The past four days in Toronto have given me some of the most amazing volunteer opportunities, captivating discussions and lifelong memories. The day after arriving, we took a walking tour of downtown. Despite having lived here before, I saw it through a new lens and learnt interesting facts about the city that I was unaware of before. Afterwards, we attended a social justice presentation where we not only learnt about social justice, but also took part in the cooking and really bonded as a group.
Since then, the activities we engaged in and late-night discussions we have had make me think we are not first-years who were mere strangers a few months ago; it feels as if we have known each other for years. We have not only been discovering our strengths together, we have also been discovering what issues fuel our passion. We all want to make a difference, but the realm of social justice is vast. Whether it is playing with children at Safe Haven, putting together ‘Good Food’ boxes at FoodShare or learning about Indigenous culture at the Native Child and Family services centre, this trip helps us all find what inspires us.
Today was one of those remarkable days that, as one of my friends Bella would say, seemed to “light a spark” in us. We volunteered at the Parkdale Community Food Bank and met some of the most kind-hearted individuals. After helping with restocking and unloading the food truck, we had the privilege of personally giving supplies to many of the foodbank users. Seeing first-hand just how happy someone can be about receiving a necessity that we often take for granted was incredibly humbling. Even more amazing was the selflessness of the people I met; before taking the food, one lady asked if there was enough for the others. After the foodbank, we travelled to the Native Child and Family services centre, which is an awe-inspiring building that ties together beautiful architecture with rich Indigenous culture. Not only did we participate in a smudging ceremony and learn about sweat lodge purifications, we also had the honor of learning from Terri, who is an amazing woman with a remarkable story. Despite being adopted by a non-Aboriginal family and not being able to meet her birth parents, Terri learnt about her Indigenous roots herself and became involved in her community to help children who could be in similar situations. She learnt the value of Indigenous culture and now aims to eliminate the stigma and create a more cohesive Canadian society, which is one of the realms of social justice that fuels my passion.
Personally, I think today was my favourite day. But maybe I will say that again tomorrow.