2022 Leading Social Justice Fellowship

The 2022 cohort of the Leading Social Justice Fellowship includes leaders from across sectors in the GTA who are working on social justice issues including racial justice, homelessness, health equity, climate justice, and more.

 

Learn more about each team and individual in the profiles below.
 

  A Radical Transformation: Addressing Gun and Community Violence

We want to provide tools to community members impacted by gun/community violence and need more resources to expand on the project and begin to enact the recommendations. Our ultimate goal – to build safer communities.

Bios:

Amanda Surujpaul , Dela Aziavor, Sami Pritchard (missing)
Amanda Surujpaul , Dela Aziavor, Sami Pritchard (not pictured)

Amanda Surujpaul: "Amanda Surujpaul is a graduate of McMaster University and is presently pursuing a Master of Education degree through the University of Ottawa. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of women, children and gender-diverse individuals in her work at YWCA Toronto. Amanda looks forward to the Social Justice Fellowship expanding her learning by providing more tools to support communities impacted by violence."

Dela Aziavor: "I’ve been working at YWCA Toronto for over twenty years where I pride myself in helping marginalized women and children, youth and gender diverse people live their lives free of violence. In 2019, I joined YWCA Toronto's Community Violence Dialogue which is a group of mothers, family members, YWCA staff and other community organizations and individuals who want to be agents of change in the fight against gun violence in the GTA.   "

Sami Pritchard: "I have been a community organizer and activist for over a decade, in particular working to address gender-based violence, mental health crisis, and as they link – community care and safety. I believe wholeheartedly that education is a gift that one generation can give to the next and that through education and advocacy there will one day be a society that centers on collective care, working to ensure everyone can not only survive, but thrive. "

  Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Project

Investigating the needs and exploring support options for asian migrant sex workers and massage palour workers. We aim to destigmatize sex work and provide support through creating space for discussion, education, research and policy advocacy.

Bios:

Headshots of Thitikarn (May) Tangthanasup, Vikki Huang
Starus Chan (not pictured), Thitikarn (May) Tangthanasup, Vikki Huang

Starus Chan: "My name is Starus and I was an international student at McMaster University, I finished my Bachelor of Social Work last June. I advocated for international students issues including unreasonable tuition fees and mental support. I have also been working in the migrant community in Canada including mobilizing Asian migrant sex workers and massage parlours workers via rallies, art expression and political participation (i.e. city council meeting)."

(May) Tangthanasup: "May is a Year 2 Occupational Therapy student at UofT who has over 15 years of experience advocating for and serving marginalized populations around the world."

Vikki Huang: "In June 2021, I graduated from U of T with a double major in Sociology and Criminology, which equipped me with a social justice lens and drove me into the social service sector, social work, and advocacy.  Currently, I am an MSW student of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. For my social work placement, I developed a policy for Unity Health Toronto to address abuse/neglect for clinical staff. For my employment, I work part-time as a support group peer leader with other LGBTQ+ newcomers and refugees, creating safer spaces and helping folks build self-advocacy skills. When it comes to self care, I love going to the nature, dance floor and watching drag race. Not to perpetuate Asian stereotype, but I am guilty of drinking bubble tea as snack or coffee."

 

  Building Bridges: Creating Pathways to Employment for Justice-Involved Black Youth

We want to improve reintegration planning for justice-involved Black youth in the GTA by focusing on creating accelerated pathways to income through employment that incorporate a holistic, culturally sensitive support system.

Bios:

Aileen Simon, Hannah Cook, Safiyah Husein
Aileen Simon, Hannah Cook, Safiyah Husein

Aileen Simon: "Aileen Simon works at the John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO) and has been the lead on building an innovative civil legal educational and training program aimed at frontline staff who serve justice-involved clients. She is also the JHSO lead on the Fair Chances Coalition, a group of organizations committed to advancing equity and opportunity in employment for Canadians with a criminal record. "

Hannah Cook: "Hannah Cook is a Research & Evaluation Analyst at the John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO). Hannah has lead and supported a variety of employment-focused projects and has extensive experience conducting research and evaluations working with marginalized populations. "

Safiyah Husein: "Safiyah Husein is a Senior Policy Analyst with the John Howard Society of Ontario where she leads policy development activities, supports research and public education initiatives and liaises with community partners and local offices. Safiyah holds a BSc in Psychology from York University and a JD from the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and was called to the Ontario Bar in June 2018.   ."

