As the previously announced 2021-22 Pathy Foundation Fellows prepare to begin their yearlong fellowship journey, they are sharing more about their community initiatives and partnerships. Each fellow will participate in three participatory planning stages where they will learn new tools and skills, and develop further their strategies and goals with the support of Coady Institute staff and peer fellows.

Learn more about each fellow and their planned initiative in their own words below.


2021-22 Pathy Fellowship Community Initiatives

Nivatha Balendra | McGill University
Community: Montreal, QC
Initiative: Nature-based Solutions for a Sustainable Future

Chemicals are integrated in our everyday lives. The petrochemical industry is the largest industry-based energy consumer and produces 7% of Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions. As society is becoming increasingly aware and interested in natural alternatives, the petrochemical industry is starting to divert from a non-renewable petroleum-based economy to a renewable, natural economy. It is with this in mind that I founded Dispersa, a CleanTech startup, in 2019. Our mission is to contribute to a sustainable future by decarbonizing the chemical industry. The proposed Fellowship initiative will involve the CleanTech community by harnessing Dispersa’s nature-based technology to create climate, social, and community impact. Through producing natural alternatives to synthetic chemicals, my wish is to contribute to reducing GHG emissions and reinvesting generated revenues into community projects, such as youth science programs – environmental initiatives – and advancing CleanTech research.

Raj Birgi | McGill University
Community: Mairye Village (Gayaza District), Uganda
Initiative:  Growing Smallholder Farmers through Sustainable Farming

My initiative is to work with a community of smallholder farmers to overcome key challenges faced across the value chain, including agricultural practices and agricultural education, access to inputs and markets, and sustainable farming techniques. These challenges will be overcome through community-based learning, knowledge sharing and community access to inputs. My Community will be a network of smallholder farmers located in Kampala, Uganda.

Emily Booker | McGill University
Community: North Vancouver, BC
Initiative: Girl Group to Empower Youth

My proposed initiative is an online Girl Group connecting self-identified femme/female youth 14 to 18, including but not limited to trans, non-binary, gender fluid, 2spirit and any other female/femme-identified youth in the community of North Vancouver. I will facilitate the online Girl Group, starting with identifying specific topics or issues the group members are passionate about. We will engage in arts-based activities to address gender-inequality and the chosen topics. Additionally, the Girl Group will feature workshops and presentations from female/femme-identified leaders or champions of gender justice in the community. My proposed initiative will create a safe space that empowers youth in their gender identity and counters sexism in the community. The proposed arts-based method will allow creative expression and reflection for addressing challenging topics to speak openly about. Meeting online will allow the group to connect safely and follow Covid-19 related restrictions.

Michaela Drouillard | McGill University
Community: Montreal, QC
Initiative: Digital Literacy for Formerly Incarcerated People

I organize and facilitate a digital literacy workshop for formerly incarcerated people in partnership with Communitas Montreal, a St-Henri based organization structured around restorative justice that has been offering social reintegration spaces for formerly incarcerated people since the 1990s. This digital literacy workshop provides participants with the basic skills required for navigating the labor market, along with discussion-based sessions where we discuss how the internet influences our civic and social lives.  I’m hoping to continue this workshop (currently held over Zoom), and, with the help of the Pathy Foundation, to set up a mobile public computer lab to make this program more accessible in the Zoom era.

Daniela Gallardo | University of Ottawa
Community: Moncton, NB
Initiative: Learning & Technology Mentoring for Moncton’s Newcomers

This initiative will house workshops and one-on-one training for MAGMA members to guide them in establishing a solid foundation of technology literacy and positive learning skills. Several ideas envisioned for these workshops include creating a mentoring curriculum, providing a general outline of themes and tasks that will be covered in weekly group sessions. This would consist of hosting sessions on microsoft office, Internet browsers, exploring built-in grammar correctors, translation software, social media introduction, and schedule-planning, to name a few. One-on-one training would also be available to individuals who need help in specific areas and tasks. To address the mentoring centre’s goal of inclusivity and accessibility, program frameworks for MAGMA newcomers of all ages would be designed. This could involve creating a day program for adults to attend workshops or personal mentoring appointments, and an after school program for newcomer children. While both of these programs intend to be similar in content and general structure, they would ultimately become tailored towards the adult’s and children’s needs as the initiative progresses.

Joel Grant | McGill University
Community: Montreal Area, QC
Initiative: Indigenous Science Activities on Film

This project will focus on working with Indigenous community members within the Montreal area to tell stories on film. I will be collaborating with the Indigenous Health Professions Program (IHPP) at McGill University to share traditional storytelling, science activities, as well as producing mini documentaries. My vision is to allow for a platform of collaboration, creativity and sharing for the Indigenous community, and for those who are inspired to learn. I will be working with Indigenous leaders, academics, and professionals. As a Métis, it is my hope to have a positive impact on Indigenous youth through the medium of film.

