Happy International Women’s Day to all you the women who have loved me, mentored me, challenged me and hugged me! You inspire me to be always strive to be a better version of myself. Thanks for sticking with me :).
I haven’t posted since my birthday, mostly because I’ve been focusing on the good ol’ pen and journal form of writing but also because I’ve just been swamped like most people. Lots of updates to share but not really sure where to begin so I’ll instead stop here for now.
I’m looking forward to catching up so stay tuned!
I was stoked to be invited to TEDxToronto 2012! There were so many pockets of conversations with familiar faces in the room and sparkly snippets with new friends. I have mentioned lately how much I love TED?
My highlights from TEDx Toronto 2012 were:
Those Cupcakes: I never got to find out where on earth those tasties came from but what I can say is they were oh-so-delish! I still dream of them (plus they looked so pretty).
The Awesome Peeps: There’s nothing as exciting to me as that feeling you get when you meet someone new who you simply click with. I felt that a lot of the time at TED. Whether it was waiting in that oh-so-long line and having a great time with that European green business guy who shared my heart for Africa. Or laughs over lunch with that young woman who is an new elementary teacher from Peel. And of course a très cool tea fiend who I’m definitely staying in touch with, Hannah!
TED is not just an event, it’s an interactive human experience.
TED Talkers & Performers
I had pieces of performances and talks I liked from virtually all the rockstars who graced the stage. It was lovely to hear from women with such powerful minds and hearts and young people! Watch out Toronto, the next generation has arrived! Here are a few innovators who walk among us:
Ahmed is a 16-year-old spoken-word poet who currently attends Jarvis Collegiate Institute. His work talks about world issues and everyday life. Ahmed’s love of poetry began at age 10, when he started using it as a way to interact with his sister.
Click here to watch his performance!
Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar
An aggressive debater and playful inquisitor,Vass works at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance while enjoying an Action Canada fellowship. For fun (and so she can finally play), she’s designing a Canadian board game that simulates policy-making in the federation that will highlight the joys of contemporary governance. When she’s not playing basketball, reading Maclean’s, or blogging, the McMaster Arts & Science graduate spends a lot of time thinking about why things are the way they are and how they can be better.
Click here for her talk!
Laura Reinsborough is the Founder and Director of Not Far From The Tree, Toronto’s very own fruit picking project. She comes equipped with a Master’s degree in Community Arts through Environmental Studies from York University. Laura has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Gaea Environment Award and a Women of the Earth Award, for her fun and creative approach that enables a joyful environmentalism.
Click here for her talk!
Ryan Henson Creighton is the President and founder of Untold Entertainment Inc., a boutique game development studio in downtown Toronto. Cassandra Creighton is a grade one student who likes building furniture forts, catching bugs, and putting her swimsuit on the cat. Together, they are both father and daughter, and a game design duo who created an endearing video game that has charmed fans the world over (Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure). Cassandra is the model for her father’s conviction that kids should be taught to use technology from a young age to create, entertain and inspire.
Click here to watch cuteness!
I loved, loved attending and participating and engaging and definitely look forward to attending in 2013.
Photo credits: TEDxToronto
I have recently become involved as a regional co-captain for Toronto in a campaign spearheaded by CivicAction to get people talking about the need for a better regional transportation system throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), and the need for new and sustainable ways to pay for it.
Whether people drive, take transit, cycle or walk, one thing is clear—quality of life in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is suffering due to our outdated transportation system. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can do something to make it so much better.It’s time to change the conversation from what’s wrong with the system to what’s possible.
CivicAction is launching a unique campaign to take this conversation to the streets, subways, and buses to inspire action that will deliver the transportation network we so desperately need.
To start, we’re inviting people to tell us how they would benefit in their everyday life from a better transportation system.
Everyone needs to be part of the conversation – road and transit users, taxpayers, residents, students, and organizations in all GTHA municipalities.
Ultimately, we aim to build measurable public and decision-maker appreciation for the value that a better system will bring, and the need for sustainable ways to pay for it.
We’ll take the results back to governments on what matters to people, and what actions they want governments to take to build a better system.
So, what would YOU do with an extra 32 minutes added to your day? Click here to share your response.
