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James Anthony Christien Ellis was born June 1, 1985 to Ruth Corrie and Mark Ellis. He was born in Toronto and was their first child. He had a sister, Breanna who was born 3 years later. James lived a produc tive and accomplished life. He fulfilled many of his ‘Bucket Lists’. James was known as a hard-working and disciplined person. This was shown from his formative years. He was a person who was entrepreneurial and thought ‘outside the box’. During a parent teacher interview, (when he was in primary school), James’ teacher informed his mother that he was too busy with his business to have recess. It was explained that James was doing some hand carvings which the other children wanted. He would create the hand carvings and trade them for the Teenage Mutant Turtles action figures which his mother would not buy for him. He had amassed a desk full of these action figures. His mother was forced to allow him to bring these toys home with the caveat that he would not explore any sewers as this was the home of these action figures. He agreed. James learned these entrepreneurial techniques from his maternal Grandfather who owned his own business for almost 50 years. James worked there as a youth and spent many hours with “GranDad”. They developed a close relationship and bond throughout the years and lived together for a while after he left home.
James was an excellent student and became accomplished at any task which he decided to pursue. While in high school, he decided that he wanted to learn a trade. He decided on drywalling. He was an apprentice and would awaken in the early hours of the morning to meet the crew and be driven to the job site. This would often be about 4am in the morning. He had to walk as buses were not available with his heavy tool box. One of the projects which he worked on was at York University when it was under construction. He was so skilled that his Boss wanted him to join Local 183. Being invited to join the Union is quite an accomplishment for a teenager. James was not swayed by the promises of a large salary. He wanted to finish his high school and pursue higher education.
James did complete his high school and went to George Brown College where he pursued an engineering course in Mechanical Engineering. James was a talented designer. He decided to pursue additional training in the area of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Cape Breton University, He was provided advanced standing due to his College experience. He completed that degree.
During his time at College, he obtained a summer job in 2006, at The City of Toronto in Toronto Water. His title was Toronto Water Summer Trainee/Inspection/Surveys. He worked with Toronto Water to monitor the work done by private contractors for the City of Toronto and paid duty Police officers. He was found to be a reliable worker and trustworthy. He would sign-in at home on his computer and be provided his work assignments in the field. At this job, he also developed his interest in the WorldCup of Soccer. He favoured Brazil and let his colleagues know. Most of them favoured Italy and they had fun times discussing the merits of their favourite team.
Although James had technical competencies in the area of engineering, he also had a deep love for people. He wanted to assist those who were most neglected in society. He became involved in working with the homeless at the local men’s homeless shelter called Cornerstone. He learned of the various routes into homelessness and his compassion for the clients increased. He worked there while attending school for over 10 years. He developed a network of contacts and became familiar with Shelter Standards from the City of Toronto. Although James did secure an Engineering Trainee position, he did not pursue it as it required extensive travel to China as they had a booming manufacturing sector.
IN 2013, James started pursuing his photography career. At first, it was a hobby but he really enjoyed his craft. He was also awarded many accolades for his work. He became Artist in Residence at Soho House and had an Art exhibit there where some famous people attended (The Weeknd). He garnered contracts with Vogue Italia, Paramount, Universal Music and VICE which produces documentaries. He had several art shows throughout the City. He had a billboard at Yonge-Dundas square. Through his work, he attended the South by Southwest Music Festival. Photography was his passion.
During a chance encounter at his mother’s workplace, James met Sharon Campbell. She invited him to apply to work at the City of Toronto. He decided to apply and was successful. By 2020, James was working as a Client Service Worker with a base position at Seaton House. The Covid pandemic started shortly thereafter. James worked at various sites. He was always flexible. He was hardworking and caring. He treated all with respect including clients and staff. James was not a person to be complacent in his role. He wanted to become more involved in the shelter system in a management capacity. When the Mentorship Program for Black Staff was announced, James saw this as an opportunity to develop his skills further. He also started taking Business Administration courses at The Metropolitan University to develop his project management and financial management skills By 2022, James goal of becoming a Shift Leader was realized. He was offered a position at Four Points, Sheridan which provides an isolation centre for those with Covid and now Monkey Pox. At first, the client groups were singles and couples. This later progressed to include families with children. James faced new challenges but met them with grace and enthusiasm. James was an integral part of the Management Team as a Site Lead. James was also involved in the Confronting Antiblack Racism program being developed within the City of Toronto to support Black staff and clients who are often disenfranchised from reaching their full potential. James never felt that anything was impossible...he was determined to make a difference in the lives of others. He will be well remembered in fondness and love.
James also had a spiritual side which was evidenced in his photography of nature; however, he was known to have lively discussions with others about the Bible and the meaning of life. From his early years, he attended the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses with his parents. He never lost his appreciation for spiritual matters. This early foundation provided him the qualities of kindness, loyalty, compassion, empathy and a love of life.
James is survived by his mother, Ruth Corrie and father, Mark Ellis. His Sister, Breanna Ellis and his Aunt Joyce Hislop and Suzette Corrie, and Uncle Patrick Corrie., and His Grandfather , Hubert Corrie and many other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be held at Westminster Funeral & Reception Centre (5826 Bathurst St. between Finch and Steeles on the west side), located on the grounds of Westminster Cemetery (5830 Bathurst St.). After the long driveway, it is the first building on your left. The family will receive guests on Friday, October 28, 2022, from 2-4 p.m. & 6-8 p.m. and Saturday October 29, 2022 from 9-10 a.m. until the commencement of the service at 10am with interment to follow at Westminster Cemetery & Mausoleum.
Friday, October 28, 2022
2:00 - 4:00pm (Eastern time)
Friday, October 28, 2022
6:00 - 8:00pm (Eastern time)
Saturday, October 29, 2022
9:00 - 10:00am (Eastern time)
Saturday, October 29, 2022
10:00 - 11:00am (Eastern time)
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Westminster Cemetery & Mausoleum
Block G, Section 317, Lot# 3
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