Two Years of Building Power and Leading Change

Activists, organizers and changemakers gathered at Ryerson University on November 26, 2018 to celebrate the second anniversary of the Institute for Change Leaders (ICL), an initiative headed by Olivia Chow that provides training on grassroots, relationship-focused community organizing. Suze Morrison, Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto Centre, delivered the keynote speech on her remarkable journey as an activist and community representative.

The Institute for Change Leaders provides training on community organizing and effecting social change. Over the last year, the Institute increased the number of organizers trained to 4,000 students, recruited over 30 new trainers, and launched workshops in Niagara, Waterloo, Thunder Bay, Brampton, Peterborough, Ottawa and PEI.

Also speaking was Rahat Hossain, 26, a resident physician at the University of Toronto, who shared his experience of being vulnerably housed as a child. Rahat related how he signed up for the Institute for Change Leaders’ Building Skills for Change program in the summer before starting medical school, where he shared his story publicly for the first time. Once he left for medical school in Niagara, he took what he had learned and began to apply it immediately, starting a group called HEART (Health and Equity through Advocacy, Research, and Theatre), which transforms stories gathered from people experiencing homelessness into a participatory, research-based theatrical play.

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Musician and filmmaker Lorraine Segato MC'd the event, and debuted the new, star-studded cover of her iconic hit ‘Rise Up.’ Proceeds of the cover will be donated to the Institute for Change Leaders. Lorraine also announced she would be joining the Institute to draw on her extensive experience as an arts ambassador to teach organizers to utilize artistic expressions—including music, film, art, and performances—to tell their stories and motivate others to action.

Segato was joined by Lyndsay MacDonald and Alana Powell, two leaders on an emerging movement of Early Childhood Educators activists, to share their story from the frontlines of the fight for universal, high quality and affordable early learning and care. Also presenting was Duncan Pike, a press freedom activist, who shared lessons from the successful campaign for Canada’s first ‘press shield’ law for the protection of journalistic sources.


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