Having graduated in 2010 from UQAM in communications, with a concentration on television, Janine Janvier is a passionate young mixed-race woman working in the areas of culture, arts, project coordination and youth entrepreneurship. A multidisciplinary artist, she is a photographer, videographer, graphic artist, evening host and even a gospel singer! Only twenty-seven years old, she is the co-founder of a business event planning organization named 2011 PIC TON ART and was its communications officer for 2 years. Janine has over 6 years of experience in the community. She loves projects that promote youth civic participation, particularly when young people can excel and make a positive difference in their community. Coordinator of the St. Michel Youth Forum since 2013, Janine continues to work on social inclusion and the professional development of Saint-Michel youth. With her drop-in project: Drop-in: Place aux 18-30 ans!, she is allowing young people to achieve their project of a cultural and social integration community space in their image. The drop-in centre allows youth to develop resilience, social skills, work skills and self-esteem. Their goal is simple: they want a place designed “by and for” youth aged 18-30. A coordinating committee, consisting of 10 to 15 young people, is mandated to implement their action plan, which will include the organization of a fundraising campaign, which will promote the project and provide support for diverse cultural programming, in partnership with community and institutional organizations. Why a mobile drop-in centre? It’s simple, the Saint-Michel district is divided in two by a waste disposal site in summer, which creates difficulties for youth and is particularly dangerous in winter time. . The mobile drop-in centre will thus be able to work directly with over 1,000 youth from the district, who will discover and enjoy the different resources of St. Michel.
Tabitha McDonald is a former Crown Ward and young adult from Ottawa, who transitioned out of government care without a permanent family. Tabitha now coordinates the Adoption Council of Canada’s Youth Speak Out Program, so that youth in and from government care can share their stories, as experts, and bring about a call to action on a national scale. She speaks to the importance of siblings and education, as well as the experiential belief that permanency is a protective factor against homelessness, human trafficking and mental health issues. Tabitha plans on undertaking digital storytelling training with the University of Guelph’s Project ReVision and will incorporate her new-found skills into the curriculum of the Youth Speak Out (YSO) program. YSO currently has six teams across Canada and over 100 active members, and is a national youth-led, adult-supported program of the Adoption Council of Canada. By supporting each other, using narrative and art therapy to tell their stories safely, and to initiate systemic change, these youth mitigate the negative impacts associated with living in and aging out of government care. Tabitha plans to connect with the youth and their professional adult supports in each of the regions to coordinate and facilitate the use of digital storytelling in their advocacy and educational pursuits.
A theatre artist and advocate for social justice in public health, Shira Taylor created SExT: Sex Education by Theatre as her dissertation at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. SExT uses theatre to empower youth for whom sexuality is a cultural taboo to reflect on and challenge their realities on issues related to sex, sexuality, and sexual health. Shira obtained her BSc. (Psychology) and MSc. (Epidemiology) from Queen’s University, where she performed with Queen’s Players, Queen’s Musical Theatre, and Existere, and co-founded and directed the social action theatre program, Excetera. Upon moving to Toronto, she produced and directed a large-scale RENT flash mob video for World AIDS day to challenge HIV stigma for the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research. Shira works with Indigenous girls in the Northwest Territories as Evaluation Consultant and Drama Facilitator with FOXY. She performs with the multiple award-winning theatre company, Shakey-Shake and Friends, which uses puppets and popular culture references to make Shakespeare accessible to young audiences. Shira is a CIHR Social Research Centre in HIV Prevention Trainee and is a Research Coordinator at SickKids on the cross-Canada, Art for Social Change (ASC!) project, working closely with professional artists and change-makers across the country to further the use of the arts in social justice agendas. With the generous support of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, Shira will be bringing SExT to wide audiences in Toronto and working towards program sustainability and expansion. The burden of poor sexual health disproportionately affects newcomer youth. Flemingdon/Thorncliffe Park are immigration destinations and the recent hub of protests opposing sex education reform in the wake of the first curriculum update since 1998. Gaps in arts programming have also been reported in these Neighborhood Improvement Areas. Shira has partnered with the Flemingdon Health Centre to train youth in these communities as peer educators through theatre. In the age of cyberbullying, sexting and rape culture, SExT gives youth a platform to have their voices heard through the creation of skits, songs, poems, raps and dances that reflect their experience and culture. Learn more at: www.sexeducationbytheatre.com.
Chu Zang, 28, is an artist specializing in comics, pottery, and drawings. She is part of a 2-girl artist initiative called FANGRRLZ, which acclimates towards forced identities through the distribution of print media, ephemera, and projections. She is interested in elevating the hustle of many artists in her community as she shares and emphasizes with their struggles. For her project, Chu will focuss on supporting the Where Are You From Collective (WAYF Collective), an art-based and activism program for Asian-identified youth. Its work seeks to address the lack of agency that Asian Canadians experienced in defining our identities, visibility, and representation by offering workshops for youth, running arts events, and creating an online platform for self-representation. The Collective works from an intersectional, anti-oppression framework to empower Asian youth to develop critical art practices and build activist spaces that challenge dominant culture after decades of collective silence. Its mission is to celebrate Asian identities and achievements, build capacity for Asian-identified youth, and connect diasporic Asian communities so that we can create intentional dialogue that disrupts status quo. The other members of the Collective include: Karla, Rain and Effy. Karla Danan Ravela, 23, is a new Torontonian with a passion for making the world a better place. She’s a Filipina feminist proud to be from Calgary, Alberta, with a passion for sexual health advocacy, anti-racism work, and civic engagement. She is thrilled to join the WAYF collective in redefining the visibility and representation of Canadian Asians in our culture, especially for strong Filipina women like her loving mom. Karla also loves spreadsheets, Beyonce, puppies, and practicing radical self-love. Rain, 32, is a writer, performer, artist, facilitator, and community activist. Rain was recently awarded second place for their play The Virus at Pat the Dog Theatre Creation 24-playwriting contest. Rain has facilitated workshops for Krafty Queers, Queer Asian Youth, and Community Action Centre of the Student Association at George Brown. Rain is currently working on their first science fiction novel while also studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. Rain is very excited to be helping out with the facilitation of workshops for Asian youths, something that they wished were offered when they were younger. Effy Min, is the executive director at Bad Subject, an organization that offers activity-based workshops on Consent and relevant topics for youth, educators, and professionals. Effy will be helping out WAYF on an advisory capacity with workshop design, youth outreach, evaluation design, and grant writing. Bad Subject will also provide in-kind support in the form of Consent workshops.