Author Archives: BeTheChange

Announcing the 2018 Harmony Award Winners

Harmony Movement is excited to announce this year’s winners of the 2018 Harmony Awards, which celebrate leaders of social change working to transform Canadian society. All awards will be presented at the Harmony Awards Gala taking place November 8, 2018 at the Grand Luxe, North York, ON.

This evening of networking and celebration allows members of the business, government, education, and community sectors to come together to honour the best Social Changemakers in the country.

Harmony Award Winner
Mandi Gray

Harmony Community Educator Award
Ivan Coyote

Educator of the Year Award
David Walls, Catholic Central HS, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

Leadership in Education Award
Michelle Coutinho – Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

School of the Year Award
Catholic Central HS, Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board

Social Changemakers Award presented by Allan Slaight
Equity Club, Pierre Elliott Trudeau HS, York Region District School Board

+ our 10 June Callwood Harmony Scholarship Recipients

Join us at the 2018 Harmony Awards Gala for an inspiring and uplifting evening with food, drink and celebration.

Early bird tickets are available from September 17th to October 1st – get 50% off ($50 ticket for $25).

International Day of Peace – 3 Ways to Peace

By Ilaneet Goren

Ilaneet is a facilitator, educator, social worker and Director of Workplace Learning and Development at Harmony Movement



The urgency of peace and peace education feels more palpable than ever. At a time when hate crimes and attacks on ethnoracial groups are on the rise in Canada, the International Day of Peace carries an ever bigger meaning.  Established unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, Peace Day is celebrated on September 21st through various events and activities worldwide. This year’s theme is dedicated to the right to peace based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As educators and social changemakers, this day is a chance to reflect on our role and responsibility in building peaceful relationships with others, with the Earth, and perhaps most importantly, with(in) ourselves.

(1) Peace with(in) You

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

Our equity and inclusion workshops always start with focusing inward and reflecting on our values, biases, social location, and the power and privileges we hold. This is a useful practice for anyone working to bridge cultural and identity-based differences. As we expand our social and emotional awareness we realize that diversity education is not about the other: it’s about learning about and working on ourselves.

What if we approached peace in the same way and believed that “doing peace” has to start with “being at peace”?

Don’t think of introspection as ‘naval gazing’ but as a useful tool that educators and peace advocates can use to support their work and growth and help reduce burnout. Psychologists call this “peeling the onion:” delving deeper and deeper, layer by layer into our inner experience in order to gain insight to inform better decisions and actions. This can feel scary and vulnerable – not an easy or natural place to be for many of us. But with practice we can strengthen the vulnerability muscle, ultimately making us more resilient and open to new possibilities.

Here are some questions to start this off:

  • Am I at peace with myself? What may be preventing me from being at peace?
  • Is there an inner truth, voice or need within me that I am not honouring or expressing fully?
  • What would it feel like if I fully lived my truth?

(2) Peace with Others

“Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein

Conflict is a natural part of our human experience. As equity educators, our work is often about encouraging cross-cultural conflict resolution skills and techniques in others, helping them turn conflict into teachable moments and bridge-building opportunities.

In one of our exercises, we ask people to reflect on their conflict management style: Do you tend to avoid conflict or confront issues head on? Do you see conflict as a competition or an opportunity to collaborate and find a common solution? Your approach to conflict may hold the key to how effective you are in bridging across cultural and identity-based differences.

According to the Harvard Negotiation Method developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury and made popular in the book Getting to Yes, underneath most opposing positions are unaddressed human needs, interests and desires. Addressing those needs and interests rather than positions can lead to a more productive dialogue and a win-win resolution.

The following questions can help uncover the deeper issues underlying some of our conflicts with others:

  • Am I at peace with the people in my life?
  • When thinking about a person with whom you are in conflict right now, what is the nature of the conflict? What are the human needs and interests that are not being addressed, for you and for the other person?
  • What would happen if those needs are addressed on both sides?

