The 2016 EPCitizen Nominees (18–29)
Aged 18–29 Category
Total nominations: 104
1. Aliya Bhatia of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Tom Gleason:
I have known Aliya for several years and in that time there hasn’t been a time when she hasn’t been actively involved in the community or social justice initiatives. Whether it was organizing a lecture series for students at the University of Toronto, campaigning for progressive candidates in elections, or currently, as volunteer Director of Community Engagement for the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Aliya has been an active leader and advocate for civic engagement.
As Director of Community Engagement, Aliya created an Advisory Board to receive advice from experienced community allies and a mentorship programme for young leaders to develop personally and professionally. Aliya has done this with tireless passion and a drive to always do more to make Toronto a more equitable and youth-friendly city.
Aliya is a friend, mentor, teammate and the epitome of Everyday Political Citizen.
2. Philippa French of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Upon coming to Toronto, Philippa, or “Pip” as her friends affectionately call her, immediately got involved in the community, applying what she learnt from her masters in public policy into city-building in every sense of the word.
She has organized a speaker series for her graduate peers that brought in community leaders and city-builders to speak about different urban issues. A member of the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy’s Community Panel, Philippa is advising the city in its work building resiliency and supportive systems for youth most vulnerable to serious crime and violence.
At a neighbourhood-level, Philippa is also hosting a pop-up block party with the Trinity Bellwoods BIA that is bringing out the community and engaging businesses to take part. There will be a variety of workshops including chocolate tasting, portrait drawing, ink making, urban beekeeping etc. — this is city-building and what makes Pip an outstanding Everyday Political Citizen.
3. DeiJaumar Clarke of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
DeiJaumar Clarke is the Youth Co-Chair of the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (TYES), and someone who I have had the extreme privilege of mentoring and learning from.
As Youth Co-Chair, he is the voice of young Torontonians and works with the city to build resiliency and supportive systems for youth most vulnerable to serious crime and violence. DeiJaumar draws from his lived experience with the criminal justice system to advise the City of Toronto so that other at-risk youth do not have to encounter the same challenges he did.
At our Town Hall on Gun Violence earlier this summer, DeiJaumar courageously spoke about his lived experience to decision-makers, media, and a large audience in Council Chambers at Toronto City Hall.
4. Misha Boutilier of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Semra Sevi:
Misha is an exemplary citizen who in my opinion will become a future leader someday. His passion to prevent and halt crimes against humanity is rooted in his commitment to the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, a student-led research and advocacy group based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. I’ve seen Misha organize many educational events with major speakers, such as Lloyd Axworthy, to commemorate the Rwandan genocide and to engage the general public. His commitment to speak up for the voiceless is also evident in his tireless work for the International Human Rights Working Group on LGBT Refugee Rights and the Ontario Attorney General’s Aboriginal Justice Division. Misha is one of the most committed and hardworking individuals I have gotten to know. He has my highest recommendation as an Everyday Political Citizen.
5. Keshav Paliwal of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia was nominated by Tim Halman:
Every once in a while you come across a fellow citizen and you know they will make a great contribution to your community, province and country. Keshav Paliwal is one of those citizens!
In the last federal election, Keshav organized the largest student vote in Nova Scotia in order to engage his school and community in the political process. This was accomplished while being non-partisan. He brought together all the candidates in Dartmouth — Cole Harbour for a political forum in order to raise awareness about civic engagement and to teach youth about the democratic process.
Keshav leads by example and cares deeply about his community and reminds all of us that our youth in Canada are amazing and are making a great contribution everyday for a better tomorrow.
The world needs more Keshav Paliwals.
6. Jacq Brasseur of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories was nominated by Mayor Mark Heyck:
Quite literally, a “Jacq of All Trades,” Jacq Brasseur has demonstrated a great commitment to the Yellowknife community, from working with United Way to co-founding the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife (formerly It Gets Better Yellowknife), a positive space for queer and trans youth to spend time. Jacq continues to immerse herself in the political framework of Yellowknife with regards to LGBTQ+ rights; she is both passionate and driven, and a true testament to what an Everyday Political Citizen can be.
7. Michael Kennedy of Montreal, Quebec was nominated by Jennifer Jackson:
Michael has taught me that I can be friends with people who are very different, politically, than myself. Michael has been a member of the NDP, Liberal, and Conservative parties. He is a stalwart supporter of Canadian rights and freedoms, in his professional role as the Communications and Development Coordinator at the Justice Centre, and in his personal life, where he is always eager to discuss politics over a coffee or a pint. Michael is firmly committed to free speech, accountable government, and advocacy. He is engaged with a variety of community organizations, and promotes political engagement through social media and grassroots initiatives. He challenges opinions, and doesn’t let me get away with lazy democracy; I must know what I stand for and why. Michael’s commitment to democracy and freedom is inspiring, and he deserves to be an Everyday Political Citizen because that is exactly what he is.
8. Sam Bick of Montreal, Quebec was nominated by Mark Dance:
My friend Sam Bick is one of the most political of citizens.
Sam and I are fellow students at the McGill law faculty. My first memory of him was when he coaxed a group of us, during orientation week, to venture off campus and attend a demonstration for migrant justice. There, I saw Sam in his element: talking with other activists, asking questions, learning, trying to weave together a community around an issue. I felt welcomed onto a more interesting and much more political side of Montreal by Sam and I continue to feel welcomed there whenever we spend time together.
Throughout our first year of law school, Sam managed to keep up his activist habits, bringing his light-hearted but always substantive voice to the airwaves with a super rad and super fun radio show called Treyf. Its tagline: “A debatably Jewish podcast.” On the show, Sam and his co-host David Zinman interrogate the cultural and political news of the week from a progressive and Jewish perspective, always with dazzling guests, great anecdotes and a playful attitude. http://treyfpodcast.tumblr.com/
While other law students are crushed in the gears of the law faculty’s academic machinery, Sam keeps his chin up and eyes open; a real threat in law school is that an inundation with material causes one to become satisfied with just trying to hold on and get by, ceasing to ask questions or formulate alternative standpoints. Sam never lets his critical lens get ground down, never stops thinking about the interests behind the law and the effects of the system on those without access to the legal profession.
He’s also a political citizen in the sense that he interrogates the idea of citizenship itself — constantly thinking about who counts and who doesn’t, who is drawn in and left out.
Sam’s got rare patience and empathy in political matters, willing to listen to other perspectives and work through the assumptions on the other side of the debate. This attitude is captured in one of his (many) catch phrases, which is occasionally uttered in jest when someone says something particularly outlandish and indefensible: “Gotta hear both sides,” he will say.
Another of his favourite catch phrases, though, is this: “Life comes at you fast.” When it comes to new political citizens who have entered my life and shaken up my perspective in the last year, I can think of no better way to capture how I feel about Sam than that phrase.
Keep rocking it, Sammy! You inspire me all the time.
9. Karel Vuong of Kitchener, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Karel Vuong is a community builder and connector using technology to facilitate greater civic engagement and foster Canadian identity.
Karel recognizes that belonging is the difference between someone in the highly transient tech world coming to work temporarily and planting down their roots and staying. If Canada is to be a global leader in the innovation economy, we need them to stay.
This is why Karel is focused on creating incredible community and employee experiences at Diagram, a venture launchpad building the next generation of global companies based in Canada. He is also the founder of Spaces, a platform that showcases where Canadian innovation and creativity comes to life.
Karel writes for BetaKit and sits on the editorial advisory board for StartUP HERE Toronto, a collaborative economic development initiative launched by the City of Toronto to support the growing startup and innovation community in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor.
10. Monah Water of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Monah Water is a young leader from Toronto’s Kingston Galloway community.
A victim of gun violence herself, she refuses to let the violence continue and has taken a pro-active role on the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (TYES) — Community Panel to actively combat it. As a voice for the community, Monah is giving a voice to young Torontonians in what has been a deadly summer for the city.
Monah courageously spoke out at the TYES Town Hall on Gun Violence as a panelist, sharing the challenges she faced and what the City of Toronto needs to do to support her community, and her own lived experience at Rallying in Da 6.
Many Torontonians, myself included, look to Monah for the courage to say what people need to hear vs. what they want to be told.
11. Kareen Marshall of Malvern, Ontario was nominated by John Beebe:
Kareen embodies the concept of Ubuntu. Ubuntu means, “I am what I am because of who we are”.
Kareen fosters community in Malvern by building interest in democratic engagement with field trips to city hall and Queens Park, listening to the concerns of community members and then encouraging them to take action on issues that matter to them.
Kareen has been a leader in efforts to increase political engagement by the Black community in the GTA.
And she does this all with passion, humour and gentle determined persuasion.
12. Dania Ansari of Scarborough, Ontario was nominated by John Beebe:
Having worked in various Scarborough neighbourhoods over the years, Dania now works in the area of Malvern as the Convener for 1LoveMalvern, a network of service agencies, institutions and residents working together to develop innovative initiatives, leverage resources to achieve community transformation. Having been designated as an “emerging neighbourhood” in 2014, Dania has been part of the two year transition of Malvern from a “priority neighbourhood” into an “emerging neighbourhood”, where her role has been engaging local stakeholders in special projects around community priorities. One of the priorities has been creating platforms for residents to voice their concerns and participate in local decision making.
As part of this priority, Dania and her team at 1LoveMalvern was instrumental in introducing Community Speaks to Malvern in 2015, where residents participated in group discussions about safety in public spaces, beautification and accessibility. Topics for Community Speaks were selected through outreach done with residents at various community events. In addition, Dania and the 1LoveMalvern Food Security Workgroup facilitated a multi-stakeholder partnership to launch a free weekly community lunch for low income individuals, Malvern Eats, where all community members are welcome to eat, socialize and learn about local resources. Malvern Eats has been designed for residents to not only learn about local assets but also to talk to service providers about their issues and concerns which affect local interventions designed for Malvern.
13. Jocelyn LeBlanc of TBD, New Brunswick was nominated by Laura Anthony:
The Samara team had the pleasure of working with Jocelyn over the summer as he completed his Loran summer internship. Spending his summer working tirelessly at Samara is just one of the ways that Jocelyn contributes to making Canadian democracy better. Jocelyn is originally from XX New Brunswick and is entering his second year at the University of Ottawa this fall. Jocelyn is a passionate advocate for protecting Canada’s two national languages and celebrates his own Acadian roots through education and conversation. Jocelyn is also dedicated youth advocate, and spent time working with his local school board to improve education in his New Brunswick.
