Past participants

Peace Innovator mentor giving a presentation outside on a whiteboard to youth

The Peace Innovators Scholarship and Mentoring program hosted its first cohort of youth starting in 2017. Participants gain a greater understanding of peacebuilding and strengthen ties within their communities during the program, however their experiences have the potential to influence their lives and careers going forward. Continue reading to see what Peace Innovators alumni have to say about the program.


2020-2021

Hana Adham

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

I addressed racism in school systems by holding an anti-racism conference for teachers, informing them about things they might be doing and solutions on how to make the school a more inclusive environment for BIPOC communities.

How are you seeing your learning and experiences in the program impact you now?

This program lays down the foundation of your social justice journey and makes you never want to stop! The day after I ran the conference I saw an immediate shift in the content the teachers were covering. I saw teachers asking about proper name pronunciation and trying again and again until they got it right. My history teacher made more effort to use diverse visuals and share different perspectives on topics covered in class.

Jennifer Li

This program has helped me think critically and outside of the box. Now, when I face a problem of any kind, I'm using what I learned and applying that to issues I face in life, no matter how big or small they are.

Maria Khan

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

Through educational social media posts and a stress management workshop, my partner and I addressed the topic of mental wellness and the stigma surrounding this topic. Over the summer of 2021, we expect to launch our podcast where we bring a professional to talk about mental health.

How do your learning and experiences in the program impact you now?

This opportunity has allowed me to connect with so many people within the community who have taught me, guided me, and most of all, come together to create meaningful change. I have grown stronger as a leader and am now equipped with the toolset to create peace in an equitable manner.

Aidan Morton Ninomiya

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

I endeavored to empower high school students to take on the climate crisis through municipal government engagement. My initiative informed students with facts through the project's Instagram account and a short video series.

What is one thing you would say to future participants?

Manage your time and resources well throughout the project! There will certainly be unexpected obstacles and blessings to any project, so make sure you budget for a little troubleshooting -Gantt charts are always helpful. Also, make sure that you reach out to your fellow peace innovators for support, because they are likely experiencing similar circumstances to you.

Heraa Muqri

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

My Peace Innovators initiative, Project: Break the Stigma, was designed to address youth mental health, encourage youth to maintain a good mental state, and break the stigma around the subject. This mission was achieved through workshops, informational social media posts, and our podcast, “Speak Out”.

What is one thing you would say to future participants?

Make sure you maintain accountability with yourself, get support, and rest as needed. You won't be able to address issues in the community if you don't take of yourself!

One of the greatest strengths of the program is its focus on providing participants with a basic model to address community issues through their Peace Innovators initiative and encouraging them to build onto it using their experience.

Saaniya Saraf

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

We each have a carbon footprint meaning that we each have a role to play in reducing our global footprint. To help community members live more sustainably, I ran a fundraiser where $1 was donated to Reep Green Solutions for every Instagram account which shared my Sustainable Living Bingo Card.

What do you believe is the greatest strength of the program?

How much it enforced taking into account the views of all stakeholders! Whether it be stakeholders who face the problem, those who are working towards fighting the problem or even those who deny the problem exist; they each carry valuable insights that can help with building solutions.

Understanding the history behind the issue you are passionate about as well as the attitudes which drive it today is a crucial part of advancing peace.

Hamad Sultan

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

I addressed social-media related mental illness by creating two applications. "SafeSpace" uses a deep learning model that filters out toxic comments and connects people with help in a safe way. The second application was a website that scans sentences for signs of mental illness.

How do your learning and experiences in the program impact you now?

I have become more aware of issues and problems in my community and the world and in what way can I drive peace advancement and create a meaningful and impactful solution.

Marina Wheaton

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

The long-term goal of this project was to break the cycle of generational poverty by encouraging youth to attend post-secondary education through my initiative, PostEducation. This involved providing them with envelopes that include application, academic, financial, and scholarship information

How do your learning and experiences in the program impact you now?

For years, I have been passionate about issues related to poverty, but didn't know how to start my own project. Through this program and it's wonderful resources, I was able to not only start my project, but now have the information I need to continue creating impact.

Being a part of the Peace Innovator's program is one of the best things that will ever happen to you. You will be able to create amazing impact within your community, learn a lot about yourself and meet a lot of phenomenal people along the way.

2019-2020

Logan Gillingham

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

To address discrimination due to the lack of education on disability in our schooling system, I ran a sledge hockey trial event where individuals could learn to play sledge hockey, ask parasport athletes questions, and visit information booths from companies with similar missions.