(3) Peace with the Earth

“We can’t have peace on the earth, if we don’t have peace with the earth.”  – Jill Butterfly

What good is peace on Earth if we don’t have an earth to live on? Judging by how we treat our oceans, forests, animals and the ozone layer, it’s as if we’re at war with the Earth and all its living beings. Scientists are now saying that human activity and technology may have pushed our planet to the point of no return  in terms of climate change.

People in developing countries and communities living in poverty are disproportionately affected by climate change, from floods and hurricanes to droughts and wildfires causing mass deaths, injuries and displacements. (Read about the unprecedented flooding in southern India that killed over 350 people and displaced more than 800,000).

Harmony’s programs help students and educators reflect on the intrinsic connection between environmental and social justice; Click here to explore our series of podcasts on environmental justice. How can we further deepen our environmental consciousness as educators?

We can start by asking ourselves:

  • Am I at peace with the Earth? How can I be more connected to nature and all living things?
  • What role am I playing in protecting the environment? What is my contribution to environmental justice?
  • How do my daily actions reflect my commitment to protecting our planet?

By thinking about the ways that we can be more at peace with ourselves, others and the Earth we can find a new meaning in celebrating the International Day of Peace.

*Image source:

2018 Harmony Awards Gala


Harmony Education Foundation

2018 Harmony Awards Gala
Thursday, November 8

A tribute to Harmony Award recipient
Mandi Gray

and the recipients of

Harmony Social Changemakers Award
Harmony Educator Award
Mary A. Samuel Harmony Leadership in Education Award
Harmony School of the Year Award
June Callwood Harmony Scholarships
Community Educator Award

The Grand Luxe
3125 Bayview Ave, North York, ON (Bayview & Finch)

Reception at 6:00pm * Awards Ceremony at 7:30pm * Dessert at 9:00pm

Tickets sales to open September 1, 2019.


If you are unable to attend the event please make a donation to the Harmony Education Foundation.

Be the Change ~ Be a Sponsor
Help us continue providing programs for equity leadership and social change!

To become a Sponsor please complete our sponsorship form and e-mail to For more information, please call Janelle Yanishewski at 416.385.2660.

The gala is presented by the Harmony Education Foundation (Registered charity #87188 9168) for the benefit of Harmony Movement.

Classroom Tips: Nelson Mandela Day

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

-Nelson Mandela, 2005[1]

100 Years of Greatness

July 18, 2018 will mark Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s centenary. His indisputable legacy of challenging the status quo, demonstrating leadership and inspiring social change is globally recognized. During his years as a revolutionary and political prisoner, he maintained a steadfast critique of South Africa’s apartheid regime.  After his release from prison, he became South Africa’s first Black president in 1994.  His decade’s worth of activism was recognized with over 250 awards and honours including the Nobel Peace Prize (1993), Freedom of the City of London (1996) and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (1988) [2]

Legacy of Political Struggle

Nelson Mandela was a symbol of struggle and hope for the oppressed.  From black liberation during his early years with the African National Congress to establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa, he spoke out against poverty, racism and inequality.  Even after becoming a statesman and international hero, he remained on the United States’ Terrorist Watchlist until 2008.[3]

Activist, Politician or Peacemaker, where to focus lessons?

The many sides to Nelson Mandela provide great lessons about being an agent of social change. Whether choosing to focus on leadership styles or different political tactics such as non-violent resistance or armed struggle, there are many ways to integrate Nelson Mandela’s biography or speeches into the classroom.

For Elementary students, the follow resources provide biographical information that can be used in English Language Arts and Social Studies.

For Intermediate and High School Students, the multimedia resources can address a range of subject areas within Social Studies and Humanities.

While each discussion will undoubtedly reflect the particular age, location and needs of the particular students, the overarching lesson is sure to be the same: Nelson Mandela is a man who is rightfully celebrated as a true champion of human rights and equity for all.




Classroom Tips: World Environment Day

World Environment Day – “If you can’t reuse it, refuse it”

For most of us, the 3 R’s of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle, are one of the first lessons we learn as children. But how many of us really stop to think about where our waste (including our recycling) actually goes?

  • “An estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year. This is the equivalent of one garbage truck full of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute.”[1]
  • Statistics show that there will be more plastic in oceans than fish by 2050.[2]

With plastic pollution becoming one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, reducing our waste consumption is an urgent concern.

