TD Arts Diversity Award

Celebrating vital contributions artists and organizations make in our culturally diverse communities.

The Neighbourhood Arts Network TD Arts Diversity Award is a $10,000 cash award celebrating an individual artist that makes a significant contribution in Toronto, by working collaboratively with culturally diverse communities and creating access to arts and culture.

Contact: For questions, please contact Angie Aranda, Neighbourhood Arts Network Manager, by email at or by phone at 416-392-6802 x218

Learn more about our 2017 TD Arts Diversity Award finalists by reading below, or online at

2017 TD Arts Diversity Award Finalists

  • Mahlikah Awe:ri, 2017 finalist 

    Mahlikah Awe:ri considers herself a community arts warrior whose artistry enables her to better understand how her cultural traditions and contemporary urbanized art forms blend, merge into creations, collaborations, and which impact both community and the individual on an awakened journey. It is a journey grounded in the re-emergence and rematriation of indigenous futurism, truth and reconciliation and social justice across all levels of cultural divide. At the heART of her practice are four indigenous ways of knowing: 1. If we know we must do and if we do we must know; 2. Our decisions must consider always 7 generations in the past and 7 generations into the future; 3. Our relations to one another are in direct correlation with our relations to the land and water; 4. We are born as story; live as story and when we become an ancestor our people will tell our stories…therefore we never die. These ways of knowing guide her multidisciplinary re-imagining of art for social change, art for healing, art for learning, art for transcending. She believes strongly in inter-generational resiliency; the artist plays a central role in this. The role of a creative is to be a creator for not just the now but what is yet to be.

  • Sheena D. Robertson, 2017 finalist 

    Sheena D. Robertson is a director, producer, photographer and passionate artist-educator whose professional roots lie in the multi-disciplinary world. She directed the one-man show Lizardboy, which toured nationally and received the acclaimed Audience Choice Award at the Summerworks Festival in Toronto. She completed a short experimental film exploring the poem Time Folds by Margaret Atwood and her collaborative digital storytelling project Stories from the Inner City, has received international distribution and much acclaim. Her current focus is on The Regent Park Project - a free collaborative film-making initiative telling the stories of Regent Park. This community engaged process sees professional artists working collaboratively with youth, to tell their stories with integrity and connection. An expert in the field of drama, media, literacy, and social justice consulting, she has done extensive work for 20 years with youth in diverse settings locally, nationally and internationally. Sheena pioneered the Artist-Education Certification Program for the Royal Conservatory - acting as the founding Course Director. She has trained hundreds of teachers and teacher-candidates in drama education. She is passionate about using the arts as powerful tools to create community, engage participants, and establish equitable environments that encourage critical thinking, debate, and creative freedom.

  • Syrus Marcus Ware, 2017 finalist 

    Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, performance artist, curator, community activist, educator, researcher, youth-advocate and PhD candidate (Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University). He identifies as a person of colour, trans, queer and disabled -- all of which inform his artistic and activist work. Syrus's award-winning visual art and performance art have been exhibited and seen around Toronto and across Canada. He curates and co-curates projects including a diverse range of cultural productions for diverse communities. Additionally, Syrus has presented and published on topics including contemporary art, museum practice and socio-political issues. Syrus is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter- Toronto, often making public appearances and serving as spokesperson for the grassroots organization, dedicated to fighting for equality for citizens of the African diaspora. In this role, he also advocates for the LGBTQ and queer community, people with disabilities, First Nations - all of whom are subject to systemic oppression by existing political and social hierarchies.

2016 TD Arts Diversity Award Reception