Take the Toronto Youth and Police Interaction Survey

The Community Safety Working Group is releasing this survey with the hope to gather data to create a comprehensive notice of recommendations. We are looking to hear from young people ages 13-24, with the purpose to assess the interaction between youth and police in Toronto, and to determine areas of success and improvement.

If you have any questions, email our Community Safety Lead Natasha and natasha@thetyc.ca

#StudentsofToronto

This is an exciting time for Ontario’s education system: this past year, we have been observing the development of numerous initiatives by the Ministry of Education, as well as several school boards, to increase student engagement, equity, and well-being.

However, these transformations have largely been initiated, and are currently being implemented, in a hierarchical manner. Most of the time, evaluation within our education system fails to meaningfully capture student feedback and decision-making fails to meaningfully include a diversity of students. This hierarchy is also present in how decisions around learning are made within our classrooms: teachers are seen as the providers of knowledge and students are treated as passive consumers of education.

In other words, student voice is not systematically integrated within our education system. We, the Toronto Youth Cabinet, believe that we need to fundamentally transform the roles of students and adults in our classrooms and schools. We imagine classrooms and schools where students are drivers of their learning, teachers are facilitators of learning, and students and adults make decisions about learning and education as equal partners.

Though we are striving to improve our system, we fail to recognize how the education system fundamentally suppresses the freedom, agency, knowledge, passion, inquiry, and creativity of young people. Students lack the ability to significantly impact what they learn, how they learn, how they are assessed, as well as the challenges in their school and their school community. We do not recognize how lack of student voice is a systemic cause of disengagement and reduced achievement, feelings of powerlessness, reduced well-being, and reduced democratic participation within society. Alison Cook-Sather’s research shows that when students are denied formal power in the classroom and in school at large, students will disengage from their learning. Student voice is the key factor that will transformatively increase engagement, and empower students as shapers of their lives, their learning, and the world around them.

Most opportunities for student voice are given to students who are in leadership positions, such as Student Councils, Student Senates and Student Trustees. The TYC recognizes the work doing by these groups, however, many students within the TYC express not feeling consulted by these groups. Oftentimes, these students come from more privileged backgrounds, and students who are marginalized or disengaged have limited opportunities to be involved in decision-making. Unfortunately, students who are called on to represent the student voice are tokenized representatives of the diversity present within our student bodies.

Today, the TYC Education Group is launching Students of Toronto: a campaign to call for increased integration of student voice within classrooms and schools. We recommend that the Ministry of Education, the Toronto District School Board, and the Toronto Catholic District School Board to develop a systems-level student voice strategy that includes professional development for staff on enabling student voice in classrooms, implementing dialogue-based school and classroom student feedback systems, and targeted consultations with marginalized (including Black and Indigenous students) and disengaged students. We urge decision-makers to consider the perspectives of leaders of educational philosophy, including Paulo Freire and John Dewey, as well as recommendations from Ontario’s very own Hall-Dennis Report in 1965 and Report of the Royal Commission on Learning in 1995. To this day, key recommendations of these reports that advocated for student voice were not implemented.

We reached out to all TDSB high schools, all TCDSB high schools, and numerous community youth organizations, and with those interested in this campaign, will be running student focus groups and launching a portrait series. Students will discuss not only the challenges in the education system that they are most concerned about, but also in what ways they would like to be involved in shaping their classroom learning and their schools. Within a few months, we will be releasing a final report compiling the student feedback received from our campaign.

Over the next few months, look out for our #StudentsofToronto focus group and portrait posts on social media, as well as our final report! If you work with high school students and are interested in hosting a focus group, please do not hesitate to reach out to Naima Raza, Education Lead, at naima@thetyc.ca. The TYC will also host a “Youth Talks Education” dialogue open to all high-school aged students in early February. Stay tuned for more information!

Naima Raza                           Edna Ali                                                                                        Education Lead                     Executive Director

Created by City Council in 1998, the Toronto Youth Cabinet is a youth-led advocacy organization and the official youth advisory body of City of Toronto. Through outreach, engagement and training, the TYC provides a  critical gathering place for diverse young people interested in making change within a municipal governance context.

The Toronto Youth Cabinet endorses the Toronto Can Do Better campaign

Toronto is becoming more and more inequitable. 1 in 4 children live in poverty—100,000 households are on the subsidized housing waitlist, waitlists for affordable recreation programs have grown to 189,000, TTC service is inadequate in many inner-suburban communities, and the homeless death toll has just surpassed 70 in 2017.

