Farah Mawani couldn’t stand idly by. She had to act.
“All of these incidents hit very close to home,” she said.
On Nov. 19, during a public meeting at the Stan Wadlow Park in East York, she spoke in response to the appearance of white supremacy posters on park property.
“I did experience racism growing up in Toronto and I do experience it now,” she said. “But this community shaped me in such significant ways and has been home to me.”
The white supremacist posters included such phrases as, “Hey, white person,” and then urged residents to “join the Alt-Right” movement.
Mawani spoke at the meeting, organized by the neighbourhood group East End Anti-Racism Collective; it has campaigned against racism, violence, transphobia, xenopohobia and other forms of hate acts.
Mawani, who lives in East York, received The City of Toronto’s Access, Equity and Human Rights (AEHR) Award in 2015 and serves as an advisory board member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet.
She said she wants children and adults living in the community to feel a sense of inclusion and safety.
“I hope that together, we can fight racism and exclusion at systemic, community and individual levels by coming together,” she said.
East York resident David Kidd spoke at the meeting about the importance of social integration.
“We are a country and city of immigrants besides First Nations,” he said. “We are proud of East York and its great tradition. … We’re going to continue to stand proud and tall.”
University of Toronto student and youth activist, Ali Chatur told the group that he’s “openly gay, Muslim, a young person and person of colour.” In the wake of recent events in the U.S., he thinks of those who are not as privileged.
“Women and members of the trans community and those with lower income (are enduring) fear,” he said.
Mawani was delighted to see a great deal of youth in attendance.
“To all of you who are here, I hope that you lead us in creating inclusive world that you want to be apart of,” she said. “Thank you all for being here and standing together in solidarity against hate.”