As educators, we have a great opportunity to teach students about our environmental impact and why it is so important for us to reduce consumption more than anything. One such opportunity is World Environment Day. Celebrated on June 5th, the United Nations’ uses this day each year to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. This year, the theme is beating plastic pollution.[3]

What Can You Do?

There are a number of different ways you can get your students discussing the importance of reducing plastic consumption and taking action. Below are a few suggestions:

  • Get your school to become a waste free school. You can do this by encouraging your students and faculty to go waste free! Do you sell or offer plastic water bottles or bottled drinks at school? Did you know that bottled water is almost 2,000 times more energy intensive to produce than tap water?[4]
    • Ontario EcoSchools is a program developed by the Toronto District School Board in 2002 created to recognize and celebrate schools for their environmental learning and action. Their mission is to nurture environmental leaders, to help schools reduce their ecological impact and build environmentally responsible school communities. Their website offers resources and instructions on how to get your school to become an ecoschool:
  • Organize a field trip to one of the 32 large landfills found in Ontario as part of a lesson plan and conversation starter on waste management and the impact of our waste:
  • Challenge your students to collect their waste for an entire month.
    • Rob Greenfield created a “Trash Me” 30-day experiment where he wore every single piece of trash that he created while living like “the average American” (who creates 4.5 pounds of garbage each day) to create a visual understanding of his impact. This is a great visual tool to show youth exactly what it was like to go through this process and how much waste one person actually creates. This short video outlines his journey on this challenge.

Other Helpful Resources:
The World Environment Day website has lesson plans and ideas on how to discuss the impact of plastic waste with your students:

This World Environment Day Teacher Toolkit outlines what you can do to get your students organizing and offers some statistics, suggestions and links to other websites and resources – it can also be found on the World Environment Day webpage:

The Earth Day Network is another great resource that offers lesson plans, event ideas and templates to help you plan for your World Environment Day action:





Classroom Tips: The Colours of the Pride Flag

The Colours of the Pride Flag & Activities

The late Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in 1978 with 8 different colours, each a symbol meant to strengthen and celebrate LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit) communities. The flag was initially pink (for sex), red (for life), orange (for healing), yellow (for sunlight), green (for nature), blue (for art), indigo (for harmony), and violet (for the human spirit). Learning that hot pink fabric wasn’t readily available in large amounts and wanting there to be an even number of colours that were distinct, Baker eventually dropped pink & indigo. It was then that the rainbow flag we know and use to show Pride and LGBTQ2S+ positive spaces in our schools and communities was born.1

Knowing our histories is always a key part of bettering our futures. Pride Month is a time to celebrate all aspects of LGBTQ2S+ experiences, seeing the wholeness of our identities, and acknowledging where around the world (including in our own backyard) there are still issues that need addressing.

There are large global concerns like refugees from Chechnya & Russia escaping through Rainbow Railroad.2 Here at home, UCP leader Jason Kenney is challenging queer & trans inclusion by what threatens to out kids to parents or families that may not accept them.3

While this is happening, celebrating the passion of intersectional queer and trans activists shows the diverse reach of the beautiful people making this world better for LGBTQS+ students and youth.4 Pride Month offers all sorts of angles and entry points to discussing the rights, successes, and challenges of LGBTQ2S+ people.

What Can I Do?

In your classrooms, we thought it would be valuable to breakdown of the rainbow flag into separated mini-activities, bits of knowledge, or self-care pieces centred around what each colour represents.

Red- Life: Ask your class to share their gender pronouns and tell the story of their name. Use their first name, last name, middle name, a chosen name. Students can talk about what their name means, why they were given that particular name, or if they could choose a name for themselves what it would it be. This last prompt is especially helpful if the student doesn’t know that story behind their name. Highlight the power of honouring people’s pronouns, and why our names mean so much to our lives. This small act of inclusion can move mountains for you, your students, and your school.

Orange- Healing: Try a brief meditation with your class and discuss the power of renewal.

Yellow- Sunlight: It’s spring! Take classes outside and search for rainbows in nature. Create art that shows the sun & discuss that the sun rising every day is a reminder of our re-birth.