14. Alejandra Ortiz of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by José Ramón Martí:
Whether volunteering for an organization promoting women in politics, showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, raising awareness about the intersectional nature of injustice, or challenging harmful misconceptions about women and feminism on social media, Alejandra is a strong, committed, and outspoken advocate for all women and the rights of indigenous communities and other oppressed groups.
She’s always ready and willing to engage others in important and constructive conversations about feminism and the challenges confronting racialized and immigrant communities, and, in her spare time, helps run fundraisers and other events to benefit various groups and social causes.
As a refugee from Colombia, she is passionate about promoting greater understanding across cultures, and welcoming and supporting those fleeing violence and devastation. Alejandra stands firmly by her beliefs and isn’t afraid to act on them.
All of these contributions, and more, make her well-deserving of the Everyday Political Citizen moniker!
15. Natasha Miletic of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Natasha Miletic is a rising leader in migration, citizenship, and integration who has taken her expertise and applied it to city-building.
Always ready to help and stay late despite her long commute, she has been integral in our work at the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy — Community Panel and the Town Hall we hosted on Gun Violence would not have been possible without her and Pip French, another outstanding #EPCitizen.
I know that I can always count on Natasha to make time for the community, her motivations are genuine, and her passion infectious. Our community is stronger because of her.
16. Imanzi Kayitare of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Imanzi Kayitare is an economist by day and a city-builder by night.
A voice for the Rwandan community, he co-founded and leads the Canadian Association of Rwandan Youth where he is connecting the Rwandan diaspora with youth empowerment and mentorship. Outside of his cultural community, he is helping to build the next generation of Canadian business and city leaders as an adviser to Venture for Canada and Magnet, and the Executive Committee for CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network.
In his local community, Imanzi serves on the board for the Mississauga Housing Co-operative representing over 300 members. Like all #EPCitizens, he doesn’t have to do this, but instead chooses to.
The world needs more economists like Imanzi who understands the importance of investing in civic engagement and community.
17. Tina Park of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Tina Park is an inspiring leader promoting greater political engagement in Canada and abroad.
As the founder and coordinator of University of Toronto Women in House, Tina has taken an active role to promote gender equity in Canadian federal politics by providing female students with the opportunity to shadow a parliamentarian for a day on Parliament Hill.
She is also the co-founder and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Responsibility to Protect, a non-profit and non-partisan research organization at the Munk School of Global Affairs dedicated to the study and advocacy of the R2P principle, which states that the international community has the responsibility to protect people from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity when the national government fails to do so.
Tina has advocated for political implementation of R2P at the House of Commons here in Canada and abroad at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C., the IPU Assembly in Quebec and Quito, as well as in Istanbul, Vienna, Seoul, London and Barcelona. Her #EPCitizen-ness is so strong that it’s taking her beyond our borders.
Within Canada, it’s inspired many, myself included, to follow in her leadership to be a force for change. Without a doubt #TheWorldNeedsMore of Tina Park.
18. Stas Ukhanov of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Stas Ukhanov is a city-builder and urban innovator advocating for public space.
Do you have trouble finding places to sit down in Toronto? Well luckily for you and I, we have Stas fighting for us through an advocacy campaign called #SitTO. Using folding chairs, he’s standing up for more seating in the city by sitting down.
Stas is also leading the programming for Open Streets TO where streets are opened to people and closed to cars, encouraging participation in physical activity and healthy recreation. People are reconnecting with the city and learning more about how they can get involved in the community.
With a future where most people will live in cities, #TheWorldNeedsMore Stas Ukhanov so that cities will have ample seating, public spaces, and are liveable and vibrant.
19. Callista Ryan of Squamish, British Columbia was nominated by Sebastian Muermann:
Within 30 seconds of having met Callista this past summer, I was struck by the incredible spirit of this young woman from British Colombia, about to begin her studies in International Relations at Western University.
Originally from Squamish BC, Callista has tirelessly dedicated herself to engaging her peers in politics, and being an advocate for young people. She organized multiple youth parliaments up and down the province, traveled to different communities in order to ensure these were a relative success, volunteered for Elections Canada during the 2015 election, and was a leader at her local Air Cadet Squadron.
Her accomplishments could fill pages, but she primarily stands out for her humble approach and kindness, and certainly makes every community she is around much stronger for having known her presence. She gives of herself freely, and never stops mentoring others or chatting with her peers. Undoubtedly, even while working at her local pizza shop, she most likely can be found talking politics over the pepperoni, or planning her next large scale democratic event.
20. Shy Polley of Pictou County, Nova Scotia was nominated by Gwyneth Richardson:
Shy is a passionate speaker, discussing LGBTQ+ issues as well as mental health across the country. Along with his speaking partner Kelsey, they travel Nova Scotia and the country to share their stories and educate others. Shy works extremely hard to help those around him. After the fires in Fort MacMurray, Shy created the organisation Nova Scotia Cares in which he collected donations from his community for those affected by the fire. Whenever Shy sees a need in his community, he is quick to come up with a plan to help, whether that’s through sharing his story or working alongside his community. His resilience and passion for helping others is truly inspiring, and his work is helping Canadians coast to coast. In the short time I’ve known him, he’s changed my life for the better and I strongly believe this country needs a little more Shy Polley.
21. Cara Habayeb of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Cara Habayeb is a data scientist using her trade to help policy-makers make better decisions. Best part, she does this as a volunteer because she believes so strongly that decisions should be evidence-based. A novel idea — I know.
Cara brings this policy and data mindset to the St. Michael’s Hospital, St. John Ambulance, and the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy — Community Panel. It’s with these organizations that she is helping us to build a stronger, healthier community.
All of this on top of her full-time job and second career as a naval reservist and maritime surface and sub-surface officer (she drives warships — seriously)! The world needs more Everyday Political Citizens like Cara who serve their country and community both on and off the job.
22. Amanda Penrice, Georgia Whitehead, Jon Azzi, and Lisa George of Toronto, Ontario were nominated by Kevin Vuong:
Amanda Penrice, Georgia Whitehead, Jon Azzi, and Lisa George are an exceptional group of citizen city-builders that have inspired me to do more in service of our community.
They have shown me that if you aren’t satisfied with the status quo then it is up to you to change it, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. Despite demanding jobs in the private sector and public service, they volunteer their time to help build a more inclusive city where everyone’s voice matters and we have the opportunity to lead healthy livelihoods.
Beginning in Toronto’s Lawrence Heights and Neptune community, they’ve employed a participatory development approach to use turn the simple act of getting bike racks for the community into a targeted workforce development initiative. Working with a coalition of unusual partners from labour, private, public, and not-for-profit, 12 youth are undergoing skilled trades training to build bike racks for their community. These bike racks were co-designed by the community, and will be built by and for their community.
By engaging the community, this phenomenal team of political citizens is building civic pride, fostering political engagement, and building stronger neighbourhoods. #TheWorldNeedsMore of Amanda, Georgia, Jon, and Lisa.
24. Paxton Bruce of Calgary, Alberta was nominated by Nicki Dublenko:
I have come to know Paxton as a fellow board member for the Alberta Child Care Association. Her participation and enthusiasm as a board member has been contagious! Paxton is a role model and leader to her fellow students and peers. She is an inspiration to others as she continuously encourages and shows others that their voices matter and how they can influence change. She is always advocating on behalf of the rights of children and the rights of those working with young children.
She is proud of her profession. Paxton can often be found engaged in community work, giving presentations or volunteering to serve in multiple capacities on our board. She will graduate from the new Bachelor of Child Studies degree from Mount Royal University this year and currently serves as President on her student society.
Service to her profession and community comes naturally to Paxton. It is an absolute pleasure to nominate Paxton as an everyday political citizen!
25. Kay-Lynne Collier of North Battleford, Saskatchewan was nominated by Jonathan Stevens:
Kay-Lynne has been active both in her own community of North Battleford, but has also made an impact provincially and nationally. She has founded our city’s first LGBTQ+ organization, has taken leadership roles in a variety of national organizations mainly focusing on mental health and LGBTQ+ related issues, and has recently been selected as a semi-finalist for the inaugural Prime Minister’s Youth Council. Kay-Lynne stands out because she’s always spoken up and taken a stand when no one else has. Her work impacts themail community and makes democracy stronger because she is politically engaged at all times, and she allows other voices to be heard that may otherwise go unnoticed.
26. Najva Amin of Richmond Hill, Ontario was nominated by Gazal Amin:
Najva is one of the hardest working people I have ever known and her motivation and passion to get more youth involved in the democratic process is inspiring and has made the rest of our organization want to work just as hard as her. Najva has managed to work full time while a student (both during undergrad and now while doing her Master’s) and has kept the OYL has a priority of hers for the past 4 years. She always asking the Executive to go beyond our comfort circle and meet new people so they become more engaged and has openly connected youth who are interested in other parties to the appropriate person. She is passionate about making sure youth are heard and does not let partisanship get in the way of making that happen. She has continuously asked our organization to do projects that benefit our local community such as doing a clothing drive for students near Christmas,raising money for the CIBC Run for the Cure marathon and doing a clothing drive for the newly arrived Syrian Refugees in Canada.Najva got involved at the young age of 16 when she meet a candidate who wanted to be the first ever Iranian-Canadian elected outside of Canada. Aware of the political climate in Iran, Najva was inspired to help be part of history. Najva was able to witness part of the struggles our parents had as new immigrants to Canada in the 90s and has since made it her personal goal to help newcomers become acquainted with government policies and procedures and inform youth of the power they have to shape government policies. Najva is the perfect candidate for this contest: just another student who has decided to take action on things she sees need improvement.
27. Ana Qarri of Hamilton, Ontario was nominated by Christina Vietinghoff:
Ana may have only gained her Canadian citizenship a couple months ago, but she didn’t wait for the right to vote to contribute to a better Canada. Over the past few years, Ana completed a self-directed research project on critical actors in immigrant political representation, managed a university student newspaper and is currently working on an initiative to support queer youth in Hamilton. She has a unique way of understanding and explaining complex social issues and tackling systemic oppression with a biting wit and generous laugh. Thoughtful and empathetic, Ana has a positive impact on everyone she meets — Canada is lucky to have Ana as a citizen!
