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Leadership Capacity Grants 2013 Recipients

In 2013, a record 14 grants were awarded to young women under 25 to help them improve the livelihoods of girls and young women in their communities. Through their knowledge and passion, these changemakers came up with insightful, inclusive, capacity and skill building projects confirming that these young women are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but of today!

Congratulations to the 2013 Leadership Capacity Grant recipients!

Lao Jaw - Cape Dorset, NU


Lao Jaw is a 24 year-old from Cape Dorset, Nunavut. She works for the Municipality of Cape Dorset as the Community Justice Outreach Worker, working closely with the Justice Committee.The Justice Committee's goals are to take on more responsibility in crime prevention and counselling offenders in the community. Her responsibilities include proposal writing, program planning and writing evaluation reports. She also volunteers helping and guiding the youth committee in meeting their goals in providing healthy activities for the youth in Cape Dorset.

With the leadership capacity grant, she will hold a workshop on building leadership skills and self-esteem for women in her community. This is followed by a dinner with all the participants and a makeup and hair makeover party to celebrate and enhance the inner beauty of the participants. 

Jennifer Sarkar - Vancouver, BC


Jennifer Sarkar was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2005 she immigrated in Vancouver, BC with her parents and her younger sister. The very first year she moved to Vancouver she came across a youth leadership program known as MY Circle (Multicultural Youth Circle) which is a leadership training program for immigrant and refugee youth. At MY Circle Jennifer learned to overcome her fear of speaking English and speaking in general. Now you can not stop her when she speaks. She was able to learn facilitation skills and express herself. From there on she took part in projects like NuYu Popular Theater, NextUp, Peer Net etc. She is an undergrad Communication Design major student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

With her grant, she will produce a magazine called BEATS. This project will be by newcomer youth and for newcomer youth and feature youth success stories, experiences, challenges and their involvement in the communities. Through this magazine she hopes to educate, motivate, entertain and encourage new immigrant and refugee youth to get involvement and portray a positive image of newcomer youth in the lower mainland of BC.

Hope Akello - Winnipeg, MB


Hope was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB, and has lived there all of her life, with the exception of the two years she spent in Toronto, ON, studying industrial design at Humber College through a Canadian Merit Scholarship. Hope is very active in her community, spending time working with youth through the Youth Peacebuilding Project, NEEDS Centre, Immigrant Refugee Community of Manitoba (IRCOM) and Boys and Girls Clubs. Hope is currently searching to find a way to merge her interest with youth and social issues, together with her passion for design and art.
Although Hope was born in Canada, her mother and older siblings were born and raised in Uganda and Kenya. Having the unique experience of being raised in suburban Winnipeg as a refugee's child has allowed Hope to become aware of certain issues in her community.

Through the Leadership Capacity Grant, Hope will bring together people of African descent for an afternoon to discuss where people are from and where people want to go. Themed around identity, there will be an intergenerational panel discussion, along with African drumming and spoken word workshops. 

Kara Fillion - Hearst, ON


Kara is a grade 11 student from Hearst, Ontario who is dynamic and loves to get involved in her community. Kara raised money for children fighting cancer in Ontario and for the President's Choice Children's Charity. On top of her volunteer work, Kara has represented her community in various contests.

Kara wants to make a difference in the lives of girls with low self-esteem. With her grant, Kara wants to offer an unforgettable experience to the girls in her community. In a series of three workshops building confidence and self-esteem, the participants will be given the opportunity to dance, present a fashion show, practice public speaking and other activities. The event will show the importance of beige involved in the community and helping others. The event will also include opportunities to raise money for the NOFCC (Northern Ontario Families of Children with cancer).

Rebecca Beaulne-Stuebing - Sault Ste. Marie, ON


Rebecca Beaulne-Stuebing (Naawakwe giizhigookwe) is Metis/Ojibway of the bald eagle clan. Currently living in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Rebecca is the program development coordinator at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and a sessional instructor at Algoma University. She recently completed a Masters degree in language, culture and teaching at York University.

With her grant, she will host an event that brings together Anishinabe women of multiple generations to discuss their responsibilities and connection to the land, water, and each other. This grant will support the maple syrup collection and traditional medicines garden at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. These initiatives will foster intergenerational learning and exchange. Female elders and grandmothers will be invited to lead the planting and sharing of songs.  A dinner is planned after and a discussion circle.

Toyo Ajibolade - Toronto, ON


Toyo is a grade 11 African – Canadian youth and a peer mentor. She is passionate about basketball and her team was ranked first in Ontario-wide high school girls’ basketball in 2011. Toyo has volunteered with many not-for-profit organizations supporting women and their children fleeing abuse, and she has engaged in anti-poverty initiatives. Toyo as a strong advocate for social change founded Lady Ballers Camp (a girl-centred organization providing recreational and girl empowering education to girls from low/modest income families and from underserved and racialized communities).