Green- Nature: Share this awesome piece about 6 queer women environmentalists demonstrating some amazing intersectional work.

Blue- Art: Visit CBC’s short docs celebrating queer and trans artists from across the country. Show a clip in your class and discuss!

Violet- The Human Spirit: Pride Toronto’s theme for 2018 is 35 Years of AIDS Activism.5 Talk about resilience! Communities forced to confront the plague of HIV/AIDS are still going strong and this year, North America’s largest Pride festival will celebrate the continuing strength & passion of these individuals throughout June.

However you honour the achievements and discuss the difficulties of the LGBTQ2S+ world this Pride Month, we wish you the best and hope you do so with empathy and an eye to inclusion of the myriad identities on that beautiful rainbow spectrum. Happy Pride!





Free Resources for Teachers

Check Out These Free Resources for Teachers!

We are looking forward to Education Week coming up next month from May 6 – 11. This is a time for us to celebrate teaching excellence and student achievement. In honour of this week, we wanted to share some exciting FREE resources with you.

Harmony Movement is excited to be partnering with ReelEducation to spread the word about these new educator resources. ReelEducation is providing lesson plans to educators across Ontario for grades K-12. The lessons use films, discussion and activities to engage students about issues surrounding ability and mental health in our schools and societies, including:

  • Physical accessibility and barriers
  • Empathy-building
  • The power of stereotypes and stigma
  • Idnetify myths around mental health
  • How to support those experience mental health challenges

See a full listing of the lesson plans available and register to get acces to the films here:

They make direct curriculum connections to language, media literacy, writing, oral communication and inclusion.


Join us as Harmony Movement partners with ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival in showcasing:

Defiant Lives

Sunday, June 3 at 7:00pm at Innis Town Hall (University of Toronto Campus)

Weaving together never-before-seen archival footage with reflective interviews and the personal stories of men and women with disabilities as they fought for independence and control over their lives, Defiant Lives details the rise of the disability rights movement in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.

The film will be followed by a panel presented by Community Living Toronto and Harmony Movement from 8:30-9:30pm.

$12 General Admission – $10 Post-secondary student – Free for under 18

Keep your eyes out on social media for an upcoming ticket giveaway.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival will take place this year from May 30 to June 5, 2018.

About ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival

ReelAbilities Film Festival brings together the community to promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. ReelAbilities Film Festival showcases films, conversations and artistic programs to explore, embrace and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience. 2018 will be the third annual ReelAbilities Festival in Toronto.

ReelEducation is a new program growing out of the ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival.

Classroom Tips: World Health Day – Disability in our Schools

World Health Day: Disability in our Schools

If we ask you to picture a student with a disability, what image comes quickly to mind? Perhaps it is someone using a wheelchair or other mobility device. As a common media presence, it would not be a surprise were that your initial impression. As World Health Day approaches and asks us to consider the necessity of universal coverage1 what are the health impacts on students we don’t always think of when we think of students with disabilities?

Take a student with anxiety as an example. What supports are in your school if they are having a panic attack and need to leave class in the middle of their presentation? It may take more than we realise for that student to return to the classroom, especially if the full level of support they require is not present. If up to 20% of Ontario’s youth will experience some kind of mental health issue2 and 28% of our students say they are not sure where to turn for resources or help with those issues3, it is incumbent on us as educators to find new and better ways to remove stigmas in the classroom and offer paths forward for students to access what they need.

Along with recognising the needs of your overall student population, it is necessary to acknowledge how students from other marginalised communities are impacted by mental health issues and related stigmas. For example, LGBTQ2S youth are at 14 times the risk of dying by suicide than their heterosexual peers4. Do your community support workers have experience targeting the needs of people with diverse sexual orientations? On top of that, youth in our poorest neighbourhoods experience the highest rates of emergency room visits for intentional self-harm and the highest rates of suicide attempts5. How are we navigating the intersection between class & ability to ensure students are always well taken care of?


