In Loving Memory of Miguel Sardinha

(May 6th, 1962 – February 8th, 2022)

We’re deeply saddened to share that one of our beloved Community Advocates, Miguel Sardinha, passed away on February 8th. He will be remembered for his constant smile and the positive impact he had on everyone he met.

Miguel had worked with organizations serving marginalized communities for more than 30 years. When describing what motivated his volunteer work, Miguel wrote that he wanted “to be able to help others in whatever capacity I can… Helping individuals to access resources to meet their immediate needs has become a passion of mine.”

His siblings Nicole, Marissa and Pancho note his deep dedication to supporting community,

“Miguel supported the underdogs, encouraged the frail and confronted the unkind. He was the champion of the lesser advantage. His magnetic personality and quick smile made him easy to befriend.

Miguel means so much to our community as a long-time volunteer in our drop in program at 1884 Davenport Rd., a graduate of the Community Action Training and Economic Justice course and Peer Advocate. Between 2017 – 2019 he volunteered a total of over 200 hours at The Stop and was a friend  to many of our staff, volunteers and community members. A few of our community members share their memories of Miguel and his time with us below.

Joanna Pawełkiewicz, Senior Coordinator of the Community Advocacy Program reflects on Miguel’s time in Community Action Training,

“Miguel infused a very positive vibe to the Community Action Training which he took in 2019.  He was a seasoned volunteer and I was very excited when he applied to be a Peer Advocate because of his strong connection to so many community members.  Miguel had a really special spirit and it is not an exaggeration that he had a constant smile.”

Sharon Anderson, Peer Support Co-Facilitator at The Stop worked closely with Miguel as well and speaks to his impact on the community: 

“Miguel was very charming. He was in the first Economic Justice course which took place from fall 2019 to January 2020.  He contributed a lot to the course and always had insightful comments and good questions.”  

In addition to his work with our Community Advocacy Program, Miguel was also serving the community through our drop-in program and food bank where he was known for his friendly demeanour and beautiful artwork. He would often help redesign the chalkboard in our drop-in space.

Food Bank Assistant, Jermaine Robinson recalls, 

“Miguel was very friendly and had an upbeat spirit.  I enjoyed speaking with him.  He will be missed.”

Drop-in Assistant, Nick Balch reflects on time spent serving food alongside Miguel for the drop-in program,  

“Miguel was a charming, smooth-talker, with a heart of gold. Everybody loved him. He was always willing to offer help and stand up for his community. He was a dedicated volunteer and advocate, who took great pride in being an upstanding member of The Stop. He rarely missed a shift. He and I spent many lunches serving plates in the drop in, and seeing who was faster (It was him, but I was more graceful).

Miguel often spoke about how much The Stop had enriched his life, and how many strong friendships he’d forged along the way. I was honored to be counted among them and feel quite fortunate that we got to spend so many afternoons hanging out in the drop-in, playing dominoes, talking sports, listening to music, or just drawing and relaxing. (Miguel was a great artist and would often help design our chalkboard when it needed an update).

He was proud of his Trinidadian heritage, and of being a father. I had the privilege of meeting his son, who had just returned from New Zealand where he was studying. I’ve never seen Miguel prouder than the day he introduced us. Miguel had many amazing stories and would always make me laugh. Another life taken way too short. His loss has hit our community hard. Sending love to his friends and family. RIP Miguel…   We’ll miss you buddy.”

Winsome Miller, Director of Programs and Operations at The Stop flags Miguel’s pride in his heritage, 

“Miguel was a proud Trinidadian.  During his shifts in the Drop-in or Foodbank, he could be heard praising the quality of the meal he was serving. It wouldn’t be unlike Miguel to say, while emphasizing, his beloved accent, “Better belly buss than good food waste. …” Essentially saying, “eat up, fill up everyone, no food waste allowed.” Thank you Miguel, you are missed.”

Peer Advocate, Brock, began working with Miguel in the early stages of his time with The Stop. He reflects on their time together, some of Miguel’s favorite foods, and stories he’d share about his culture,

“My earliest memories of Miguel were pretty early on in my days at The Stop. On Fridays, I would notice this tall, skinny volunteer serving dishes for lunch and as he went around delivering plates as quickly as possible to a very hungry afternoon lunch crowd, he walked with a lot of style and flair.

It seems like so long ago that we all used to sit down inside and eat together but I remember how he dressed very well, usually had a fedora or an interesting hat on, and served those meals with a lot of pep and enthusiasm as he moved swiftly between the tables, smiling as he interacted with all the Stop community members.

As we came up together through the Community Action Program (CAT) and the Economic Justice Program (EJP) I got to know him better and better and he was such a great guy. Down to earth, happy, positive, enthusiastic, outgoing, charismatic – I never had a bad moment with Miguel. I have nothing but many happy and fond memories of him. We had our 12-week CAT program on Tuesdays so luckily on our lunch break, we could all take some time to hit the Good Food Market @ The Stop and buy some fresh fruits and vegetables. 

All of us in the class knew one thing. If any of us wanted to have a chance at getting any oranges from the big bushel, we better have made sure that we beat Miguel to it. Boy, did Miguel love his oranges. I think he bought at least $10 worth every week, often even more. I remember the big smile he had while bringing back bags filled with oranges. And then he would sit there, in class, or at the drop-in, and eat them one after another. It seemed like Miguel could subsist just on oranges. 

He used to love watching us play ping pong at Wychwood Open Door where I would go every Wednesday. He couldn’t really play regularly, but one day I finally convinced him to pick up a paddle and play me and boy could Miguel play! He had incredible technique and could spin the ball in ways that left me confused and bewildered. He was whooping me really badly, I have to admit, making me run side to side, making me look foolish!

Memories of Miguel still bring a smile to my face. Miguel used to regale me with tales of his homeland of Trinidad. He knew how much I loved hearing about the tropical climate down there, the hot weather, the warm breeze, the beautiful blue sunny sky, the nice beaches, the great potential for tanning (!), no snow, no winter, no subzero temperatures – oh man I could listen to him talking about Trinidad all day. I think probably his favourite memory of Trinidad would be picking oranges straight off the big beautiful orange trees that grow in Trinidad and eating oranges so fresh, straight from the source. I would imagine those trees shuddered a little bit when Miguel was nearby, he could probably pick them clean, just like the bushels back at the Stop Good Food Market.

The last time I saw him was last summer, he was very skinny but he looked great, standing tall, basking in the sun. I was in such a hurry cause I had to pick up my breakfast and rush for a shift in the advocacy office. I chatted with him for a few minutes and then checked the time and realized I had to go. I said to Miguel “I gotta run, I’m late for my shift”. As I was rushing down the tunnel, Miguel yelled in a joking manner “hey Brock, running late, what else is new”. As usual, he hit the mark! That’s the last thing he said to me. The last conversation I had with him. I wish I would have spoken to him more. When I texted him if he was coming back to the advocacy team, he texted back: “Hey Brock. I’m fine. Whenever the world is ready, I am.” Well Miguel, the world was not ready to lose you. Too young. Too soon. Rest in peace.

Miguel was born on 6th May 1962 to the Late Carl Dennis Sardinha and Margaret Anita Sardinha. He is survived by his three siblings: Nicole, Marissa and Pancho; four children: Antoiné, Gabriel, Asher and Aaron; and four grandchildren Ronan, Raiden, Adrian & Isaac. They have drafted an obituary reflecting on his life and final wishes that can be found