I’ve been looking forward to this report and it’s finally out! One of the things that makes this report unique is that it included a business advisory of senior leadership which was convened by CivicAction and United Way. I now hope this call to action gets our politicians moving on at least one of the recommendations.
Commission for the Review of Social Assistance, led by Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh, released its much-anticipated final report, charting the path to an improved social assistance system in Ontario.
Highlights of the report include:
- Replacing Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program with a single integrated program that provides individualized employment services and related supports to all social assistance recipients, including people with disabilities. The new program would be delivered at the local level by municipalities and First Nations, to build on their understanding of their communities. Municipal management would also leverage connections to local employers and improve access to other necessary services, such as child care and housing.
- Simplifying the benefit structure so that, in a fully transformed system, the only financial benefit provided to recipients through social assistance would be a standard rate for adults living alone or a modified standard rate for people in shared accommodations. The standard rate would be based on a methodology that achieves a balance among three objectives: adequate incomes, fairness between social assistance recipients and low-income workers, and financial incentive to work. Future increases to the rate would reflect differences in living costs across the province.
- Until the system matures, there would be two additional building blocks on top of the standard rate provided through social assistance: a disability supplement and supplements to families with children and sole-support parents. In a fully transformed system, disability, children’s and health benefits would be removed from social assistance and made available to all low-income individuals and families, to eliminate structural barriers for people trying to exit the system for work. A new disability benefit outside social assistance is identified as a first priority.
- Providing a clear point of accountability for the system through the appointment of a Provincial Commissioner for Social Assistance, who would drive change and publish an annual report card on the performance of the system.
- Calling on the government to address the issue of rising income inequality and, as well, develop a comprehensive human capital development strategy that would make it possible for work to pay, encouraging recipients of social assistance to exit the program.
The full report can be accessed at: http://www.socialassistancereview.ca/home
The last couple of months have been super duper busy! (Obviously not a good excuse for not posting in so long BUT here I am now, right? :))
It feels really good to be back in the blogosphere. I feel a lot more caught up with my favorite online reads (like Zen Habits) and so feel I can catch you up too. Here’s a brief update on what’s been keeping me away from you;
Being a Leader-in-Residence for the Gender Based Analysis Project @SfC_Innovation
Earlier this year I was asked to be the very first Leader-in-Residence for the Gender Based Analysis Project at Skills for Change funded by
Status of Women Canada. The primary goal of this project is to address the systemic barriers within the settlement service infrastructure throughout the Greater Toronto Area through the development, testing and implementation of intake processes and program delivery that includes gender considerations.
As the LR my responsibilities focus on two main areas: to act as representative of Immigrant Women in Leadership initiatives in meetings, conferences and other related engagements in order to build pertinent relationships for the project. The second is developing an initiative based on an emerging trends or issues related to the project and my own expertise. My initiative focuses on building leadership capacity for young immigrant women. I also promote the GBA findings and successes in various cities in Canada as well as coach other immigrant women participating in the project.
Managing Settlement Programs & Services @FYIinTO
So you obviously know how much #iheart refugee and immigrant youth related issues. I joined the team at this wonderful organization called For Youth Initiative. FYI’s mission is really to encourage civic engagement and increase access to educational, recreational, economical and cultural opportunities for youth. For the next couple of months I will oversee FYI’s Settlement Programs & Services and have been so lucky to have such a hardworking team! The coolest thing about my job is I get to work directly in community development in such a unique neighbourhood. Our site receives youth from Toronto’s Priority Investment Neighbourhoods including Lawrence Heights and Weston-Mt. Dennis. We have the privilege of working with these dynamic young people in developing stronger communities. This role also allows me to continue expanding my understanding of the multiple complexities of settlement and integration for young immigrants so as to strengthen the shaping of immigranyouth.org.
Social Innovation Fellowship @PFoundation
Last but not certainly not least – I was selected for the Pearson Fellowship for Social Innovation for immigrantyouth.org! It’s an international fellowship awarded to young innovators with promising and well-prepared plans for community projects by Pearson Foundation through TakingItGlobal. The program offers tools and resources for developing sustainable initiatives, expertise and consulting, networks and peer-learning support with like-minded social innovators from all over the world, lot’s of marketing and profiling. Fellows also to receive a grant which goes towards implementing their work. It’s been amazing so far and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop so that you don’t feel left out ;).
