Published January 06, 2017 19:49
The co-founder of a program that has changed the learning outcomes of thousands of students in Winnipeg has been recognized with the Order of Canada.
On Dec. 30, the Governor General’s office announced that Strini Reddy would become a member of the Order of Canada, among 100 other recipients. The 78-year-old was selected for his "engagement in community causes as an advocate for social justice, racial understanding, literacy and poverty reduction," according to a release.
Reddy, a Waverley Heights resident, has been working in the education field in Manitoba for dozens of years, serving as a principal, chief superintendent, and consultant. Along with Karen Botting, he also created the Community School Investigators (CSI) summer enrichment program in the mid-2000s, which has since expanded to 14 sites in Winnipeg.
Reddy said the unexpected recognition is shared with the many people who have contributed to the programs and initiatives he’s been involved with over the years.
"I work with a lot of people and feel that this is a tribute to them as well," Reddy said. "I want to recognize all the unsung heroes. We’ve done this work at dozens of schools and there are teachers and parents making sure that children are being raised to be citizens.
"Not all kids will be A+ students, but all can be A+ citizens."
Even after officially retiring about 18 years ago, Reddy is still active on a full-time basis with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, the Rotary Club of Winnipeg, and Newcomer Youth Education Support Services.
A common theme throughout his work with these organizations is providing all kids equal opportunity for advancement.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg has since taken over responsibility for the CSI program, which engages students in low-income or underprivileged communities in math and science activities during the summer break. According to Reddy, students in these programs return to class in September prepared to continue their education on an even footing with their peers.
Reddy, who is also director of international service with the Rotary Club of Winnipeg, has visited dozens of schools across the city in support of clean water projects in Zimbabwe, explaining to students that children often sacrifice an education to collect water for their family. By supporting the projects, students also established a connection with communities across the globe.
"That type of work is important," Reddy said.
Recently, Reddy has also offered his expertise in education to further reconciliation efforts at local high schools.
Through the Breaking Barriers/Building Bridges program, Reddy helped co-ordinate a meeting between students from Fort Richmond Collegiate (FRC) and R. B. Russell at Thunderbird House. The high school students spent the day sharing experiences and learning about one another in an effort to diminish the divide between students in the inner city and suburbs.
"They spend the day learning together and develop mutual respect," Reddy explained, adding that more sessions are planned for 2017.
On Reddy’s suggestion, students at FRC also participated in a human library last October that involved members of Winnipeg’s Indigenous community. The experience fostered a greater understanding between people who wouldn’t necessarily meet one another otherwise.
Other new Manitoban appointees to the Order of Canada include David Barber, Leonard Bateman, Rayleen De Luca, John Foerster, and David Steinberg.