BUILD COHORT 2

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EMILY

I joined BUILD because I was tired of opaque political nonsense and disillusioned with traditional protest methods. Change needs to happen now, and must centre community over cost. What I found here was the most amazing group of people, each centring lived experience and compassion. I’m leaving with tools, confidence, community, and a much better understanding of how to make change.

EMILY’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON PROVINCIAL & MUNICIPAL POLITICS:

- Canvassed and GOTV in the Ontario Provincial election to help a candidate win a longstanding seat held by the opposition

- Joined a youth-run political popular education group to produce multimedia content on Canadian politics 

- Planning to join local Electoral District Association post election, and connect with a mayoral campaign in the upcoming municipal election

EMMA

I’m looking for a way to get more involved in my political community and learn more about Canadian democracy. As a queer person married to an immigrant, I feel like I have a duty to take action and be more active in our political landscape especially with the current wave of extremism. I would like to take my desire to do more and learn how to take that and move into more grassroots action.

 

EMMA’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON YOUTH POVERTY & HOMELESSNESS:

- Explored the policy landscape at the municipal and provincial level around meaningfully addressing youth facing poverty and homelessness

- Connected with non-profits, advocacy groups, and elected officials to better understand how the current system operates

- Engaging with a local campaigns aiming to support low and moderate income households and families 



 

HASAN

I want to learn about how I can get involved in a more sustainable, political level in the issues that we're facing. I have been involved on the ground, but I'm not sure as to how I can go and participate effectively in higher level organizing while staying true to my values and maintaining my mental health. I'm hoping through BUILD that I can gain some necessary skills, have access to resources, and connect with people who are knowledgeable in this area or are going through similar issues so we can learn from each other's experiences. 

HASAN’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON MIGRANT JUSTICE ADVOCACY:

- Organized a day of action to highlight the importance of #statusforall and challenges faced by those who are temporary migrant workers 

- Engaged in relationship building with other organizations to strengthen ties of support between urban and rural communities

- Coordinating a community engagement drive to amplify awareness of migrant issues, build capacity for solidarity, and connect with allies

KANEIL

The BUILD Program seems to offer the tools and knowledge I am looking for. To help improve the current state of our country. As mentioned, “climate change and systemic racism threaten and disadvantage diverse young people, it’s critical that we be influential participants in the institutions and processes that will affect our future”. I want to be a part of the change for improvement and solutions not a part of the problem. 

KANEIL’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT & LOW-INCOME ADVOCACY:

- Attended Borough council meetings to learn about local issues and examined city-wide community plans to understand their local impact

- Followed Borough participatory budgeting process where public submissions for local projects are being evaluated for selection

- Reaching out to a poverty reduction advocacy group to connect with their campaign focused on supporting single parents facing economic insecurity

 

LINDA

I am interested in the build program because I want to build the confidence to participate in social and political movements, institutions and processes. I am incredibly inspired by people who can turn their ideas into actions and I would love to be able to do the same.

LINDA’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON POPULAR POLITICAL EDUCATION:

- Joined the On Canada Project as a writer and editorial lead

- Researched various Canadian political topics/concepts to educate and engage GenZ & Millennial audiences 

- Pursuing further education in information sciences in order to more effectively promote grass roots political education

MARK

I'm interested in the BUILD program because I want to learn the skills necessary to advocate for change in effective ways. I also think it would be great to meet other young people who are like minded and learn from them. 

MARK’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON HOUSING ADVOCACY & PROVINCIAL POLITICS:

- Plugged into a city-wide advocacy group More Neighbours Toronto focusing on municipal engagement to push for greater housing affordability 

- Attended canvassing training, municipal public consultations, and mobilization planning meetings

- Organizing with a mayoral candidate by coordinating public engagement to get out the vote for the Toronto fall 2022 election

 

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MARY

I joined BUILD because I wanted to understand how to take on social issues I am passionate about dismantling through the political process, which has always felt alien to me. BUILD bridges the gap between young people seeking guidance on how to equip themselves with knowledge, tools, networking skills and inner strength to tap into our limitless potential to create positive change in our local and global community. As social creatures by nature, we always achieve more success and development when we work together. With much work to do in our world, it is essential that we unpack systems that have put up barriers to truly connecting with one another and to push for access to physical, emotional, financial and social supports that collectively liberate us all.

MARY’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON ADVOCACY FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH DISABILITIES:

- Joined the Youth Action Council of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario a non-profit organization

- Facilitated workshops around equity, diversity and inclusivity with a disability justice lens to local community groups & stakeholders

- Collaborating with the School Board to introduce the inclusion of disability justice workshops at schools to broaden common understanding and increase community compassion

MELISA

As someone who cannot vote in Canadian elections, I’ve always seen my role outside of the system. I joined BUILD to learn more about the current system, its gaps, and the different possibilities for change with community. The current landscape has been set up to keep many of us out, but what happens when we build together?

MELISA’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON MUNICIPAL VOTING RIGHTS FOR PERMANENT RESIDENTS:

- Researched the movement for municipal voting rights for permanent residents across Canada, including the Lost Votes campaign

- Connected with local government and organizations in Halifax who are active in the newcomer/immigrant community

- Continuing to work on the issue by creating a resource hub to bring together the different campaigns that have taken place in Canada 

SAMM

I am interested in the BUILD program because I know it will provide me with the tools and knowledge needed to make concrete change, as well as give me the confidence to participate in actionable strategies to help improve our social climate.

