Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A group of vibrant young people from BCS in their role to strengthen Toronto’s marginalized communities

- Advertisement -

On March 9, 2004, a summit on the “Resilient Youth for Change Program” was held at the Danforth Access Point in Toronto, an initiative of Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services (BCS). There is an exhibition highlighting the wonderful and vibrant initiatives of a marginalized group of youth. The summit also encourages dialogue with policy makers and community members

- Advertisement -

The event is organized by BCS in association with Access Alliance. At the event, the youth had an excellent opportunity to share their discussions with community policy makers. Led by BCS, their eight months of activities (from August 2023 to March 2024) are covered in this event. This activity is funded by the Canada Service Corps, a branch of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), a federal government program. The event showcases youth-led initiatives from underserved communities in East Toronto. Hundreds of community members were present here. With them were 56 lively and tolerant youth leaders (Resilient Youth Leaders).

Other important personalities who participated in the event were – Federal Government Bureaucrat Mr. Atiq Rahman, Assistant Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and ESDC Director General of Learning, Laurie Brooks and Annick Beaudrick. Also in the policy discussions were local politicians, MPP Mary-Margaret McMahon, City Councilor Parthi Kandavel, a representative of MPP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Janet Davies (former City Councilor and BCS board member). Dr. was present on behalf of BCS. Nasima Akhtar, Dr. Mahbub Hasan and Youth Leaders.

BCS’s “Resilient Youth for Change Programme” showcases youth-led micro-grant projects. The program begins with a lively gallery walk. 60 youth leaders of BCS speak and advise in support of their 60 projects. They provide micro-grants of $5,000 per person to South-Asian Black youth.

Posters adorn the walls beautifully. These posters range from pottery classes to coping with mental health issues. The session also depicts projects such as renovated cafes to integrate immigrants and martial arts classes to teach young women self-defense techniques. All these projects were conceptualized and coordinated by the Young Leaders of BCS’s “Resilient Youth for Change Programme”, which runs from November 2023 to February 2024. Their age ranged from 15 to 30 years. The rich tapestry of East Toronto’s marginalized communities is reflected in the project’s unique diversity. Here, young people of Bangladeshi, Tamil, Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani backgrounds lead the way.

The young people of the Resilient Youth for Change program welcomed federal government bureaucrat Mr. Atiq Rahman, ESDC’s Assistant Deputy Minister and ESDC’s Director General of Learning Laurie Brooks and Annique Beaudry. Mr. Rahman in his inaugural address told the audience that he was delighted to be present at the event. He is proud of the work that BCS has been doing for the Bangladeshi diaspora and surrounding communities and how it has been beautifully showcased and supported. Mr. Rahman happily said, “This is the third time I have come to Toronto from Ottawa for the BCS.”

Mr. Rahman’s primary interest was in the delivery and management of the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). He emphasized the importance of post-secondary education for the youth to improve their personal and professional development. He especially emphasized that OSAP is here to help low-income youth in the community, with grants and bursaries. Mr. Rahman’s colleagues Lori Brooks and Annique Beaudry said they were also grateful and happy to be present at the event. Beaudry also said that we did not come here just because our boss Mr. Rahman said so. We are here out of our love and sense of responsibility.

Policymakers sit in dialogue sessions with young leaders. Mr. Atiq Rahman, Laurie Brooks and Annick Beaudry joined the discussion and recognized the importance of the projects. Later they sat in policy discussions on how to solve problems affecting youth identified as visible minorities or people of color. A representative from local politicians, MPP Mary-Margaret McMahon, City Councilor Parthi Kandavel and MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith also gave their support. They emphasize the importance of community-led initiatives to effect positive change.

The event was not only a platform for policy dialogue, but also a passionate celebration of culture and heritage. The youth dancers of Nritya Kala Kendra enthralled the audience with performances reflecting Bangladeshi culture and immigrant communities. The performance also honors Women’s History Month and Bangladeshi-Heritage Month which emphasizes the important role of women in building community resilience.

Among the highlights was a lively presentation by 16-year-old Resilient Youth Leader Syeda Zainab, reading a story. His poignantly written story “Be Kinder To Me” captures the hearts of the audience. The story features a mixed character named Asu, who deeply resonated with the audience.

Especially Laurie Brooks, who admired Sayeda Zainab’s mother’s sense of love amid the challenges facing Afghan newcomers to Canada. “You’re so young, but you’ve got a mother’s love,” Laurie Brooks told Sayeda Zainab. Brooks also told the audience, “I’ve never been to Afghanistan, so I don’t know what it means to be Afghan. But I’m a mother. At an event like this one Sharing heartwarming stories builds the foundation for connecting with one another in communities.”

Finally, the announcement of BCS’s new youth-focused program, Together and Racism, sparks enthusiasm among youth in the Toronto community, which will be administered by BCS. The ‘Resilient Youth for Change Summit’ serves as a testament to the vibrancy and resilience of East Toronto’s marginalized communities. Through youth-led initiatives, policy dialogue, and cultural celebration, the event emphasizes the power of community collaboration to bring about positive change.

Note that BCS is a non-profit, charitable, multi-service organization. Serving the local community since 2000. BCS’s mission is to help people help themselves. Their vision is to create a vibrant community where everyone lives together in harmony.

- Advertisement -

Stay in Touch

Subscribe to us if you would like to read weekly articles on the joys, sorrows, successes, thoughts, art and literature of the Ethnocultural and Indigenous community living in Canada.

Related Articles