28. 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.
29. Julia Mogus of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Stephanie Zubcic:
Julia Mogus is the Co-Founder of #BooksWithNoBounds and Children Reading for Children’s Global Ambassador. Julia is an aspiring human rights lawyer, specializing in Indigenous Studies and volunteersing at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. A past recipient of the World Child’s Prize (the Nobel Prize for children), she remains on the world stage as an Executive Council member of the Model United Nations Society. Julia served as Chair for several High School/University Model UN Conferences to promote civics and strengthen democracy and was invited to the Queens Model UN in Italy; the McGill Model UN in Lithuania; and the Harvard University World Model United Nations in Rome, where she received the 2016 Diplomacy Award. Julia also represented Canada at the Gender Equality forum with the executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mambo. The world needs more women leaders in politics like Julia Mogus who are passionate about strengthening democracy.
30. 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.
31. Gabriel D’Astous of Gatineau, Quebec was nominated by Dmitri Seemungal:
“Ah, bien joué!”, is a catchphrase you would hear from none other than Gabriel D’Astous. Contrary to his catchphrase, when it comes to politics, he doesn’t play around. Having began his involvement in social movements throughout university, Gabriel has not shied away from any opportunity to make a difference, whether through conferences, protests, and even teaching. Gab always provides 110 percent in what he is passionate about, which ranges from Quebec Culture all the way to politics and environmental activism. When I first met him, he was a Quebec Culture workshop leader for the Explore Program at Trois-Pistoles, and his enthusiasm and excitement made the workshop a highlight of the program. Since then, Gab was also involved in assisting with local elections throughout Quebec, specifically with the Quebec Solidaire party.
32. Matt Currie of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Kevin Metcalf:
Matt Currie is an educated and forward-thinking advocate for civil liberties who rose from a position of infrequent volunteering within an advocacy campaign to managing the campaign, campaign executives and acting as the public face of a voluntary organization working on the issue.
Through his hard work and perseverance the campaign to Stop Bill C-51 was moved through to the point where the Federal Government initiated long-promised consultations on National Security. Matt submitted an electronic petition to the House of Commons which garnered 2,600 signatures and was tabled on September 23, 2016 by Arif Virani, a Liberal MP.
Matt has liased between Stop C-51: Toronto and many other groups and individuals. He has contributed a high degree of passion to the cause and has gone above and beyond to do external research, including drafting a 20 page policy recommendation document which was solicited by the Parliamentary Secratary of the Ministry for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Matt’s selfless and highly motivated pursuit of a goal, even when many participants wanted to, or did abandon the campaign, kept the issue of National Security reform alive and in the public and parliamentary focus. All this was done while working 2–3 part time jobs and studying full time for his second degree.
33. Kristen Webster of Winnipeg, Manitoba was nominated by Sanjana Vijayann:
Kristen has been a founding member of a student group at the University of Manitoba campus that prioritizes generating the political will to end extreme poverty. She joined RESULTS Canada (a national advocacy organization) in 2014 and has since been a proactive champion of mobilizing the will to eradicate extreme poverty forever.
She has advocated on international levels with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, on the national level with Members of Parliament and on the local level with Members of the Legislative Assembly. Her advocacy is centred around access to quality education for all, increasing immunization, eradicating extreme poverty, proper nutrition and overall, a more equitable world.
She has influenced policy on multiple levels and continues to do so. She has inspired her peers to take action, to realize the power of their voice in political matters, and empowered those around her to champion social causes they hold close to their heart. Her political commitment goes far beyond casting a vote: she follows policy developments, advocates for creating fair and equitable policy and views development with an intersectionality lens. Her works makes democracy stronger, one that works for the people.
34. Filmon Aynalem of Vancouver, British Columbia was nominated by Vivian Trumblay:
I am nominating Filmon Aynalem for his exceptional contributions to his community and his growing potential as an advocate of Canadian youth voices. Filmon’s involvement with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada started when he volunteered at the Fraserview Boys and Girls Club of South Coast BC providing tutoring and running a variety of programs for children.
Since then, Filmon has advanced to become a member of the BGCC National Youth Council — a highly coveted position reserved for youth leaders of the movement. Filmon’s time as a member of the BGCC National Youth Council has helped him to develop an interest in policy and politics. As a member of the council’s policy committee, he is responsible for connecting with government at various levels to ensure youth voices are on the agenda. His exceptional work on the council has enabled him to participate in a variety of high-level leadership events where he has had the opportunity to share his vision for Canadian youth with our Minister of Defence (the Honourable Harjit Sajjan), with Prince William and Duchess Kate, and with Prime Minister Justin and Sophie Trudeau. Filmon realizes the importance of integrating youth voices and opinions into policy development and has used his time on the council to advance this passion, and to develop key skills like public speaking, that enable him to continue doing amazing work.
At home in Vancouver, Filmon is an usher at his local church. He is committed to bettering his community through involvement and volunteerism and believes that investing personal time is the best way to make a positive change in his own life and those of others.
35. Golsa Golestaneh of Burnaby, British Columbia was nominated by Jorge Salazar:
Golsa came as a refugee from Iran with her family. Since arriving to Canada she has been engaged with many initiatives and organizations that advance the right of everyone to have a voice, particularly women and refugee communities. She supports many marginalized youth, to be engaged, and have a voice in decisions that affect their life. Because of Golsa’s commitment, she has gained tremendous respect and admiration from her peers and staff who have had the privilege of working with her. She is a leader amongst immigrant and refugee communities who has contributed greatly to the Fresh Voices Initiative (www.freshvoices.ca) of Vancouver Foundation. Golsa is also part of the Beats Magazine, a publication of immigrant youth, for and by immigrant youth. She also volunteers with Leave Out Violence BC (LOVE) by doing violence prevention work among other groups and organizations. These are some of her Civic contributions among many more.
36. Rodney Stehr of Coquitlam, British Columbia was nominated by Nadine Nakagawa:
Rodney is committed to social justice and democracy and makes efforts to engage members of his community in discourse about political issues. He has facilitated all candidates debates, both for the community-at-large and for student communities. He actively engages with political candidates and works to get candidates who share his outlooks elected. He also works to bring people to discuss contemporary issues such as public health care and the environment.
Rodney is a student and an active volunteer. He is naturally optimistic about believes we should work to have politicians actively represent the constituencies that elect them.
Rodney is a gay person of colour and he acknowledges that people who look like him are underrepresented in positions of power and authority.
Rodney helps others find their voices to speak out on issues that matter to them.
37. Rochelle Prasad of Surrey, British Columbia was nominated by Shashi Prasad:
Rochelle is an Everyday Politcal Citizen because, she lives and breaths the act of giving back to others in our community/volunteering. She is passionnent about youth and does everything she can to make sure their voices are getting heard in our City. For being just 18 years of age, she has accomplished many amazing things in our community and abroad that some adults have never had the chance to do. Her community does recognize her as being a humble youth leader, and many people like to reference her as “the future Mayor of Surrey.”
38. Julia Lo of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Chris Cowperthwaite:
In 2014, Julia was Co-Director of data & digital systems on the Lekan Olawoye for Ward 12 City Councillor Campaign.
Professionally, Julia has been leading communications for some of Canada’s most innovative and impactful not-for-profits, including the Loran Scholars Foundation and CivicAction in the GTA.
She is also a leader in the LGBTQ community, having served on board of The 519 Church Street Community Centre from 2011 to 2013. She co-founded a community park initiative and in 2012 was named a “Breakthrough Community Activist” by Asian Community AIDS Services.
The Open Democracy Project strongly supports Julia as a Samara Everyday Political Citizen!
39. Alicia Raimundo of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Alyssa Frampton-Fudge:
Alicia is an everyday political citizen because she is pushing for a better mental health system for Canada through her work as a mental health superhero.
She has spoken to over 100,000 young people about mental health, and millions through media outlets, this includes a TEDxTalk, A keynote at the UN headquarters in NY, and a Speech to 1300 young people at One Young World. She has received over 200 messages saying her education and story has helped young people turn away from suicide and ask for help.
Alicia stands out because she speaks about her own lived expereince with mental health and suicide. She uses her education and lived experience to write a book on her story that’s an offering in the national 8th grade english curriculum, advising the writers of degrassi on the creation of a character with depression and the creation of ACCESS open minds — 13 new services in 13 communities. Alicia using co-design to make her work awesome — working with young people with lived expereince of mental health issues, professionals and others to make a mental health system that works.
Alicia makes her community stronger by making mental health a priority and open conversation.
40. Santana McCue of Summerside, Prince Edward Island was nominated by Sarah Wilson:
Santana McCue is a prime example of a young adult working to make her city better to live in for teenagers of her generation. Santana set out to join a research group to let her voice be heard as to all the good that teenagers bring to a community, and their smart thinking as to what their community could have to make it better for everyone.
Santana is a very passionate person and spent 3 months travelling back and forth from PEI to New Brunswick, one weekend a month and doing ground work in between, meeting up with other youth from across the Maritimes to collaborate on their stories as to what they need as teens and who and what resources will help them along their journey of life.
Santana, along with her peers, hosted a community event and invited families and prominent community figures to attend. She shared the data of youth stories to the group and displayed it through art, which intrigued and brought the attention of her audience both young and old.
41. 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: https://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2015/12/13/stories-of-ours-opening-doors-through-storytelling.html
Particularly as governments and business recognize the need to listen to those who suffer from globalization http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/imf-head-christine-lagarde-urges-governments-to-support-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
42. Maya Menezes of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Ben DW:
Maya educates and empowers voices that are silenced to participate in political conversations. Through steering Bunz Feminist Zone, Maya has created a safe space her peers to get support. Maya is driven by an unshakable commitment to justice.
43. Rachel Kruitbosch of Medicine Hat, Alberta was nominated by Sandra Moore:
A couple of years ago Rachel and Tracy read an article on the 100 Women Who Care movement and decided to start a chapter in Medicine Hat Alberta. Their aim was to bring together women from diverse backgrounds quarterly to support local community organizations. In less than a year these ladies have volunteered countless hours to developing, promoting, and organizing these quarterly meetings raising almost $50,000 for local charities. Three charities are chosen for each meeting from member nominations. The chosen nominating members then present to the entire group of women about the vital work these charities do in our community and what they will do with the donations. All members then vote on their choice of which of the three charities they think the group should donate to. Majority rules, and the winning organization is provided with a $100 cheque from each of the members.
