2014 Excellence in Parenting Award – John Mills and Avril Sharpe-Mills

Avril Mills

John Mills and Avril Sharpe-Mills are the proud parents of three children and have four grandchildren.

Both believe in education as a critical component of life success, as such, they have imparted a love for learning to their children.

Leading by example, they have pursued education at many stages of their lives.

John grew up in Antigua and Barbuda then studied at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, to become an automotive technician in the 1970s.

John Mills

He worked for SPX Automotive Service Solutions for 20 years as a National Technical Trainer.

After decades in the car industry, John shared his in-depth knowledge with young mechanics as a part-time instructor at Centennial College.

Currently, he is employed with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions as a Technical Sales Specialist.

Avril also graduated from St. Clair College, after arriving from St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica to study nursing.

She spent 25 years caring for patients in oncology units in Toronto, including leading cancer care and research facilities like Princess Margaret Hospital.

Avril truly embraced the motto ‘learning for life’ after taking various part-time courses at George Brown College, Centennial College and Ryerson University as a mature student.

Together, John and Avril have made a notable impact on the community — often through educational initiatives — and in some ways, became true pioneers of their time.

John successfully campaigned to become a school board trustee for Ward 3, in the former City of York, serving from 1991-1994.

He sat on the Black Advisory Committee for the Provincial NDP, was former president of York Community Services and volunteered with St. Clair Community Youth Services of Toronto.  During the 1980s, Avril helped to educate and empower youth as a part-time Black Heritage instructor for the Toronto District School Board.

Her commitment to children went beyond the classroom; in addition to caring for her own kids, Avril shuttled many children around to swimming lessons and local libraries, especially those from single-parent and low-income homes.

John and Avril have volunteered tirelessly with many initiatives that support families in our community.

As passionate champions of Africentric education and organizations within the African-Canadian community, they have been actively involved in the African Canadian Heritage Association, Black Secretariat, the Maat Foundation, Martin’s Day Committee, Black Action Defence Committee, Character Club of Canada, the Kwanzaa Committee of Toronto and many others.

They also kept strong ties with their Caribbean roots — John served as former president of the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Toronto, and Avril became a long-standing member of the Jamaican Canadian Association.

Although they are now elders within the community, John and Avril continue to give back.

She is now an active volunteer with FoodShare Toronto and their mobile produce market for residents in the Lawrence Heights community. Avril is also an avid gardener.

John continues to volunteer as an amateur photographer at community events, and he plays guitar with the Supersonic Band.

John and Avril wish to acknowledge their children — Emily, Courtney and Adrine — who have embarked on their own successful careers in media/communications, computer programming and child psychology.

Since there is no perfect model of parenthood, John and Avril would like to dedicate this ACAA honour to other selfless parents who have never received an award, but deserve recognition for their invaluable contributions to our community.