|Ken Lyotier – Nominated by V.I.A. reader, Peter Kaplansky
Ken is the founder of United We Can, a Vancouver “charitable organization established to support environmental, social, and economic improvement in the inner city of Vancouver”.
First opening its doors in 1995, UNITED WE CAN provides an opportunity for Downtown East Side residents to make a living despite the barriers they might face in finding employment elsewhere. “United We Can’s primary objective is to hire people who would have barriers to traditional employment in traditional companies”, says Gerry Martin, current General Manager of UWC. “The bottle depot is our core business and the largest contributor to the charity itself”. 50-60,000 containers are recycled per day in the UWC centre on Hastings Street. On average, 700 binners bring cans and bottles to the centre each day, with a core group of around 300 regular daily visitors.
For his work with UWC and other advocacy efforts, Ken Lyotier has received an honorary degree from UBC (Doctor of Laws, honoris causa) as well as numerous other awards for his community work, including a Medal for Meritorious Service from the Governor General of Canada. His commitment to his community makes Vancouver awesome.
“I’m really proud of the people that are working here, and I’m also proud of the understanding of society at large about why it’s important that we do this. People understand that there’s a need to try and find practical ways that we can change things, that are not just a hand-out, but a hand-up” – Ken Lyotier