Pictured: Chris Blackwood & Harpreet Gill
In 2018 and beyond, the Citizen Empowerment Project will continue supporting youth to be active in Canada’s democracy. Due to the success of our work in the Jane and Finch community over the past two years, we have received support from the Laidlaw Foundation and Osgoode Hall Law School to continue our efforts in Jane and Finch and also expand into Etobicoke and Mississauga.
CEP’s approach since 2015 has been to create a diversity of pathways for youth, newcomers and low-income families to have their voices heard by our democratic institutions. To do this, the group focuses on helping people vote, providing education opportunities to learn about law and policy, and training community leaders to advocate for change in their communities. In the 2015 federal election, this approach contributed to an 11% increase in voter turnout in Jane and Finch and motivated hundreds of community members to participate in their democracy for the first time.
With two elections in 2018 - provincial and municipal - the timing couldn’t be better for CEP to grow. And, most importantly, CEP has hired two local youth and youth workers, Chris Blackwood and Harpreet Gill, to lead the organization into a busy year, when elections and media coverage will create opportunities to engage and empower communities at the grassroots level.
“We have high hopes for what can be accomplished over the next year,” said Jamil Jivani, author, law professor and founder of CEP. “We are fortunate to have a combination of factors working in our favor: two upcoming elections, our incredible staff from the community, support from the Laidlaw Foundation and Osgoode Hall Law School, and our local community partners across the Toronto area. We think we can surpass the positive results of 2015 and create a sustainable movement that thrives even when there are no elections coming up.”
The Citizen Empowerment Project is a Toronto-based national nonprofit organization that empowers Canadians from underrepresented communities to learn about and engage with national legal and policy issues. Underrepresented communities include youth, newcomers and low-income families. We create campaigns and public education initiatives focused on the biggest issues in our country. CEP was founded in 2014 and is led by a volunteer board of young professionals in their 20s and 30s.
To learn more about CEP’s Jane and Finch Votes initiative and their 2015 federal election results, visit http://www.citizenempowerment.ca/2015_federal_election