The passion with which Rachel and Tracy promote 100 WWC is admirable, they are dedicated to engaging others in our community to learn about community organizations and support the valuable work they do to make our communities better. The world needs more people like Rachel and Tracy who are willing to be advocates for engaging others to support the many diverse organizations in our communities that work tirelessly to address myriad economic, social, and health issues.
44. 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
45. Christopher Bruce of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador was nominated by Alex Marland:
Chris Bruce challenges conventional political thinking at personal cost in the name of the public good. As a university student, he stood up to student union leaders who were engaged in questionable spending; as a political party member, he voiced concerns about his party’s leadership; and when he ran a longshot campaign to become party leader he drew attention to dubious political finance regulations and advocated for pharmacare. It takes someone courageous to stand up for all segments of society by challenging how those in power access funds in clandestine manners. We need to celebrate those unsung everyday political citizens who are individual crusaders, who are not plugged into a network, and whose fair-minded conviction ruffles feathers of the political establishment. To me, Chris Bruce embodies Canadian democracy because he speaks truth to power that cuts across party lines, and because he is driven by democratic ideals of good governance.
46. Jon MacDougall of Ottawa, Ontario was nominated by Leigh Bursey, Brockville City Councillor:
I would like to humbly nominate my good friend Jon MacDougall for the 2016 Everyday Political Citizen Award. Jon and I often sit on very opposite sides of the political spectrum, but I have always enjoyed and admired his enduring sense of integrity and his willingness to help and to stand up for his convictions.
Politics can be messy and Jon always makes an effort to not allow populist opinions affect his beliefs or his opinion of his opponents. Being a Conservative in a modern university setting isn’t nearly as simple as it used to be. We live in a changing political climate that is moving away from many of our more traditional tendancies, but Jon is an exception. He is able to keep his fiscally conservative opinions vocally on the forefront without ever accepting the socially conservative opinions that he does not share. He often challenges people from his own party and vocally spars with people who he believes do not share the same open-mindedness. His pragmatic approach has made him an asset to his community. He is truly a conservative who can work with just about anyone. His heart is big. His ideas are large. And his scope of language is also outstanding. He understands statistical analysis, and also willingly works with people from outside his own political silo.
Jon also has extensive volunteer experience, beginning with his high school student council. Jon would go on to sit as the youth rep of the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau’s board of directors. Jon also has direct experience with the Carleton University Conservatives, Unicef Carleton, Breakfast for Learning, Breakfast Clubs of Canada, Warchild Canada, the Landmine foundation, the Ottawa West Nepean Progressive Conservative Riding Aassociation, the United Way of Leeds-Grenville, Jam for Justice Carleton, and no shortage of others. He has designed political website free of charge, and volunteered on a number of federal, provincial, and municipal campaigns. Jon also writes about social issues when interviewing area political rock bands for Spotlight Ottawa. Jon is always willing to lend a hand, defend his beliefs, and expand his horizons, and has no trouble being told he is wrong. I respect him immensely, and I believe that he would be a great choice for this award. One day, Jon aspires to be premier. I am of the belief that he needs to raise his public profile and not merely stand in the background any longer. He is a good man and a strong candidate for this type of esteem.
47. Kevin Vuong of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Monah Water:
Passion, resiliency, and commitment are just a few words that characterize Kevin’s work and ongoing efforts to help shape and transform his city. As Co-Chair of the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy’s (TYES) Community Panel, Kevin continues to be instrumental in championing for equitable access to the resources and supports needed to help better the lives of youth across the GTA who are vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime. His efforts have helped to strengthen the Community Panel, and draw focus to issues around gender-based violence, youth incarceration and crime, and mental health and community healing.
His proactive approach to building a safe and resilient city can be traced through his work with TYES, which includes advocacy within the Youth Service Experience sector that led to acquiring and regaining City funding for youth spaces. In a recent interview with The Morning Show, Kevin spoke out about the possible cancellation of Youth Day at the CNE, where he stressed the importance of consulting youth before coming to a decision that could “disproportionately [affect the GTA’s] most vulnerable youth”.
48. Ben DW of Etobicoke, Ontario was nominated by Alison Read:
As a seasoned organizer, Ben understands the importance of making politics and activism accessible. He engages individuals in the issues he is passionate about (especially climate and LGBTQ issues), at whatever levels of involvement they find most comfortable. He persistently renders political all aspects of his life, generating awareness to how everyday issues (from friendships and relationships to career and personal goals) can be problematic, with the intention of pushing himself and his peers to a level of optimal criticality and feminism. As a young racialized woman and sexual assault survivor, he is my truest ally; to all he meets, he is an empowering equity mentor, a fascinating leader, and my true definition of an Everyday Political Citizen.
49. Ann Gordon of Edmonton, Alberta was nominated by Amanda Henry:
From sponsoring a Syrian refugee family to campaigning for gender parity in municipal politics, Ann’s making a difference at home, at work, and out in the world. She makes her mark fighting for equality and justice in her work, in volunteering in Edmonton’s non-profit scene, and in her personal commitment to making sure everyone has the support they need to thrive. Don’t be fooled by her understated enthusiasm — Edmonton is lucky to have her.
50. Meghan Hellstern of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Chris Cowperthwaite:
As a Co-Founder of Civic Tech Toronto and volunteer with DemocracyKit, Meghan Hellstern is making a significant contribution to reshaping the democratic landscape.
In her day job, Meghan works as an independent consultant, with a focus on human-centred design and communications. Her most recent work has been to provide strategic communication and stakeholder engagement support to the Government of Canada Privy Council Office on the federal electoral reform consultations.
I highly recommend Meghan as an outstanding Everyday Political Citizen!
51. Patrick Whelan of Hamilton, Ontario was nominated by Chris Cowperthwaite:
Pat Whelan is a proud Hamiltonian and dedicated political citizen.
Pat is a founding member of the Open Democracy Project, working to launch DemocracyKit — a public services package for municipal candidates.
He served as data director and election-day chair for the successful Matt Brown for Mayor campaign in London, Ontario and worked as a Constituency Assistant for The Hon. Deb Matthews as well as a Deputy Field Organizer for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 2015 federal election.
In his day job, Pat is the Co-Founder and product lead for Paddle Inc., which helps people navigate new and non-linear careers.
I highly recommend Pat as a Samara Everyday Political Citizen!
52. Leigh Bursey of Brockville, Ontario was nominated by Jon MacDougall:
I would like to nominate my good friend Leigh Bursey, 29 year old city councillor in Brockville, Ontario. Leigh has been a nominee for your award in the past, and deserves to be acknowledged again for his continued efforts at making not only his city, but in fact our country a better place to live. Leigh is a second term city councillor, who just this year has helped to organize another iconic Brockville Pride week of activities, openly chastised the provincial government’s lesse faire attitude towards health care funding, donated countless hours to area charities, spoke openly and without filter on a variety of important political topics, and held community consultation events on the proposed National Housing Strategy that is expected to be tabled sometime soon. Leigh has been a diehard housing advocate, as president of the Brockville Non Profit Housing Corporation for six years, a second term board member for the Ontario Non Profit Housing Association, and a sitting member of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness’ Lived Experience Advisory Committee. Leigh speaks glowingly of Samara, working with them on their Youth Engagement poster project, and talking part in their CitizenSparks campaign each week last year. Leigh is incredibly active on social media, and hosts a community access talk show in his community that has been airing for seven seasons, and has featured some of the best and brightest in all of Canada. Leigh uses his voice to shed light to important topics and fights for equity. All of this is outside of his role as a city councillor, which has seen him stand up against a contentious noise bylaw, fight to make evening transit permenant in his house, and fight against a variety of austerity measures. Leigh has stood on many picket lines and has no trouble working across ideological lines, political lines, and among enemies to see that the job gets done. His band Project Mantra has also done a fabulous job at shedding light on important topics like addictions, mental health, and LGBTQ issues, and homelessness. They even have a song about this very campaign, but that’s a story for another nomination.
53. Miriam Sabzevari of Vancouver, British Columbia was nominated by Doug MacArthur:
Miriam Sabzevari is the thoughtful quiet one at the table whom you can rely on to provide a cutting insight into the discussion when it is most needed. As a budding policy researcher, she can be depended on to provide high-quality, balanced analysis on controversial and high-profile policy issues. For example, she has developed outstanding recommendations for government on how to best regulate marijuana, how to take concrete steps towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and in her thesis, how sexual assault can be dealt with better in the Canadian criminal justice system.
Miriam is not simply an Ivory tower scholar. She a highly accomplished youth leader. She has volunteered left and right, teaching consent education in classrooms and being highly active and visible in every federal election, including as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Green Party. Borne into an Iranian immigrant family, Miriam will with tongue-in-cheek describe her activism as a natural consequence of being a “political animal”. I know her to be driven by values and big ideas, all of which she displays in her love of philosophical conversation and engagement on critical pubic issues.
54. Isabelle Jacovella Remillard of Montreal, Quebec was nominated by Madalina Chesoi:
Isabelle is an Everyday (International) Political Citizen because she brings international humanitarian law issues to the Canadian scale, to our everyday lives through her Facebook posts, lovely chats about democracy and social issues, and through her work and volunteering.
A quote by Albert Camus really defines Isabelle: ‘’J’ai compris qu’il ne suffisait pas de dénoncer l’injustice, il fallait donner sa vie pour la combattre.’’ I would say fighting injustice is her driving force.
Isabelle completed two bachelors: Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the University of Ottawa and an Integrated Civil law and Common law program at McGill University. While partaking in student life, running for the university Olympic club, studying, spending time with family and friends, and working, she still found time to volunteer and advocate for causes that are close to her heart.
In my opinion, Isabelle is an Everyday (International) Political Citizen because she takes the time to understand an issue in order to better communicate it to her community. Isabelle has done a lot of technical legal research going from procedural justice in tribunals established by non-State armed groups to the legality of detention and mass deportations of asylum seekers and migrants. That research brought her to assist with the preparation of Amicus Curiae briefs for submission to the European Court of Human Rights. She also organized major conferences with keynote speakers on migration, modern slavery and cultural rights issues. All of this was done while pursuing her studies.
