2014 Excellence in Politics Award – Sheila White

Sheila White

In the business of language, professionals stand as silent sentinels in the battle to effectively communicate a message. As President of WORDS Media & Communications Inc., Sheila White is one such professional.

Along with using her expertise to help politicians, she herself ran as a candidate in five political campaigns – two municipal, two provincial and one federal – between 1999 and 2007 in Scarborough.

White has spent 30 years in communications, media and politics as an advisor to municipal and provincial leaders, including the NDP’s Howard Hampton and Andrea Horwath as well as Mel Lastman, when he was mayor of the former city of North York.

As Mr. Hampton’s special adviser and a media and communications ace, White generated currency and attention for the party during a climate of neo-conservatism and the squeeze of strategic voting.

While at Queen’s Park as Director of Media and Communications, Ms. White developed memorable campaigns that made the NDP impossible to ignore.

These included, staging a live dog and pony show at Queen’s Park on the day the Harris Tories presented the Ontario Budget in the Magna auto parts plant.

She dreamed up a unique Rocking Chair Protest that led to the rollback in nursing home fee increases at the time.

In another instance, White devised the Maximum Skate for the Minimum Wage, a pivotal awareness raiser in the fight to lift the $6.85 hourly wage out of an eight-year deep freeze.

Over the years there were many such campaigns, which bore White’s trademark flair for the creative. She wrote an anti-racist storybook, which inspired the creation of the Morley Wolfe Anti-Racist Book Competition for students.

She led a Toronto Children’s Breakfast Club choir, was a long-time director with non-profit Community Unity Alliance and ran Toronto’s first management trainee program for members of minority student groups.

White spent 13 years as a Queen’s Park insider, from 1998 to 2012.  An experienced speaker and pundit, she has numerous appearance credits on radio and TV and is a municipal affairs panelist on CBC Radio One’s “Here and Now.”

Beginning her career right out of high school as a reporter for the local community newspapers published by Watson Publishing Company in her hometown of Agincourt, White took assignments with The Star, The Mirror and an international magazine prior to entering the political field.

Sheila White is the fourth of Vivian and Bill White’s five children. Her father, an Order of Canada recipient and the first African Canadian to seek federal office, hails from a long line of accomplished Black Canadians, which includes his sister, Portia White, renowned contralto; and father, Rev. Capt. William Andrew White, of Halifax, leader of the Second Construction Battalion and the son of former slaves in Virginia.