 

  Building leadership capacities of precariously employed Bangladeshi immigrant women experiencing gender inequity in the Canadian labor market. 

The aim of the project is to build leadership capacities of precariously employed Bangladeshi immigrant women experiencing gender inequity in the Canadian labor market in the East Danforth neighborhoods of Toronto. This includes generating awareness among community members and escalating structural issues for policy level change.

Bios:

Husna Sweet, Kishower Laila, Syeda Yesmin
Husna Sweet, Kishower Laila, Syeda Yesmin

Husna Sweet: "As a community leader at SAWRO I work closely on newcomer settlement issues. I have been involved in developing labor market policy reforms submitted to various stakeholders and political leaders."

Kishower Laila: "As a community woman leader working as a Research Assistant on injuries in precarious workplaces in collaboration with McMaster University. Also working as a project support worker in the Feminist Response & Recovery project at SAWRO. I am a vocal advocate of racialized immigrant women rights and settlement issues in the Canadian setting."

Syeda Yesmin: "I am the Member Secretary and com l of SAWRO for more than 15 years. SAWRO appointed me to work as project support worker for community garden and senior engagement project. My lived experience on precarious employment for 10 years enhances my capacity as a representative leader of precarious employment worker to stand forto build leadership capacities of precariously employed Bangladeshi immigrant women experiencing gender inequity in the Canadian labor market  their rights.  "

  Care Calls 

Care Calls seeks to connect seniors experiencing loneliness and mental health challenges with welcoming, culturally appropriate and accessible support. 

Bios:

Maduba Ahmad, Tariq Syed, Ruhi Kiflen
Maduba Ahmad, Tariq Syed, Ruhi Kiflen

Maduba Ahmad: "Maduba Ahmad is an award-winning leader with over a decade of experience in community development, project management and organizing impact through grassroots initiatives."

Tariq Syed: "A project analyst and idea hamster that helps develop new projects based on data and research. Founder of Good Neighbour Project and Waste Free Muslims"

Ruhi Kiflen: "Ruhi Kiflen is a Health Policy Advisor at the Ontario Hospital Association. She has previously worked with the Canadian Cancer Society, Public Health Ontario & St. Michael’s Hospital. She completed her Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto & her Masters in Public Health from McMaster University."

 

  Community Doulas Research Project

This project is dedicated to collecting race-based data regarding maternal mortality rates and birthing experiences. This data will be applied to implement a program that takes a holistic approach to addressing disparities in maternal health outcomes.

Bios:

Amanda Ottley, Jordyn Gibson, McKenzie Watson
Amanda Ottley, Jordyn Gibson, McKenzie Watson

Amanda Ottley: "I am a registered nurse and disrupter interested in building a Just Future now.  I love everything Soca and shiny."

Jordyn Gibson: " I am a daughter and doula, committed to supporting the development and delivery of solutions rooted in care for communities that look and/or live like mine."

McKenzie Watson: "McKenzie is applying for medical school this summer and plans to become an OB/GYN who focuses on delivering trauma-informed care. Previously, she interned with Be Her Village, an organization addressing the needs of new mothers holistically."

 

  Community EQ REVU: Co-designing Resident-led Action for Climate Justice

In order to support the City of Toronto in equitably achieving its goal of net zero emissions by 2040, we will co-design, implement and evaluate a program to address climate disruption through systems based change interventions, alongside underserved communities. We will co-design, implement and evaluate a program to address climate change in underserved communities.

Bios:

Anjum Chagpar, Minaz Asani, Zamani Ra
Anjum Chagpar, Minaz Asani, Zamani Ra

Anjum Chagpar: "Anjum recently left a 20 year career as a human factors designer in healthcare to apply her background in system's design and behavioural science to the climate crisis. An ardent Torontophile, she dreams of being a farmer someday."

Minaz Asani: "Minaz Asani is an environmentalist with a strong interest in equity. She has worked in 30 of Toronto’s 31 Neigbhbourhood Improvement Areas with 100 community groups but knows that these underserved communities have the least resources and will be most impacted by climate change."

Zamani Ra: "Zamani has over 20 years of experience in community capacity building which secured more than $1.2m in neighborhood improvements with overwhelming community supports. She is a Goddess of Inspiration, Warrior of Words, Sharer of Voices, Creator of Curated Content, Builder of Communities, Paradigm Shape Shifter, and Promoter of People Power."

