Harpreet Gill of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Jamil Jivani:
Harpreet has been a powerful source of positivity and inspiration in the northwest Toronto area, including the Jane and Finch and Rexdale neighbourhoods. A social worker by training, she has brought her compassion and understanding of youth in our city to encourage political participation and civic engagement. As a volunteer she has helped over one hundred youth complete the Citizen Empowerment Project’s #JaneAndFinchVotes training that provides the fundamentals of political organizing at local, provincial and national levels. She has also helped deliver dozens of presentations to youth about politics and the importance of voting. Harpreet is new to politics herself, as last year’s federal election is the first time she voted herself. It has been inspiring to see her bring many other young people along with her on her journey toward being a political citizen.
Juror Morgan Baskin says: In Toronto we need in Toronto people within communities passing on their knowledge of how to be your own political advocate, Harpreet’s work with Jane and Finch votes caught my eye because it does just that. Not just a get out the vote campaign but teaching young people how to advocate for themselves and organize within the political system.people within communities passing on their knowledge of how to be your own political advocate, Harpreet’s work with Jane and Finch votes caught my eye because it does just that. Not just a get out the vote campaign but teaching young people how to advocate for themselves and organize within the political system.
Rosa Chu of Markham, Ontario was nominated by Melissa Ngo:
Rosa is a motivated, young leader who is a strong advocate for people with disabilities. She is a founding board of director at Hand Over Hand Community Organization (HOH), which started as a high school club in 2006, and eventually became a nonprofit due to community need. HOH is an organization dedicated to creating safe and accessible spaces with and for people with disabilities. Rosa, who has epilepsy, has helped to create its free community programs: a Social Group, a Pen Pal Program, and a Parent Support Group. These programs are to address the needs of people with disabilities who are 15–30 years old, due to the lack of affordable programs after many services end at 18 years of age. HOH received the David C Onley Accessibility Award in 2016. This is largely in part because Rosa has been instrumental in empowering the community to be more accessible.
Juror Cindy Blackstock says: "Great leaders can translate their own challenges into loving and meaningful gifts to change the world for those experiencing the most hardship. Rosa’s creation of HOH to respect, support and honor youth with disabilities ensures their full participation in a society that is in great need of their gifts and talents."
Juror Rick Mercer says: "Rosa identified one of the many gaps that separate us, but instead of taking about it created safe and accessible spaces for -- and with -- people with disabilities. Empowering a community to change and make change is a powerful and enduring way to strengthen our social fabric."
Angela Code of Whitehorse, Yukon was nominated by Shelby Maunder:
Angela is Sayisi Dene originally from Tadoule Lake, Manitoba who has lived in Whitehorse since she was ten years old. She was worked with BYTE — Empowering Youth Society for the last two years, bringing experiential workshops on a variety of topics such as Safe Partying, Healthy Relationships and Healthy Minds to youth across the North.
In and outside of work, Angela is a culture and language revitalization activist. She has brought her passion for learning and teaching Indigenous languages to youth across the territory and works hard to make young people in the North feel proud about their communities, culture and skills.
Angela is passionate about decolonization and lives this everyday through small and large acts such as participating in Handgames tournaments, tanning hides, sharing her knowledge and working with ReMatriate.
Juror Max FineDay says: "Angela's commitment to advocating for and educating young people across the north makes her an outstanding political citizen! Her passion for teaching positive relationship behaviours to youth, ensuring that Indigenous women are positively represented in media, and dedication to northern languages and culture make her a role model for young people, particularly young girls, right across this country. Her ideas, passion, and innovative approaches contribute greatly to her region, and to our country - this is political citizenship at it's finest!"
Ruth Kaviok of Arviat, Nunavut was nominated by Lindsay DuPre:
Ruth Kaviok is an inspiring young leader from Arviat, Nunavut who has a deep commitment to promoting sustainability in the Arctic and increasing awareness of the impacts of climate change on Inuit communities. Specifically, through her experience with the Students on Ice Foundation, TakingITGlobal and the Canadian Museum of Nature she has developed a passion for promoting cross-cultural understanding of environmental issues through experiential learning and storytelling. Her ability to bring together scientific approaches with traditional Inuit knowledge is incredibly powerful and unique for someone so young. Ruth carries great hope in her love of learning, laughter and the kindness she spreads to those around her and she provides a strong example of how Indigenous youth are creating positive change not just for their communities, but for all people sharing the land now called Canada.
Juror Cory Nicotine says: "Tansi, I'm nominating Ruth Kaviok for her passion to use her knowledge learnt thru experience with TakingITGlobal to teach others through story telling. and because I feel that blending traditional Inuit knowledge with scientific approach is a great learning tool to keeping traditional culture alive and for non-Inuit people to learn about the values of the land in the north."
