There are a number of exceptional funding opportunities and community-based organizations supporting the engagement of young people from historically marginalized communities. Inspirit recognizes these individuals sometimes lack access to professional networks, generational wealth, and, at times, formal education, which is why it’s important we focus on a changemaking approach rather than a charity model. We do this by leveraging our resources to help develop connected, effective, and influential leaders. In so doing, we help create the conditions where change leaders embarking on important work to accelerate inclusion can flourish beyond granting program parameters.
Our change leader network is focused on people aged 18-34. Inspirit supports these individuals by contributing funds to youth-led initiatives, lowering barriers to capacity-building opportunities and decision-making tables, connecting change leaders across the country, collaborating with change leaders on initiatives, and negotiating with institutions to create space for these leaders. Change leaders aged 18-34 are particularly well suited to address challenges related to equity and inclusion and eager for opportunities to build their leadership skills.
At Reelworld Film Festival, videos about three change leaders and their work were featured on the big screen. Then, in a panel moderated by the festival’s Executive Director, change leaders shared their insights and ideas about inclusion in Canada. This panel was programmed alongside Maryam, a film about a young, Parisian, Muslim woman barred from wearing her hijab in class. The change leaders provided a Canadian context for the film’s themes of exclusion and discrimination, and the afternoon culminated in the festival’s“conversation room,” where audience members met the change leaders.
Twenty change leaders began a critical conversation about Canada’s migrant detention centres at the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs 2016 conference. After former Minister of Immigration John McCallum’s remarks, change leaders asked key questions about how Canada will respond to human rights violations in these detention centres. They also initiated a moment of silence for migrants who had recently died in custody, which resulted in a powerful call to attention on a too often overlooked issue.
Coty Zachariah comes from the Mohawks of the Bay of Quite First Nation. His territory is called Tyendinaga and his Mohawk name is “He Speaks in the Wind”. Coty also traces his roots to Black community of North Preston, Nova Scotia. He invests a lot of time in student and Indigenous governance to advocate for positive changes for historically marginalized communities. He regularly speaks on topics of reconciliation work, community building, intersectionality and indigeneity. He is also an experienced workshop facilitator for communities, companies, schools, unions, faith-based groups and special-interest groups.
Sakinah Hasib, born in 1990, is an Afro-Trinidadian, Native American, multi-ethnic, Muslim woman. She is a recreation therapist by trade and centres her learning and her role as a healer around holistic health and wellness, post-trauma, mental illness, and spiritual growth. Sakinah is also a mixed media artist and poet who uses her art to advocate for truth and justice. She is experienced in developing and facilitating programming and workshops on holistic health and wellness practices, arts-based interventions, and social justice issues.
Frida Banks is an actor, educator and public speaker. A storyteller by nature, Banks’s art practice compels her to tell stories that are often obscured, using oral stories, photography or dance. She channels her passion as an educator into her role as co-founder and program coordinator of Lost Lyrics, an organization that challenges traditional educational models and uses creative engagement tools and social justice to spark self-directed storytelling and expression among its students. Banks believes that people form meaningful connections with one another when conversations are deeper and more nuanced. On behalf of Inspirit, Banks effectively stewarded change leaders from Inspirit’s network to facilitate post-screening conversations during HotDocs 2016 on critical issues including migration, Indigenous rights and women’s rights in post-war Afghanistan.