 

  Equitable Leadership: Distinguishing the value and benefits of equitable leadership and developing an actionable plan to cultivate organizational cultures of equitable leadership

We seek to understand the root cause of Chinese Canadians’ underrepresentation in leadership, distinguish the value and benefits of equitable leadership and develop an actionable plan to implement key strategies to increase equitable leadership in the workplace.

Bios:

Jenny Qin, Leo Liu, Sophie Duan
Jenny Qin, Leo Liu, Sophie Duan

Jenny Qin: "Jenny has 20 years of extensive experience in the non-profit sector. She has joined United Way since 2002 and has been the lead for United Way Chinese Advisory Council since its establishment.  Jenny is a community activist.  She serves/served as the board director for several organizations"

Leo Liu: "Leo is a passionate soul, a loving father and a bold entrepreneur. As a Yale graduate, he founded Wendao International, which impacted 10,000+ lives during COVID-19 via life & business executive coaching. He is a Co-Chair of the Chinese Advisory Council (CAC) of United Way."

Sophie Duan: "A Medical Doctor immigrating to Canada over 2 decades, holding the same passion of helping people as a medical doctor does, transitioning career to business consulting, and founding a non-profit organization to help immigrant professionals for employment and businesses through soft-skill building, and social and workplace integration."

  Escaping Financial Abuse for Immigrant Women of Toronto

In our project we would like reducing the number of financially-abused immigrant women by conducting assessments, providing information, connecting women to affordable counseling, providing workshops and building partnerships with banks and financial literacy organizations.

Bios:

Elham Rasoulian, Amelia Pitchay, Yannan Gu
Elham Rasoulian, Amelia Pitchay, Yannan Gu

Elham Rasoulian: "I moved to Canada in 2019, and participated in Immigrant Women Integration Program (IWIP) which I learned, Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR).After finishing IWIP, I pursued CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) from Project Management Institute. I’m currently working at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions as a research coordinator."

Amelia Pitchay: "Amelia Pitchay is a tutor and teaching assistant for Academic Upgrading at Toronto Centre of Learning & Development. She is a budding researcher and enjoys doodling in her spare time."

Yannan Gu: "Yannan was employed as CBPAR Assistant at CL&D,  Co-coordinator for the UNESCO Knowledge for Change Tkaronto Hub, and collaborator in the Anti-Racism Action Research Program with the Chinese Canadian National Council."

  HAPPY (Healing Arts Prevention Program for Youth): Engaging Black male youth in arts-based gender-based violence prevention

Our team will address gender-based violence among Black male youth (16-24) residing in Peel and York regions, focusing on underserved communities in Brampton, Malton and Black Creek. Our team will create a holistic, culturally-relevant and youth-informed curriculum/intervention that uses the arts (spoken word, poetry, photography, etc.) as a tool to empower Black men to explore how gender norms intersect with media representations of Black men, unlearn toxic masculinity, and develop healthy ideals of manhood.

Bios:

Kwasi Adu-Poku, Madison Brockbank, Sydney Hussett
Kwasi Adu-Poku, Madison Brockbank, Sydney Hussett

Kwasi Adu-Poku: "A small business owner, research assistant and masters student in Public Policy and Administration at Toronto Metropolitan University. Has received over 20 academic/leadership honours for his community engagement, equity, and advocacy work."

Madison Brockbank: "Maddie Brockbank (she/her) is a PhD Student and Vanier Scholar in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. Her research, work, and volunteer experience has predominantly been in the area of anti-violence, with specific focus on engaging men in gender-based and sexual violence prevention."

Sydney Hussett: "Sydney is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and is interested in conducting community-based research with Black youth."

  Housing Justice Charter (Blue Door)

Achieving housing justice requires safe and affordable housing for all that allows individuals and families the opportunity to live in a safe, dignified space. This project hopes to see a meaningful commitment to housing across sectors and governments through the creation of a housing justice charter.

Bios:

Emily Rowe, Jerico Espinas, Lisa Limarzi
Emily Rowe, Jerico Espinas, Lisa Limarzi

Emily Rowe: "Emily (she/her) is an experienced leader with a strong background in organizational governance, corporate social responsibility and social justice. She is a distinguished graduate with a Master of Science (Msc) focused on Global Cooperation and Security from the University of Birmingham."