How have you engaged in innovation, peacemaking and social justice since your time in the program?

I continue to work on the issue I tackled as a Peace Innovator through running my non-profit, competing in accessibility challenges at my university, and working with a team to write a book about a para athlete.

Natasha Schartner

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

The problem my partner and I were tackling was youth involvement in our community. The approach we took included arts and technology as a means of connecting with each other.

What are you up to now?

I am currently studying media design at Algonquin college in Ottawa. I am continuing to promote art in my community by encouraging those who come after me the importance of art and the impact it can have. 

Peace Innovators is about making the world a better place. Every problem made a little better is one step to a better world as a whole.

Justice McKenzie

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

My issue involved the mental health issues experienced by young people, especially as a result of poor social media usage. To deal with this problem, I ran a campaign aimed to teach and promote healthier use of social media within my school.

What do you believe is the greatest strength of the program?

The numerous communities created through Peace Innovators campaigns and events.

The program’s administration, partners, innovators, and members of your community want to see your success as much as you do.

Kathe Warkentin

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

My partner and I promoted youth participation in the community by hosting an art showcase where they could express themselves creatively.

How do your learning and experiences in the program impact you now?

Peace Innovators taught me how to approach conflicts in a peaceful and understanding way. I can also see things from many different perspectives and have been taught the importance of commitment.

Talk over things with the leaders and other people in your life. Multiple perspectives help you to see the problem from all angles and discover new solutions.

Madison Kehl

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

I was addressing food insecurity in my small town. To educate and bring a little fun to families during lockdown, I made free meal kits for food bank families.

What is one thing you would say to future participants?

The program is a lot of work on top of a 12th grade year, but it is doable and very much worth it in the time management and problem solving skills you learn.

2018-2019

Quinn Andres

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

For my initiative, I addressed how the Mennonite church falls short in affirming and supporting the queer community. In response, I partnered with Pastors in Exile to organize a day-long workshop called "Beyond Binaries: Creating an Affirming Church" where Mennonite leaders and community members could come and learn from and be in dialogue with queer people who shared what it means to be an affirming church.

What do you believe is the greatest strength of the program?

The education on design thinking and getting a holistic idea of the problem so that it can be properly addressed without creating further harm, and also the emphasis on mentorship and connecting with the people who are also addressing the problems you are passionate about.

Since participating in the program, I feel more confident in my ability to speak to people in more powerful positions about issues that I care about, as well as to advocate for myself and other voices that are often silenced.

Olivia Miller

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

I furthered my mental wellness initiative, Bridges of Hope Project, by putting up a display at the Wilmot Rec Centre asking what mental health awareness meant. Often sports arenas and community locations have difficulty talking about mental health, so I hoped to gain insight on this discomfort.

How do your learning and experiences in the program impact you now?

The Peace Innovators program allowed me to begin asking difficult questions in a safe, educatonal environment and that has shaped my ability to start such conversations in my present work. I am eternally grateful for the chance to learn specific strategies to guide my advocacy and work to more effective, legitimate societal change.

You don't have to be perfect at what you do to make a big impact!

2017-2018

Hayden Epp

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

We sought to unite youth in our area by creating an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to come together and listen to eachother's stories.

What do you believe is the greatest strength of the program?

Giving students the tools we need to make change surrounding something we are passionate about.

Don't be afraid to think big, but don't be discouraged if things don't work out exactly how you initially planned them.

Lena Schreyer

 

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

I addressed a gap in the mental health care system caused by treatments that were all reactive in nature. Through Beecuz, I took a proactive and positive approach to wellness by delivering mental health education for children and youth.

What are you up to now?

Throughout my university career, I have remained heavily involved in community volunteering, and Beecuz became officially incorporated as a non-profit organization in June 2019! I have received countless awards and recognition for my work with Beecuz, and have completed accelerator and incubator programs. There is a lot of promise for the future of the organization.

As young leaders, it's easy to believe that we need to wait until until our voices will be heard and we will be seen. Peace Innovators empowers students to take action now, and helps students believe that they have the power to initiate change.

Katharine Klassen

What problem did you strive to address through your Peace Innovators initiative?

We focused on helping the Bridge in Leamington, Ontario to get its name out there by hosting an event where people from all different schools came together to share their stories. It shed a lot of light on the homelessness issue in Leamington that not many people know about.

The Bridge today is very successful and has helped numerous people in the Leamington area.

Working with Peace Innovators helped me realize my passion for helping others.


To catch up with the latest cohort of students, visit Current Participants.