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York Region movers and shakers share hopes, wishes for 2021

Community leaders express aspirations for community, humanity
Jan. 8, 2021
Jay Gutteridge

York Regional Police Chief Jim MacSween

"On behalf of all members of York Regional Police, my very best wishes to our citizens for a safe and happy holiday season and 2021. My hope for the year ahead is the end of this global pandemic and to see us emerge as a stronger, more compassionate and supportive community."

York Region Paramedic Chief Chris Spearen

"Prosperous health -- physically, mentally and spiritually -- for all York Region residents, including those who continue to face the pandemic on the frontlines."

Don Walker, CEO, Magna International

"COVID-19 has impacted everybody in ways both big and small, and in 2021 we will continue to deal with the realities of a global pandemic. I urge all of us to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. We need to take care of each other with patience and kindness. I wish everyone happy holidays."

Daniele Zanotti, CEO, United Way Greater Toronto

"My wish is that when this pandemic finally passes -- and it will -- we will all look back and say that neighbours, businesses, labour, faith and government partners all stepped up to support people in need in neighbourhoods right across the Region. And that our network of agencies, the invisible frontline of social services, will be stronger than ever."

Arden Krystal, CEO, Southlake Regional Health Centre

"That we quickly control COVID-19 through safe practices and vaccinations so that we can keep our patients and staff safe. I also hope I will soon be able to see my parents (age 83 and 85) and my son, who lives in B.C. -- I miss them terribly."

Jo-anne Marr, CEO, Markham Stouffville Hospital

"I want to thank our staff, physicians, volunteers and our entire community for their ongoing support and commitment to help stop the spread of COVID-19. My wish is that they all stay safe and healthy as we look forward to better days to come in 2021."

David Agnew, president, Seneca College

"That as a society, we commit to the actions that will allow all of our elderly to live their last years in a safe and dignified environment, surrounded by their families and friends."

Rhonda Lenton, president, York University

"I believe climate change and inequality are two of the most serious issues affecting the world today. The pandemic is a manifestation of those issues. My hope is that York and other higher education institutions continue to work with our partners -- including in York Region -- to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, and to create a more equitable and sustainable world."

Steven Astorino, Canada lab director, IBM

"I hope that 2021 brings a semblance of a return to our old normal. As a business leader, I’ve seen my clients and teams persevere through difficult times in 2020, and while I’m incredibly proud of their resilience, my wish is for a reprieve, a lessening of the load. We shouldn't forget what this pandemic has taught us -- the importance of looking after each other, and the power of kindness."

Central York Fire Chief Ian Laing

"With the world still struggling with COVID-19, we wish for the safety of our families and our loved ones. Protecting yourself helps everyone, so wear a mask, wash your hands and stay apart. Be positive and have faith things will get better. Above all, be kind to others, be tolerant and be safe."

Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service Chief Deryn Rizzi

“Each year-end marks a new beginning to look forward to. May the new year give you the strength to face the challenges of life and the courage to adjust and take every situation in stride. Let us all work together to create kindness and compassion, as we rebuild as a community. On behalf of the Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service, our warmest thoughts and best wishes for a safe and Happy New Year!”

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor

“I wish that each month in 2021 we experience lower and lower COVID numbers. I wish and hope that our economy bounces back stronger than ever. I hope that I will be able to stand on the stage at the Riverwalk Commons and introduce one of our summer concert series. I wish for good health, prosperity, and kindness for everyone.”

Jim Thomson, owner, Aurora Tigers Jr. A hockey team

“I’m going to spend 2021 helping people in need. The devastation 2020 has created, it’s going to take all of us to help each other move forward in 2021. In Aurora, how many businesses have closed down is awful; again teamwork will be needed to get lives back to normal. Kindness and lending a hand will be needed by all. Merry Christmas to everyone.”

Adriano Rucchetta, president, Many Hands Doing Good

“We at Many Hands, Doing Good wish that all children and families are able to receive the assistance they need to help them be the best version of themselves.”

Jim Alexander, owner, Tim Hortons locations across Newmarket

“My wish for 2021 is that we eventually get back to interacting with each other as a community. Being able to sit in groups and share experiences and thoughts the way we were accustom too prior to COVID. I also hope we look back at 2021 and are proud of the way Canada demonstrated a successful and humanitarian approach to rolling out the COVID vaccine.”

Jerisha Grant-Hall, chair, Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association

“Our wish for 2021 is that all the members of our community (and beyond) will experience health equity, safety and security. We hope that there will be space to listen, learn and dismantle anti-Black racism so that our families and communities can thrive.”

East Gwillimbury Emergency Services Chief Rob McKenzie

“On behalf of the Town of East Gwillimbury Emergency Services, we would like to remind you to stay safe this holiday season -- Be sure to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and always stay in the kitchen when cooking. Best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season.”

Alex Bilotta, CEO, Food Bank of York Region

“I wish that the COVID-19 virus would become harmless to all humans and immune compromised people would no longer live in fear of dying from the infection. Our world would go back to pre-COVID normal.”

John Carmichael, CEO, Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council

“Wishing health and happiness to the residents of York Region and especially to those involved in the automobile industry. Despite a challenging 2020, the industry has shown its resiliency and its ongoing support for the community. On behalf of OMVIC, Ontario’s Vehicle Dealer Regulator, all the best for 2021!”

