YEA joins DWEJ to present at High School Social Justice Forum in Windsor

February 29, 2012

Siwatu-Salama Ra gives presentation on campaign building
WINDSOR, Canada – EMEAC's Young Educators Alliance (YEA) Team joined with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) to give a series of workshop presentations at the Sixth Annual High School Social Justice Forum held at the University of Windsor on February 21 in Windsor, Canada.

YEA attended the Social Justice Forum at the invitation of DWEJ's Charles Stokes and were accompanied on the trip by EMEAC Associate Director Ahmina Maxey and DWEJ, Chief Executive Officer Guy Williams. YEA Team members making the trip were Siwatu-Salama Ra, Rayven Roberts, Sabrin Salam, Anthony Grimmett, Roger Boyd, Noelle Frye, Paris Smith, Elayne Elliot and Malik Harris.

YEA Team Members during panel discussion
“There was a request for youth to attend and elaborate on environmental justice inside the city of detroit from a young person's point of view,” said Siwatu, who is EMEAC's Stand Up Speak Out (SUSO) Program Youth Leader. “Charles Stokes was already aware of the Feed1 Teach1 event that YEA kicked off in mid-December along with checking out EMEAC's website and was impressed of what YEA is doing and asked that YEA facilitate a workshop and panel at the Forum. This was an opportunity for YEA to go international and we were all very appreciative of the invitation.”

Roger Boyd documents the trip
The Forum was filled with approximately 300 excited Canadian high school students. There were 16 workshops held during the event and every student was assigned to two of the16 workshops. Some of the workshops were on: Criminalization of Migrants vs. the right of freedom of movement, Hip Hop, prison and the many facets of racism in the justice system, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer community and the environmental justice workshop presented by the Detroit delegation
During the EJ101 workshop, Williams introduced the space with EJ 101. He was then followed by Siwatu who facilitated a workshop on "How to create an organizing campaign.

Maxey then introduced the YEA team and conducted the youth panel discussion with questions like; “How has being involved in the EJ movement and apart of YEA changed you or help you grow?”
“It was actually really fun,” said Grimmett who like many of his fellow YEA Team members was making his first trip across the border to Canada. “When we broke into groups, that's when YEA along with Guy Williams of DWEJ did a presentation in the workshops that we were in. He basically introduced us and said, 'I'm here with EMEAC and some partners.

“Siwatu got up and did her workshop on campaign building. That actually went really well. I was kind of nervous at first, but seeing her go in so calm, let me know it was going to be all right. We then introduced ourselves and we did our panel discussion. They asked us questions and we answered them.
They asked us about our growth and about being in YEA.”

After a break for lunch, the Detroit delegation engaged in another round of workshops and presentations with the next set of students. Out of the experience, team members welcomed the opportunity to share their work and network with young people and activists on the Canadian side of the border.

“There was a lady on campus who was involved with their on campus community gardens. She introduced herself to us because I had mentioned doing food justice work and how environmental justice plays into what we do,” said Grimmett who also has a lead role on EMEAC's Youth Food Justice Taskforce. “We talked about some of our achievements like the Cass Park clean up, working with ReMedia, the North End Garden and Feed1 Teach1. We exchanged cards so we could link up later and work together around food justice. It's just networking and maybe we can get together to do some work through social networking.”
“It definitely was a good experience being around another crowd and having to speak in front of them. It was a majority white environment and we were the center of attention. At the end of the day, they were going to come out with some useful and positive information.”

The YEA team also did live tweeting via their Twitter accounts at the event. If you would like to follow the tweets from the forum go to or search for the Twitter hash tags #Sjforum2012 or #detroitfuture.

“Shout outs to YEA and how appreciative Canada was for them participating,” Siwatu said. “YEA now has enhanced identification and can visit again. I'm glad we attended the forum. The most rewarding thing to me was that YEA has made it International and was able to reach out to young people across border.

“It was rewarding to know that we were the first American people to attend their Forum. Acknowledging us in front of the whole conference was uplifting! There were many connections that were made to further the conversation and working together is always rewarding. YEA got another opportunity at enhancing their speaking skills and creating their signature YEA workshops. This was definitely a reward in action and just stay tuned for YEA's next steps.”