Celebrating Youth Leadership Against Anti-Black Racism

CFL Star Wayne Moore, a running back for the BC Lions, headlined a joyful celebration of the 200 graduates of the Black Youth Leadership Program on August 13, 2020. The program, a joint project of the Institute for Change Leaders (ICL) and For Youth Initiative (FYI), has equipped youth from across Ontario to develop their leadership skills and confront anti-Black racism in their communities.

The online event highlighted stories like those of Elijah Gyansa, an 18-year-old graduate and a celebration organizer. Teachers at Elijah’s Junior High School discouraged him from applying for the International Baccalaureate (IB) academic program, telling him he should focus on sports. Undeterred, he prepared for the exams on his own, becoming the only person from his school accepted to the board's IB program that year - a program he successfully completed this year. (Click here to watch an interview with Elijah and CityNews journalist Brandon Rowe.)

CityTV Video

 “Without a doubt, I have expanded my perspectives and grown as an individual through the training,” says Elijah. “I feel motivated to inspire the next generation of Black leaders.”

“The sessions have shown all of us ways of being leaders and are empowering us to reach our full potential. Now we know we too can touch the sky,” says Monica Tonlé, a 15-year-old graduate of the program and co-organizer of the celebratory event. 

The celebration, which was open to the public, featured musical performances and poetry from young graduates of the program, as well as remarks by Dr. Jill Andrew, MPP.

The training sessions were led by well-known storyteller and speaker Sandra Whiting.

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The Institute for Change Leaders (ICL) is a non-profit organization, founded in 2016 by Olivia Chow, dedicated to the development of community organizing skills. Working with Ryerson University, the Institute for Change Leaders teaches the skills that organizers need to win social change. To date, over 6000 people have participated in ICL training. www.changeleaders.ca

For Youth Initiative (FYI) is a non-profit organization that has served, inspired and advocated for thousands of teens and young adults in York South-Weston since 1995. FYI provides year-round programs and services to local youth to meet their needs and empower them to reach their full potential. www.foryouth.ca

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