Silvia Argentina Arauz & Andrea Vásquez Jiménez
Silvia Argentina Arauz is a Nicaraguan born Latina with African and Indigenous roots. During her years in Toronto, she directly and vicariously experiences the impacts of institutional racism and other forms of oppression. In order to eradicate systemic barriers, she has dedicated much of her youth and adult life to the incubation and amplification of pro-liberation models coming out of grassroots organizing and connecting them with institutional supports. As Director of Education and Programs for a national not-for-profit, she created a Youth Social Infrastructure Administrative and Mentorship Shared Platform model, providing over 100 youth from marginalized communities supports to secure funding for their ideas without compromising ownership of their intellectual property. Silvia-Argentina then worked as Executive Director for an Africentric not-for-profit and presently works as a consultant in the role of Co-Director at LAEN- The Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network. At LAEN, she coordinates large volunteer-led hubs of over 500 supporters and pro-liberation programs such as the Educators Knowledge-Exchange Series committed to sustained culturally responsive and reflective learning and teaching spaces for BIPOC communities. She also works with Ma'at Legal Services as the Director for The PLUG Program, advocating for families of African descent that are facing anti-Black racism within education through punitive disciplinary practices. Silvia Argentina is an Ontario Certified Junior-Intermediate Teacher and has over 10 years of experience in developing, implementing and assessing resources from African / Caribbean /Indigenous/ Latinx diasporic perspectives as per community consultation results. She is also a TDSB Student Equity Program Advisor and is a Co-Founder of Education Not Incarceration.
Andrea Vásquez Jiménez is an Afro-Latina born in what is dominantly known today as Toronto, Canada to Colombian parents. She is the Co-Director of the Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN), where she supports, promotes and advances safer spaces across the City of Toronto that center Black/Afro-Latinxs, Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala and Latinx LGBTQ+ peoples (including their multiple intersectionalities) while being committed to all forms of liberation. As part of LAEN's 3 Year Action plan, Andrea has been one of the Lead Organizers for the removal of the School Resource Officer program at the TDSB. In the capacity as Co-Director, she is currently a Lead Organizer as well for the push of the SRO program removal in Peel Region and beyond, along with facilitating SRO Information Sessions and Community Call-To-Actions locally across the GTA along with capacity building and mentoring youth who co-leads many of these sessions with her. Andrea has also done multiple teach-ins with multiple community organizers and organizations from across the U.S regarding the SRO program campaign by way of video or in the U.S.
She is the Community Co-Chair of the Equity Policy Advisory Committee at the Toronto District School Board, which provides advice to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) on matters concerning equity in education and the implementation of the Equity Policy and is a Co-Founder of Education Not Incarceration. Andrea is an External Consultant and Peer Researcher with Women's Health in Women's Hands (WHIWH) Community Health Centre and is also a Women Win Toronto (WWTO) participant, which is centred on women helping women run for City Council. She recently ran for the first time in electoral politics as the NDP Candidate for York Centre in the 2018 Provincial Elections and was the first Afro-Latina to do so. Andrea is also completing her Masters in the Social Justice Education program at OISE, of the University of Toronto where her community work feeds into and off of her studies and she will be pursuing her Ph.D.