International Women's Day - Celebrating inspiring tenants

International Women's Day - Celebrating inspiring tenants

March 08, 2018

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we reached out to our team members to recommend tenants who are doing positive work in their lives or community. We talked to those women and these are their inspiring stories.

Katelyn Wallace
Katelyn’s volunteer work with the Junior Youth Empowerment Program, also known as Pebbles to Pearls, helps youth think about their growth through building patience, perseverance and hope. She is also a panel member of the Tenants First Advisory Panel where she shares her voice and ideas as a youth living in a TCHC community. “Every individual has a voice that should be shared, and as a graduated trained community service worker, it’s my job to make sure those voices and insights are shared with the right people.” 

Lola Lawson
Lola has self-published a book that she created with her two children called “How Do Our Feelings Change?” She also founded an organization called Nurture Nations, where she offers empowerment services and facilitates teaching sessions in schools and community centres. Her most rewarding moment was when Lola and her son were recognized at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by a Member of Provincial Parliament, for proactively fighting against issues that negatively affect our communities. “It’s just incredible to know that I have made profound changes in our lives and the lives of many others.”

Zamani Ra
Zamani is a tenant representative who listens to and clarifies tenant issues and concerns and builds relationships to address those issues. This has translated into the retrofitting of a playground, implementation of a fitness centre and most recently, an environmental awareness campaign. “My biggest motivation is seeing people live well. I have seen what communities that function well look like. When issues arise they are examined, adjustments are made and life goes on.”  

Saadia Wasim
Saadia is a teacher, artist and a published writer of a short story book. Her work represents culture and diversity. She is working as a Community Animator in Rivertowne and volunteers her time and skills, to motivate diversity and inclusion in her community. She recognized the need and how such initiatives can inspire people to come together to learn from each other to create an atmosphere of peace, hope and harmony.

Vickie Rennie
Vickie founded The Bleecker/Wellesley Activity Network, (formerly known as Senior Socials) which has operated for nearly three decades. The network’s goals include breaking isolation, creating friendships, and helping those that have little, get a little more. “This is how I was brought up, to give back to my community. Helping others is my biggest motivator.” In 1990, Vickie won the Citizen of the Year Award (Gardiner Award) and in December 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal. 

Cathy Birch
Cathy is a Tenant Representative and the founder and chair of the R-PATH (Responsible Personal Accessibility in Toronto Housing) Committee. As a Tenant Representative, she plans events, raises funds, and participates on her Tenant Council for her community. Cathy leads the members of R-PATH, who are tenants, to advocate for quality accessibility for persons with physical disabilities. The R-PATH Committee works to make sure the rights of people with physical disabilities are being met and that TCHC has the functional and practical lens to provide responsible accessibility in all aspects of the business, including budget needs, legislated requirements and TCHC’s building standards for accessibility in new and existing buildings, which were recently updated in partnership with R-PATH.

Alana Smith 
Alana is a dedicated tenant representative. She takes part in many community events and meetings because, she says, “This is important to me. I’ve been given the chance to be the voice for other residents… to put ideas forward and see it be taken seriously.” She also works with a mental health group to bring information to tenants who might need it. She was also a member of the TCHC Tenant Charter Advisory Committee. She says her biggest motivation is watching how different people of various ethnicities, religions and orientations, work together to reach a common goal.

Mumtaz Mahamed
Mumtaz attends youth and neighborhood council meetings and tries to bring the voices of the youth to those spaces. She is a leader in her community and knows all the children and youth. She has helped with three different projects in the community, a mural art project, neighborhood cleaning projects, and a crisis response project for community healing.  She is going to be starting a training in the New Year to start a program in her community for 11 to 14 year olds.

Karen Tysdale 
Karen has been a long-time Toronto Community Housing tenant. As a civic-minded, single parent of three sons, she has been committed to improving and promoting the vital health and well-being of her communities, for the benefit of her family and fellow tenants.  She has encouraged them, through her active participation as a tenant leader and advocate in a variety of TCHC and community partnerships, to become agents of positive change by giving voice to the issues that matter most to them. As a result, she has help increase tenant engagement which has led to many successful and meaningful tenant-led projects like, the Lawrence Heights and Neptune Communities' annual "Walk of Hope for Peace", the creation of economic, training and employment opportunities, neighbourhood food security gardening projects, the development of the Tenant Charter and, providing valuable input to the city-wide public consultations of the Mayor's Task Force. 

These women and many others across Toronto Community Housing are proof that with dedication, understanding, respect and good will, we can all work towards creating real, positive change in our lives and in our communities.