Three years ago, she also co-founded InterGentes — the McGill Journal of International Law & Legal Pluralism. It is the first international law journal to be founded at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. As the current Editorial Chair, she is highly involved in all aspects of the journal.
As a volunteer for Solidarity Across Borders, she prepared applications for permanent residence status in Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds in order to help newcomers establish themselves in Canada.
She does not see the fruit of her hard work every day, but her knowledge and will to find solutions and communicate with her community impacts many lives, not just those around her.
55. 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.
56. Andrew Do of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Meghan Hellstern:
Andrew Do is one of the most political people I know: I’m always sure wherever I run into him, he’ll have some new insight to share about public service, politics and the intersection of the two. Andrew does vital work to renew our democratic landscape at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It’s my honour and privilege to nominate Andrew for the Everyday Political Citizen for all the work he has done and continues to do to help make our world a brighter place!
57. Arjun Gupta of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
I have known Arjun for about a year and what strikes me about him is his commitment to community-building at the intersection of his interests in education and youth-led innovation.
Aside from being a person of generous spirit, he is also dedicated to thinking of ways to bring together motivated young people and offer his generous network to give them access to opportunities and platform they would have otherwise not have. He is a quintessential schemer in the background to help raise others up as I have witnessed in his capacity as the now outgoing Curator of the Toronto Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. I also think this is worth reiterating: his schemes to raise money for events such that young people are able to participate in civic life are an incredible talent. It’s a skill that I do not think gets recognized often. What often does not get recognized is how civic participation does incur costs and he has made it his mission to offset those costs to make participation as accessible as it can be. It is a rather unglamorous role but absolutely critical and he understands this better than anyone. He is always thinking about how his efforts help someone else to participate. For this and many other reasons, Arjun is an Everyday Political Citizen.
58. Derakhshan Qurban-Ali of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
I met Derakhshan at a dinner party where we became fast friends over perhaps an unlikely topic of conversation: growing up with the pressure of being children of refugees. It’s not exactly a topic of conversation that springs up the first time you meet someone but c’est la vie. From then on, it quickly became apparent just how much she has dedicated herself to understanding the refugee experience in civic life.
Her litany of achievements are impressive. When I met her, she was already the recipient to the University of Toronto Dean’s Student leadership award for her extensive involvement with the G8 Research Group and leading the Amnesty International chapter on campus. At this point, she has done extensive research on refugees but what sets her apart is that she does not just try to understand the refugee experience. She embodied it with her intense empathy to understand their day-to-day experiences.. It did not surprise me when she got accepted to be a Studio [Y] Fellow to continue her work with the underlying principle of putting the people at the center such that she works with and not just for the. She currently co-leads the WelcomeHomeTO, which is an on line resource to connect refugees to a support network. Now as she pursues her law degree at McGill, I know that in between balancing her workload, she is still dedicating herself to understanding and weaving the refugee story in Canadian civic life. It’s why she deserves to be an Everyday Political Citizen.
59. Alana Westwood of Halifax, Nova Scotia was separately nominated by Aerin Jacob and Christina Vietinghoff:
Alana Westwood grew up in the woods — and her heart never left. She spent years on wilderness canoe trips, first learning and later teaching others to navigate wild places. But even in the most remote areas, Alana saw that people can negatively affect our environment. That’s why she devotes her life to environmental justice. Years of research and non-profit work have honed Alana’s skills in environmental and science advocacy. She pushed for climate justice as a Canadian youth delegate at the 2012 international climate change negotiations, spent four years studying endangered species for her PhD research, and advocates for evidence-based public policy in her work with the national non-profit Evidence for Democracy. Alana is a passionate public speaker and author, gives talks and writes articles on topics ranging from natural history to science policy, and trains other Canadians in how to communicate and advocate for science. — Aerin Jacob
Alana is not just a PhD biologist, she’s a science-advocate improving Canadian politics.
Alana recently completed a PhD at Dalhousie University investigating the habitats of bird species at risk. In addition to her work as a conservation scientist, she is the Research Coordinator with an NGO, Evidence for Democracy, where she manages a national network of volunteers and scientists who are passionate about Canadian science.
Not only does she make our democracy stronger by engaging scientists in politics, she’s also a role model to other young women scientists interested in a career in STEM. — Christina Vietinghoff
61. Mounir Nasri of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Natalija Fisher:
Originally from Syria, Mounir is driven to connect people with one another. While pursuing his studies in Lebanon he co-founded an initiative to empower Syrian youth in Lenanon and worked to support his family. At a time that the plight of refugees was not a headline topic, he worked hard to prove that refugees can be productive and active community members. Within months of arriving in Canada as a refugee, Mounir began to give back to the community as Settlement Counselor with ACSA and as an on-project Settlement and Cultural Consultant with local and international organizations supporting newly arrived refugees. His work does not end here, in his spare time Mounir is developing an online initiative to empower refugee (Syrian and Non-Syrian) women arriving in Toronto. Mounir speaks four languages; English, Arabic, Armenian and basic Italian. He is proud that this helps him communicate across cultures and counts himself as a global citizen. He views Canada as a home for political citizens working to improve their communities locally and internationally.
62. Joseph Peace of Vancouver, British Columbia was nominated by Marissa Lawrence:
Joe is a politically and socially engaged young man who is looking to make meaningful change in Canada. Joe works as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Reconciliation Canada (RC), where in lead up to the 2015 Federal election, he built and co-managed RC’s Election 2015 Resource Page and the outreach to Canada’s five major parties with questions on how their party will move forward with reconciliation. This initiative was very successful, as RC received responses from four of the five parties.
Not only is Joe engaged through his work, but he also was the co-chair of the UBC Student Environment Centre and has led projects on urban sustainability, bringing together local politicians, policy makers and representatives from local public agencies. In addition, he has volunteered with AMS Bike Co-op to promote inclusive urban transportation.
Joe is passionate, curious and most of all dedicated to finding a new way forward for Canada.
63. Olivia Dorey of Ottawa, Ontario was nominated by Margaret Huber:
I’d like to nominate Olivia Dorey (photo below), ex- officio member of the board of the Canadian International Council-National Capital Branch responsible for developing strategy options. Committed, highly articulate.
Currently working in Office of House of Commons Speaker and in executive MBA program @uOttawa. Only 22 but already with a strong track record. Established an organization to promote financial literacy + budgetary transparency. Former volunteer with CIVIX (Toronto-based non-partisan organization to promote youth engagement. Undergrad studies at University of Ottawa 2012–2016. Had in 2012 studied at Music Conservatory in Nice (history of jazz). Formerly @ House of Commons as Parliamentary Outreach Officer Dec 2013-January 2015. Tour Guide Aug-Nov. 2013; Parliamentary page Aug 2012–2013.. Student of former Parliamentary Budget Office Director Kevin Page. Self-declared ‘Bluenoser’, i.e. from Halifax Nova Scotia.
64. Yusra Uzair of Ajax, Ontario was nominated by Alejandra Ortiz:
Yusra is a bright young woman who is driven by deep unrest in the face of inequality.
She is not only an exceptional colleague (she is a junior policy analyst at the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario), outside of work, she is the Regional Coordinator for ‘Roofs for Refugees’, the Toronto Chapter of ‘Refugees Welcome International’, a non-profit dedicated to assist in the housing situation for refugees.
Yusra’s passion for this cause stems from identifying with a broad range of communities, such as diaspora generation and the immigrant experience. Her work in the community makes democracy stronger by a practise of listening and thriving to bring a diverse group of people together in order to actualize a common goal and by helping the most vulnerable within our communities.
A lot of outreach work for Roofs For Refugees requires Yusra and her team of volunteers to meet and make partnerships across public and non-profit sector to better engage all stakeholders into a streamline process.
In the context of working and supporting refugee transition, housing is instrumental not only to provide shelter, but the first step in providing safety and security as well as physical, mental, and emotional peace.
Yusra’s work disrupting status quo- by challenging the Canadian population to de-stigmatize refugees, and challenge their prejudices by opening their homes or providing support as means of welcoming the new members of our community.
Yusra’s passion for social justice and commitment to giving back to the community make her a well-deserved EPC nominee!
65. Hillary Predko of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
I know Hillary through Studio [Y] as a fellow. When she introduced herself as a “ball of maximum whimsy,” I instantly knew that I would come to like this savagely witty community-maker, and not just because she can make my glasses.
She has been instrumental in building the maker movement in Toronto and has always been tinkering with how technology, design and civic engagement can intersect. She has also been very intentinal about making sure that the maker space is an inclusive one. She has been involved with helping to start up the Toronto Maker Faire since it first arrived in Toronto and has been involved with building a community around it. She has led some of the most truly whimsical Jane’s Walks (i.e. I can’t think of many people who would be so intimately familiar with the history of Toronto’s garbage). It would make sense since she is an instructor at OCAD University in wearable technology. Perhaps where her whimsy is most needed though is in her critiques of technologically-driven solutions for public problems. This is embodied with her work to bring Stupid S**t No One Needs & Terrible Ideas Hack-a-thon, which is at once high art and a satire of the limitations of technologically-driven solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Aren’t jesters necessary in the king’s court? That’s Hillary Predko in spades and for that, she is my Everyday Political Citizen.
66. Sarah Thomas of Port Alberni, British Columbia was nominated by Ian Thomas:
She is a model for making good things happen!
Biking activist. Organizing with Cycle Alberni. Prodded city politicians to create bike lanes. Re-invigorated them when they got cold feet. http://www.avtransitiontown.org/cycle-alberni/
Promotes Air Quality. Organized the community to ban backyard burning and shame the province into taking responsibility for slash burning the Alberni air shed which traps the particles.
Running the woodstove exchange program replacing polluting stoves with clean burning ones.
Get that fruit before the bears. 10,700 pounds of fruit picked.
Sarah Thomas Gleaning project co-ordinator.
Promotes the protection of the water quality by fighting for protection of the Alberni Valley Watershed.
President of Folkfest organizing Canada Day Celebrations in Port Alberni and the Canada Day Community Parade!
A member of the Young Professionals in Port Alberni this young women is a powerhouse for good in the Alberni Valley and the world!
