Carmel is currently involved in helping to sponsor and settle families from Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder
Carmel Hili’s life is balanced between service and activism. He grew up in Malta, joined the Jesuits at the age of 17 and, several years later, immigrated to Canada to study theology at Regis College. “I ultimately made the decision not to be ordained as a priest, but my years studying theology were the foundation – and the roadmap – for my life,” he says.
After changing his calling, Carmel became one of the first employees of the Toronto Christian Resource Centre, a not-for-profit organization that established drop-in centres for the homeless, as well as food programs, job training and advocacy in the social housing area. In his role as a community worker, he helped develop programs for at-risk youth, low-income families and people who were homeless. “The goal was always to help people help themselves, not to simply provide handouts,” he says.
In the 1970s and ’80s, when developers were moving into Toronto’s downtown core and razing rooming houses to make space for highrises, Carmel helped save many from the wrecking ball. He actively advocated for all levels of housing, cheering enthusiastically when social housing programs became reality. Ultimately, he spent 35 years helping people live with security and dignity.
He and his wife, Anne Marie, resettled in Bolton in 1984, and after retiring, Carmel got busy in his new community. He drove for Caledon Community Services, initially for five days a week, served with a strategy group studying homelessness in Caledon, and is currently involved in helping to sponsor and settle families from Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.
“Make good use of the time you’ve got,” he says. At 84, Carmel still walks the talk.