Malvern Collegiate hosted its 4th annual Social Justice Conference during the week of March 5 through March 8.
The event aims to address issues “in areas of school climate such as safety, health, equity and social justice”.
This year’s conference focused on socio-economic privilege in context to the experiences of new Canadians.
The opening assembly featured talks by Malvern teacher and organizer Mike Izzo, Neighbourhood Link’s Lorie Fairburn, as well as Helen Wong, principal at Corvette Public School in Scarborough.
“Discrimination still does exist in our society. Inequality still exists. And inequities still exist,” said Izzo in his opening remarks.
“The goal of a conference like this is to bring voice and to take a little bit of time from ourselves and focus it on those who often are invisible and silenced.”
Izzo emphasised the importance of taking action and encouraged students to not only talk about and discuss social justice issues, but to get out and do something about it.
He reminded the audience that although most of the Malvern families are financially privileged and the Beach is the wealthiest neighbourhood in Toronto east of the Don Valley Parkway, that other schools nearby do not share those same privileges.
Only six kilometres away from Malvern is Corvette Public School. Its principal, Helen Wong, spoke of the differences in demographics and diversity at her school.
“There are roughly 30 languages spoken at Corvette,” she said, adding that 50% of students don’t speak English at home.
Nearly half of the Corvette students also live below the poverty line.
Some of the events that took place at Malvern during the week served as fundraisers for Corvette, such as a friendly floor-hockey match between students and police officers from 55 Division.
Food donations were also accepted throughout the week.
“Thank you for the support you’ve given our community. We are excited to work together with you,” said Corvette nutritionist Ms. Lafleche.
Lorie Fairburn spoke of Neighbourhood Link’s efforts in the community to provide essential services to seniors who may otherwise not be able to care for themselves.
She also spoke to the issue of homelessness in the city, citing that “there are 1500 to 2000 youth that are homeless in Toronto every night.”
Throughout the week, senior students also presented workshops to junior students on various social justice topics.
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