67. Tracie Leost of Winnipeg, Manitoba was nominated by Rhonda Treytiak:
Tracie is a role model for her peers; she is also an inspiration to all ages, most evident by her perseverance, endless efforts and her leadership. At the tender age of 18, she certainly is extraordinary.
At a young age, Tracie donated her hair to cancer patients on two separate occasions. She travelled to many remote reservations, square dancing to give hope and inspiration to Aboriginal youth. Tracie is an advocate for a group; “YMAIS — youth against mental illness stigma”. She led planning, organizing, and discussing ideas to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health and illness. She took part in planning two “Peace of Mind” events. The events allowed students to discuss mental health through poetry, song, dance and stories. Tracie assisted in planning guest speakers from Project 11, and Canadian Mental Health Association. She also presented on the topic of mental health/illness to Youth United.
In 2015 Tracie proved her determination to make a difference in the community. She ran 115 kilometers in 4 days from Oak Point, Manitoba to Winnipeg, Manitoba raising awareness for murdered and missing Indigenous woman. She raised over $6000.00 in donations. Her willingness to give to the community doesn’t stop there. Tracie has volunteered for the Families First Foundation, Peace of Mind and ALS Foundation, Play On, and Salvation Army.
Determined to make a change in today’s society, she has run numerous marathons to raise money and awareness for different organizations. Currently attending the University of Regina, Tracie is a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and has recently joined a group called LLC — Living Learning Community.
Tracie is nothing short of a “Hero” and continues to look for ways to make the world a better place. Tracie’s moto is “Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary”
Please consider Tracie Leost for this award. She is an outstanding citizen and she has done so much for the community, her school, and her peers.
68. Roberta Bittencourt of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Nilofer Noor:
Roberta has volunteered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Toronto, donating 18 hours per week of her time for the service of this organization. Roberta is a dedicated citizen and hopes to increase her involvement in community work, especially on issues related to human rights and poverty alleviation. Although Roberta has been in Canada for only seven months, she is already making her mark in the Canadian society.
69. Kevin Wong of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Sabrina Bandali:
Kevin Matthew Wong uses theatre to challenge audiences and artists to act and think critically about the planet.
Kevin is the co-founder and artistic director of Broadleaf Theatre, a Toronto company that creates theatrical work based on local, national and global environmental issues. He has created work based on the national boil-water crisis, the Pickering nuclear plant, and has collaborated on an environmental mask piece that animated the Green Peace Warehouse. He is currently working to tour Broadleaf Theatre’s work to schools; co-create an environmental storytelling week in Waterloo in 2017; and to create a documentary theatre piece on the Sarnia Chemical Valley and Aamjiwnaang activist Vanessa Gray.
By creating theatrical experiences that merge theatre and environmental activism, Kevin creates opportunities for his fellow citizens to engage with and react to environmental policy issues through an artistic medium, strengthening our collective conversation around the issues that his work highlights.
Please note nominee #71, Jamil Jivani, removed himself for the competition in support of another nominee.
71. 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.
72. Leen Al Zaibak of Toronto, ON was nominated by CivicAction:
Leen Al Zaibak is a 2014–15 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow who is a passionate advocate for youth education and mentorship.
Born in Syria, Leen is committed to supporting the Syrian community both locally and abroad. In response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, Leen helps bring in privately-sponsored refugees to Toronto through her Board member role at Lifeline Syria. She is also the founder of the Syrian Canadian Foundation, a volunteer-driven organization that helps to integrate Syrian newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area.
Leen also co-founded Jusoor, an international NGO that helps Syrian youth realize their potential through educational and career programs. To date, Jusoor has provided over 600 university scholarships for youth to study in North America, Europe and the Middle East, and schooling for 700 refugee children in Lebanon.
Dedicated to community building in the arts sector, Leen is on the young patron circle committee for the Royal Ontario Museum and chairs the emerging leaders group at the Toronto Arts Foundation.
Leen’s work as a humanitarian earned her the 2015 Torontonian of the Year title from Post City Toronto and her work has been featured in a number of publications including Toronto Life, Canadian Immigrant Magazine, Globe and Mail and CBC.
73. Kristin Henry of Vancouver, British Columbia was nominated by Jane Shin, MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed:
Kristin Henry, a young environmental justice activist, has spent years fighting for environmental protections and Indigenous rights. Her commitment to these causes has been demonstrated over and over again in her work with groups such as the Wilderness Committee here in the Lower Mainland. What makes Kristin’s advocacy particularly notable is in how she raises public awareness on issues and rallies support. This spring, Kristin undertook a courageous 22 day hunger strike to stop the construction of the Site C dam in northern British Columbia. Not only has Kristin inspired hundreds of others to civic engagement, she literally put her life on the line to defend Indigenous rights, protect farmland, and stand up for the environment! For her incredible dedication to making a difference, and her willingness to risk everything to inspire others to become more involved in politics, Kristin deserves to be recognized as an Everyday Political Citizen.
74. Kevin Capuno of Calgary, Alberta was nominated by Ros Doi:
People think millennials are selfish and lazy, however Kevin is the perfect candidate to combat the stereotype. Kevin is the leader of the University of Calgary on campus club, 3 ThingsUCalgary. 3ThingsUCalgary is based on the 3 Things for Calgary movement to make Calgary an even better place to live. Kevin is encouraging his millennial peers to consider how they can make Calgary better, do these 3 Things and then tell 3 more people to do their 3 Things. Kevin’s influenced hundreds of his peers to take actions such as give blood, pick up trash in their neighbourhood and vote for the first time ever! Kevin is politically active, volunteering his time to campaigns and encouraging his peers to vote in municipal, provincial, federal and the Students Union elections. Kevin loves Calgary, his motivation is to improve his community, his country and he knows that in turn will make the world a better place for us all.
75. Megan Nobrega of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Lea Crawford:
An engaged and enthusiastic go-getter, Megan is a foot-on-the-ground environmentalist and passionate about creating meaningful social change.
Megan’s passion to give back to others first flourished when she was a director for the youth-led Oakville Teenagers in Action for four years, which has surely carried through into her early adult years. A devotee of the outdoors, I first met her while she was working with the David Suzuki Foundation for their Homegrown National Park Ranger project in Toronto; where her ability to execute on city wide transformative green projects (ex: Blue Canoe Planters, Camp-out at Fort York, Park Crawls, Pizza in the Pitts, Milkweed & Monarch Butterfly Projects, Outdoor Enviro Screenings etc.) really stood out. When in doubt, Megan was there. She is the kind of volunteer that is always the first to arrive and last to leave.
Megan has that persistent willingness to go the extra mile for anyone. She helped to take small environmental ideas from community members like the ones mentioned above (some of which would have otherwise been left behind) and turn them into a reality. The City of Toronto has people like Megan to thank for keeping us so connected and close to nature.
At work, she develops healthy behaviour initiatives to reward people for being health conscious. Whether it be by taking that extra step each day, getting the flu shot, or by creating educational content and quizzes (mental health, healthy eating, etc.,) she wants to better the lives of all individuals.
An unsung citizen of everyday life, Megan brings her smile and rolled-up sleeves to every project. She is truly kind of the everyday hero we need to celebrate.
76. Wendy Le of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Jean Boampong:
Wendy Le is an Everyday Political Citizen because of her dedication and ongoing contributions to her community. For 4 years she was a mentor with the Village Bloggurls, a weekly girls’ media literacy and mentorship program. There, she facilitated workshops on rape culture and self-esteem and participated in sidewalk chalking in her community to guide residents to the correct voting stations. She also started an initiative to advocate for a change in the Request Stop Program that would better serve girls and women by creating a survey, emailing key organizations and her local councillor. Most recently, she worked in her community garden’s composting program. I have had the honour of seeing Wendy grow into an amazing and inspiring leader, and I think she deserves to be recognized for her advocacy, strength and perseverance.
77. Vanessa Tang of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Jean Boampong:
Vanessa Tang is an Everyday Political Citizen because of her dedication and ongoing contributions to her community. For 4 years she has been a mentor with the Village Bloggurls, a weekly girls’ media literacy and mentorship program. There, she has facilitated workshops on cultural appropriation and created digital stories. She contributed a piece to the “Re-Imagining the Future” zine on body hair and the politics of wearing make-up. She demonstrated her leadership skills in the summer as a lead facilitator in a digital storytelling project at York University. She edited the stories and media of youth, guiding them through the process of using their voices to tell their own stories. I have had the honour of seeing Vanessa grow into an amazing and inspiring role model for young girls. Her mentorship is an example of the importance of giving back, and I think she deserves to be recognized it.
78. 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.
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
79. Jillian LeBlanc of Ottawa, Ontario was nominated by Darren Touch:
Jillian seeks to empower young women through leading by example in every aspect of her life, whether it be challenging her friends to think different or through her involvement on and off-campus. Jillian does not accept the status quo, but challenges her peers to think differently. She has organized networking events, conferences, and panels — but as an organizer, she questions which voices are often missing from these timely conversation. It’s clear that we need greater representation of women within our political institutions. Parliament cannot be effective, if it is not reflective of the constituency it’s supposed to serve. Through her work at Equal Voice, there is no doubt that this will happen in the near future. Jillian seek to break barriers, and through her efforts, our democracy is strengthened.
80. Suzanne Morrison of London, Ontario was nominated by Jesse Helmer, City Councillor:
When Suzanne was in grade school, she was out on a picket line — with chickenpox — in solidarity with the teachers who were on strike. It’s easy to trace a direct line from that early political action to her everyday volunteer political work as a grassroots organizer, strong feminist and champion on issues of human rights, diversity, inclusion and anti-oppression, especially as they relate to women and Indigenous people. As a founding board member of Women & Politics, she co-organized “30 Days to Vote,” a campaign that aimed to increase municipal voter turnout. As a member of an advisory committee to city council, she has effectively advocated for the city to take action in response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and chaired the organizing committee for a community forum on racism. She’s also a model for and co-organizer of #dontbanmybody, a campaign to change how Facebook enforces its community standards for photos of women’s bodies.