Toronto’s youth are tired of waiting for investments in housing, transit, and good jobs, as well as services we can count on to help reduce poverty and make life more affordable in the city.

As the City’s official youth advisory body, we are deeply concerned about the 2018 budget. Rather than responding to the urgent needs of Torontonians and costing ambitions, a direction to freeze spending has been set. This will ultimately result in negative service level impacts, and therefore negatively impact Toronto’s youth. We have already been feeling the negative effects of continuous status-quo budgets.

City Council has promised services and investments, but they have not funded them yet. The 2018 budget is our chance to make a real difference.

These are just some of the reasons as to why we are endorsing the Toronto Can Do Better campaign. The campaign is calling for the Mayor and Council to deliver on their promises that they have already adopted. To fund these promises, it would cost homeowners an extra $3 a week in taxes. $3 a week to invest in services for us all. Toronto Can Do Better!

Take action by contacting your Councillor here: http://torontocandobetter.ca/take-action/#message.

Riley Peterson                                                        Edna Ali                                                Budget Lead                                                          Executive Director

Created by City Council in 1998, the Toronto Youth Cabinet is a youth-led advocacy organization and the official youth advisory body of City of Toronto. Through outreach, engagement and training, the TYC provides a  critical gathering place for diverse young people interested in making change within a municipal governance context.

 

If you have any questions, email our Budget Lead at riley@thetyc.ca

TYC National Housing Day Statement

            Today we stand in solidarity with those who continue to fight for an affordable and accessible city of Toronto. As we work to create governance systems that prioritize addressing our social housing crisis, we must continue to subsidize housing for low-income tenants, build new social housing stock that provides people with affordable opportunities to live in the city, and eliminate homelessness by prioritizing the needs of the marginalized, racialized, and disenfranchised who continue to live in precarious housing situations. 

            In our discussions about housing inaccessibility and unaffordability we must contextualize the roots of the housing crisis in the decades of disinvestment and downloading of responsibilities across levels of government, and recognize that this emergency is not new – it is a struggle that lower-income/working-class individuals, especially those who are racialized and marginalized, have been battling alone for decades.

            To move forward successfully, we must recognize that housing is a fundamental human right – as such, everyone has a right to adequate housing that is affordable, secure, and safe. We must end the trivialization of “millennial” experiences. The structural problems that we experience today are the result of the commodification of housing and a failure of government housing. In this context, young people are not choosing to rent; we are forced to because homeownership is no longer a viable option, to say otherwise is insulting to the lived experience of the majority. Furthermore, our discussions about gentrification and displacement must go beyond "urban hipster" and "young professional" discourses that ignore the institutions and processes that systematically disadvantage young people along intersectional lines of race/ethnicity, gender, class, age, and so forth.

            At the Toronto Youth Cabinet’s “Youth Talks: Housing” event on May 2, 2017, a number of concerns were brought forward by youth at the table. Our representative officials should have a duty and responsibility to consider these important concerns, as we move forward with our advocacy and direct action together:

  • We must center our work on lived experience

  • Young people, or millennials, are not a homogenous group; applying an intersectional framework allows one to illuminate differences in experiences and to further understand the root causes of systemic injustice, as well as social and economic inequality

  • We must value youth voice – this requires taking youth experiences as expert advice, giving young people responsibility to organizing, being willing to hear criticism and create solutions and leadership that is sustainable

  • Inadequate housing can perpetuate marginalization and discrimination – we need to build a system that reflects the diversity of needs and experiences

  • Homelessness and youth homelessness should not be separated – racialized and LGBTQ+ young people make up the majority of youth who experience homelessness; multiple instances of homelessness should be a signal that our child welfare system is not working well 

  • We need accountability! One way of doing this is through a legislative right to housing

  • Those who are privileged should use their power to engage with others and create a city that is accessible and affordable for all

  • Housing is only one of the many costs that young people have to bare – our solutions must go beyond housing policy and include: a revision of our tax policy, an equitable city budget and incentives for child care, transportation, and student debt

 

Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie                                    Edna Ali                                                  Housing Lead                                                         Executive Director

Created by City Council in 1998, the Toronto Youth Cabinet is a youth-led advocacy organization and the official youth advisory body of City of Toronto. Through outreach, engagement and training, the TYC provides a  critical gathering place for diverse young people interested in making change within a municipal governance context.

 

If you have any questions, email our Housing Lead at keisha@thetyc.ca