strengthen human rights protections for various marginalized groups in Canada. Avvy has published articles in law journals and op-eds in various mainstream newspapers dealing with legal and policy issues affecting immigrants, racialized and other disadvantaged groups. Apart from her legal practice, Avvy spends much time doing community organizing and advocacy work. In 2007, she co-founded the Colour of Poverty Campaign, a campaign to address the increasing racialization of poverty in Ontario. She continues to serve as a steering committee member of Colour of Poverty - Colour of Change. For her advocacy work, Avvy has received a number of awards including Order of Ontario.


The OCASI Legacy Award is newly created by the OCASI Board of Directors to recognize the extraordinary contributions by an individual to OCASI the Council, as well as the collective of its member agencies and Ontario’s immigrant and refugee-serving sector. It will be granted for the first time this year to recognize and honour the recipient’s leadership and guidance of OCASI through its formative years, and his extraordinary contributions to the membership over the years.


Yew Lee was an Executive Member and President during the formative years of OCASI between 1980 – 1990. OCASI outreached to agencies across Ontario and hired its first Executive Director. OCASI successfully lobbied for stable funding from federal and provincial governments. OCASI grew from 18 to 130-member agencies. Yew continues to support the settlement sector as a consultant and a volunteer. He supported OCASI to introduce provincial-wide computerization and an immigrant youth leadership program that nurtured confidence and civic engagement. He provided training to agencies in the Ontario Host Program. He also supported initiatives in Ottawa towards building a welcoming and inclusive community. Yew has also worked extensively with Inuit communities at the local and national levels. He was a consultant and interim Executive Director to the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada during constitutional talks with the federal government, provincial premiers and national Aboriginal organizations. Yew participated with the Chinese Canadian National Council in the redress movement on the Chinese Head Tax and exclusion acts. He is featured in the NFB documentary, In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, alongside his activist mother, Chow Nooey Quen. They contributed to a national campaign that resulted in an apology and symbolic redress from the Government of Canada in 2006.


Designed to recognize an individual’s dedication, commitment and outstanding leadership in the immigrant and refugee serving sector.


Cathy Woodbeck is the Executive Director of the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association and an alumnus of Lakehead University (MA 1993). She has worn many hats such as: municipal councilor, editor, curriculum developer and language assessor. Cathy has spent 25 years in the immigrant serving sector representing northern, rural, remote and small centres on working groups provincially and federally and has been a mentor for E.D.’s in the north and agencies across Canada. She is an advisory member to the Chief of Thunder Bay Police and was responsible for the “Developing Diversity in Policing” project. Cathy is a recipient of the Influential Women of Northern Ontario award and a proud northerner. She is a positive spaces champion, a mentor and trainer and an advocate for refugees, especially women and victims of violence. Cathy takes a grassroots approach to building diversity within the community and asks the questions “where do we need to go and how do we get there?”


Acknowledges women who have dedicated their time and efforts to advocate and promote the rights of refugee women in Ontario.


Ritika Goel is a family physician and activist in Toronto. She works with migrants with precarious immigration status, and people experiencing homelessness and poverty, at Queen West Community Health Centre and the Inner City Health Associates. Ritika has been involved with various social justice issues such as working for access to healthcare for uninsured migrants, defending our public healthcare system, and upstream policy change on the social determinants of health. She is Chair of the Social Accountability Working Group at the College of Family Physicians of Canada, a Board Member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and a founding member of the OHIP for All campaign. If you’re interested in learning more about the intersections of social justice, politics and health, you can follow her on Twitter @RitikaGoelTO.


This award is designed to recognize the efforts and work made by an OCASI Member Agency. This award recognizes an organization for its work in advancing the immigrant and refugee serving sector agenda through cross-sectoral collaborations and innovative practices and who have taken an active role and gone above and beyond normal practices to improve the lives.


In 1990, North York Community House (‘NYCH’) came into existence as a result of a sizable donation from an anonymous benefactor. Over the course of 25 years, this single act of generosity grew into an organization dedicated to assisting newcomers to Toronto in settling and integrating into their community, and to building strong neighbourhoods.

North York Community House (NYCH) is committed to building strong, vibrant communities – serving over 20,000 residents in northwest Toronto every year. They help transform lives by working with people, understanding their needs, and supporting them in achieving their goals. For over 27 years, the agency has been opening doors for new Canadians; supporting youth, parents and seniors in becoming active, engaged citizens; and creating opportunities for residents to improve their lives and lead positive change in their neighbourhoods.