81. Alyse Schacter of Ottawa, Ontario was nominated by Janice Neil:
Many teenagers suddenly struck by mental illness can barely ask for help. When Alyse Schacter descended into that darkness at age 12, she began speaking — in public — to other teenagers, telling them they were not alone. As Alyse learned how to live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression, she campaigned to end the stigma against mental illness. She has recounted her story to thousands of people across North America, in high school gyms, city auditoriums and for TEDx Talks. As an activist, she served with the Canadian Mental Health Association and provided training, — for instance, to police — to help them recognize mental illness emergencies. She has won many awards for her frank talk about the cost of mental illness on society and to spark conversations about how governments and public organizations treat mental health. Although Alyse has had her own struggle for years, she’s now living her dream: attending medical school. ֑
82. Israel Cooper of Mississauga, Ontario was nominated by Danielle Rowaan:
Israel took a week out of a busy summer to learn from and seek reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the northern community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation. She and her mentor, Thea DeGroot, were invited there by the youth of the community to build bridges of reconciliation. She is the first Youth Ambassador of Reconciliation for the Christian Reformed Church, and with the support of Thea and CRC staff, will now lead her church in efforts to draw closer in relationship to the Indigenous people on whose land the church is situated. In Israel’s own words, “While attending Western University, I often chose First Nations studies as my elective courses. My parents have a history and shared interest in working with First Nations people, and my church has been very involved in building relationships with the First Nations in Mississauga. Personally, the more I learn about the different groups of First Nations in Canada and their ties to the land, the more I fall in love with these rich cultural groups. I believe we as the church and citizens of Canada have so much to learn from First Nations people. I also believe that building relationships between and within our groups will be important for change to happen.”
83. Brooke Malinowski of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was nominated by Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte:
I have known Brooke for several years in the City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I have watched her at Liberal Party gatherings and be an active volunteer and team campaign for Saskatoon Grasswoods Riding. She is also extremely active at the University of Saskatchewan as the VC Academic for the Student Union (USSU). I feel she is not afraid to engage with anyone and shows incredible insight and love for politics. I understand she was also a former Parliamentary Guide for the Parliament of Canada and is currently studying Political Science at the U of S. I believe she has the drive and conviction to be a strong, faithful, and future servant for our country and totally wish (as a former EPC national finalist myself) that Brooke accepts any opportunity that is bestowed upon her as she leads herself, other young women, and all of Canada.
84. Chad Callander of London, Ontario was nominated by Jesse Helmer, City Councillor:
By day, Chad works as a senior business liaison at Youth Opportunities Unlimited, where he helps youth build skills, confidence and independence to realize their full potential by connecting them with meaningful employment. Originally from Sarnia, Chad moved to London to study political science and criminology and he’s been a champion for a more inclusive community ever since he arrived. Nowhere is this more apparent that in his tireless work with his fellow volunteers over the past five years to build Pride London into a major 10-day civic festival celebrating and affirming the lives of London’s LGBTT2QA community, right in the heart of downtown, that over 10,000 people attend. This year, Pride London also hosted Fierté Canada Pride and InterPride conference for the first time. As vice-president of a volunteer board, a lot of Chad’s work is behind the scenes and out of the limelight. He is also a member and past chair of the diversity, inclusion and anti-oppression advisory committee at City Hall.
85. Jannika Nyberg of Burnaby, British Columbia was nominated by Charissa Chiu:
Jannika is a young adult ally. She is an advocate for increased student voice in education, and supporting local youth in further democratizing their education. Jannika established the Byrne Creek democracy project, a now student run group seeking to reform their districts governance system to be more participatory. She is passionate about citizenship education, and empowering youth of all backgrounds to shape their education and community. Her work in burnaby as created the space for youth to take the lead. She activities citizenship by example, and works to use their position to ensure marginalized voices are not only heard but taken in to the decision-amking process. Her work has strengthen the democratic process on both a school and district level. Her unique empathy and passion allowed a diverse find strength in their difference.
86. Wadhah Baobaid of London, Ontario was nominated by Jesse Helmer, City Councillor:
Wadhah has a knack for seeing opportunities to make his community better and bringing people together to make things happen. Originally from Yemen, he moved to Canada when he was twelve and attended Westminster Secondary School. Later graduating from Western University with a double major in psychology and applied statistics, Wadhah served as the youth councillor for Ward 12 for two years and is a member of the young men’s advisory committee for Reclaim Honour, a group of Muslim youth working to address gender-based violence. Last year, working with his friends Ferras Hayek and Adam Fearnall, Wadhah helped to lead a campaign to revitalize a rundown basketball court in White Oaks Park. Their community-focused campaign made it to the final round of Kraft’s Project Play contest and received a $25,000 prize. Along with $200,000 from the city, these funds have transformed an old basketball court into two amazing courts that are used heavily by young people in the community.
87. Alexia Olaizola of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Alexandra Lavasidis:
Alexia stands out as an Every Day Political Citizen in the work that she does, the conversations she has, and the topics she studies. Alexia is an undergraduate at McMaster University, where she is also a Community Engagement Coordinator. In this role, she helped put on Municipal Advocacy Week, where student leaders held talks with the Mayor, City Councillors, and various city staff and local stakeholders about student issues. Alexia facilitates political engagement off-campus as well; as an intern at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Alexia helped get youth more involved and knowledgeable about the connections between municipal policies and federal politics. Alexia is driven by her curiosity about the world around her, and her desire to make positive change. She is a great example of an Everyday Political Citizen!
88. Ravina Anand of Edmonton, Alberta was nominated by Sheila Butt:
Ravina Anand’s day starts at 5:00 a.m., seven days a week. As a 20 year old, fourth year BSC student, she has made a remarkable difference through her community involvement and representation at model United Nations conferences. Her commitment and passion for helping others is unparalleled by others her age. She won the 2015 Alberta Youth Volunteer of the Year Award, is a City of Edmonton Youth Councillor and a health advocate for safe injection sites. Her work with the city includes policy recommendations for solar panels, the elimination of plastic bottles, supporting youth mental health and the creation of YEGbyYOUTH, a platform for city youth to share their stories of overcoming barriers and encouraging other youth to become involved. Ravina lives by the quote, “You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
89. Rahul Mehta of Mississauga, Ontario was nominated by Alex Lavasidis:
Rahul is a constant source of motivation and encouragement for those around him to be more politically active. Rahul does not shy away from talking about important political issues, and what’s more, he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk! Rahul is an environmental activist who stays on top of national and international climate change issues, goes out to demonstrations, writes in to and meets with political and community leaders to influence change, spreads his knowledge to those around him, and lives a lifestyle that supports his beliefs. Rahul is an active member of his community, always volunteering and working to create positive environmental and social change. He is a shining example of an Everyday Political Citizen.
91. Judith Healey-Greene of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Bob McArthur:
Judith is a serious, conscientious person motivated by an abiding sense of social justice. She is attentive to fairness in her personal relationships but is also acting on her concerns in the public realm. Whether speaking up about sexism or women’s rights, working as an intern at the United Steelworkers or as a field worker for Toronto A.C.O.R.N. assisting low-income individuals and communities. She is concerned with the how economic disadvantage is interwoven with how hard it can be to access the public decision-making processes at the heart of our political institutions. And at eighteen, she’s only just begun.
92. Levi Marshall of Membertou First Nation was nominated by Lindsay DuPre:
Levi Marshall is a powerful young change maker from Membertou First Nation, currently enrolled in the Film Studies program at Ryerson University. Since I have known Levi I have been blown away by the great optimism, humility and creativity that drive his leadership. He has an incredible ability to connect with those around him, identifying the gifts that others hold and finding innovative ways to brings those gifts together.
Of particular interest to Levi is exploring ways in which technology can inspire youth and motivate them to get involved in social movements. This includes making social issues more accessible for young people to understand and creating new pathways for them to share their voices and to take action. Storytelling and community building is an important part of this and Levi’s use of film, documentary and social media present new possibilities in how this can be done in a transformative way.
One specific example of Levi’s involvement in this area of change making is with The Red Road Project, an initiative that focused on increasing awareness of the impacts of substance use and promoting youth engagement in culture and community as an alternative to negative behaviours. Similarly, he worked with a group of First Nations youth in his school to run The Footprint Project which challenged other students to commit to take action on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. He also has used film to help preserve stories and teachings from Mi’kmaq Elders and has done other work in connection with Picture This Productions, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, TVO and Eastlink Television.
Levi is someone who I know will continue to push for change in new and innovative ways, helping ensure that Indigenous issues and voices are addressed and heard in meaningful ways.
93. Manu Syed of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Maliha Mubashir:
Manu is an active member of the youth community and, being very conscious of the needs and challenges of today’s Canadian youth, has been an advocate for youth empowerment in her work and university environment. She has made positive contributions to her surroundings by promoting youth employment in a low-income neighbourhood in Toronto, providing peer support to youth about academic and personal success, career development and job search. She has served on the Board of a university student group and has helped initiate programmes to provide support to students with disabilities. Manu has expanded her service to the community beyond her youth peers to playing an effective role in the larger society as well by participating in public education programmes about diabetes to senior South Asian women and reducing social isolation in Chinese seniors in downtown Toronto. An aspiring social worker, Manu has a passion for working with individuals from diverse ethnic, cultural, religious, sexual orientation and other backgrounds and is helping to make an inclusive society for them to thrive in. I strongly recommend her to be selected Everyday Political Citizen because her work with youth and seniors promotes social and political empowerment.
94. Pakathon TO of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
I like hack-a-thons. I like pun-inspired portmonteaus. This is how you get Pakathon, a hack-a-thon for Pakistan. Initially, I wanted to nominate my friend Myra Khan for her efforts with Pakathon but she insisted the entire Pakathon TO team get nominated , which speaks well of the ethos of the team. What else could be bettter for civic engagement than getting a disparate group of people together to solve some global problems? Launched in 2013, Pakathon is a global organization with 85+ volunteers organized around 8 volunteer chapters in the US, Canada, Middle East and Australia. By hosting events in cities abroad we connect the Pakistani diaspora and others to local issues, issues in Pakistan and other developing countries. PakathonTO is the Toronto chapter, with the aim of providing social entrepreneurs with a platform to create tech-centric solutions for some of the challenges plaguing developing countries, such as Pakistan. Pakathon’s flagship event is a Hackathon where the Pakathon global community of changemakers come together to create, discuss and ultimately build social enterprises. In the past participants have created platforms that reduce infant mortality, combat the distribution of counterfeit drugs, and improve maternal health. My very first foray into the world of social enterprise was actually helping my friend who helped set up the aforementioned verification system to deal with counterfeit medicine and efforts like Pakathon TO are what help to raise the profile of these issues. For this, the Pakathon TO team are all Everyday Political Citizens.
