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Unique program lets BIPOC youth give Toronto advice for recovery from COVID-19 and systemic racism

It's My Future (IMFTO)
Branding created by Wolff Olins.

Dr. Dori Tunstall, dean of OCAD University’s Faculty of Design, is encouraging Black, Indigenous and POC youth living in the Greater Toronto Area to get involved in a unique program where they can share their experiences and give the city some advice on how to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking for fresh ideas from BIPOC youth, aged eight to 12 years old. This is a great opportunity for them to contribute their voices and insights to the City of Toronto’s Economic and Culture Recovery Advisory Group,” explains Dr. Tunstall, who was appointed to the advisory committee in July, which reports to Toronto Mayor John Tory’s Economic and Support Recovery Task Force.

“In joining this advisory committee, I wanted to show how OCAD University’s design thinking and strategic approaches can bring the voices of the vulnerable to the development of policy recommendations, especially as we face the impacts of COVID-19,” she says, drawing on her experience with her Blackreach program. 

It’s My Future Toronto (IMFTO) is bringing education, industry, government and BIPOC community partners together to provide opportunities for BIPOC youth, aged eight to 12 years, to design Toronto’s recovery from COVID-19 and address systemic racism for the next three to five years.

“The City of Toronto is excited about how the It’s My Future Toronto project could serve as a model for how we might engage marginalized youth in not just telling us about their problems related to COVID-19 and racism, but coming up with fresh design solutions to the future of their city,” says Michael Thompson, Chair, Economic and Community Development Committee and Councillor, Ward 21 (Scarborough Centre).

Through this unique program, up to 100 BIPOC youth will participate in a four-step creative process – report, imagine, make and connect – focused on three main influencers in today’s society: advertising, media and policy.

From mid-September to mid-November, they will be guided through “how-to” videos on the website, which launches on September 17, 2020, and online workshops by professional journalists, designers, advertisers, community activists, movie directors, and policy experts. 

They will learn how to share their ideas with the government through policy, city decision-makers through journalism, and everybody in the city through advertising. Plus, they will gain practical skills in journalism with the opportunity to have their own stories published in the Globe and Mail, as part of the city’s policy recommendations regarding COVID-19 recovery, or launched in an advertising campaign.

IMFTO partners include OCAD University’s Faculty of Design and the Strategic Foresight and Innovation Program; The Globe and Mail; Microsoft (Minecraft); Juliet Advertising Agency; Sid Lee Advertising Agency, responsible for the Raptor’s We The North campaign; Wolff Olins, which designed the project’s branding; Julien Lutz, aka Director X and OCAD U honorary doctorate recipient; and the City of Toronto’s Economic and Cultural Recovery Advisory Group.

“I am humbled that so many partners from OCAD U, industry, government, and the BIPOC community have joined together in order to provide BIPOC youth with the tools to Report, Imagine, Make, and Connect their ideas to the government through policy, decision-makers through media, and the people through advertising. These youth will be the future leaders of the city,” says Dr. Tunstall.