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Nichola Bynoe, The Woman Behind Gordon Ridge’s New Beginnings

May 10, 2022

Written by Tagan Mani, Marketing & Fund Development Coordinator ​and Abirah Chandraraj, Social Media Intern

Nichola Bynoe is a  member of the Hub’s Resident Action Committee (RAC). She has been serving her community in numerous ways for over 15 years and has contributed to Scarborough in many ways. Nichola is a hard-working community leader in Scarborough, especially within her very own Gordon Ridge Toronto Community Housing complex, where she has made significant improvements. She provides opportunities to other Gordon Ridge residents so they can improve their environmental, mental, physical, social, and financial health with businesses, such as Ethnic Delight Express and G-Ridge Honey, created and operating out of these buildings. We’re fortunate to have her assist us with our food security initiatives such as SCHC’s HUB Meal Program. Read below to appreciate Nichola’s story and the impact she makes.

About Nichola

Nichola was born in Guyana but immigrated to Canada and has been a resident of Gordon Ridge Toronto Community Housing for the last 16 years. As a mother with a child with special needs, she shares that services such as social housing and social assistance make a great difference. For her, coming from another country with no handouts, she wants to give her best by not taking anyone or anything for granted. Nichola does that to learn and grow, she says that in today’s age more doors are starting to open so she encourages others like her to take advantage of that and continue to do the work to make a name for themselves and the community they care about.

Being part of the Hub’s Resident Action Committee (RAC).

Nichola has been part of the HUB’s Resident Action Committee for approximately 7-8 years. She recalls when she first started they did not have anything. The realization that they needed to be independent allowed them to be creative with their fundraising as they did car washes, sold clothes, and hosted other fundraising events in order to give out meals free of cost. 

​How SCHC Helps Gordon Ridge

​What she loves about SCHC is that it is nearby and the opportunity SCHC recently provided her and other residents with the Hub Meal program is very rewarding. She states it is the first time where residents like her have gotten a job that paid well and, through the partnership, she was able to hire two other residents weekly. “Being able to see a sense of pride in their eyes is another part of this job that is rewarding not only for me, but to those who help and support me. It is something that makes me very proud!” states Nichola.

The hardest challenge she faced is the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, it was easier for her to host more community related events but pandemic restrictions created restrictions preventing her from meeting the needs of the Gordon Ridge residents. Fortunately, SCHC was able to help via the SCHC Food Bank and Nichola was able to serve hot meals three days a week to her community. She shares that for her it’s during these times of difficulty you really find out which partners are there for you and SCHC really stepped up in that time to help a great deal! 

Gordon Ridge’s Commitment to a Healthier Scarborough

In addition to aiding Gordon Ridge with their financial health and food security needs, Nichola has been instrumental in creating partnerships with other corporations to provide opportunities for residents to improve other aspects of their health. For instance, Gordon Ridge has their own Rookie League in partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jays Care Foundation. Another way for Gordon Ridge residents to be physically active is through the swimming pool or the breathtaking multi-sport court that was funded by Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart & Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment’s MLSE Foundation.

Nichola also provides a way for residents to gain skills through careful maintenance and focus on their mental and environmental health with the different gardens they have including a honey orchard. What is produced from this garden improves the community’s food security and sustainable agriculture leading to strengthening their financial health via entrepreneurial ventures. ​

The Different Businesses Emerging out of G-Ridge

“Have you noticed that in every community where there are kids, there are trips that all the kids go to?” asked Nichola. “But sometimes, there are parents that are not able to meet that need”. That’s when Nichola thought it would be nice to meet that need anonymously so, in Gordon Ridge, they started a committee with residents to work with staff in finding out which child needed that extra support.

Ethnic Delight Express was created by addressing the need to prepare and distribute meals to kids during programs, including working with Jays Care. “However, it was hard to take on so much responsibility, especially when they started as they didn’t have equipment or a business plan”, Nichola stated. The stressful nights paid off, as she found different ways to hire staff from the Gordon Ridge community and reinvesting profits to support the wellbeing of the residents.

The vegetables from the garden are incorporated into the meals that Ethnic Delight Express prepares and they are able to produce hundreds of jars of organic honey sourced directly from their honey orchard, called G-Ridge Honey. The sustainable business and various revenue streams promotes anti-gentrification and gives residents some pride and reassurance.

Welcome to pollinator garden

Final Thoughts and How Can Others Support

For Nichola, she believes it is important to give back so others in her situations can have similar opportunities. She shared that when your back is against the wall and circumstances are against you, services like these can really make a difference, which is why it is important to use your voice to advocate so “we become responsible for the breaths that we breathe”!

Nichola explained how it is important to give businesses of residents from small and overlooked communities like hers a chance because it not only makes them feel good about themselves but provides vital opportunities such as employment and transferrable skills. She hopes others can help create opportunities or ways to support the Gordon Ridge community like SCHC does, especially for their health and wellness. The employment opportunities that comes from by purchasing one of their jars of honey or hiring them to cater for your next event helps with their financial and mental health. That’s why we are proud to say that we hired Ethnic Delight Express to provide meals for our Ontario Trillium Foundation Event.

We are grateful for all the hard work that Nichola and her amazing team have done to improve the health of Scarborough and create a positive impact. If you would like to hire Nichola to prepare meals for your next event or to inquire about purchasing jars of organic honey, you can email or call (416) 828-6895. If you’re in need of one of Nichola’s delicious hot meals, they are being provided through the SCHC Hublet Hot Meal program on Thursdays between 11:30am and 12:30pm at 2662 Eglinton Avenue East (left side of the Rexall Pharmacy) until December 16th, 2021.