I n my latest blog post following International Women’s Day, we talked about how to empower people to reach new heights by showing them what’s possible. We talked about how important it is to encourage young women and showcase diversity and representation in the workplace. How do we do this? How do we ensure we are teaching the next generation to stand up for what they believe in, despite the consequences or how hard it may be?
Thankfully, there are already so many young people who are so committed to breaking the mold and paving the way for those around them.
I feel so lucky that every day, I get to work with amazing young people who are so passionate and motivated to stand up for what they believe in. They are becoming the examples our society can look up to, and they’re already doing their part to encourage those around them to see their full potential.
In the Believe Leadership Course (Believe’s student-led leadership program) young people initiate a Believe Chapter at their school and work with their peers to create positive change on issues they see in the world around them. They have opportunities to step into leadership roles and to support each other while working on their Believe Impact Projects.
One of our amazing student leaders, Moyo Ibikunle, has gone above and beyond in her leadership role as a BLC Chapter Head to showcase diverse representation in her school community and to fight for the causes she cares about.
Moyo Ibikunle, Bill Crothers Secondary School
Moyo shared that at her school, leadership courses and opportunities often don’t have a ton of Black student representation and that in the past, she’s felt nervous to participate in initiatives in fear of being the ‘odd one out’.
She explained how “Black students are underrepresented in many aspects of our school systems and most of them feel left out since they are usually in the minority of their class/grade/school. A lot of Black students feel like their voices aren’t being heard and are not represented or included in a lot of the school activities/programs. Despite a growing push towards diverse education models in Ontario schools, many school programs have failed to create inclusive spaces for Black students”.
Moyo’s hope was that becoming a student leader for the BLC at her school would help to break this mold and encourage more Black students to get involved, both in the BLC and with other clubs at her school. “They would have someone who could relate to their struggles as Black individuals and can share their experiences without the worry of not being understood.”
They would have someone who could relate to their struggles as Black individuals and can share their experiences without the worry of not being understood.Moyo Ibikunle
CREATE SAFER SPACES
As a white woman, I recognize the privilege I have been given because of the colour of my skin, and I know it is my job to try and educate myself and identify the areas that I need to work on and advocate for if we want to create positive social change in our society. Public sectors like education, healthcare, politics are all fundamentals of our society but have massive underrepresentation of so many of the communities they aim to serve.
Moyo shared some advice for folks who are wanting to learn more about creating safer spaces for those around them. “As someone who will never personally understand or relate to the struggles people of minorities endure, educate yourself on what unconscious bias is, what is prejudice, why it’s offensive to say racial or homophobic slurs. Things like these go a long way in avoiding hate-filled encounters so that we can create a safe and accepting society where people feel comfortable about their race, sexuality, religion. culture, etc.”
By not being afraid to stand up for what you believe in, regardless of the consequences or what others might think of you, you have the ability to impact more people than you could ever know. Taking that first step out of your comfort zone can inspire someone else to follow, and create a tidal wave of change.
More than ever, we are seeing young people speaking up about issues like racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia – the list goes on. These incredible leaders understand that while things might not change overnight, their participation is so important and has the ability to create incredible change.
Moyo said it best: “We still have a long way to go before achieving this but if everyone can do their part in spreading awareness, we will reduce and eventually end racism + discrimination.”