I’m from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and I’m Ojibwe. Through my business, Thunderbird Rock, I give guided on-foot tours along the boardwalk of my city, and give people a space to feel comfortable asking about First Nations. I give a lot of stories and interpretation behind the Aboriginal people who live in this area. There’s a huge gap between First Nations and non-First Nations in my area. It’s hard for people to cross the line, feeling the are overstepping their boundaries or afraid of being wrong. I let people who are interested know about why we do things the way we do. I think that it’s very important that these kind of conversations happen. To be able to get more community work like that means the most to me. It’s worth more than money or anything. It’s about the feeling I get engaging these kind of conversations. It’s also a way to start working together across the divisions of history. I can stand up and use my voice for my ancestors that had a lot of hardship. I get to share their story. Chii-Miigwetch
I am a multidisciplinary artist and educator who cannot help but explore life through art – I feel they are inseparable. I view art as an honest, spiritual act that stems from one’s soul. When fully engaged in the creative process, no mistakes are made and there are no limitations. I aim to inspire others to follow their hearts and wilder aspirations through creativity. Since 2010, I have been involved with various arts-related organizations within Thunder Bay, including the Community Arts and Heritage in Education Project, Willow Springs Creative Centre and Satellite Studio Artist Collective.
I hope to share the universal message from my Finnish heritage: that the state of our self, city and world lies in each of our hands. It relies greatly on the land and waters that led us here and made us who we are. We control our future, each individual brings strength to the community, and we are all inevitably connected.
Since 2009, I have been weaving together relationships, ideas and stories at the fuzzy boundaries of professional and grassroots social action. As far back as I can remember, I've been restlessly patching together a life from my own rough-hewn edges of self: poet and process geek, schemer and dreamer, teacher and learner, among others. All along, I've been fed by the question: "What makes a good life, why and how?" I now live, work and play on the unceded land in Turtle Island now called Toronto, where I can generally be found dabbling in too many half-hobbies and chasing the perfect sentence.
I am a Bahá'í, queer, spoken word artist with hearing loss. Although I have a ton of different experiences, I recognize that I can’t speak for everyone -- nor should I try. I believe that a community leader strengthens and amplifies the voices and strengths of others rather than trying to showcase their own. I have started to do this by unifying diverse groups through artistic expression and by helping to develop common language for how we teach, learn from and honour each other. It’s important to recognize that people coming from very different contexts can sometimes have conflicting viewpoints. A leader needs to find the common ground between them so that both are valued.
I have been inspired by the fundamental belief in my faith that we are all inherently noble. That means we all contain the capacity for excellence in mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. We are all capable of great things if we work towards them. I pass on that knowledge and wisdom to other people as often as I can, because I recognize that the more we know ourselves and the more that we grow in ourselves, the more we are able to understand other people and help them to grow.
Jermaine is Social ARTrepreneur who is passionate about connecting and inspiring people to self-actualize. Through drama, emceein, facilitation and spoken word he aims to co-create meaningful moments rooted in compassion and kindness. Jermaine has had the privilege to perform and facilitate arts-based for community programs, events and initiatives with various schools boards, community agencies and arts companies including Youth Social Infrustructure Collaborative, Children’s Mental Health of Ontario, Children Peace Theatre, 360°kids, and Sketch Working Arts. His mission is to use his artistry and facilitation skills to curate brave spaces for people to be their full-selves and connect with our humanity.
I am an Anishinaabe kwe from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Batchewana First Nation. I have been working in community economic development in Northern Ontario for the last five years, including as the National Youth Representative for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which advocates for urban, off-reserve Aboriginal peoples in Canada. I'm also the Project Coordinator for the 4Rs Youth Movement (4RYM), a collaboration of fourteen national organizations who are working with youth to rebuild Canada by creating opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people to come together.
I came to YSI as a founding member informing the development of the Algoma hub for cross-cultural youth organizing in Northern Ontario. It has been a privilege being in dialogue and learning with YSI and 4RYM. Together, we are working to reconcile our relationships in support of a better future.
I am from Mississauga First Nation, located near Blind River, ON. My feelings resonate well within the traditional territories of the Algoma District, as I have worked and attended school in North Bay and grown to appreciate the Nipissing region as an almost second home. My passion is applying my education and work experience to these home regions in Northern Ontario. I enjoy meeting like-minded individuals who embrace the challenge of making change happen in their communities and working to improve them for future generations.
My experience with the YSI began in the Fall of 2012 and I have always felt welcomed by the community of people I’ve met and collaborated with. I feel like I have a lot of experience to share as a result and am happy to pass on my knowledge as well as learn from others in the process.
I'm a Toronto-based Palestinian artist, facilitator, community organizer, and full-time awesome-seeker. I’m an ardent believer that creation is the ultimate superpower and am always trying to find ways to bring it out in others. My work has included crowdfunding to build rooftop gardens in Palestinian refugee camps, leading weekly $5 meals for 200+ people, curating community poetry and storytelling nights, and planning all sorts of events on shoe-string budgets. My default modes are ask, make, give, and shake (up)!
May Chook is a jazz and improvising vocalist, community artist, and event organizer based in Toronto, Canada. Born in Malaysia, she came to Canada to study and received a music degree from York University. May’s works focus on creativity, expressions and accessibility. She advocates programs and events that promote local artists and arts education for community-in-need. She currently leads music and vocal workshops independently, as well as for Arts for Children and Youth. In 2014, she started an initiative named CCJAM (Community Creative Jam) and has been hosting engaging arts events across Toronto.
Rihkee Strapp is a Metis of the Wolverine Clan, and #StudioY Alumni from the MaRS Discovery District. They are a multi-disciplinary artist who loves connecting with people around Canada & Turtle Island through social technology. Rihkee is a graduate of the Fine Arts Program at Algoma University.
I am a singer/songwriter, artist, photographer, deep-hearted lover of the land, community organizer, and action researcher. Much of my heart belongs to working with children and youth with special needs using art, music and learning on land as vehicles for inner and outer exploration, transformation and joy-making. My local Queer community, YSI family and fellow community changemakers are also ever-present in my life and work.
My experience thus far with the YSI family has offered the space for me to have a voice, share ideas, give and receive support, nurture blossoming friendships, step up with confidence, and build diverse skills that I can bring back to my community work. I am stepping forward to host because I'm drawn to the people, the energy and the opportunity to build this movement together across the province.
I have been dedicated to Youth Engagement for over four years, contributing as a peer-to-peer outreach worker, an advisory committee member, an event organizer, a school-based facilitator, a mental model innovator, a resource creator, a youth group leader, and a provincial trainer on youth engagementpractice. I also like long walks in the snow, Thai food, and dancing around an open fire.
I fell in love with YSI after the first gathering I participated in, and would jump at any opportunity to continue working with these wonderful people. From learning about the art of developmental evaluation in Toronto to jumping in to the frigid Lake Chiblow with a ton of new friends, my experiences with YSI are always enlightening, enriching, rejuvinating, and joyful.