To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Toronto Police Service Employment Unit partnered with I Can Rise Above, a non-profit community organization, to host a one-day conference for young girls from three Toronto-area public schools.
The event was held on March 5 at the Service’s auditorium.
Federal Member of Parliament Rathika Sitsabaiesan led a group of mentors that talked to the female students about the importance of building character and leadership qualities.
In her welcoming remarks, Employment Unit Commander Annmarie Henry, urged the girls to make the most of the conference.
“This is a free space and an opportunity to express ourselves and share with your peers not just your experiences, but what you are looking for as you move forward with your life,” she said. “As teenagers, you are moving on and starting to think about your place in society and where you fit. Today is an opportunity for you to figure that out.
“When you know who you are, it makes you strong. It gives you the opportunity to scale hurdles that life will present you. There will be a lot of hurdles as you move on in life. The important thing though is for you to feel strong about your identity and your culture. That’s incredibly vital and that is what today is also about. If you are feeling a bit lost, I hope you can find yourself today.”
Nearly 70 Grade seven to 12 students from Highcastle Public School, Senator O’Connor College School and A.Y Jackson Secondary School attended the event organized by Sergeant Rod Chung.
“This is another opportunity to showcase our young people and for them to find their inner strength,” he said. “If you can overcome your own inhibitions, you could be a stronger person.”
Other mentors included author and motivational speaker Makini Smith, entrepreneur and photographer Belinda Barrocks and Karen McKenzie.
“These women think outside the box and are leaders in our community for the students to look up to,” added Chung.