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Civic Impact

If I Ruled T.O. asks GTA youth to ponder the questions of leadership

On November 28th, over 500 GTA-area youth will gather at the Allstream Centre to discuss the issues that affect them. The If I Ruled T.O. conference, now in its fifth year, is an annual presentation of the City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing, focusing on youth issues: mental health, the creation of community spaces, their relationship with police, and more.

“Our hope is to establish a dialogue with youth to understand the limitations and gaps that exist within local communities to increase safety in their communities by understanding their core issues, concerns, and needs,” says Iftu Tahir, Acting Youth Program Technical Specialist for Toronto Community Housing.

The one day session will open with a plenary, followed by breakout conversations in eight different workshops. Young people aged 14 to 29 will be asked to consider questions like, “If you were the Chief of Police or on the Police Board, what would you do to improve police and community relations?” and “If you were in charge of explaining mental health, what would you say?” The idea, says Tahir, is to pass their answers on to industry professionals, including local police staff, politicians, and members of Toronto Community Housing.

The event closes with a keynote from Leo Barbe of Think Don’t Shoot, a local organization devoted to fighting gun violence and promoting healing. The day will also include a chance to network with local organizations. As Tahir says, “We are also excited to host a trade show component to the event where various community agencies can share information on resources and opportunities.”

If I Ruled T.O. will also help youth better understand the systems that serve them and surround them. “We are creating a platform for youth to come together, share their thoughts and opinions and create a dialogue with decision makers,” says Tahir. “We’re also creating a space for youth to better understand systems and processes and how to challenge them to impact change.”
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