Jerico Espinas: "Currently working at Blue Door Support Services as both legal counsel and as a non-profit manager, Jerico has helped lead many of Blue Door’s current housing projects. He strongly believes that social determinants, like poverty and discrimination, are key factors that affect individuals’ health and housing outcomes. "

Lisa Limarzi: "Lisa has over 10 years in the not-for-profit sector.  Her skills range from strategy development, partnership, fundraising, program design and program implementation."

  Meta-Lifeline: Canada’s first food bank centred around chronic health conditions

Meta-LifeLine is Canada's first food bank centered around chronic health conditions (type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol). We aim to reframe food banks to become a tool for chronic disease prevention and management by providing access to healthy, whole foods, culturally inclusive education, and individualized support. 

Bios:

Dalia Hassan, Deena Hassan, Faten Hassan
Dalia Hassan, Deena Hassan, Faten Hassan

Dalia Hassan: "Hi! I'm Dalia. I'm a 2nd year nursing student at the University of Saskatchewan. I’m passionate about health equity and currently working on solutions that address gaps that exist in our healthcare ecosystem as it operates today. The common thread in the work I’ve undertaken in the last 5 years is creating community. "

Deena Hassan: "My family immigrated to Canada from Egypt when I was 6. I’m currently in my third year of nursing at uOttawa. Aside from challenging the status quo through Meta-Lifeline, I’m passionate about policy reform and systematic change."

Faten Hassan: "Healthcare professional passionate about equity, looking to dismantle the current health care system to make way for a new and better one.."

  Muslims in Public Space (MiPS): Reimagining Places of Play

MiPs is working to build a more inclusive city through the medium of art in public spaces in the hopes of addressing more complex challenges. Our projects generally try to reimagine public spaces using traditional artistic Islamic motifs in order to foster belonging. 

Bios:

Igor Samardzic, Linda Salem, Mehedi Khan
Igor Samardzic, Linda Salem, Mehedi Khan

Igor Samardzic: "Igor is a community organiser, disability advocate, and urban planner. He volunteers and serves on a number of boards and committees focused on affordable housing, accessibility, public transportation, reclaiming public space, and community engagement."

Linda Salem: "As an alumnus of the University of Toronto, having completed a double major in Art History and City Studies I am passionate about the intersection of cities and the arts. In my experience in community development I strive to use arts as a tool to create a more equitable city."

Mehedi Khan: "Hi there, my name is Mehedi Khan. I have a background in planning from York University and am interested in working towards a more equitable and accessible City."

  Resist, Rest, Revolutionize Retreat

Create a network of BIPOC leaders working within government organization or community services that is truly supportive. Where one can enter a space created just for them to connect, heal, recharge, share strategies and inspire one another. 

Bios:

Jane Realmo, Jenna Dolly, Sumu Sathi
Jane Realmo, Jenna Dolly, Sumu Sathi

Jane Realmo: "Jane Realmo is a Mexican from Chicago whose first language is not English and grew up around an "us vs them" mentality. Jane has always been aware of power dynamics and is constantly striving to find and create spaces of belonging. Jane has a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Studies from Ryerson University where the focus of her thesis was "Understanding How Parenting & Family Literacy Centres Help Families Experiencing Poverty & Immigration". She has over 15 years of experience working with children and families in a variety of early childhood settings. Her areas of specialization include child development, family-centered practice, and adult education."

Jenna Dolly: "Jenna openly navigates the challenges of work/life balance in her roles as a social worker, policy advisor, therapist, and labour movement activist. With a Bachelors and Masters degree in Social Work, Jenna’s career expands 15+ plus years of frontline community work, direct client support, and policy analyst experience.  A true advocate at heart, Jenna lives and breathes community, disrupting structural oppression and values meaningful dialogues."

Sumu Sathi: "Sumu Sathi is a Tamil Canadian with over 10 years of government frontline caseworker experience in social services and the first racialized Chair for York Region Unit and Long-Term Care with the Canadian Union of Public Employees. She is an alumni of University of Toronto pursuing an advanced degree in Social Work at the University of Manitoba, and the co-founder of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Collective Human Rights Committee at CUPE. ."

  Speak Up: Dismantling Language Barriers in Healthcare

Language barrier poses a big problem for first-generation immigrants seeking health services, which has shown to affect them with disproportionately higher rates of morbidity and mortality. Our project aims to promote culturally competent care by improving access to translation resources for patients with a lack of proficiency in English.