While school boards do provide community workers and/or social workers, they are often lacking in time to pay close enough attention to all issues. Further, given stigmas related to mental health especially, not everything is reported to an adult or taken seriously when occurring. Harmony Movement wanted to provide some additional resources for students to access if they require more support or were not comfortable speaking to someone at their school.

Kids Help Phone: National, bilingual, 24-hour, anonymous, phone and web counselling service for children and youth. 1-800-668-6868 or

Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youthline: Ontario-wide phone, text and web support for LGBTQ2S youth (29 & under). 1-800-268-9688 or text 647-694-4275 or

Community Living Ontario: Family-based association assisting people who have an intellectual disability and their families to lead the way in advancing inclusion in their own lives and in their communities.

ReelAbilities Toronto As part of Harmony Movement’s growing list of national and provincial partners, we are discussing disability and health as part of our connection with ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival. Showcasing Canadian and International shorts, features, and documentaries about Deaf and disability cultures and by filmmakers and actors with disabilities and/or who are Deaf. Over the past 3 years, RAFFTO has launched programs alongside producing the festival in the spring of each year. The 2018 festival, running May 30-June 4, will feature amazing new opportunities for schools and boards to bring these films directly into the classroom and help shift our conversations around Deaf and disability inclusion in Ontario schools.

ReelEducation To that end, we are happy to support ReelAbilities Toronto in the launch of their new resource ReelEducation! This amazing (free) plan provides resources for educators and parents to teach students about inclusion, empathy, universal design, mental health and stereotypes, as well as attitudinal and employment barriers. Each ReelEducation kit comes in an accessible format (films with open captioning) with a lesson plan that identifies the theme in each film. Films will be available this spring. A simple submission form is available here for you to begin the process of accessing the films, which will become available April 1, 2018!



2 MHASEF Research Team. (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard. Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

3 Boak, A., Hamilton, H., Adlaf, E., Henderson, J. and Mann, R. (2016). The Mental Health and Well-Being of Ontario Students, 1991-2015: Detailed OSDUHS findings (CAMH Research Document Series No. 43).

4 Canadian Mental Health Association – Ontario. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer identified People and Mental Health. Webpage:

5 MHASEF Research Team. (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard. Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

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Classroom Tips – Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination

Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination

March 21 to March 27 is the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination. Declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which kicks off a week of action to address racism and support those who are facing and fighting against racism and racial discrimination.

An important starting point to this conversation is defining and differentiating between racism and racial discrimination. Racism is a system of power that provides privilege (unearned advantages) to the dominant white racial group while oppressing people of colour. Racial discrimination is the individual unfair treatment of a person or group of people on the basis of race.  The notable difference is that racism is systemic oppression that only affects those who are not part of the dominant group, whereas racial discrimination is an interpersonal treatment that can be directed at anyone.

How relevant is this to our Canadian context?  Do we have a racism problem? Here is a brief look at what some recent research tells us:

  • Black students are almost twice as likely to be suspended at least once during high school compared to their White peers.
  • Only 0.4% of Black students are identified as gifted, compared to 4% of their White counterparts. Conversely, 16% of White students are identified with special education needs compared with 26% of Black students.
  • An average of 1,213 hate crime incidents reported per year over the last 10 years.
  • An Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News found that 25% of Canadians say they have experienced racism — up 8 percent from 2005.
  • The unemployment rate for Indigenous Canadians is more than twice the national average.
  • The incarceration rate for Indigenous Canadians is 10 times the national average.

These stats are but a tiny slice of the larger picture and there is much work to do in our own communities to combat racism. But how do tackle such a large systemic issue?  A good place to start is understanding the role of solidarity and the importance of solidarity work. Solidarity includes both the understanding and the conscious commitment to action in support of those experiencing systemic barriers. Solidarity in this context means standing with and lending support to people who are struggling against systemic racism and racial discrimination. While many of your students will be eager to show solidarity, it is important to give them some basic tools that will ensure they are engaging in ways that are respectful and appropriate. Here are some important points to share with students and colleagues.