Dr. Karim Kurji, medical officer of health, York Region

“I hope COVID-19 is a thing of the past in a matter of months and not years. Remain patient and consistent, and we'll see hope around the corner. And I hope Ontario gets its fair share of the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ll be ready. We have a great infrastructure of physicians and clinics. We will use all of those avenues to immunize as many residents as fast as possible.”

Georgina Mayor Margaret Quirk

"In addition to wishing for an end of the pandemic return to ‘normal’, being able to give and receive hugs, celebrating milestones in person, attending the many great events in our community ... My hope is that we keep the strong spirit of Georgina. I have seen some sad stories in our community, and I have witnessed some inspiring ones. Whether it’s been neighbours delivering groceries, to people donating personal protective equipment (PPE) to our front-line workers, to how our community is rallying behind our local businesses, Georgina steps up every time to the challenge. This is what makes our community unique."

Altaf Stationwala, president and CEO, Mackenzie Health

"I have many hopes for 2021. I know we all want to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. I also hope that we can put an end to hallway medicine and increase access to safe, quality care for our community. At Mackenzie Health, we can be part of the solution with the opening of Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital in Feb. 2021, and our continued commitment to delivering the ultimate in care at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital and our community-based locations.

Wayne Emmerson, chair and CEO, York Region

“With the first round of COVID-19 vaccines rolling into Canada, my wish for residents of York Region in 2021 is a community where this virus is finally behind us. A community where together, we resume our regular activities, spend time with family and friends and continue to build strong, caring, safe communities for everyone who calls York Region home.”

Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Iain Lovatt

“My biggest wish for 2021 is for people to spread messages of hope, love and unity in these trying times. 2020 did not define us and did not defeat us. As we enter 2021, I am challenging myself and everyone else to look at this new year with excitement and choose hope for the future.”

Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua

“In 2021, we will open the world-class Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital. It is the realization of one of my dreams as mayor. A subway, hospital, university, downtown core, a 900-acre park, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and an exceptional quality of life are all part of our city-building efforts. 2021 will be a year where the same values will shine brightly and bring us positive results.”

Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow

"It’s never been more important for us to look out for each other. My wish is for all of us to have patience -- to wear our masks, wash our hands, keep our distance, and know that 2021 will absolutely be a better year!"

Dominic Mazzotta, chair, York Catholic District School Board

"Reflecting on 2020, I am in awe at how our school communities continued to show their love and support for each other. It is my hope that we will better appreciate the things we missed and the new things we learned during this most unusual time. On behalf of the YCDSB Board of Trustees, I wish everyone a blessed and healthy new year."

Cynthia Cordova, chair, York Region District School Board

"I wish for good mental health and well-being for all of our students, families and staff throughout 2021. I hope they take time for themselves, to focus on the present, and to enjoy the little moments that the new year brings. I wish for kind hearts and minds in 2021."

Agnes Imani, founder and chair, Jews Against Antisemitism Canada

"My wish for the new year is that the Arab nations build peace with Israel in the Middle East so we can raise a generation of children who will not know war and hatred. In hopes that this peace will lead the path to the elimination of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the rest of the world."

Jane Taylor, communications and events manager, Aurora Cultural Centre

"To be able to see family and friends spontaneously; without the (understandably) complicated retirement home safety arrangements, or the full-disclosure conversations about risk management and various ‘bubbles.’ Simply to text our friends and say, ‘want to get together tonight?’"

Myah Elliott, student, Seneca College

"I wish that social media platforms become less toxic. With all the hate and fake news, cancel culture and hate circulating, I hope we can all come together and make social media more enjoyable again."

Rebecca Shields, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe

"I wish for each person to share a moment of true connection. For each of us to reach out, especially to those who are isolated, to listen, to laugh and to share hope."

Linda Welch, president, Society of York Region Artists

"My personal wish is for the Town of Newmarket to open the grounds at Mulock Farm to local residents for just one day so we can see the property as it is before improvements make inevitable changes. A winter walk through the trees would be magic."

Kallie Milleman, spokesperson, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society Provincial Education and Animal Centre

"That every animal across Ontario in need finds a loving home, a warm bed and all of the love they deserve."

Janis Bell, president, Canadian Federation of University Women Aurora/Newmarket

"My wish is that we as a society, look after our elderly and give them places to live, where they are cared for and respected. We need to look at what is working in other countries and learn from them."

Sean Cisterna, filmmaker

"Throughout 2020, the world turned to the arts to help them get through the long weeks and months in lockdown. My wish is that artists across York Region feel appreciated and valued."

King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini

"My New Year’s wish for 2021 is health, prosperity, happiness and victory in our battle against COVID-19. I look forward to the time when we can once again have peace of mind to gather and share in pure joy and laughter."

Alex Karolyi, founder and artistic director, Shadowpath Theatre

"That we can all hug each other again with confidence."

Tristan Coolman, president Pflag York Region

"We at Pflag York Region wish for everyone to discover more about a marginalized community of your choice and their history in Canada. The more we know about the unknown, the more we can find similarities in our differences, in our lived experiences."