Through the Leadership Capacity Grant, Toyo along with 10 to 15 other girls will ‘get together’ in learning, activism, feasting and playing basketball games, in a one-day event called “DUNK Like a Girl”. We aim to affect our generation as change agents by challenging gender violence, racism, sexism, and gender-stereotyping particularly, around sports. We hope to reclaim the term ‘like a girl’ as a positive statement that it is. The workshop will cover these topics: racism, violence, sexism and gender-stereotyping. We will discuss healthy eating, realistic body image, fitness and self-esteem.

Enoruwa Osagie - Toronto, ON

Enoruwa Osagie is a nineteen-year-old young woman from Toronto who will be studying Social Service at Seneca College in September. Despite feeling like an unconventional person, she takes pride in her interests, such as studying languages, listening to Japanese music, writing stories and reading a lot of novels and manga. She is also currently attempting to finish editing her first novel.

With the Leadership Grant she created a project called The Rewrite!  Project, which aims to address the issue of the stereotypical image and identity of young women that the media and society pushes by creating an anthology using stories from racialized young women about their identity. After creating the anthology she intends on distributing it throughout the city to create awareness and to start conversations about this issue.

Disha Mehta - Mississauga, ON

Disha is a student from Mississauga Ontario. She is passionate about equality and hopes one day all girls will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. She is driven and persevering and is particularly inspired by helping her peers.

Through her leadership capacity grant, Disha and her collaborator Sara will organize a leadership camp for girls and young women. This camp is for underprivileged girls in the community and girls would want to gain in confidence. The camp will  support them in becoming vibrant and active members of the community.

Laura Gaitan - Montreal, QC


Laura Gaitan was born and raised in Colombia and has lived in Montreal for over seven years and absolutely loves the city. She is  currently studying at Concordia University in “Community, Public Affairs and Policy Studies”. Her major areas of interest are political art and Aboriginal policies. She loves to travel and volunteer as much as she can.

With this grant, she will host a two-day workshop where her and her peers will try to analyze how our emotions can be expressed through dance and movement. Her organizing committee will be contacting various organizations to bring in different speakers that will talk about healthy relationships and how to express them in creative ways.

Sharna Dey - Montreal, QC


Fuelled by a passion for progressive ideals, Sharna Dey is an enthusiastic and hard-working social activist. Last year, Sharna co-founded Uptown Solidaire, a non-profit organization that unites the youth in Cote-Des-Neiges' multicultural multi-religious neighbourhood to engage in volunteer activities.

With her grant, Sharna is organising a two-part event with the aim of breaking ethnoreligious barriers by working together to confront the stigma of being associated with a dirty and dangerous part of town. Cleaning the neighbourhood is an effort to bring people from diverse backgrounds together in doing something for the area they live in and also to take the opportunity to get to know each other and break the negative stereotypes that each community holds of others. Following the Clean-UpTown activity, there will be an evening cultural fair with delicious ethnic food, fun games and lively performances for all participants and their families.

Abena Addo - Montreal, QC

Abena was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario and is now in her third year in environmental health science at McGill University in Montreal. She is also involved in the McGill varsity basketball team, and attributes her work ethic, time management, and determination to her passion and participation in sport.  She feels this quote from Edward Hale captures where she is in life: I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do”. 

With her grant, Abena will start a mentoring program in which University female student athletes can guide and inspire young high school female athletes to continue with sport and continue to excel in the classroom by providing them with resources and advice needed to succeed in both of these important aspects. 15 McGill varsity women's basketball athletes will be paired up with a female member of the John F Kennedy high-school girls basketball team.

Shelby Caplin - Gesgapegiag, QC


Shelby Caplin is a mikmaq from the Gesgapegiag First Nation located on the Gaspe coast in the province of Quebec.  This is the second time she has been chosen to receive the leadership capacity grant, and could not be happier about it.  She considers herself very lucky and very happy to be able to give this opportunity to her community.  She works in the Gesgapegiag Social Services building and is a single mother to her 6 year old daughter, Malia.  

With her grant, she plans on contributing to the Annual Women’s Day event in her community with a focus on including female youth.  This year during the event, there will be 8 workshops happening at different times, so guests can choose which they would like to sit in on.  To open the day, she will ask youth guest speakers to give presentations.  She also plans to ask the nearby schools if youth girls would be able to attend the event as part of their school day.

Proud sponsor of two Leadership Capacity Grants in 2013