Stachen Frederick wins Woman of Worth award

Frontlines executive director Stachen Frederick bestowed 10K Woman of Worth award

Public can vote another 10K



L'Oreal Woman of Worth

Stachen Frederick, executive director of Frontlines, is the recipient of a L’Oreal Woman of Worth award for her non-profit organization ‘Braids for Aids, which raises awareness about HIV/AIDS in the Black community. The award comes with $10,000 to go toward Braids for Aids. 
 – Justin Greaves/Metroland

How does Stachen Frederick juggle a full-time career as executive director of Weston’s Frontlines community centre as well as her role as founder of the not-for-profit organization BrAIDS for AIDS?

“I love what I do and I do what I love,” Frederick said simply.

Fortunately, her colleagues at Frontlines, a haven for children and youth, as well as her staff at BrAIDS for AIDS, are encouraging to Frederick’s endeavours and of each other.

“I have a really good support system,” the community activist said. “People are so committed and interested in our cause.”

Frederick is being recognized for that cause with a L’Oreal Paris Canadian Woman of Worth award for her work raising awareness of HIV/AIDS within the African, Caribbean and black community through the cultural practice of hair braiding. She is one of 10 women honourees who will be celebrated at an awards gala on International Women’s Day, March 8, hosted by Oscar winner and L’Oreal Paris spokesperson Helen Mirren.

“The Women of Worth program honours Canadian women who selflessly volunteer their time to serve and improve the lives of those in need,” Milan Mladjenovic, general manager of L’Oreal Paris in Canada, said in a statement.

Each award winner will receive a $10,000 grant for her charity. Frederick received word of the honour in December, coincidentally on her birthday, but had to keep the news under wraps until February.

“I’m very much humbled, very honoured,” she said. “Of course I’m very excited about the $10,000, but, I do what I do, not for the accolades.”

Rather, Frederick is moved by the personal stories of those she reaches through BrAIDS for AIDS whether it’s a young girl who’s lost her parents to the disease, or a young offender who learns he can get tested anonymously.

The grant will go toward expanding BrAIDS for AIDS programs, like its “BrAIDing with a Social Twist,” which teaches teens and young adults about sexual health and braiding techniques, and the young men’s project that engages those in detention centres in conversations about HIV/AIDS while their hair is braided.

Fredrick is pleased that the award provides her organization with a platform to bring attention to HIV/AIDS in the black, Caribbean and Canadian communities. The North York resident said there are still myths associated with the disease.

“I think people think it’s only an issue in third world countries,” she said.

Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Frederick founded BrAIDS for AIDS in 2008. Inspiration struck when she was about to get her hair braided when she saw the word AIDS in braids.

“It was a eureka moment,” she recalled.

At the time, she was president of the Black Students’ Association at the University of Ottawa and the group set up tables in the students’ centre for people to get their hair braided. Since its inception almost a decade ago, there have been advances in HIV/AIDS treatment.

“The prevention methods have advanced. I think people are not aware of the new technologies; the new ways of protecting themselves,” Stachen said. “There is a lot of stigma around testing. People are not aware of anonymous testing — you don’t have to provide a health card.”

BrAIDS for AIDS continues to make significant strides in reducing the stigma and spread of AIDS in the black community here in Canada and beyond.

“The connections I’ve been able to make in Canada will help me implement the program in the Caribbean,” she said.

Frederick was nominated for the award by her role model Denise Siele, a community activist in Ottawa and a regular commentator on the CBC Sunday Scrum.

One of the 10 Women of Worth honourees will be selected as the national nominee and will be awarded an additional $10,000 grant for her nonprofit cause at the gala.

Women of Worth is L’Oreal Paris’ signature philanthropic program now in its second year.


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