Bios:

Chelsea Kim, Angie Park, Judy Kim
Chelsea Kim, Angie Park, Judy Kim

Chelsea Kim: "Hello! I'm an incoming Ph.D. student at Western University where my research lies at the intersection of neuroscience, AI, and psychology. Outside of research, I have a growing passion for DEI and social justice initiatives, and I'm excited to help expand the scope of KCSF's social justice programs through this fellowship!"

Angie Park: "I am a Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellow at U of T (Dept. of Management), cross-affiliated with the Gender and the Economy (GATE) institute at Rotman. As my research focuses on increasing the impact and measurability of DEI pedagogy mechanisms, I work as a Learning Experience Designer and Facilitator at The Humphrey Group, a boutique leadership communication training firm, as a part of my postdoctoral fellowship."

Judy Kim: "I am a clinical research coordinator at Toronto General Hospital. Currently involved in different associations such as, Korean Canadian Scholarship Foundation (KCSF), Faculty of Community Services Asian Student Association (FCS-ASA), Korean-American Scientists and Engineer association (KSEA) and Association of Korean Canadian Scientists and Engineering (AKCSE), organizing conferences & events and to nurture international cooperation, career development and community service in Korean American & Korean Canadian population."

  The Chalmers Signal Project

The Chalmers Project is a guerilla project fighting homelessness in Toronto, Ontario. Currently, we are focusing on improving the speed and accuracy of a slow and error prone shelter referral system.

Bios:

Kai Xie, Shubhi Sharma, Zach Donsky
Kai Xie, Shubhi Sharma, Zach Donsky

Kai Xie: "I make things, to build a better world for humans. I drink coffee, write code, and think in systems!"

Shubhi Sharma: "Sharp, focused, and adventurous. Bases their decisions on shrewd timelines and first hand research with stakeholders & empathy. When primary research is unavailable, is adept at distilling large datasets into actionable insights."

Zach Donsky: "A hacker and civic technologist. Has made fighting and learning about homelessness a focus for life. Believes everyone should have free and ready access to a private and indoor space."

  Unity & Smiles

This social justice initiative intends to continue the work of Smile for Sache, with a specialized focus to reduce crime and increase education in 3 neighborhoods across Toronto in 3 years. The project aims to bring together youth with leadership potential from Toronto’s top priority neighborhoods.

Bios:

Ala'a Adib, Kherto Ahmed, Rachel Bipatnath
Ala'a Adib, Kherto Ahmed, Rachel Bipatnath

Ala'a Adib: "has an academic background from Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning and completed her Bachelors of Marketing. I am an avid creator that has spent nearly a decade providing advice on marketing strategies to organizations."

Kherto Ahmed: "My name is Kherto, I am a graduate student at Western University. I am a huge advocate for the power of education and unifying communities within the GTA "

Rachel Bipatnath: "I am a graduate from Western University, specializing in Criminology, as well as McMaster University where she completed her Masters in Sociology. I am passionate about a career in law, where she believes that through our legal system, important change can be achieved. "

  WFC (Working for Change) Enterprise

Marginalized communities, particularly those impacted by mental health challenges, face great difficulties in finding and maintaining sustainable, just and meaningful employment.  We aim to advocate for heightened awareness and broadened practice of social enterprise models that provide equitable supports for people facing barriers to employment.

Bios:

Aaron Harpell, Lubna Khalid, Matthew Neill
Aaron Harpell, Lubna Khalid, Matthew Neill

Aaron Harpell: "Aaron Harpell is a horticultural industry professional based in Toronto with a passion for regenerative horticulture, Ontario native plants and sustainable business practices. In 2021, Aaron joined Working For Change leading the Parkdale Green Thumb Enterprise program. "

Lubna Khalid: "Lubna Khalid was born and raised in Pakistan. She moved to Toronto in 2000. She holds a Master’s degree in Physiology from Pakistan. She has been an active member of her community working with immigrant women from South Asia. She believes that social exclusion of women affects communities and integration is the key to erase stereotyping and stigma. "

Matthew Neill: "With an initial 20-year career as a chef and addict, he has since worked in the asylum and refugee sector in the UK and the anti-poverty and food security sector in Toronto. He has campaigned and advocated with marginalized communities for housing rights; food rights; workers rights; an end to indefinite detention; and strengthened social supports amongst other issues."