95. Elise St. Germain of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Lindsay DuPre:
Elise St. Germain is a strong Métis woman, passionate about re-centering Indigenous knowledge systems as a key source of healing and relationship building for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. She has done work promoting pathways to reconciliation with the Anglican Church community in Toronto, has started a community garden initiative and is currently completing a degree in Indigenous Studies and Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto.
Elise is also an active member of the Toronto and York Region Métis Council’s Youth Committee, where she has helped plan and facilitate a year long project called ‘Weaving The Sash.’ This project has involved hosting seasonal cultural events that reconnect urban Métis youth with traditional knowledge and cultural practices while creating spaces for community building through laughter and learning. She also collaborates with local Elder and Senator Constance Simmonds to organize monthly Women’s Circle gatherings at Native Child and Family Services.
Lastly, I have seen Elise’s leadership and commitment to community healing shine through her work with TakingITGlobal as our Indigenous Youth Engagement Assistant this past summer where she helped youth develop their leadership skills and empowered them to see themselves and change agents in their communities, the country and across the world.
96. Nikki Sigurdson of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
I met Nikki at a summit on youth leadership.She is clearly committed to getting young people interested in STEM subjects but perhaps what fascinates me is her fanatical advocacy for open data. I don’t meet many people that are excited about open data and making civic participation a data-driven affair. With all the buzz on big data, Nikki sees an opportunity to engage a new generation of young people into the data in which governments are supposed to base their decisions on data and evidence through her work with STEM Fellowship.
Leaving aside trying to get young people passionate about STEM, what’s most relevant for our purposes of civic engagement is how she brings data to bear on civic affairs. She has been looking to train high school youth in data analytics and have them apply those tools to uncover insights that is hidden in datasets about their own neighbourhoods. Her experiential-based learning approach gets young people learning about their neighbourhood as they also develop the skills and confidence to understand their community in a data-driven way. This is exemplified with her Big Data Challenges. Her next set of Big Data Challenges is about taking public transit data, have them apply data science tools and getting young people to learn a little bit more about their city through data.
It is easy to get lost in the data but she always remembers that there is a human story behind each data point and she is always grounded in the bigger picture of the public good. In looking to engage and train the next generation of data scientists that can contribute to making their communities better through data-driven analysis and decision-making, as well as making it fun. Data might sound dry to some people, but the missionary-like zeal she approaches her work makes it endlessly engaging. It’s no wonder some people this second year computer science undergraduate is doing a post-doc.
Her motto may as well be that of NYC’s former mayor for making pubic decisions: “In God we trust — everyone else, bring data.” If you are not God, then Nikki is your best friend to help you bring that data to bear for civic affairs and because of this, she is an Everyday Political Citizen.
97. Eden Hagos of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
If you ask people what they are passionate about, I am pretty sure you will run into someone who self-professes to be a foodie or loves food, who probably un-ironically takes pictures of their food with some hashtag like #foodstagram or #yum.
Eden is one of those people but she sees food as more than just as something to eat. What is an necessity for people as everyone needs to eat, Eden sees the story behind food. She knows better than most that food is what brings people together and it is because of this that she has decided to start Black Foodie to build a community around food for blacks. I met her through Studio [y], and both of us, belonging to that category of “food bloggers,” (seriously, check-out http://blackfoodie.co/ and while you are at it, not to steal her thunder, but also check out www.6ixspots.com), are both interested to see what stories lie behind the food.
We want to tell that story of food as the common unifier in bringing together community and that is what she has decided to devote herself to doing. Eating food as an act of building community and embodying it is why I think she deserves to be an Everyday Political Citizen.
98. Genevieve Zingg of Thornhill, Ontario was nominated by Justin Rodrigues:
Try as I might to make her a diehard Blue Jays fan, Genevieve is far more interested in talking politics and developing projects than watching games. After reading about a new law in France that requires supermarkets to donate excess food to charities rather than wasting it, she founded the What A Waste Campaign to bring the same law to Canada. She started a petition that now has 66,000 signatures, advocated for the campaign on Al Jazeera and the Huffington Post, and created a website to educate Canadians about the food waste crisis. Genevieve and a team of volunteers are busily researching food policy, drafting proposals modelled after France’s law, and consulting with supermarkets, food banks, and homeless shelters to make this law a reality. Her drive and determination come from a deep desire to strengthen our communities and create positive, sustainable changes in our country. For this, she is definitely an Everyday Political Citizen.
99. Safiah Chowdhury of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as resilient as her in pushing through how governments can work better for citizens. To borrow a begrudging compliment that Donald Trump offered to Hillary Clinton: “She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter….She fights hard, and she doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I consider that to be a very good trait.” Just ask her about her time about being the first woman in a hijab to lead the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s University, which is their student’s union and even her biggest critics will have to admit, she will fight for what she believes is right. She paved the way.
That is the Safiah I have always known when I met her at Studio [Y]. I have worked with her on a pilot to do grounded voter outreach in Malvern during the 2014 Toronto elections. Since then, she has never lost sight of the community she is from and she brings that to her day to day work. She is deliberate about where grounded lived experience hits the rubber with policymaking and I know she is doing everything she can to reconcile the perspectives of the worlds. As one of the policy leads for the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy, this lens is so critical. She was integral in organizing the TOProsperity hack-a-thon at the Toronto Public Library and a lived experience advisory panel by trying to do the hard work of engaging people that typically would have been on the margins. This is just one of many numerous things she has done to involve people in co-creating the future of their lived environments.
She has also helped many young people, particularly women of colour attain influence in civic life through her involvement with the Shadow Cabinet. She has always believed in fighting the good fight to pave the road to a kinder, farier world in its wake. It is for her efforts in thinking about how to get others to speak, which is a cause I know she will continue with that.
She’s a fighter, she fights hard, and she doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up and I would hope that Samara considers this to be a very good trait. I think even Donald Trump would think she deserves (albeit perhaps begrudgingly) to be an Everyday Political Citizen.
100. Terra Gillespie of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
Social media for whatever reason has become a core competency. I’m sure many people list it on their CV but few people actually know how to use social media for civic engagement. Anyone can tweet but then there are those who can tweet with a deliberate strategy in mind to get Terra does.
Whether it’s volunteering for political campaigns or through her extensive involvement with Women in Toronto Politics, she uses her talents and puts it to work. Sistering, a non-profit that helps homeless and under-housed young women definitely benefits from her expertise. I know she’s always up for intense conversations on anything political and slightly controversial.
You can actually catch her over a slice of pizza with her new venture: PizzaPoliTo, where as she puts it “to understanding out citizen, one pizza quest at a time.” I cannot think of a more attractive value proposition where the ingredients of pizza and politics form a unique marriage that is equal parts richness and acidic snark in civic conversations — much like mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce that makes any good pizza. Pizza is an everyday, easily available thing and for putting pizza and politics together, she is an Everyday Political Citizen.
101. Lesley Bramhill of Montréal, Quebec was nominated by Frédéric Julien:
Lesley Bramhill has an uncanny energy and a passion for democracy only matched by her love of dance. She’s been a key volunteer with the Canadian Arts Coalition for three years. She played an instrumental role in the Coalition’s first major social media campaign, and she’s now co-chair of the Coalition’s communication committee. For Lesley, political activism is matter of collaboration. She has been a contributor to the Alternative Federal Budget since 2014, and collaborated with Apathy is boring to increase voter turnout during the last federal election.
102. Ryhana Dawood of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Monah Water:
As quoted by Warren Bennis, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Ryhana has managed to inspiringly uphold a strong vision that has helped to empower a growing number of females in the GTA and beyond. Apart from being a light in the lives of the patients she attends to in her medical practice, Ryhana is also the founder of Martial Smarts, a non-profit initiative that aims to empower women through free self-defence workshops. As an ethnically diverse Muslim woman, she has used elements of her identity to shatter stereotypes associated with gender, race, ethnicity and religion. In her effort to educate and equip females with a mode of defence, she has consequently helped to open doors for females who may have otherwise felt limited by their position of marginality. Ryhana’s passion and commitment to devoting herself to bring out the best in her community, has been a powerful source of inspiration and love to those who have had the privilege of connecting with her. Her story is now screening internationally in a short doc titled “The Good Fight”.
103. Amara Possian of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Aerin Jacob:
A healthy, active democracy doesn’t magically happen. Catalysts bring people together, empower them to organize, and build tools to help them accomplish goals. Amara Possian is exactly that catalyst. Rooted in the youth climate movement, over the last eight years Amara has designed and run numerous large advocacy and electoral campaigns. As Campaign Manager at Leadnow, she focuses on social and economic justice. I was inspired by the pivotal role she played during the 2015 federal election by managing the Vote Together campaign. Powered by communities, Vote Together integrated digital tools with grassroots organzing to mobilize strategic voting across the country. I frequently saw Amara in the national media. I was impressed by how she held her own — and then some — under heated questioning and debates with seasoned political junkies. How is she only 27? Amara is a role model for how collaboration and engagement can foster real social change.
104. Salomeh Ahmadi of Toronto, Ontario was nominated by Andrew Do:
Salomeh Ahmadi I met at an open data talk where we both were on a panel on neighbourhoods and their data needs. I did not know her before then but it became apparent to me why was there. She is relentlessly dedicated to improving the immediate environment in which she worked in through her professional capacity as a facilitate with Pathways to Education in Rexdale. She volunteers extensively with the Rotary Club of Toronto West, to reinforce her engagement with the west end of Toronto.
What I really like about her is that she is a systems thinker and engages all the stakeholders to get as many people at the table to define and solve collective problems affecting North Toronto. There is community-based collaboration with intent and anyone who has been involved with the Rexdale Lab. It is an impressive, well thought out platform to ensure residents participate on a continual basis with a lot of though put into evaluating whether it is meeting its goals in engaging residents not just on a one-off basis but as true co-creators to solve problems.
When you work with Salomeh, expect to work with someone you have never met before and expect to leave with a more nuanced, empathetic perspective to a problem. That is just how talented she is as a facilitator and for providing this platform through providing a calming, but focused presence — she deserves to be an Everyday Political Citizen.