Racialized and indigenous students strategize for change

SA international representative pushes for international students seat on CFS executive

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) hosted the Racialized and Indigenous Students’ Experience (RISE) summit, the first of its kind, from March 19 to 21 in Toronto.

According to the CFS website, RISE provided a platform for racialized and indigenous students to confront the racism they face on their campuses, communities and country and build connections and networks from their shared goals of a future free of violence.

The event had participation from indigenous and racialized student activists from across Canada, including George Brown College. The summit provided an opportunity for students to gather, share stories of success and struggle, to nurture each other and heal together.

Student leaders were given the opportunity to organize their specific caucus, a type of meeting, to discuss issues that concern them the most.

Jerry Gou, the international student representative from the Student Association of George Brown College (SA), which funds The Dialog, organized an international students caucus at the conference.

“I was able to unite over 30 student leaders to raise more than 20 issues. It’s the first time we opened the dialogue about international students in Canada on such a broad platform,” said Gou.

An energized Gou said, “in this conference our voice was stronger and (more) united than ever, because we share the same interests and face the same challenges in this country.”

He is planning to take the discussion to next level by moving a motion on behalf of his caucus at the CFS National Annual General Meeting that will take place on June 1. The motion will request that CFS to create an national executive position for international students.

“We deserve a strong and united voice at CFS to speak up for international students issues and prioritize these issues on (the) CFS work agenda,” said Gou.

Coty Zachariah, the SA’s First Nations, Métis & Inuit constituency representative, was at the conference and says his next step is going to Ottawa to meet with Members of Parliament to lobby for the lifting of the two per cent funding cap of the Post-Secondary Student Support Program that he says has resulted in the underfunding of indigenous bands for 20 years.

“I will continue to advocate for the voices of the oppressed and strive to build healthier relationships among Canadians and indigenous peoples of this land,” said Zachariah. “I will continue to create space like at R.I.S.E for meaningful and progressive dialogue between our different nations.”

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Racialized and indigenous students strategize for change