The founder and director of Jer's Vision, an organization dedicated to tackling bullying and homophobia, was awarded the Mayor's City Builder Award on Feb 8.
Jeremy Dias was recognized for his volunteer work and contributions within the community.
“Jeremy is an inspiration to many in Ottawa and a role model for our youth,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “To have turned such a negative high school experience into a program that positively influences tens of thousands of people is remarkable. It is my privilege to present Jer with the Mayor’s City Builder Award.”
Dias said he was honoured to receive the civic award.
“I have no idea who nominated me,” he said. “To be honest, it's not my work that's been recognized; it's the work of the team. I want to chop up the award into small pieces and give everyone a slice."
Mayor Jim Watson (left), Jeremy Dias and Councillor Diane Holmes.
The award was created by Mayor Jim Watson to acknowledge those in the community who are making Ottawa a better place. It is awarded at the beginning of each city council meeting.
"We are one of the only organizations that work in LGBTQ to be working in middle schools and in Catholic schools across Canada,” said Dias. “I think our organization is breaking a lot of boundaries."
Jer's Vision was founded five years ago and has grown from a committee to an organization, with programs across Canada and the United States.
Dias came out while he was in high school. At the age of 17 he began a legal case against his school and school board because he had suffered through daily bullying and violence from students and teachers. At 21, Dias won Canada’s second-largest human rights settlement and used the proceeds to set up Jer's Vision.
Dias says there are a number of major fights facing queer communities across the country. "We as youth need adults to support us; we need them to get involved, volunteer and donate. More so, we need them to stand up to politicians who are being openly homophobic, and we need to call them out on it.”