Juror Barry Peters says: "A champion of sustainability and building awareness of the impacts of climate change, Ruth Kaviok leads a truly inspiring and positive life. Her approach to science, by incorporating the teachings of the Inuit people, is a powerful tool. Ruth’s contributions to her community and Indigenous youth issues reminds us to look beyond our own experiences and embrace the knowledge of those who were here before us."
Hafsah Asadullah of Milton, Ontario was separately nominated by Amanda Backal and Bailey Greenspon:
Hafsah is an amazing example of an equitable and strong leader. Anyone that knows Hafsah would be able to see what a remarkable citizen she is, whether that be because of her passion for educating herself and others on social and political issues or because of her desire to help people in any way she can. When working in a group of people, not only does Hafsah contribute creative and innovative ideas, but she also listens to the ideas of others and makes all group members feel welcome and included. Hafsah is always willing to speak out on issues that matter to her. Even when she has a unique idea or opinion that some don’t agree with or understand, Hafsah stays true to herself and her values and does not allow other people to silence her voice. This is what makes Hafsah such an inspiring person. A good role model like Hafsah is never afraid to speak her mind, especially when her ideas can bring much needed change to issues she cares about. - Amanda Backal
I met Hafsah when I was volunteering for Bootcamp for Brains, a leadership bootcamp for teenage girls, and knew we were going to be kindred spirits. In an exercise run by Rotman’s executive leadership, Hafsah confidently associated the root causes of poverty to be in the capitalist system within Canada. Basic for someone in an undergrad degree, maybe, but at just 18 she was still in high school! It got better! Hafsah was often the first to raise her hand and ask our formidable speakers challenging questions about the status of women, race, and other uncomfortable questions that pushed the conversation forward. Hafsah wears a hijab and, when our keynote speaker Terri McCullough of the Clinton Foundation talked role models, Hafsah asked how she could find role models that look like her! Not satisfied with the answer, Hafsah vowed to become the first hijab-wearing Member of Parliament in Canada!
Now in her first year of studies at University of Toronto, Hafsah keeps her friends informed about political news and constantly presses for better politics. I have no doubt she’ll achieve her dream. But now, for her challenging questions, bold stances, curiosity and her willingness to dream big, she is 100% my pesonal everyday political hero! - Bailey Greenspon
Juror Farah Mohamed says: "Hafsah possess equal parts curiosity, passion and commitment. She has a terrific sense of individualism but at the same time, she values the role she plays as a member of the team. Canada needs young people who see their role in politics, in shaping their country and in presenting their ideas free of judgement; Canada needs Hafsah."
Caleb Turner of Moose Cree First Nation was nominated by Lindsay DuPre and TakingIT Global:
Caleb Turner is a youth role model, mentor and mobilizer from Moose Cree First Nation in northern Ontario.In the short time that I have known Caleb I have learned an enormous amount about what it means to be a leader and political citizen. In everything that he does, he carries a deep sense of responsibility and respect for his role within his community and the gifts that he has to offer. He approaches his work with great humility, focusing on demonstrating healthy life choices in everything that he does and always looking for new ways to learn and connect with people.
In his work leading youth programming at the John R. Delaney Youth Centre, Caleb promotes culture and language revitalization as key pathways to suicide prevention and empowerment for youth. He celebrates the power of play and laughter, encouraging young people to get involved in sports, the arts and ceremony. In doing this he demonstrates great patience and understanding, finding ways to reach youth that does not pressure them, but welcomes them how and when they are ready. He has also played a role in sharing knowledge and representing his community as a drummer at many pow wows and at a recent youth gathering in Haida Gwaii on the west coast where he went to gain new ideas for supporting and mobilizing youth.
Lastly, what I think is most unique about Caleb is the way in which his role as a political citizen is so deeply tied to his family history. He shows great pride in who he is and where he comes from and uses that to guide everything that he does. He is currently learning how to speak Cree from his family and hopes to be able to help share knowledge through the language in the future.There is incredible innovation in remote northern Indigenous communities that deserves to be recognized and appreciated across the country. Caleb represents this innovation in many ways and to me is a perfect example of an everyday political citizen.
Juror Hana Woldeyes says: "I am pleased to nominate Caleb Turner. I chose Celeb because he is an active political citizen and an idol for all. Caleb understands, values and promotes culture,and language. As an everyday political citizen he uses his knowledge to empower and inspire young people."
Juror Andrea Reimer says: "Even in a field of exceptional candidates, Caleb Turner's work to address youth suicide prevention and empowerment stands out. His work is innovative and courageous, while understanding that healing from the impacts of colonization needs a patience and long game perspective that lives in the way he takes each step with and on behalf of members of his community. This would be hard work anywhere but the fact that he is mobilizing this change in a remote northern indigenous community is especially deserving of acknowledgement and recognition."
Erin Kang of Toronto, Ontario was separately nominated by Craig Carter-Edwards, Joshua Fernandes, and Ilaneet Goren:
Canada’s political narratives tend to be dominated by usual suspects, planned narratives and tightly-scripted messaging. The voices of Canada’s most vulnerable aren’t heard.