To act in solidarity with others we must first consider the following:

  • Listen to the voices of those directly impacted. They are the experts on what their experience and what they need. Don’t make assumptions about what others may be feeling or wanting.
  • Ask what you can do to support rather than assume.
  • Recognize your own privileges in society and the barriers others face based on their identity.
  • Accept the other person’s truth that you yourself may not share or even fully understand, and never deny or question a person’s lived experience of oppression.
  • Act with and follow the lead of those directly impacted by racism but never take over. It’s important to allow people with lived experiences to lead the conversation and be at the front of the struggle.

This March have a conversation with students about the actions they can take to advocate for racial justice and stand in solidarity with those who are struggling against racism and racial discrimination.


Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators. Black Student Achievement in TDSB.

Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Hate Crimes in Canada. 

Global News. 29-June-2017. Canada is 150 and still needs to face its racism problem: advocates.

Government of Canada. Fact Sheet – 2011 National Household Survey Aboriginal Demographics, Educational Attainment and Labour Market Outcomes.


Classroom Tips: World Day of Social Justice

World Day of Social Justice

Celebrate, Generate, Initiate, Elevate

February 18th is World Day of Social Justice, a day on which the United Nation’s invites one and all to engage in activities that support efforts to eradicate poverty, achieve gender equity and increase social well-being and justice for all.  Of course social justice work is not one day’s work but we can use this day to celebrate social justice achievements made by ourselves and others, generate much needed attention and conversation about important causes and initiate actions that create change and elevate the social Changemaking in our local and international communities.

What is Social Justice?

Before we can engage with World Day of Social Justice let’s first take a moment to examine what social justice is all about.  The United Nations defines social justice as “an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.”[i]  This means promoting equity and removing barriers faced by people of all identities.  So how do we engage in this important work that affects all of us?

Two Ways to Engage.

Most approaches to social change can be broken down into two important categories.  The first approach we call the Charity Approach, which aims to address immediate needs and the second is the Social Change Approach, which addresses root causes for long-term social change.  Both can be applied to most issues and both approaches are important and necessary but what exactly is the difference?

  1. The Charity Approach is most popular because it addresses immediate needs and its impact is immediately measurable. The Charity Approach often treats the symptoms of a social inequity by implementing accommodations, supports, funding, labour and short-term solutions.  Food banks and donating to food banks are an example of a Charity Approach applied to the social inequity of poverty.  Food banks are important to meeting the immediate needs of those living in poverty but ultimately do not address the poverty itself.
  2. Social Change Approach includes initiatives that promote the eradication of poverty such as raising the minimum wage, increasing access to employment, addressing systemic discrimination in hiring practices, housing, health-care and the legal system. This approach is focused on long-term solutions to large and often daunting problems which often makes this a harder approach to choose.

Choose Both!

Students often engage in one approach or the other, and most frequently it’s the Charity Approach.

This year on February 18th why not engage your students with both approaches? Activity ideas!

Get them thinking about the root causes of inequity and how they can address those inequities for long-term change.

For example, if students are interested in LGBT rights and safety within their school, take them through a reflective exercise that allows them to identify what changes can be made to affect the immediate inequities faced by LGBT students at school such as starting a safe space club or adding a gender-neutral washroom.  Also get them to think about the root causes of discrimination faced by LGBT students at school and how those can be addressed such as challenging gender norms and hetero-normative values amongst staff, students and within the school curriculum and policy.

This type of change is slow but its impact is long lasting.

Social Changemakers have been changing the world using these two-tiered approaches and will continue to do so with your help!



Advancing Youth-Led Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives in Durham

Ontario Trillium Foundation, Fondation Trillium de l'Ontario

Advancing Youth-Led Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives in Durham

(Toronto, December 14, 2017) — Harmony Movement is pleased to announce the receipt of a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation that will support equity and anti-racism education and leadership development for youth in the Durham region.

The Youth Leadership for Equity and Anti-Racism in Durham project, or YouthLEADS, will provide 300 youth with experiential learning, skill-building and leadership development opportunities. This will help them to create their own projects and work with local organizations to address racism in their communities.

Guided by a Project Advisory Committee, the YouthLEADS will also engage educators, parents and caregivers, and diverse community partners in critical conversations about creating safe and inclusive environments where youth can grow and thrive as agents of social change.

