Past IDERD Award Recipients 2012

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Description of work: 
Our course uses Indigenous and European relationship-building methodologies to build skills and explore the concepts, politics, and processes of Indigenous/non-Indigenous reconciliation in Canada. The course is subdivided into four themes: a) the historical context of colonialism in Canada; b) the history and current state of Indigenous organizing and non-Indigenous solidarity in Canada; c) decolonizing within; and d) finding our own process of reconciliation.

Through the Indigenous methodology of the sharing circle, all of us in ABS 360 —  Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and the two instructors –learn from each other about white privilege, the complex position of racialized peoples on colonized Indigenous land, and the intergenerational consequences of racism and internalized racism. Each of us comes to understand our own relation to Canada‘s colonial history and its legacy and support each other in envisioning and actively working towards alternative futures.

Constituent/client group with whom you work:
Our course attracts undergraduate students of all backgrounds, as well as graduate students who audit the course — a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Length of time in the role and/or carrying out the work:
We developed this experiential course together and have taught it for two years, though we‘ve been doing reconciliation work for decades.

How does your work contribute to the overall agenda of eliminating discrimination and racism and advancing anti-racism?
Our course helps students move through guilt, anger, shame, fear, and ignorance to understand their own relation to the history and current reality of colonialism and racism in Canada. As they begin the lifelong process of “decolonizing within,” they dismantle the racist stereotypes they‘ve internalized, learn to work together, and become empowered to take action for social justice.


Length of time in this role/carrying out the work: 
The English Language Development (ELD) work began in 2004.

Description of program:
The English Language Development Centre (ELDC) serves students from all disciplines on campus.  It also supports faculty in dealing with the ELD needs of their students.
The ELDC focuses on developing students‘ academic English, critical thinking and confidence to communicate so that they are able to cope with academic demands of their courses. The program also provides leadership training that enable student facilitators to support other students in integrating into the academic community.

Brief description of selected components of ELDC:
A. Communication Cafés
Ten modules cover a curriculum of essential oral, critical thinking and confidence-building skills. These Communication Cafes are based on ELDC-developed games that have been specially designed so that students from different races/cultures interact with each other and learn in a way that they enjoy.  This develops confidence to express their ideas orally, assert their opinions, and dialogue with others.

B. Facilitator Training Certificate (FTC) program
As part of their training, facilitators undergo one module specifically on Anti-Oppression conducted by my colleague Negin Dahya.  This is an important and powerful session where the peer facilitators examine the issues related to oppression in all its forms, and gain insights into the important role each individual plays in promoting anti-oppression while they support other students.

C. Personalized Academic Reading and Writing through Email (RWE)
This is an extremely successful program at helping students read extensively and explore topics which they otherwise might not.  Through writing daily, they confront their unexamined beliefs and assumptions. By sharing their thoughts with their ELDC tutors through email and meeting one-on-one fortnightly , students are guided not only in expressing their thoughts in a manner needed for academic writing, they are mentored in developing their critical thinking and examination of controversial and difficult issues.

Constituent/client group with whom I work:  
Students and Faculty

Students: Our aim is to help students develop the language skills and confidence to communicate and be active members of the academic community

Faculty:  We seek to raise awareness of the need for greater inclusivity in courses in order to benefit from the rich diversity of experience and perspectives from among the students of different backgrounds that can enrich the teaching-learning dynamics.  We also help faculty understand the challenges ELD students face so that in the preparation of classes, assignments and tests/exams, faculty do not inadvertently disadvantage particular groups of students. We work with faculty to support them with strategies, class visits and various collaborations.

How does your work contribute to the overall agenda of eliminating discrimination and racism and advancing anti-racism?

