For Cali, leadership is showing up; mind, body and spirit.
“For a while, I was unable to attend school because I could not afford a transit pass, so travelling to school was impossible. I was homeless for a duration of time, which also affected my ability to get food and nourishment, so that made it very hard on my mental health” she recounts.
Showing incredible strength and determination, Cali refused to be stopped, taking each day as a challenge in and of itself – to be present, to be counted and to make her voice count. Cali realizes that each and every day matters: “I wake up in the morning instead of going back to bed, even if I want to hit snooze. Showing up and having good attendance is important in me finishing high school. I work hard at completing projects and homework. My first and biggest goal is to finish high school. I want to work towards going to law school and utilize my skills in debate to fight for others. In order to achieve that large goal, staying in school and trying my best is a way for me to get on track to get into post secondary school.”
As a DAREarts student, Cali’s challenge to herself was to trust her voice and let others into her space.
“DAREarts has allowed me to come out of my shell. I am now starting to speak to people more, especially new people that I don’t know well yet. With this new skill developing, I don’t feel as isolated anymore.”
Cali is committed to using her voice to amplify the voices of others. Last June she presented a piece of writing around reconciliation and missing and murdered Indigenous people to over 1,800 individuals at a Vancouver School Board event. She attributes her continued community work to her time developing leadership skills in DAREarts.
Instead of letting the challenges she’s faced harden her, she instead sees the incredible power of warmth, positivity and enthusiasm as her leadership superpowers. “I am very friendly and strive to make others feel comfortable and welcome. I know there is power in a single smile, and that by making others feel good about themselves and cheering them on, they may be likely to take positive risks and chances”.
In honour of Cali’s phenomenal resilience, sense of purpose and unwavering commitment to make her community a better place, one person at a time, we are thrilled to name her our Vancouver 2020 Young Changemaker.
This award is proudly presented by RBC, who had this message of congratulations to share with Cali: