Colin Hughes, a Children’s Aid Society worker in Toronto for more than 25 years, was committed to the hope Canada’s governments could put an end to poverty.
Working at the society’s Scarborough branch and volunteering for organizations in the area, Hughes, 59, was known for years to people in Scarborough as both a tireless campaigner for a more just society and a mentor to others working on behalf of children.
His death at home on Feb. 1 was described as “unexpected.”
“Colin leaves an outstanding legacy of accomplishments that has advanced child welfare not just in Toronto but across Canada,” said a statement circulated at the Scarborough CAS, which added Hughes’s “personable and approachable manner” built bridges to many new residents and groups.
“Within our Community Development team Colin was looked to for his leadership and expertise on many child and family policy issues and contributed greatly to the development of our agency’s positions on those issues,” the statement said.
Hughes researched and wrote a 2008 report, Greater Trouble in Greater Toronto, showing how child poverty had become entrenched in the city.
He was steering committee chairperson of the Scarborough Civic Action Network, a group which this week said he had contributed “invaluable dedication to its governance, advocacy work and projects” over the past decade.
Hughes “leaves a tremendous void and legacy he would want all of us to fill,” SCAN added in a message to its members.
He was married to his wife Teresa for 35 years, and the couple had a daughter, Alana.
One tribute said his greatest loves “were his family, his music, and his rowboat.”
A funeral mass for Hughes was celebrated on Feb. 5 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in downtown Toronto.
Hughes “had a big laugh” and a warm personality, said Lee Soda, executive director of the Agincourt Community Services Association, who called him “an advocate for children and youth, a champion for those most marginalized, a voice for those who couldn’t speak for themselves and a fierce advocate for social justice.”
Among the groups Hughes supported with his energy and time were Campaign 2000, the Colour of Poverty Coalition, the Scarborough Anti-Poverty Coalition, Scarborough Transit Action, Scarborough Arts, the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club, West Scarborough Community Legal Services and the Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care.