As a star athlete, educator, writer and community leader, Bruce Kidd’s name has appeared on sporting medals, books, articles, national committees and community initiatives.
Now, it also adorns a star on the Scarborough Walk of Fame.
Kidd, who retired as principal of U of T Scarborough earlier this year, is one of seven leaders to receive a star from the Scarborough Walk of Fame Association, a non-profit organization that honours leaders in Scarborough. The stars are installed at the Scarborough Town Centre.
“I see this award as a tribute to U of T Scarborough and its importance in the Eastern GTA,” he says. “It’s a terrific institution and it makes such an important contribution, but not everyone realizes that. This award is another step in bringing the recognition up to the reality.”
Kidd, a former Olympic runner and member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, is the only recipient recognized for sport this year. His long and decorated athletic career began in Scarborough, where he grew up. It extended far beyond the track — across committees, programs and initiatives dedicated to using sport to achieve peace, community development and advocating human rights.
To him, bringing the 2015 Toronto Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, to Scarborough is one of his greatest achievements. He spent years submitting bids for U of T Scarborough to be a host venue for a variety of sporting events, and landed the North American Indigenous Games and the Invictus Games in 2017.
“If all they mentioned was the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, I’d be happy,” he says. “That’s something that brings me great, great pride.”
Kidd is keeping busy in his retirement. He was recently awarded the Scarborough-Guildwood Medal, which recognizes positive role models in the community. He currently co-chairs a federal-provincial-territorial equity task force and serves on the federal minister of sport’s advisory committee. He is also completing a co-authored book and is starting to write his memoir.
He recalled the day he became principal of U of T Scarborough in 2014.
“I received such a tremendous welcome, but it was not just a welcome to the school. It was a welcome to a project, to an idea, to a mission,” he says. “We’re creating a model of a better future, where people of every different background who found their way to Canada work together.”
To other leaders in Scarborough, Kidd advises to “take your lead from the community.”
“There are extraordinary people here and they’ve already forged an extraordinary sense of community,” he says. “Feel proud and confident in representing them, because you don’t have to make it up — you’re representing such a strong, vibrant entity.”
U of T Scarborough written in stars twice
Also this year, recent U of T Scarborough graduate Yasmin Rajabi is one of four recipients of the new Rising Star Award. The award recognizes young leaders that have empowered people and made an impact in Scarborough.
“I think at U of T Scarborough, a lot of us shared a special unity, I think a lot of us grew up here and call it home,” says Rajabi, who graduated from UTSC earlier this year. “I think it’s the same reason that Scarborough inspires me, I feel these instances of comradery.”
In her two terms with the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), Rajabi established the SCSU Food Centre, the campus’ first food bank. Growing up, Rajabi sometimes had to turn to food banks to make ends meet. She set out to create a service providing food healthier than the traditional non-perishable, packaged products, to campus.
The centre serves culturally sensitive, nutritious foods to hundreds of students, faculty and staff. It also offers perishable foods, including eggs and milk.
“It means a lot to me that the Food Centre can provide nourishment to everyone, because food is the foundation of living,” she says. “It’s important to me that our bodies are not only receiving the bare minimum to get by, which isn’t conducive to being an active member of a community and an active student.”
Rajabi was recognized for co-founding the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN), a non-profit that offers skills building workshops, networking events and mentorship opportunities to young women ages 14 and up. Another Rising Star recipient, Ravicha Ravinthiran, is on the organization’s advisory board.
Among Rajabi’s several achievements are her work advocating for improved transit in Scarborough and organizing events and panels for students to engage with different levels of government.
“In so many ways, Scarborough is home and a lot of the work I do is making sure Scarborough has its fair share or has a voice.”
When she looks at her star, she will be thinking about everything that she and Scarborough have left to do.
“There’s just so much more room to grow and right now we are in the infancy of what Scarborough’s potential can be,” she says. “I think that’s what the Rising Star Award symbolizes for me — that there is so much more for us to achieve together as a community.”