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Community Builders: An Unsuspecting Recipient

By United Way East Ontario on February 17, 2022

Under the theme “February and Forever,” United Way East Ontario is excited to celebrate past and present achievements of Black people in our communities this Black History Month.

United Way continues to support and showcase Black people within our communities through events, awards, partnerships, and so much more. We understand that we have a role to play in combating systemic racism and shining a light on the amazing work being done by members of our racialized and marginalized communities.

With the help of Black History Ottawa host Sarah Onyango, who happens to be a 2008 Community Builder Award recipient, we surprised an unsuspecting attendee of Black History Ottawa’s launch event for Black History Month. This person works tirelessly to make our communities safer, healthier, and more resilient. Community Builders are community leaders and fearless advocates who have stepped up and demonstrated a local love that has not gone unnoticed.

We thank everyone who takes the time to nominate everyday heroes and we thank you, community builders, for your exceptional contributions.


Jean-Marie Guerrier. Photo provided.

Jean-Marie Guerrier is described as a passionate person who is 110 per cent committed to everything he does. No matter the task, his humour, patience, and creativity shine through.

Currently, Jean-Marie works at Flo’s Seniors Health and Care Programs Network and is the treasurer for their board. He has amassed more than 16 years of volunteering experience after engaging in community work in Montréal, back in 1989.

Jean-Marie started working on community projects while employed at CHAIS (Centre haïtien d’animation et d’intervention sociales). CHAIS is an organization that works to actively promote and improve social services for people and families within Montréal communities. It provides literary services and social and academic training for kids aged six to 12, parental education, community integration and adaptation for refugees and newcomers, and so much more.

Jean-Marie then proceeded to form a group injunction with CHAIS, where they secured sponsorships from Hydro Quebec and RBC, executed fundraising events, and designed and created costumes for Montreal’s version of Caribana. His dedication and drive knew no limits. Jean-Marie would spend endless nights making costumes and ensuring everything was done to the best of his abilities.

After his time with CHAIS, Jean-Marie moved to Ottawa in 1998–99 and became a member of Black History Ottawa (BHO). BHO is a volunteer-driven and community-based charitable organization that collaboratively works to increase awareness about the culture, contributions, and history of Canadians of African descent within local community groups and institutions.

Jean-Marie stepped up to provide stability and a direction to keep the organization afloat at times when BHO was struggling. In the process, he inspired people to keep the BHO going until a new team joined and relaunched the organization. If it weren’t for his dedication, BHO would not have made it as far as it has.

Over the years, Jean-Marie has continued to put his utmost commitment and energy into Black History Ottawa, from volunteer management, stage décor and handing out flyers to bookkeeping and seeking new funding opportunities. Jean-Marie’s positive and approachable demeanour has helped BHO reach people from across the city and secure partnerships with organizations such as the Ottawa Senators Foundation and The National Hockey League.

His passion for Black History Ottawa hasn’t gone unrecognized.

While we don’t yet know when we will be able to gather again at the Walls of Inspiration across our region, we look forward to adding the names of community builders to these walls in the future.

Know someone doing great work in their community? Nominate a Community Builder today!