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How to Build an Equity Team 101 Toolkit

Since May 2021, Amber Siddiqui has led an equity-focused volunteer team with the Halton Youth Initiative. She is a passionate young activist from Milton District High School who completed her Specialist High Skills Major for social justice with Our Kids Network this summer with Project Coordinator Lily Viggiano. During the first few months of this team, volunteers committed themselves to embark on a journey to better understand the meaning of equity and how various intersections of identities experience life in our society. 

This led to a large team effort to create an equity team 101 toolkit - a collection of equity resources and a “how-to-guide” for grade 7-12 students across Halton who would like to start equity teams at their own schools.  The purpose of this toolkit is to provide HDSB and HCDSB students (along with community partners) with the opportunity to become leaders and activists within their school communities and make Halton a better place. 

The toolkit overview: how to establish a team at your school, idea sheets for creating sub-committees, campaign ideas for significant times in the calendar year (such as Black History Month), discussions on how to dismantle white supremacy culture in schools, and guidelines for how to respectfully connect with various communities in Halton. There is an accompanying slideshow to help teams walk through the kit. 

We learned so much from a diverse variety of creators and activists and we thank them for sharing their knowledge and wisdom. We are excited to share this toolkit in the future - to facilitate more learning and collaboration for others to join in on equity efforts in Halton! 

Here is what some of our teammates had to say:

Volunteering in the Halton Youth Initiative is an absolutely fantastic experience!! :D I really loved participating in such a cool community project! I especially enjoyed how I learnt so much about equality, used my skills, and gave back to my community in such an amazing way! - Kevin Zhao

Being a part of the Halton Youth Initiative has been an amazing opportunity. Our ideas are heard and welcomed which isn’t something you often see with groups like this. I have loved my project and working on a toolkit that is very much necessary. I hope the students who see it really take the time to understand the important info being shared with them so they can create their own equity team that makes changes within their own school community. I thank everyone involved with this project for their helpfulness and this opportunity! -Naomi Ogunjobi 

Being a member of the Halton Youth Initiative will be an unforgettable experience. This team helped me discover my love for volunteering. I’m grateful for being able to contribute to this toolkit. I loved learning more about equity work and applying knowledge from previous opportunities. The team atmosphere has always been very accepting and safe. I hope this toolkit helps all students across Halton who wish to start equity work in their communities. I would give a big thanks to all the equity team members that participated in this toolkit! - Sehar Saqib

Volunteering here at the Halton Youth Initiative has been nothing short of a privilege. Being able to work hand in hand with some of the most passionate and equitable people I have come to know led to one of the most interactive and inclusive teams I have ever been a part of. Being able to combine our talents and efforts to work on this toolkit not only opened up my eyes to certain issues and statistics I was previously unaware of, but it also made me a lot more appreciative of the community we, as members of Halton, are working towards. - Hajra Saqib

Volunteering with the Halton youth initiative has been such a thrilling experience. Working with different kinds of people from all over Halton has helped me develop new friendships, better understandings and overall it has been an interactive and new experience. I was able to learn and expand my knowledge on so many different topics that made me realize more about what really goes on in the world. I was faced with all kinds of responsibilities that helped me develop skills I didn’t even realize I had. Overall, I am just grateful for being able to be a part of this journey and to have the privilege to learn so much and meet so many new and amazing people. - Habiba M.

The Halton Youth Initiative took on so many incredible projects during the time I volunteered with them. Not only do their projects work towards bettering our communities but they also gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people and further explore my passion for social justice. I was able to educate myself on important topics and utilize my skills to make a positive difference in my community. The friendships formed here will definitely be long-lasting. - Trisha P. 

I had an amazing experience volunteering with the Halton Youth Initiative this summer! I was given the opportunity to connect with passionate and like-minded youth across Halton, and learned so much in the process. My personal favourite project to work on was the Equity Toolkit, and through my research, I was able to learn more about both my own community and improve my knowledge as an activist. By executing various events and having meaningful discussions about social equity and justice, my entire experience with the HYI was extremely impactful. - Leesha Pilla

Having the amazing opportunity to be a part of the amazing Halton Youth Initiative has been one of the best life experiences I have ever had. I was able to meet amazing like-minded passionate social change makers like myself and we learned so much about different communities around the world and how we can help support and properly represent them. I was able to use my passions for social justice and apply it to the few of the Halton Youth Initiative projects I was able to be a part of. I am so grateful for the Halton Youth Initiative and all of the people so involved with it to make it happen. It was truly a safe, educational, youth activist outlet that can not be compared to anything else. It is truly an amazing one-of-a-kind experience. - Arianna Chua  

Two pictures from our in-person editing and reviewing events at the Town of Milton Sherwood Community Centre. We thank Christina Romasz for coordinating the space for us! 

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