SAMM’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON INCARCERATION/PRISON ADVOCACY FOR MENTAL HEALTH ACCESS:

- Examined existing advocacy landscape to improve mental health support for incarcerated folks in prisons

- Collaborated with non-profits, community groups, and existing campaigns to improve access to 1-on-1 mental health support

- Coordinating a pilot project to connect incarcerated and reintegrating incarcerated people with access to therapy

 

BUILD COHORT 1

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ALICIA

I joined BUILD because I want to educate myself on political issues and learn about how I could make a difference in my community. I want to see people more confident and engaged in their democratic system and know that their voice means something.

ALICIA’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON LOCAL COMMUNITY REPRESENTATION:

- Connected with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues through a neighbourhood association

- Attended neighbourhood group meetings and learned about various EFCL initiatives

- Joined the supporting inclusive communities initiative to deepen participation in local community building efforts 

Chloe

It was hard not to be apathetic to all the issues in the world because I didn't know how to get involved. I want to have the tools to get involved and have an impact on the decisions being made by the people in power. I would like to see a shift away from party politics, or at least see more bi-partisan efforts on important issues such as climate change, housing and the pandemic. Politicians should be held to the standard of making informed decisions in the public interest, not just doing or saying the things that will get them re-elected.

CHLOE’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING ADVOCACY:

- Joined an advocacy group working to address the issue of affordability in the community

- Learned about affordable housing efforts locally and campaigned to mobilize support for solutions aimed at the municipal and provincial government

- Seeking to be further involved with the campaign and directly support city council candidates committed to affordable housing in the upcoming municipal election

JANAT

I joined BUILD to learn how to actively engage with my local politicians within Toronto to address issues and keep them accountableI’d like to see more inclusion and representation of people of colour in our government, especially Muslim women.

JANAT’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON Municipal Governance & Mental Health Policy:

- Researched the inaccessibility of mental health and collaborated with peers to organize a youth mental health conference

- Learned about Toronto’s Anti-Black Racism task force, their action plan and engaged with advisory committee members

- Participated in campaigning for and nominating a local politician in the upcoming provincial election in Ontario

Jessamine

I joined BUILD to learn about concrete mechanisms that will lead to effective and durable institutional changes. I would like to see our democratic system become more accessible to anyone who wishes to participate at any capacity. We deserve better political representation of marginalized communities and transparency in all instances of governmental decision-making.

JESSAMINE’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON QUEBEC PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION:

- Examined existing provincial school curriculum across Canada to analyze how changes are introduced and implemented 

- Sourced best practices on aligning classroom material with BIPOC perspectives as a toolkit for social studies and history school teachers

- Now participating in Climate Justice group on campus to decarbonize university activity through advocacy and education

Kiemia

I want to better understand the powers of different jurisdictions and understand if and how radical action is possible in and around our current political systems. I'd like to see our democratic system completely reconsider and reimagine itself — democracy for who  when the country was built on land theft, murder, and colonization? With ancestry from what is now a country that is deeply non-democratic, I comparatively value Canada's democratic system, however to move toward a healthy democracy for everyone that rights Canada's systemic wrongs, I think we must understand Canada's origins, accept today's landscape, and collaboratively build appropriate, localized governance structures.

Kiemia’s experiential learning focused on municipal advocacy and education:

- Organizing a town hall to educate her community on participatory budgeting

- Worked with public transit advocacy and environmental groups

- Planning to continue involvement in community organizing at a municipal level around public engagement with city hall

 

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Koren

I joined BUILD to learn how to take my interests and values to make a positive impact in my community. I want to be inspired by others that also felt tired of waiting for change and instead want to take steps in collective change. I'd love to see more young people get involved! Many of the policies that govern our communities were put in place and upheld by people that do not represent us. After a difficult couple of years during the pandemic, it was made apparent to me that the interests of workers are rarely the measure of success of our systems and it is time that we tackle these issues and have our voices heard.

KOREN’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING ADVOCACY:

- Explored ongoing campaigns aiming to address the need for more affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area

- Joined the Friends of Chinatown community association, a grassroots group fighting to keep Chinatown affordable and inclusive

- Participating in the Chinatown Community Land Trust project on the local residence/business canvass committee

Rita

I joined BUILD to gain the tools to better engage in Canada’s democracy and to advocate for positive change in my community. I would love to see our democratic system focus more on the common ground Canadians share. We could do so much more if we worked together rather than focusing on what separates us.

RITA’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON PUBLIC HEALTH ACCESSIBILITY:

Researched access to public healthcare provincially and learned specifically about primary care providers

- Compared how health access works across the country and analyzed media coverage of efforts to improve the system

- Moving towards connecting with local groups who want to expand access to primary care for underserved communities

SERENA

I joined BUILD because I want to learn how I can make positive changes in my community with the tools that are available to me right now as a Canadian youth. I would like to see our democratic system place more value on lived experience and less on professional or academic experience. Lived experience is so often discounted and folks who have this knowledge are rarely brought to the table to discuss issues that directly impact them.

SERENA’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FOCUSED ON ADVOCACY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES:

- Spearheaded efforts to bring a service animal policy onto her university campus

- Researched and compared existing policies across universities in various provinces across the country

- Arranged meetings with campus groups to educate and raise awareness about the need to adopt standards and fair procedures for people using service animals in academia