On December 3rd, Waterloo Colligate Institute (WCI) students and alumni, staff member Lynn Schulze, and Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support (MCRS) intern, Kaylee Perez, presented to 15 educators as part of the Board’s Equity Conversations series. The multi-media youth presentation featured drama, documentary, spoken word, slides and song, as students shared their stories about crossing borders both physical and metaphorical. As part of a year-long tour, they’re using student voice to raise the profile of refugees and immigrants, and break down barriers between people.

Made possible by a $25,000 Laidlaw grant, this phase of the project will see the team of newcomers, Canadian-born students and alumni present to community decision-makers around the province until June. The presentation is a collection of the best inclusion projects which WCI’s English as a Second Language (ESL) department and student body have been working on for over seven years.

WCI has enjoyed measurable improvements on school climate and individual confidence and connection as a result of these initiatives. Initially this begun to give newcomer students a voice at WCI and to raise awareness about refugee issues, but has expanded to include training others about empathy and inclusion in general. This WCI project, in partnership with MCRS and Laidlaw, illustrates the power of private and public collaboration to inspire positive change.

Last night’s presenters included WCI students: Damla Yarar, Selin Yarar, Huda Al-Obaidi, Julia Fleming, Sephora Afoyo; WCI alumni: Alejandra Posada, Oriana Aguas; WCI teacher: Lynn Schulze; and MCRS intern: Kaylee Perez; trainees: Katia, Jasmine, and Cyndi.


Proud to Protect Refugee poster.

Proud to Protect Refugees poster.


Crossing Borders 1

Group selfie!