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Jack Layton Leadership School

February 20, 2019 - February 22, 2019
5:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Thomas Lounge, Oakham House, 63 Gould St.
Alannah Fricker,
Join us for an evening introduction and two-day workshop where we engage with social justice issues, hear from community leaders, build leadership capacity, and learn how to tell our story.

Do you wish to contribute to social justice? Let us help you express and act on it.

The Jack Layton Leadership School aims to build the leadership capacity of students to affect social change. Over two days we will work with community members and faculty to engage in social justice issues through telling our stories, engaging in creative arts workshops, panel discussions, lectures, and community tours. Join us to network with leaders to work on a shared vision of justice based on anti-racist, feminist, Indigenous, queer, anti-poverty and reflective approaches. No prior experience is necessary, only a commitment to social change.

  • Learn multiple perspectives and approaches to community engagement from nationally renowned community leaders.
  • Build relationships as the foundation of collective action
  • Learn analytic skills to interpret power, relationships, and knowledge to support those most in need
  • Tell your story based on your own social interests and passions
  • Witness social justice work in action
  • Develop skills in critical self-reflection in the context of intersecting identities.

Students will receive a certificate of participation.


  • Wednesday, February 20, 5 pm - 8 pm
  • Thursday, February 21, 9 am - 5 pm (optional until 8 pm)
  • Friday, February 22, 9 am - 5 pm

Those who attend the School will be reimbursed the ticket price of $20. If the ticket price is prohibitive, please email us at and we can waive it for you.

The school is wheelchair accessible. For other accessibility accommodations to ensure your inclusion in this event, please contact Alannah Fricker at


Wednesday, February 20: Thomas Lounge

5 PM: Opening night: Doors open & hors-d'oeuvres provided.

6 PM - 8:30 PM: Opening and land acknowledgment by Amy Desjarlais 

  • Welcoming Comments from Mike Layton
  • Spoken Word Performance by Tara Farahani
  • Musician Simone Schmidt 
  • Drumming/Song of Welcome by Waubkuniikwe 
  • Brief overview of the next two days 

Thursday, February 21, 2019: Thomas Lounge

9 AM: Doors open. Light breakfast and coffee/tea provided.

9:30 AM - 10 AM: Ken Moffatt

10 AM -11:30 AM: Jake Pyne

  • Through examples in trans community advocacy, Jake's session will explore key moments and conflicts that come up in advocacy work, including questions about community insiders and outsiders, identifying allies and opponents, leveraging turning points, and facing backlash. Participants will work on strategies for addressing their own advocacy goals. 

11:30 AM - 12:45 AM: Waubkuniikwe

  • This workshop engages participants in thinking about how they support people in lifting up their voice. We will explore Anishinaabe teachings that are shared when working with groups that are strength-based and focused on the participants needs. We will also engage with hand-drumming and singing to lift up our voices as helpers in our community. 

12:45 PM -1:30 PM: Lunch is provided

  • Cathy Crowe will discuss walk later in the day

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM: Olivia Chow

  • This workshop is focused on constructing public narratives about social justice issues. We will hear each other's stories and will be coached on how to express them.
  • Participants will be encouraged to make commitments to the next steps.
  • (Breakout rooms include SCC310 and Shadd Room)

4:30 PM - 8 PM: Cathy Crowe, CRC 40 Oak Street, Regent Park 

5 PM: Guided walk focused on homelessness and loss of affordable housing.

6 PM - 8 PM: OCAP Speaker Series: Ending The Deadly Housing Crisis. Free dinner provided.

  • The lives of 6 homeless people came to a gruesome end this January, largely due to political choices. All levels of government need to act urgently to end these preventable deaths, alleviate suffering in cramped facilities, and build rent-geared-to-income housing. Join us to take inspiration from ongoing battles, learn from past ones, ask questions, and build connections to end the housing crisis. See event on Facebook, external link.

