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Home » Racial Affinity Spaces: Coming together for Justice and Healing

Racial Affinity Spaces: Coming together for Justice and Healing

Presenter: Rizwana Kaderdina, Imran Syed, Sandy Yep, Lisa Hart & Isra Rafiq

Workshop Description

In this workshop, participants will hear from members of ABC (Administrators’ Black Caucus of Ontario), ACENet (Asian Canadian Educators Network), and MENO (Muslim Educators Network of Ontario) on how affinity groups help build community for racialized educators.  Participants will explore the ways in which affinity groups offer alternative spaces of healing to counteract the harms of traditional systems of power and privilege.  Groups like ours provide supportive spaces for overcoming racial battle fatigue, building racial literacy, maintaining and sustaining mental health and well-being.  The workshop will examine anti-oppressive methods for organizing for change.  Together, we will share the ways in which as collectives, in community, and through cross-racial solidarity, we  work towards liberation from colonial practices. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in small-group interactive discussions, sharing of lived experiences, and questions and answers with the facilitators.


Rizwana Kaderdina
York Region District School Board; Equity Teacher Facilitator Consultant

Rizwana Kaderdina taught in the elementary panel of the YRDSB for many years before moving into her current role, which focuses on equity and anti-oppression. Rizwana is currently the co-Chair of the Alliance of Educators for Muslim Students (AEMS), and is also a member of MENO (Muslim Educators Network of Ontario), ACENet (Asian Canadian Educators Network), and al-Ansar Foundation, and is a volunteer with Victim Services of York Region, Rizwana believes in service, advocacy, and community.  She strives to work from a justice-oriented stance.  She is intrigued by the possibilities for healing and transformation that come through affinity and solidarity-based work.  You can follow Rizwana on Twitter @RKaderdina.

Imran Syed 
Elementary School Principal in Ajax, ON

Imran Syed is the proud father of twin girls and an engaged educator in equity for well of 20 years. He has worked in education for more than 25 years (both in Canada and the Middle East) and has been an administrator with the Durham District School Board since 2006. He holds a MS Ed, Hons. BA and a variety of professional education credentials.

He is currently working in the role of an Elementary school Principal in Ajax, ON. Key areas of contribution have been, working to build capacity amongst affinity groups, engaging communities and making partnerships that impact student achievement and well-being. MENO is a grassroots organization working to collectively address anti-muslim hate and advocate on a provincial level.

Sandy Yep
VP, Asian Canadian Educators Network

Sandy Yep is 4th Generation Chinese-Quebecois.  As an educator, he has spent a life-time in social justice, equity and human rights. Sandy has worked with local, provincial and federal levels of government and in the Chinese community of Montreal. Prior to joining the Ontario Ministry of Education in 2009, he worked at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Sandy Yep is currently vice-president of the ACENET, looking forward to pursuing his many passions in retirement!

Lisa Hart
Peel District School Board, Principal

Lisa Hart is an anti-racist school leader focused on disrupting the structures within schools that seek to uphold the status quo leading to disproportionate outcomes and experiences for students. She is a principal in the Peel District School Board. She completed her Master of Education in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education focused on Black Student Achievement. Lisa is one of the founding members of the Administrator’s Black Caucus. It is an organization focused on leading transformational change and securing accountability in education policies, systems and affiliates across Ontario in service to Black students, community, staff and administrators. Lisa is committed to working in partnership with community by leading with integrity, humility and transparency.

Isra Rafiq
TDSB Educator

Isra Rafiq completed her Masters in Education at the University of Toronto, specializing in Curriculum, Learning, and Teaching. She worked in various roles within the field of education ranging from a teacher to curriculum developer and editor. Throughout her experiences, she strived to integrate a social justice and equity lens into her work. Isra is thrilled to be part of MENO, and excited to contribute.