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Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies (CIARS)

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Janelle Brady 

CIARS Senior Coordinator

Janelle (She/ Her) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Social Justice Education at OISE where she is a Senior Coordinator for CIARS. She enjoys her work with CIARS because it is where community-building, activist-research, and intersectional anti-racism come together. Janelle finds that being part of the CIARS community provides her with invaluable knowledge, experience, mentorship, and friendship. Her doctoral research looks at the experiences of Black mothers as they navigate the K-12 education system for their children and the wider community. She teaches Sociology at George Brown College, as well as Social Justice Education at the University of Guelph-Humber. She is part of a number of organizations and projects ranging from community news, to political advocacy, and environmental education. Janelle enjoys reading, politics, community outreach, teaching/learning, trying out new recipes, baking, biking, and dancing!

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Awards: IDERD Award Recipient 2019

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Antonide Sachel Mars-Ligondé

Researcher 

Antonide (She/ Her) is pursuing a Master of Education at OISE Social Justice Education Department. She is also a French Elementary Teacher with PDSB. Antonide enjoys writing, reading, walking, and watching movies. She is passionate about social justice education. CIARS is a place where Antonide can use her voice to advocate for anti racism education. As a Black educator, Antonide feels inspired, embraced, and empowered as a CIARS volunteer. Promoting a more culturally responsive, and relevant curriculum despite the denial, the disillusionment, and the push back experience from various stakeholders in the school system is a project dear to Antonide's heart. She would like to thank Dr. Njoki Wane, SJE Chair andpersonal advisor, and CIARS Director Dr. George Dei for their continuous dedication in creating spaces for BIPOC students and their allies to positively transform academia and our current education system. 

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Ezi Odozor

Researcher 

Ezi Odozor (She/ her) is a Nigerian-born writer, scholar, and student support specialist based in Toronto. Her work, both fiction and non-fiction, focuses on themes of identity, culture, gender, race, health, and intimacy. Ezi’s work has been featured in several journals, including Room Magazine, Arc Poetry Magazine, and Hypatia (upcoming). Her writing has also been showcased in several exhibits, most notably in Oluseye’s "A Room Full of Black Boys", which was featured on CBC. Ezi recently completed a Master of Education (MEd) degree with a collaborative specialization in global health at the University of Toronto, where she worked across the subjects of race, Black-feminisms, anti-colonialism, and global health. Specifically, she has written on new ethics for Black Feminist theorizing and anti-colonial interventions for global health. Ezi also holds an Honours Bachelor of Science (HBSc) from the University of Toronto in the areas of Human Biology (Global Health) and English. 

Her latest publication, Cartographies of Blackness & Black Indigeneities, was co-edited alongside Professor George Dei and Andrea Jimenez Vasquez. Ezi is currently working on a four-book series centered on Black Womanhood alongside Janelle Brady (PhDc) and Dr. Njoki Wane. 

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Jinepher Koduah 

Researcher 

Throughout her childhood, Jinepher (She/ Her) has been very active in the professional arts. At the age of thirteen she received a full-scholarship to study and train with the Royal Conservatory of Music and Young Peoples Theatre. She entered full-time studies at York University where she achieved a degree in Communications and Human Rights and Equity Studies, before earning her Masters in Social Work at U of T where she specialized in management and leadership. Jinepher holds over 8 years of experience in providing administrative, communications and community support in post-secondary environments, private and not for profit settings. Outside of academics and work she has been heavily involved in serving marginalized communities. In the wake of the on-going acts of violence in Toronto communities, Jinepher launched Empowered Youth, a youth mentoring program in the Jane and Finch community. Jinepher is passionate about youth empowerment and community mobilization as means to equipping individuals and communities for success. Inspired by the work of Professor Dei, Jinepher joined CIARS to work alongside Prof. Dei and the CIARS team for special projects. 

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Julie Usih

Coordinator 

Julie Usih, HBA (She/ Her) is a Master’s candidate at the University of Toronto (UofT) in the Department of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). She recently completed an Honours Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and a double minor in History and Equity Studies at U of T. Julie is currently a Graduate Coordinator of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies (CIARS) at OISE. In 2019, Julie worked as a research assistant at the Centre of Urban Health Solutions within St. Michael’s Hospital to assess the training of Peer Researcher’s living with HIV. Julie’s research interests include transnational and diaspora culture studies, Black radical traditions, and community-building through the lens of African-Indigenous philosophy. 