And there you have it folks.
The last few months have definitely been an eye-opening, exciting and learning months for me. I feel stretched out of my comfort zone and although at times uncomfortable it feels good to be here! I’m looking forward to the months ahead and being a part of such awesomeness. There’s so much more I’d love to share with you about these experiences but I don’t want to make this post more wordier than it already is. I’m more than happy to connect one-on-one if you’d like to chat about any of the work I’m doing and perhaps work together on some of it!
Start a conversation with Leo and you’ll instantly notice is his depth, undeniable passion and commitment to social justice paired with his unassuming nature. I was honoured to attend his convocation ceremony in June at the University of Toronto. Leo was celebrating the end of a chapter and welcoming a new one. He is such an inspiration and a true beacon. Take a look…
Leonard D. Edwards
Social worker /Community Advocate
Master of Social Work at The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work University Of Toronto,Â Bachelor of Social Work Honors York University, a Certificate in Anti-Racist Research & Practice (CARRP) -York University, a Diploma in Community Work & Development – George Brown College
Beautiful sunny island of Grenada In the parish of St Georges
Currently I live in Toronto, Canada
I love music and movies from the 60s. I actually own all Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline albums
Life’s not a paragraph and death I think is no parenthesis
For me it means that life is not just a paragraph, because it is our entire story, it embodies our versatility and diverse experiences. Death is not contained in parenthesis, because our spirit lives on beyond death into infinity it defies everything. I live my life deeply framed in this mantra.
What did you want to be or do when growing up?
I have always wanted to have a career in the “helping” profession. I remember as a child pretending to be a teacher. Back then I had no idea what a social worker was but I remember when I attended The T.A Marryshow Community College in Grenada I immediately became very much interested in the work of Karl Marx and other sociologists. I believe that’s when I began thinking about social issues on a broader scale. These sociologists gave birth to my social consciousness.
Who or what inspires you?
Like I said before, I was inspired by the work of Karl Marx and people like Jane Adams but my motivation to become a social worker was influenced by diverse experiences; personal, family and community experiences. I believe in order to be an effective and efficient social worker; one must possess certain personal attributes. A social worker must enjoy working with people. Having worked in the human service field both locally and internationally for over 8 years, I can truly say that I am committed to work with individuals from all walks of life, diverse backgrounds and experiences and who at-times share different values, ideas and beliefs systems than my own. This is a critical attribute, as it will allow me the opportunity to understand and be sensitive to the issues clients face.
What has been the most challenging and exciting part of your journey?
I think the biggest lesson I have learnt is the experiences of being an immigrant of color and the multiple ways in which race, gender, sexuality and being able bodied influences my everyday experiences. Now I am able to understand how my experiences are driven by normalization and how this process has situated me in both a position of privilege and marginalization. For example, I am male, able-bodied and university educated. Hence, I am in an advantageous position as the qualities I possess allow me to feel a sense of comfort in my environment and I am able to blend in with the norm and not be singled out. On the other end, I am an immigrant and person of color. Based on this social identity I have some experiences of exclusion and marginalization. What is most ironic however is otherness that I have felt within my own community (African Caribbean diaspora) because of my position on issues that are often times difficult and taboo to address. Throughout these experiences I was able to find my authentic self, discover my voice and became an advocate for other groups within our communities that are marginalized and oppressed such as members of the LBGTTTIQQ community and sex workers.
So, what’s next for Leo?
Perusing an honours degree in social work, a cross discipline Certification in Anti Racism Research and Practice and a MSW have given me the opportunity to accumulate a solid knowledge base in numerous areas of social work and research. I therefore as a result have a greater appreciation for how fascinating the professional and academic discipline of social work is within the context of social change, social welfare, research, policy development, advocacy and direct practice to name a few. I therefore feel inclined to continue onto post graduate education and in the near future will be looking into a Doctoral degree in Social Work that will further allow me to acquire the skills needed to conduct research both theoretically and practically, as well as apply interventions and best practices that could benefit individuals and communities suffering from social and physical inequalities.
You can connect with Leo on Linkedin Leonard Edwards and follow him on Twitter @leosocialmind
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