Sophia Gregory | McGill University
Community: Bullock Lake Farm, Salt Spring Island, BC
Initiative: Cultivating Resilience: A Farm-to-School Program

This initiative aims to establish partnerships and enable collaboration between local schools, school garden programs, farms and community groups on Salt Spring Island, offering students opportunities to connect more closely to the land, their local community and the environment. The program will offer curated in-class curriculum, regular field trips, and summer programming to provide continuity of learning and alternative educational opportunities for Salt Spring Island youth. We aim to teach students through experiential learning and discussion, covering topics from plant biology, agroecosystem interactions, land stewardship and sustainable food system solutions. The purpose of this initiative is to provide the students of Salt Spring Island with ecological knowledge, practical skills, connection to their local food system and resilience in the face of an uncertain future.

Ben Heywood-MacLeod | McGill University
Community: Williamsford, ON
Initiative: Race Reconciliation through Community Bridging

The Negro Creek road sign, in Grey County Ontario, is the last marker of a once vibrant Black settlement. Its history has been forcibly erased over decades by the White settler community. As instances of racial violence are increasing, race reconciliation is urgently needed. My initiative will develop a reconciliatory framework for collective, community-wide antiracist projects. The first stage will include providing a safe platform for knowledge keepers (descendants of the settlement, and Black educators) to reaffirm their presence, share their knowledge, and build connections with local White allies. It will also include the digitizing of historical material (including oral histories) for preservation and distribution. The second stage will be the reclaiming and reasserting of a Black history site through collective, community-wide involvement. The organizing will be done through a series of open forums led by local Black historians.

Courtney Murdoch | McGill University
Community: Lachute, QC
Initiative: Girl Talk: Building Our Future

Girl Talk is about empowering girls to become confident and successful women by allowing them to develop the tools that will help them thrive regardless of life circumstances and an educational system that favours the success of their male peers. While there are resources available in urban areas that can help offset societal anti-female biases, they are costly. Girls from rural towns or disadvantaged regions are often underserved in this way. Additionally, girls from these communities tend to have many responsibilities in the home that may further hinder their capacity for educational and professional success.  Through the development of critical life skills, mentorship programs, academic success initiatives, various workshops, and more, girls will develop the tools they need to make their place in a world that all too often pushes them down.

Dominique Robichaud | McGill University
Community: Wabanaki Nation, QC
Initiative: Waban-Aki Nation and Community Archives

Along with the Waban-Aki Nation, I would work towards creating a community archives centre. This centre would help the Abenaki become independent from other external institutions and help further develop a sense of autonomy by preserving their collective memories on their own terms. This archival collection will be accessible at the Abenaki Museum, the first First-Nation Museum in Quebec. This initiative will also help students from the Kiuna College (the only First Nations College in Quebec) located near the museum, to access material produced by their ancestors.

Prishni Seyone | Queen’s University
Community: Toronto, ON
Initiative: Coming Together to Target Family Violence

Starts With Youth is an initiative that aims to target the issue of childhood abuse and intergenerational trauma through community-building and educational resources. Studies indicate that 1 in 3 of those who are abused in childhood go on to become abusers themselves. Although this statistic is deeply saddening, I believe it also shows a solution. Our mission at Starts With Youth is to create a generation of current and future caregivers that are aware of the effects of their own trauma, are able to reach out for help, and are overall, better equipped to be their best self for their kids. With the Pathy Fellowship, I hope to further our current social media traction in order to effectively disseminate information related to recognizing, understanding, and recovering from abuse and trauma. I envision Starts With Youth as a wraparound, pre and post-intervention service, and also intend to develop a comprehensive, culturally-informed Resource Bank and to implement a set of educational workshops related to the topic of intergenerational trauma in family environments. For more information, please visit our Instagram, @startswyouth, and/or our website,

Nayaelah Siddiqui | University of Ottawa
Community: Ottawa, ON
Initiative: Holistic & Culturally Inclusive Leadership Training Program

My initiative focuses on researching, developing, and piloting a model and framework for a holistic sustainable leadership and mentorship program for young racialized women (YRW) between the ages of 15-25 in Ottawa. I would like to combine the lived experience insights of women of colour with professional leadership development support to create culturally appropriate leadership training, mentorship, and networking for young racialized women (YRW) in Ottawa.

Lauren Sobot | StFX University
Community: Atlantic Canada
Initiative: Mentorship for LGBTQ youth in Atlantic Canada.

My initiative aims to establish a mentorship program between LGBTQ adults and LGBTQ youth in Atlantic Canada, with the goal of building confidence and fostering resiliency within young LGBTQ people. LGBTQ youth are often subject to unique struggles such as concealing and disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity, anti-LGBTQ bullying, family rejection, and physical or verbal abuse. Unfortunately, many of these youth lack a trusted adult with the lived experience of being LGBTQ in whom they can confide. I hope to address the needs of this vulnerable population by pairing one adult volunteer with a young person between 15 and 23 years of age. Mentorship will take the form of weekly Zoom calls, messaging sessions, and/or in-person public meet-ups. Initiative-wide scheduled programming, including online panels, workshops, and hang-outs with all mentors and mentees will also be facilitated to create an intergenerational LGBTQ community in Atlantic Canada.

To learn more about the fellowship and the work of Pathy Fellows past and present visit or follow Pathy Foundation Fellowship on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.