Summer 2023 Student Led Projects

This summer, The Awakening Project had the opportunity to work with three very talented and social justice driven students on their own independent projects. These student-led projects combined social justice, faith, and advocacy on different topics in the Canadian context. These projects are the result of months of hard work, collaboration, and critical thinking from our Student Project Developers. The projects published below include a final report on each student’s chosen topic as well as information on their advocacy efforts, all of which deserve a good read.

We are excited to present the work of Enoch, Nicholas, and Reanne – please read more about our wonderful Student Project Developers below!

Enoch McAtee

Educational Background: Graduate from Cell/Human Biology and currently pursing a second degree in nursing at University of Toronto. 

Social justice interests: My main interest is global health in South Asia – with a focus in poverty alleviation through entrepreneurship, and casteism. Locally, I am particularly interested in social justice issues related to individuals experiencing homelessness and the ethical regulation of MAiD.

Overview/brief summary of your project: My project focuses on gun violence in the Jane-Finch community, examining the structural factors such as socioeconomic disparity, and systemic racism that perpetuates cycles of violence. 

What inspired the project you have undertaken? I had come across a book by my Prophetic Voice – “Fractured Communities: Dissecting the Ripple Effects of Gun Violence” by Reverend Sky Starr. Prior to reading this book I had never thought about gun violence, or the systemic issues contributing to it – her book opened my eyes to the historical injustice and systemic inequality faced by marginalized communities and how this chronic frustration, consequently got expressed through violence. 

What do you hope to achieve with the project by the end of the summer? My primary focus is on raising awareness about the root causes behind gun violence as misinformation and racist stereotypes abound – leading to ignorant policy-making, further discrimination, and ineffective solutions. 

Enoch’s project will be available on the website soon: Gun violence in Jane and Finch: Unpacking the Systemic Factors that Perpetuate Violence

Nicholas Damiano

Educational background: Graduated from UofT with a BSc this past June

Social Justice Interests: My social justice interests include 2SLGBTQ+ rights and issues along with climate change

Project Summary: I’m looking into how religious leaders, communities, and individuals can make religious spaces more inclusive for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. I was inspired to explore this area as religious groups have been exclusionary to 2SLGBTQ+ people in the past and now many communities are recognizing these wrongs and working towards creating safer spaces, so I wanted to be a part of that process. I hope that through my work I can provide religious communities, leaders, and members help in this process by educating them to remove fear, connecting them with resources, and promote inclusivity.

Nicholas’ project will be available on the website soon: 2SLGBTQ+ Folks & Faith in Canada

Reanne Kurien

Educational background: Toronto Metropolitan University, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Minor in Criminology

Social Justice Interests: Gender Equality, LGBTQIA+ rights, Criminal Justice Reform and Environmental Justice.

Overview/brief summary of your project: My project aims to address the pressing issue of income inequality, particularly in relation to the rise of homelessness in Toronto. I believe that income inequality is pertinent in society because it perpetuates social disparities and adversely affects marginalized communities. The growing gap between the rich and the poor has contributed to the housing crisis, limited access to essential resources and hindered upward mobility for these communities. By raising awareness and advocating for change, my goal is to promote economic justice and highlight the issues that come alongside income disparity and help change the well-being of marginalized communities impacted by the same. 

What inspired the project you have undertaken? Living in downtown Toronto for only a short period of time, I have witnessed firsthand the alarming growth in population of the homeless. The sheer number of individuals experiencing homelessness on the streets around me had deeply impacted me and compelled me to empathize. Witnessing the struggles and hardships faced by those without stable housing ignited a sense of urgency. The stark contrasts between the affluence and prosperity surrounding the downtown area and the visible suffering of marginalized communities has made it clear that income inequality lies at the heart of this issue. It is this stark reality and the desire to learn more to initiate positive change that had inspired me to write about and advocate for addressing income inequality.

What do you hope to achieve with the project by the end of the summer? By the end of summer, my goal is to have raised awareness and fostered a sense of collective responsibility to address income inequality in Toronto, aiming for more tangible outcomes and a more equitable society.

Reanne’s project will be available on the website soon: Poverty and Homelessness in Toronto

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