  • Empowers students with English language skills and confidence to communicate and express their viewpoints with others, thus promoting greater interaction and engagement among students from different backgrounds in the context of both co-curricular and academic learning.
  • Creates conditions for positive interactions so that students who might otherwise be silent, “voiceless” and marginalized express their “voice” and “identity”as valued members of the academic community.  Therefore students feel encouraged to share their thoughts and perspectives with people outside their limited circle of friends consisting mainly of students from backgrounds similar to their own.
  • Students are able to express their voice through multiple means of communication including dialogue online and face-to-to face when addressing their academic writing needs.
  • When the students in the program actively engage in our academic community (e.g. communicating their thoughts, exchanging experiences, engaging in dialogue, presenting at conferences), other members of the academic community benefit through improved critical thinking and awareness of new perspectives. There is a sizeable body of research substantiating this point.
  • Our success stories is in large part attributable to the extremely dedicated team of ELDC colleagues  ( Heather-Lynne Meacock, Maggie Roberts, Negin Dahya, Tom Robles, Max Gatta and Ali Hadidi in the current team)  and highly committed Work Study students (Elaine Villegas, Yasmeen Ali, Vicky Chong, Tharnya Gengathata, Alida Viegas, and Meera Tomar in this year‘s team) over the years . Our very diverse racial and cultural backgrounds mirror those of the students we serve.   This diversity affords a model of synergistic cooperation and mutual respect, which helps the students feel at ease and connected,   making it possible to facilitate students‘ thinking through various difficult and sensitive issues.


Description of work: 
As a Student Recruitment Officer, I examine ways the University can further its Excellence, and provide an even richer experience for all members of our community by valuing and embracing the potential contributions of all students. I convene and lead information sessions, special events, and access to mentorship and bridging/transitional programs for prospective students. This includes full-day events on campus for prospective students from marginalized or racialized communities, in which participants experience a day in the life of a current University student, attend lectures, learn about ways to pay for their studies, meet current students and professionals in areas related to their interests, and access mentorship programs the University runs (eg. Summer Mentorship Program).  In collaboration with current U of T students, I also conduct visits to local high schools and community organizations serving priority neighbourhoods to promote access to the University of Toronto, and post-secondary education in general.  On a daily basis I act as a resource for prospective students to use in understanding the academic programs, admission requirements, student life and financial resources of the University of Toronto.

Constituent/Client group with whom you work:
Newcomer youth, first-generation students, students from marginalized and racialized communities.

Length of time that you have been in the role and/or carrying out the work:
I have held various roles within the University for the past 8 years.

How does your work contribute to the overall agenda of eliminating discrimination and racism and advancing anti-racism? 
My work promotes access to the University of Toronto, regardless of race, by attracting students that will contribute to our legacy of excellence.


Description of work: 
UTMSU works to provide students with safe and positive spaces in which they are supported in addressing issues they face on campus when it comes to race, racism, and anti-racism. Towards this end, the UTMSU‘s work includes developing campaigns (e.g. the “No to Islamophobia & Anti-Semitism Campaign”) and education programming (e.g. DisOrientation Week).

As the Vice President, Equity I work to advance the Union‘s equity agenda to support students, liaising with various campus groups and university offices to promote a racism and discrimination-free community. I also chair two working groups of the UTMSU:

The Ministry of Equity(ME):

  • Through lobbying campaigns, events, dialogue sessions and workshops, the ME is committed to ensuring that all students are treated equitably, regardless of gender, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation or political views.

The Ministry of Social Justice (MSJ):

  • The MSJ hosts regular events rallies, teach-ins, film screenings and anti-oppression workshops to facilitate constructive dialogue about major political, social and environmental issues facing students. It is a catalyst for action and change, hosting one of the biggest annual campus events: “Xpression Against Oppression (XAO) Week”.

Constituent/Client group with whom you work:
I work with student communities, particularly on the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus

Length of time in the role and/or carrying out the work:
I have held various roles within the UTMSU for 3 years

How does your work contribute to the overall agenda of eliminating discrimination and racism and advancing anti-racism?
Although our campus is very diverse, inequities continue to exist. At the UTMSU, our work seeks to ensure that every student has their voice heard. Through our various activities we strive to create spaces in which people from different backgrounds engage with each other, challenging stereotypes and building understanding.

We are all a part of an amazing community and it is important that stereotypes are not reinforced on our campus. Each and every one of us has the right to be treated with respect and in turn, each and every one of us has the responsibility to treat others with respect.