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Kayah Gordon

Researcher

Kayah Gordon (She/ Her) is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto. She double majored in Sociology and Equity Studies, and minored in Diaspora and Transnational studies. Kayah plans to complete her masters degree in International Law and Conflict Resolution. She is an active member of her community and enjoys volunteering with organizations that focus on social justice initiatives close to her heart. She enjoys event planning, organizing, and creating digital content. In most of her free time, Kayah travels the world because she enjoys learning about immigrants' experiences through first-hand conversations. In the future, she hopes to work on decolonization projects in Jamaica and various countries in the Caribbean and Africa. 

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Laxana Paskaran

Researcher 

Laxana Paskaran (She/ Her) is a Toronto-based community organizer and writer. She is a Master of Education candidate in Social Justice Education, specializing in Ethnic and Pluralism studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Laxana holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. Laxana has coordinated campaigns, organized events, and facilitated workshops with a number of Tamil diaspora advocacy organizations. She was based in Jaffna, Sri Lanka in 2019 while interning at the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research. Her commitment to ending violence and healing justice within communities of colour led her to volunteer with CIARS. When Laxana is not reading or writing, you can find her at your local used bookstore, mocha in hand. 

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Marycarmen Lara-Villanueva

  Coordinator 

Marycarmen (She/ Her) is a Mexican-born PhD student in the Department of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Her research focuses on anti-Blackness in Mexican education, with a focus on visual representations of Blackness. Being involved in CIARS has provided her with tremendous learning, including the chance to work with a diverse team of dedicated students and mentors who are committed to racial justice and the opportunity to visit Ghana. She hopes to continue bringing a Latina-motherscholar perspective to the planning of various projects, while also learning from new and existing members as they collectively advance in their academic and professional paths. Marycarmen is also a community organizer devoted to working with other mothers and caregivers in various projects involving children’s racial literacy and social justice. She enjoys creative writing, painting, and running long distances.

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Muna Nur

Researcher 

Muna (She/ Her) is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto doing a double major in Human Resources and Sociology. It is important to Muna to work towards eliminating biases in employment, and increase opportunities for racialized communities through mentorship, and workplace diversity and inclusion programs. Along with a wonderful team, Muna is the Co-founder and Director of Operations at The Rights project, a community organization that aims to empower youth through legal education. Muna has been Volunteering with CIARS since May and has been happy to find a community at CIARS. Muna loves that she is able to contribute to different committees such as the townhall planning committee, the communications committee, and newsletter committee. “I have learned so much from such an amazing group of people and I am excited for the new initiatives CIARS has planned.” 

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Sanjana Singh

Researcher 

Sanjana (She/ Her) is an incoming fourth year student at the University of Toronto. She is doing a double major in Women and Gender Studies and Equity Studies. Sanjana is passionate about is The Rights Project, which is a community organization she co-founded this summer with her best friends. Sanjana wants to empower Black, Indigenous, and racialized young people to learn more about their rights and become more involved in local politics and advocacy. She began working with CIARS this summer, and descrbies her experience as amazing. Sanjana has learned so much working with everyone at CIARS. The environment is always positive and uplifting, and Sanjana is so thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from so many truly inspiring people. 

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Sevgi Arslan

Researcher 

Sevgi Arslan (She/ Her) is an author, researcher and social worker in Toronto and 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the department of Social Justice Education at OISE / U of T. She is one of the co-coordinators for Prof. George Dei’s study group and assisting CIARS events and initiatives in the past 5 years biggest one being the 2018 Decolonizing Conference. Sevgi believes that CIARS is a critical community that centres racialized communities at the heart of their work and each member contributes to the advancement of racialized communities in various capacities with radical love and care. She is currently working on her upcoming book chapter titled Anti- Colonial Narrative Inquiry: The Impact of Sharing Stories of Pain and Suffering using Mix-Art as a Medium.