Friday, February 22, 2019: Thomas Lounge

9 AM: Doors open. Light breakfast and coffee/tea provided.

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM: Tara Farahani and Ken Moffatt

  • Tara and Ken explore the political nature of commercial imagery including how it represents (and creates) race, class, gender, and sex. Drawing upon imagery of advertising of Dundas Square, we discuss the effects of the commercialization and how to define social justice initiatives. We talk about how to create a message and find a voice that is in resistance, and focus on social justice and change in this context. We discuss how this may affect our change tactics. 

11 AM - 11:30 AM: Check in with Waubkuniikwe

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM: Kiké Roach

  • We'll explore the range of different "tools" that activists used to break down systemic racism, win rights and engage in democracy during the Civil Rights Movement and then look at a few examples of how activists today have used some of these tactics.  
  • Students will get a chance to consider what was effective or not and how current day circumstances may challenge or necessitate the use of some of these methods.

1 PM - 2 PM: Lunch is provided

2 PM - 2:45 PM: Your social issue and engagement (small groups)

  • What issue most drives you?
  • What is your voice with respect to this issue?
  • What beginning actions might you take?
  • Say something from your heart.

Facilitators:  Amy Desjarlais, Daniel Gomez-Ortega, Tara Farahani, Waubkuniikwe

2:45 PM - 3:15 PM: Curtis Sassur at the Archives, 4th Floor Library

  • In this session we take a look at the Layton archive and Curtis will take us through the actions the archive has taken to decolonize Ryerson's archives.

3:15 PM to 5:00 PM: Finale, Certificate, and Closing - 4th Floor Library

Ken Moffatt, Amy Desjarlais, Jake Pyne, Alannah Fricker

  • Express your commitment 
  • Presentation of certificates

 Closing by Amy Desjarlais


Ken Moffatt

As the Jack Layton Chair, Professor Ken Moffatt aims to build community-oriented engagement at Ryerson through a multi-disciplinary approach. He is particularly interested in politics, sociology, educational theory, social work, queer theory, and creative arts. Professor Moffatt brings to this position his research expertise in the effects of neoliberalism and new managerialism on policy and education; community-based, culturally-focused social interventions; mechanisms of power contributing to social inclusion and exclusion; as well as critical reflective practice and pedagogy.

Olivia Chow

Ryerson University's Distinguished Visiting Professor Olivia Chow is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Change Leaders, external link since March 2015. Olivia has a certificate from Marshall Ganz Leadership course from Harvard Kennedy's School Executive Program and has taught over 3,500 people across Ontario. She empowered many women to make a difference through teaching Feminist Community Organizing at George Brown College’s Assaulted Women and Children Counselling and Advocacy Program for six years. Until 2015, Olivia held elected offices for 30 years as a school trustee, City Councillor, and a Member of Parliament. She has tirelessly championed for a universal early childhood education program, a national public transit strategy, and fair immigration policies.

Mike Layton

Mike Layton has been a Toronto City Councillor since 2010. As City Councillor he works to protect and improve city services, and preserve the diverse character of the city's neighbourhoods. He champions affordable housing, investment in arts and culture, Aboriginal issues, and better public transit and cycling infrastructure. He has been a strong voice in making Toronto a leader in combatting climate change. Prior to being a councillor, he worked at Environmental Defense, one of Canada's leading environmental charities. He has an urban planning degree and is and adjunct professor at York University. 

Kiké Roach

Kiké Roach is the Unifor National Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University. She has served as an Executive Member of: the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the Women’s Coalition for Employment Equity, and Mpenzi: Black Women’s International Film and Video Festival. As a civil rights lawyer, she has advocated for accountability and reform in policing and detention for many years, representing community organizations. She was a regular commentator on current and legal affairs for CTV News and has appeared as a spokesperson on a variety of issues. She is co-author of the book Politically Speaking. Kiké has designed and led workshops for the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and the United Steel Workers among others. She has addressed audiences across Canada and in the United States on issues of anti-racism, feminism, and progressive change.

