The Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit Selection Committee is pleased to announce the 2020 Medal of Merit recipients. This year’s recipients include The Honourable Ray Stortini (in the individual category) for his outstanding contributions to the community and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (in the group category) for its standard of excellence in a cultural or academic field.
The Honourable Ray Stortini
The Hon. Ray Stortini’s past civic activities include various board of governor’s positions with the Algoma Health Unit, Children’s Aid Society, Soup Kitchen, Ken Brown Recovery Home and Algoma University. He was a Trustee of United Appeals Services, and Past President of the Sault Family Y.M.C.A. and the St. Joseph Island Lions Club. He is also a lifetime member of the Arts Council of Algoma and the G. Marconi Society as well as a former Sault Ste. Marie City Councillor.
A retired Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Stortini holds a BA from the University of Western Ontario and an LLB from York University. He spent his early years as a steel plant labourer, Great Lakes seaman for Canada Steamship Lines and as an insurance adjuster. After graduating from law school, he had a general law practice and was a Special Federal Prosecutor, as well as being the first Area Director of Legal Aid. He was appointed a Judge of York County (Toronto) in 1971, to the Algoma District Court in 1976 and then appointed a Justice of the Superior Court of Justice in 1990; a post he held until retirement in 2004.
Notably, Stortini headed a pro-bono project to save 300 members of the Batchewana Tribe from eviction at Batchawana Bay.
An accomplished writer, Stortini published “Only in Canada: Memories of an Italian Canadian” (2006) and “Act 1 of Arrow to the Moon”, which was performed by Cree students in Sault Ste. Marie at the Premier’s Performance at the 1967 Canadian National Exhibition.
“For decades the Honourable Ray Stortini has served our community in a number of capacities, and it is important to recognize and acknowledge that his contributions to our community go well beyond his impressive professional accomplishments. The longevity of Justice Stortini’s volunteerism and community service speaks to Sault Ste. Marie’s best qualities and the Medal of Merit is a fitting recognition of his service and commitment to our community,” said Mayor Christian Provenzano.
Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre
The Shingwauk Residential School site was home to an Indian Residential School from 1874 to 1970. Through the efforts of local Indigenous communities and Residential School Survivors, the Shingwauk site has been transformed into a place of learning, commemoration and healing. As one of only 14 remaining Residential School buildings across Canada and one of the only former Residential Schools used as a university, the Shingwauk site holds national significance. It was the location of the first large-scale Residential School Survivor reunion in 1981, and is home to the longest-running community archives dedicated to Residential Schools, featuring the award-winning Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall exhibit. It represents decades of sustained community resilience to ensure that the legacy of Residential Schools is honoured and remembered.
“Sault Ste. Marie’s efforts on the truth and reconciliation journey continue to be led by the local Indigenous community, with the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre providing a foremost example of the importance of acknowledging the difficult truths of our past and committing to move forward in spirit of collaboration and mutual respect,” said Mayor Christian Provenzano.
“I am pleased to see the long-standing efforts of staff, volunteers and the leadership of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and Algoma University will be recognized through the Medal of Merit.”
The City of Sault Ste. Marie awards the Medal of Merit annually to individuals or groups who have achieved exceptional meritorious honours in athletics, cultural or academic fields or who make extraordinary contributions to the community. A formal ceremony recognizing the achievements of both recipients will take place at a later date.