The CES Canada/Kenya family has lost a dear friend and colleague, a champion for human rights, and an advocate for equal access to education. Leonard Wandili died on October 6, 2021 while jogging near his home in Bowmanville, Ontario. We are devastated to lose Leo and our hearts go out to Irene, Paul, Eric, Alvin and their entire family in Canada and Kenya.
After graduating from Friends School Kamusinga SS located in Kimilili – Kenya, he taught for one year before immigrating to Canada in 1989. He enrolled in George Brown College (Toronto) where he earned a Diploma in Information Systems. Further education included a BA Political Science (University of Toronto), MEd (York University); and, until his untimely death was working on his PhD at the U of Toronto.
Leonard had many ties to the East Africa diaspora through leadership roles in community-based organizations such as the Kenya Community in Ontario (KCO) and the Abeingo Association of Canada. In July, 2021 Leonard was appointed to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), responsible for making decisions on immigration and refugee matters.
As an experienced education administrator with the Toronto District School Board (International Languages and Cultural Heritage Programs), he initiated several international language courses targeting community-specific needs for children of immigrants.
Leonard joined the CES Canada Board in 2007. He served as Secretary, giving leadership in cultural sensitivity and understanding the challenges of providing access to education for youth living in Western Kenya. His commitment to assisting needy students in over 45 Kenyan schools knew no bounds. Leonard worked as liaison with CES Canada and TDSB schools in a number of special projects: Ingotse Eyewear Clinic; and, Clean Water Well Initiatives at Khachonge PS, Kimugui SS, and Namudera SS. He volunteered countless hours working with the Canada Running Series, to collecting and shipping nearly 4,000 athletic shoes to Western Kenya.
Leonard took a huge interest in the formation of CES Kenya Alumni (Kenya), a group consisting of recipients of CES scholarship funds, and was instrumental in mentoring young leaders, and building the group to become an effective community based outreach to needy youth. During his regularl visits to Kenya, he encouraged the CES Kenya Board through active participation in board meetings and school visitations. In 2018 he participated in an event to honour the School Principals associated with CES Programs in Kisumu, Kakamega and Bungoma counties of western Kenya. In 2019 he accompanied visitors from the Peter Cundill Foundation to help orient them to our work in education and social development.
Leonard Wandili gave much to the success of CES Canada in Kenya. Through an extraordinary life dedicated to providing hope through education, Leonard has left a legacy that has shaped many lives in a positive way. He will be truly missed.