Working collaboratively with Durham’s Catholic and public school boards and their community partners, the Harmony Movement team will engage youth in schools and in the community through student conferences, leadership building workshops and after-school groups. In the summer, a youth-led anti-racism leadership summit will provide opportunities for participants to present their projects, share ideas and network with other youth leaders.

Durham’s fast-growing population is 17% racialized, while the percentage of immigrants, currently at 20%, continues to grow.  Yet bullying, harassment, discrimination and racial disparity continue to have a negative impact on youth wellbeing and success:

  • One in two students believes bullying is a problem according to a 2015 report by Durham Department of Health while 35% of elementary students reported that they were themselves bullied;
  • 80% of teens have been exposed to racist or sexist content online, according to PrevNET;
  • Black students face significant disparities in access to academic opportunities (James and Turner, 2017)

“We have worked with both public and Catholic school boards in Durham for many years,” said Cheuk Kwan, Executive Director at Harmony Movement. “And we are happy to be collaborating with them again to go deeper into the community to promote equity and inclusion in the region.”

Founded in 1994 with a vision for all Canadians to value diversity and to foster a commitment to a just and caring society, Harmony Movement provides experiential education programs in diversity, equity and inclusion that empower and inspire positive social change in youth and adults.

For more information:

Ilaneet Goren, Harmony Movement,, 416-385-2660

Download PDF version here.

International Human Solidarity Day – Classroom Tips

International Day of Human Solidarity

Recognizing solidarity as an important factor in making global social change, the United Nations declared Dec. 20 International Human Solidarity Day. In fact, the “General Assembly, on 22 December 2005, by resolution 60/209 identified solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values that should underlie relations between peoples in the Twenty-first century.” But what does solidarity mean in our classrooms? How do we acknowledge its importance without over-examining its meaning to labour, activism and many successful social movements throughout our history?

At the UN, solidarity is seen as a “basic premise” of global activism, going the organisation’s founding. And while an annual reminder is an important way to demonstrate a commitment, like many of these days, it is inside our action that the truth about solidarity comes to the fore.

In this new age of rising fascism, solidarity will mean more than teaching our students and children about meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, although that was an initial impetus for this day. Let’s look at cases large and small in which how we see solidarity could play a role in changing the outcome.

Long Distance Solidarity

Out of the U.K., the Independent reports that over 5,00 000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh based on what UN officials have called ethnic cleansing. In this terrifying global case of human need, solidarity efforts can be shown in as small a way as denouncing the leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, for allowing this to occur in the first place. However, there are much larger conversations to be brought into our classrooms  regarding the hard work of supporting our fellow humans who need food, shelter and relief from an apparently genocidal regime.

The holiday season often puts people in a giving mindset, so in this case, human solidarity can look like organizing a donation drive in your school asking for a collective effort to support Rohingya refugees. Aid organisations will likely be seeking clothing as well as any monetary donations that can be brought together. However, social change is not always made on the charitable track, important as that track may be. Social Changemakers in your school may want to seek different results.

Solidarity then looks like organizing a letter-writing campaign to your MP or the prime minister calling on the government to more strongly condemn Myanmar’s action. Or perhaps it can take the form of a greater awareness of Islamophobia and actions that will combat anti-Muslim hate. The latter may not do much to stop what is happening in South Asia, but it can help strengthen cross-cultural connections in your school as well as in our communities.

Local Solidarity

Closer to home, the recently ended college strike across Ontario gave us quite a glimpse into the complexities of solidarity. While yes, many students stood resolutely with their faculty on the hunt for a fair deal and fewer contract positions, it is understandable that a number of them wanted the strike to end and were upset at their faculty for striking at all. The fight against precarious work in post-secondary teaching is a major one, and another place where our students and co-workers can learn to think through the needs of human solidarity more concretely.

Taking Action

As we are in the midst of the holidays and wondering how to show up for our neighbours, classmates or colleagues, International Human Solidarity Day gives us a starting point to discuss, question, and notice where we are and in what direction the world is moving. How we seek change through solidarity is up to us, but we know there are many ways forward.