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Reaching for Power

About the Project

The City of Hamilton’s City Manager’s Office and YWCA Hamilton were successful in our application for a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) project.

We were inspired by the 2020 YWCA Hamilton led project, that shares its name, that offered a monthly workshop series to women and non-binary individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour.

Our proposed initiative seeks to engage up to at least 60 women and non-binary individuals in a forum of networking, conversation, and expert led workshops on the topic of civic engagement.

A Virtual half-day conference:

Wednesday, September 14
3:00pm – 7:00pm (networking and social available afterwards)

A place where QT and BIPOC women and gender diverse folks can discuss Delegating, Unpacking Platforms, Communications and Social Media, Advocacy: Championing an Issue, Organizing: Building a Campaign Team, amongst other topics.

The Reaching for Power conference will increase the role and influence of marginalized women and non-binary persons in municipal politics, in addition to preparing for other potential leadership opportunities, by engaging participants in interactive learning through the conference.

Guest Speakers:

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Jyssika Russell (They/she)

Originally from Ottawa, Jyssika has been an active member of Hamilton’s 2SLGBTQIA+ communities since they came out ten years ago. After the closure of all 2SLGBTQIA+ spaces in Hamilton in 2015, they founded speqtrum Hamilton, a youth-led and focused 2SLGBTQIA+ community organization in 2017. As a community organizer, Jyssika has advocated for 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion and youth voice in multiple spheres, including the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the City of Hamilton, and as Chair of the Queer and Trans Youth Collaborative, a collection of queer and trans youth-serving agencies and organizations in Hamilton. They are currently serving as the Manager of Public Affairs and Communications at the Enchante Network, Canada’s national network for 2 Spirit and LGBTQ+ community organizations.

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Kusum Bhatta (she/her)

Kusum is a Ph.D. student in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. She has her Master’s in Gender Studies and Feminist Research from McMaster and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) from St. Xavier’s college in Nepal. She represents the Department of Social Sciences in the senate as a student representative at McMaster University. She is also a governing council member of the Hamilton Centre For Civic Inclusion (HCCI), a non-profit organization in Hamilton. Her research, practice experience, and advocacy have been in recognition equity and social justice for ageing women of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals, specifically from South Asia, who continue to face gender-based violence, occupational segregation, and racism.

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Lyndon George 

Lyndon is the Executive Director of Hamilton’s Ant-Racism Resource Centre, he is an experienced government and stakeholder relations specialist, community organizer, and health equity advocate. With over 10 years of experience working with public officials at all levels of government, Lyndon knows what drives conversations, why too often the status quo remains, and what motivates real change. As HARRC’s Executive Director he is leading community initiatives to address hate and racism in Hamilton.

Nefisa Ansong Reaching for power

Nefisa Ansong

Nefisa has worked within multiple levels of government, private and non-profit sectors. Passionate about creating meaningful experiences and employment prospects for young people, Nefisa worked as the Program Director for the Economic Club of Canada and Wavemakers. She currently studies law at Lincoln Alexander School of Law in Toronto.

Pauline Kajiura - reaching for power speaker

Pauline Kajiura

Pauline has a length of experience promoting racial and social equity in community and in the workplace.  As Co-Director and Facilitator of Intersecting Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Consultants, Pauline provides education, training, and strategy-development organizations to organizations as they work toward their Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion goals. Pauline’s previous roles include Manager, Community Initiatives at the City of Hamilton, Executive Director of Information Hamilton, and Financial Coordinator of SACHA, the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area.  She has also served on numerous boards and committees, such as the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Immigrants Working Centre, YWCA Hamilton, the National Association of Japanese Canadians Human Rights Committee, the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, and as Chair of the City of Hamilton’s Committee Against Racism.

Robin Lacambra - Reaching for power

Robin Lacambra

Robin is a speaker, feeler, mover and creator that is passionate about building cultures of compassion within ourselves and with each other. As founder of GOODBODYFEEL Studio, a for-profit small business prioritizing progressive values; somatic coach; and social justice advocate, Robin believes that there is always an intersection worth exploring and sharing. She works to create and strengthen bridges between various industries and social causes, and in doing so, directs the Safer Spaces Project, developed the Sharing Privilege Online Course, as well as a 200 hour Empowered Embodiment Program, focused on radical inclusivity, accessibility and belonging for each and every body.

Sherly - Reaching for Power speaker

Sherly Kyorkis (she/they)

Sherly has an interest in pop and sub-culture media and has been involved in equity advocacies, especially in Assyrian youth and diaspora spaces, as a board member for the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), and as a first-time Political Communications volunteer for a municipal campaign. They have led social media strategies for Queer and Indigenous solidarity awareness with and for Global South diaspora initiatives, specifically Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA). Sherly is an immigrant-settler who is dedicated to questioning their space in a settler-colonial context as a displaced Indigenous person to what’s now-called Iraq and Syria. Sherly has supported communications efforts for the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies (CIARS) at the University of Toronto, and worked as the Communications Coordinator for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and advocates for older adults and inter-generational storytelling. They currently work as the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Ontario Library Association (OLA), and spends a lot of time collecting trading cards, cleaning vinyl records, and watching Degrassi on repeat

This project could inspire the next great leader, advocate or change-marker in Hamilton!

For more information connect with:

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Violetta Nikolskaya, M.S.W.

Senior Analyst, Programs and Advocacy

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