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Shirleen Anushika Datt

Coordinator 

Shirleen Datt (She/ Her) is an anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist labour scholar, activist and author. Her research work engages with radical scholarship often dismissed by dominant labour literature that uncritically discredits the saliency of race and its implications under the Racial Capitalist system. As a CIARS coordinator, Shirleen has shed light on the importance of building working-class solidarity along racial lines for decolonization. Currently, she is working at McMaster University as a Teaching Assistant where she recently completed her second Masters in Labour Studies’  and will be continuing her doctoral journey at University of Toronto, OISE. 

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Sophie Bourret-Klein

Researcher

Sophie Bourret-Klein (She/ Her) is an M.A student at OISE, University of Toronto in the department of Social Justice Education. Her research looks at the intersections of anti-racism and anti-colonialism, particularly looking to bridge Palestine solidarity with Jewish, and anti-racist organizing. Sophie’s commitment to social justice extends beyond her own Jewish community and background. Working at CIARS as a coordinator previously and researcher, and volunteer at the Independent Jewish Voice has affirmed her commitment to building new futures. She is continually grateful to work and learn alongside a group of incredible women with CIARS. 

ray is pictured smiling Rayshena Vijendran

Coordinator 

 Rayshena, or Ray (She/ Her), as most people know her by, is an international Malaysian student at the University of Toronto. She is on her way to completing her fourth and final year of a bachelor's degree, majoring in political science and criminology. She is extremely passionate about criminal justice reform and Indigenous issues here in Canada. She hopes to one day obtain a law degree, with a focus on Indigenous Law so she can  help the thousands of Indigenous women who are unfairly entrenched in the Canadian criminal justice system. Ray feels extremely blessed to be a part of such an inspirational community that is CIARS. It has given her the opportunity to meet many amazing and like-minded people, allowed her to take on leadership roles and to learn many, many new skill sets. She is also passionate about health and fitness: she loves cooking, lifting weights and Muay Thai. She also enjoys spending time with good friends and Facetiming with her three golden retrievers: Bella, Jessie and Gia who are back home. 

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Rukiya Mohamed

 Researcher 

Rukiya (Ru-key-yah) Mohamed (She/ Her) is a Somali-Canadian trilingual educator, writer, researcher and community member. She currently an Equity, Anti-Oppression and Anti-Racism Coach within the Toronto District School Board. She works closely with educators and system leaders to identify and actively engage in the use of effective practices in equity and human rights education. She also provides leadership in building capacity around racial justice, anti-oppression and anti-Black racism within schools and networks and enjoys develop programming and resources to create responsive and inclusive school environments. Rukiya is completing her MEd in Social Justice Education. Her research interests focus on rethinking the socio-cultural purpose of education, African-centered schooling, and the decolonial solidarities within anti-Blackness and anti-Muslim racism. 

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Uswha Habib

Researcher 

 Uswha Habib (She/ Her) will be receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Equity and Health Studies from the University of Toronto in November 2020. When she is not able to read socialist theory on a beach somewhere or playing in her makeup she occupies herself with community outreach and mutual aid. She is passionate about building spaces where the community thrives. This is why she joined CIARS. She can work with a team that motivates and guides her but also provides her with space and freedom to let her own work shine through. She is thankful to receive so much support and learn from people of various backgrounds. She believes this enhances any community

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Zainab Zafar

 Researcher 

Zainab Zafar (She/ Her) has completed her Master of Education in Social Justice Education, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). She is currently an Ontario certified teacher in adult education at the Toronto District School Board. Zainab is a science teacher; her passion lies in social justice and teaching science with an equity-focused lens. Zainab enjoys her free time with her family, and she is a mother of two girls who keep her very busy. Zainab is passionate about social justice issues related to combating Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Muslim Racism, and any equity-related topic. CIARS’ vision lies directly with Zainab’s passion. Zainab has been a student under CIARS’s Director, Nana George Dei, for two years and has completed her master’s under his supervision. Zainab is interested in furthering the conversation around issues of Social Justice, particularly relating to Anti-Black Racism within the schooling system. Her hope is to centre the voices of Black, Indigenous and Racialized students who have always been disadvantaged in the schooling system. Zainab aims to contribute to CIARS, by bringing a voice of reason and resistance, as a South Asian Muslim woman.

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