Top left: Isa Nafissi; Bottom right: Rekha Pavanantharajah
Last week we introduced you to four of our Youth Justice Lab mentors (read about them here if you missed that!). Today we are unveiling two more! These mentors play a vital role in the Lab, launching Thursday, July 23. Mentors will guide participants in brainstorming and developing their projects, and will create space to deepen their connections to one another outside of our weekly sessions. We hope lifelong friendships and collaborations will be born from the Lab, and mentorship is a key component of that work.
Today we’re pleased to introduce our final two mentors: Isa Nafissi and Rekha Pavanantharajah. Read on to learn about the expertise and lived experience they bring to the program!
Isa is 21 years old and uses she/her pronouns. Currently, Isa is a social work student at UBC and has lived on the North Shore for most of her life. When Isa was 4 years old, her family immigrated from Iran to Canada and for her whole life she has loved learning more about her persian culture through her parents and other community members. In Isa’s free time, she enjoys hiking and exploring all of the beautiful trails in Vancouver. She loves to travel and learn about all the different cultures that the world has to offer. She also has a passion for music and enjoys going to concerts with her friends and watching live streams of our favourite artists together, since the pandemic began. In school, Isa is passionate about learning about social justice and working with classmates to build a welcoming and inclusive community on the North Shore and beyond. Isa has had the privilege to learn about restorative justice and is excited to learn about how everyone's experiences and stories can be used as a valuable building block for connecting our diverse community.
Rekha Pavanantharajah she/her/hers
Rekha is a second generation settler residing and working on the unceded lands of the Coast Salish people. As a Tamil woman along with her life experiences and education, Rekha has developed a deep passion for justice and equity, which has informed and shaped her values and work both professionally and personally. Rekha has dedicated the past ten years of her career to the creative sector while working with ArtStarts in Schools. At ArtStarts, she has been working towards systems change in education so that access to art-based learning is considered essential and access to art experiences is equitable. ArtStarts in Schools exists to ensure that art is an essential part of learning, and is experienced by all students so that young people are supported and equipped with essential skills like creativity, critical thinking, and empathy to navigate an increasingly complex world. Rekha still recalls the role an art-based education played for her as a young person and is personally committed to ensuring that current and future generations also feel supported to thrive in learning and in life. Rekha's strengths are in strategic partnerships and systems change thinking, and is currently invested in building a network of values aligned peers across sectors to help de-silo efforts and increase our collective capacity to achieve change in the education system.
The Youth Justice Lab is supported by the SFU Community Engagement Initiative, the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and the West Vancouver Community Foundation.