Erin Kang seeks to change that. Through her event series Stories of Ours http://www.storiesofours.org/, Erin has created a safe space where the voices we need to hear and who deserve to be heard have a chance to tell their stories.
Erin not only creates a space where vulnerability is permitted, but she empowers each speaker to tell their story for maximum impact, striking a balance between authenticity and clarity of presentation.
Stories of Ours, and Erin’s personal story, have been featured in the Toronto Star.
Particularly as governments and business recognize the need to listen to those who suffer from globalization and are excluded from our political conversations, projects like Stories of Ours and community champions like Erin Kang need to be listend to. — Craig Carter-Edwards
Erin Kang embodies an Everyday Political Citizen because of her work as a community builder.
Her grassroots storytelling project, Stories of Ours, creates the conditions for solidarity and understanding among participants and storytellers by offering audiences the ability to bear witness to experiences far outside their own lived experiences. The goal of her work is to inspire the simple and truly revolutionary act of caring. She writes, ‘Each experience, vulnerability and strength that is shared acts as a bridge between us — and this is magical. It makes us care.’
She stands out because of the deep humility she brings to her work. It is not about her, but rather is about those she elevates and honours. Through her work, democracy is strengthened because of the attention she shines on non-dominant narratives. Democracy is healthiest when all voices are heard and are given respect and attention. — Joshua Fernandes
I met Erin in 2014 through Stories Of Ours, a story-telling project at the Centre for Social Innovation at Regent Park that challenges mainstream perceptions about identity and what it means to be Canadian. As the founder and creator of the project, Erin designs and curates the program, engages diverse speakers and performers, and brings people together to listen to each other, to share, to laugh and cry together, to do silly things (like her “Expecto Patronum” spell ice-breaker) and experience a collective shift. She has a unique ability talk about concepts like “identity,” “allyship” and “oppression” in ways that are accessible and devoid of jargon, helping people with varied backgrounds connect on the level of universal human experiences of pain, loss, love, connection, and belonging. As an educator and social worker, I know that when people feel moved and engaged on a deeper emotional level, they are more inclined to participate in society in a meaningful way. That is the impact of Erin’s work.
I was one of the Stories Of Ours speakers that Erin engaged through Passages Canada, and I was a bit out of my element being new to storytelling. Erin coached me through every step of the process, and helped me discover the power of storytelling as a tool for education and social change. Over the past two years I have participated in several Stories Of Ours gatherings. I have also connected one of my fellow community activists who came out to share her story of challenges and triumphs as a young transgender woman with an intellectual disability living in Scarborough. My friend is systematically excluded from many spaces due to transphobia, ableism and other forms of prejudice, so participating in something like this was a big deal with her. To stand in front of a group of strangers and share her deeply personal journey wasn’t easy or comfortable for her, but Erin supported and coached her throughout the entire process, helping her feel welcomed just as she is and uncover the strengths and resilience within her story. To this day my friend speaks of Stories Of Ours as an incredibly empowering experience that has made a significant impact on her sense of self and inspired her to share her story with more people.
This year, my team (from Harmony Movement harmony.ca) and I were among the people and organizations who participated in the YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) festival that Erin managed. In addition to having exceptional organizational and communications skills as a coordinator, we loved working with Erin because she is authentic, warm, kind, supportive and approachable, and is guided by principles of equity and inclusion. This was the third time I participated in YIMBY — the first time under Erin’s guidance — and her touch was seen everywhere, from checking in personally with each tabler to ensuring visitors felt welcomed and like they belonged. I was impressed with the level of care and attention she brought to the project planning and execution, which were evident in its success and popularity: this year Mayor John Tory attended the event for the first time which helped draw media attention to our collective efforts of building more socially and environmentally conscious communities.
Erin is driven by a vision of a city that feels like a community of communities. What makes her stand out as a community-builder, organizer and leader is her ability to connect on a human level across a wide range of life experiences, identities, needs and perspectives and to bring people together around a common vision of a better city we all want to live in.
I have been seeing the ripple effect Erin’s work through the Stories of Ours and through YIMBY — it impossible not to be inspired and fueled by her energy. The sense of community that Erin has created is powerful and has the potential to drive social change by inspiring people to be more attuned to realities of those around them and engage with issues in their community. That has been my own experience, and the experience of other participants I spoke with.
Our world needs more community organizers, bridge-builders and authentic leaders who understand the value of diversity but also work to challenge systemic barriers that hinder inclusion. The World Needs More Erin Kang! — Ilaneet Goren
Juror Owen Charters says: "I’m selecting Erin because I think the role of stories in shaping our lives and decisions – respecting and learning from the stories of others – is critical in building empathy and a better society. We know that being political means listening to the stories of others, integrating them with your own, and creating the stories of where we want to go – with Erin’s work, she is creating a better society."