Jake Pyne

Jake Pyne is an academic and activist in the trans community in Toronto. Over the past 18 years, Jake has worked on projects to improve trans community access to shelters and emergency services, health care, and family law justice, as well as projects to build support for gender independent kids and trans youth. Jake's doctoral research was focused on the current generation of trans youth, some of whom are blocking puberty and transitioning young, and his dissertation posed questions about how their futures and forms of life have become thinkable in this time and place. As a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Guelph, Jake is currently studying the intersection of autistic and trans experience and the implications for how humanness is understood.

Tara Farahani

Tara Farahani is the Faculty of Community Services and Faculty of Arts Artist-in-Residence. Farahani is a Toronto-based writer, researcher, and creative visionary. Informed by her lived-experience as an Iranian-Canadian Diaspora, she carries an inherent desire to challenge norms, ignite thoughtful dialogues, and engage in continuous learning in all walks of her professional and personal life. When she isn’t working in the non-profit sector, you will find Tara tucked away in the corners of cafes across Toronto writing creative non-fiction prose, typing away on her blog,, external link, or in her home office creating jewelry for her side hustle, Anaar, external link. Recently, Tara was the successful recipient of CUE’s 2018 Writing Program bursary to work on her upcoming non-fiction prose book, I Had a Very Happy Childhood, and has been featured on Metro Morning Radio, CBC News, external linkFlare Magazine, external linkRyerson Alumni Magazine, external link, and the Toronto Star, external link for her poetry and advocacy work. 


Waubkuniikwe is a member of Wasauksing First Nation, band of Three Fires Confederacy. She has recently graduated with a Masters in Social Work but considers herself a helper within and for her people. Her strength is community development rooted in Anishinaabe ways of knowing, doing and being. She is also an Aunty to many nieces and nephews who are her greatest teachers. She enjoys sharing her learning journey, and gains from these opportunities for further growth.

Curtis Sassur

Curtis Sassur is Ryerson University's Archivist, a position he has held since 2013. He holds a Masters of Information Studies (MISt) from the University of Toronto, and a BA in philosophy from the University of Guelph. Curtis' current research interests include the archiving of local independent music output and the Canadian cultural donation/tax credit system.

Cathy Crowe

Cathy Crowe is a long-time Street Nurse who works in the area of social justice nursing. She is a frequent guest lecturer and commentator on subjects related to advocacy, activism and social justice. Cathy has been the recipient of numerous awards including five honourary Doctorates in Law, Science and Nursing, an international Human Rights Award and the prestigious Atkinson Economic Justice Award. Cathy is also a ground-breaking author (Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out) and documentary filmmaker (Home Safe Calgary, Home Safe Toronto).  Her work is the subject of a moving documentary Street Nurse by filmmaker Shelley Saywell. Today she is a Distinguished Visiting Practitioner in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University. She received the Order of Canada in 2018. Cathy’s website is, external link


Amy Desjarlais 

Amy Desjarlais is a member of Wasauksing First Nation. She currently works at Ryerson University as the FNTI Coordinator of the Bachelor of Social Work program, and works with York University as a knowledge keeper. Amy currently sits as a board member at the Centre for World Indigenous Studies and she is a community member on Ryerson University’s Research Ethics Board. Amy has gained much experience working with Indigenous teaching styles from her work as Manager at Dodem Kanonhsa’ Elders cultural lodge and recently expanded her knowledge in the field of education through contributions in research and teaching. In 2003, Amy founded EarthTALKER, a magazine focused on women and families. Amy is also a hand drummer and singer.


Simone Schmidt

For a decade, Simone Schmidt has been writing new life into and around folk, country, and rock songs. Schmidt has worked under several aliases, fronting bands One Hundred Dollars, The Highest Order and solo project Fiver, releasing six full length albums, 3 of which were nominated for the Polaris Prize. In April 2017, Schmidt released "Audible Songs From Rockwood", a song cycle based on the lives of people incarcerated at the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane in Upper Canada between 1856 -1881.  Schmidt tours the country widely, and believes in the power of song to bring people together and to compel reflection on our contemporary condition.  

... and more!