on Nov 28th-29th the Youth Project will be hosting our 10th annual GSA Conference, Transformative Futures, virtually on Google Meets and Zoom. Read more about this year's theme below.
JADE BYARD-PEEK (SHE/HER)
Taliaq, lnu’wi’tm! Jade Byard Peek is a 25 year old African Nova Scotian and Lnu curator, educator and community advocate originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the Director of Advocacy and Community Care at Kind Space in Ottawa, and an Associate Consultant with Wisdom2Action. Since studying her BA in Art History at NSCAD University, Jade has presented seminars and addresses at several conferences and universities across Canada; focusing on African Nova Scotian and Indigenous Methodologies, Epistemologies and Intersectional Praxis. Jade’s work has spanned from working with the Canadian Standard Association for the development of a Psychological Health and Safety for Post-Secondary Students Standard; to leading and co-developing a tool-kit for combating anti-Black racism for student unions during her tenure as Deputy Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students. Jade strives to create a gentle, pragmatic, but rigorous point of entry to anti-oppression, intersectional research and paths to solutions through workshops, seminars, hubs or curatorial endeavors such as Black Lit; Trans-Fest, We are the Griots, and BIPOC BUS.
KRIS REPPAS (HE/HIM)
Kris Reppas is a Queer, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), European artist currently residing in K’jipuktuk, the unceded and unsurrendered land of the Mi’kmaq People. His work brings together screenprinting, pornography, and beadwork in order to make conversations around sex, gender, and pornography more accessible. Growing up in a small conservative town, Kris found that these conversations were increasingly hard to participate in. As a result, he creates work that is meant to be tactile. The viewer can interact with the work based on their boundaries and come to terms with these topics in a safe environment that promotes healing, kinship, and grounding.
OLIVER OLDFIELD (HE/THEY)
Oliver Oldfield is a 21-year-old trans person living in Dartmouth, NS. Oliver recently began their first year at NSCAD University, working towards an interdisciplinary arts degree with special interest in fine arts and textiles. Oliver has a deep passion for LGBTQ+ activism and has been involved with the YP for roughly 6 years. In drag, Oliver becomes Kardiá Diamánti, a predominantly femme/genderfun performer with a love for lively stage performance and bold colour palettes.
RACHELE MANETT (SHE/THEY)
Rachele Manett (she/they) is a queer, Jewish, disabled femme, with a passion for sex and pleasure-based sexuality education. Rachele came to Mi’kma’ki (Halifax) in 2011 to study recreation therapy, and stuck around to work on their (recently completed!) Masters degree, exploring disabled sexuality and rehabilitation. Rachele is a community educator at Venus Envy, Halifax’s only education-based sex shop and bookstore, where she runs workshops and webinars on all kinds of sexy topics such as toys, non-monogamy, disabled sexuality, sexting, consent practices, and so much more.
FRANCESCA EKWUYASI (SHE/HER)
Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer and multidisciplinary artist from Lagos, Nigeria. Her work explores themes of faith, family, queerness, consumption, loneliness, and belonging. Her short documentary Black + Belonging screened at the Halifax Black Film Festival, Festival International du Film Black de Montréal, and Toronto Black Film Festival. You may find some of her writing in Winter Tangerine Review, Brittle Paper, Transition Magazine, the Malahat Review, Visual Art News, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, GUTS magazine, and elsehwere. Her story Ọrun is Heaven was longlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize and her debut novel Butter Honey Pig Bread (Arsenal Pulp Press 2020) was longlisted for the Giller Prize.
HANLEY SMITH (THEY/THEM)
Hanley is a community leader and long-term member of our youth project youth board. They started a GSA at their junior high then became a leader in the citadel high GSA. They have been a speaker at many elementary, junior high and high school groups who wished to start a gender and sexuality alliance, helping them through those beginning processes. Hanley has lots of experience building a group from the ground up through small events but has also lead events that had 500+ turnout. They are currently taking psychology and queer studies at MSVU while working for a disability based non for profit through their music.
NAOMI BIRD (THEY/THEM)
Naomi Bird is a Two-Spirited nehiyaw (Cree) person from Treaty Six territory, raised in Saskatoon. They are a Dalhousie student and community organizer, focusing their research on: European heteropatriarchy and its impacts on Indigenous community/ies; settler colonialisms and the process of Indigneous land dispossession, along with anti-racist and trauma informed practices for post-secondary spaces. Naomi is an avid rock climber, semi-decent beadwork artist, and is on a lifelong journey to learn nehiyawewin (the Cree language). Catch them at Seven Bays, representing Indigenous students at Dalhousie senate meetings, or sharing decolonial memes on Instagram.
SKYE CROSS (SHE/HER)
Born and raised in HRM, Skye has been involved with The Youth Project as a youth, volunteer, board member, and staff, since 2012. Outside of The YP she spends most of her time hanging out with her pets (Odin & Spoops), and playing video games.
EL JONES (SHE/HER)
El Jones is a poet, educator, journalist and advocate. She was the fifth Poet Laureate of Halifax, and the 15th Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University. El is a 2016 recipient of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Burnley “Rocky” Jones award. El is a co-founder of the Black Power Hour, a radio show developed collectively with prisoners. Her advocacy and work fights anti-Black racism in Canada, walking in the path of our great-grandmothers who resisted relentlessly. Her book of poetry and essays on state violence, Canada is So Polite will be released in the winter from Gaspereau Press. El teaches in the Social Justice and Community Studies department at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, in Sociology at Mount Saint Vincent University and in the School of Journalism at King’s College.
AMANDA CORMIER (SHE/HER)
Amanda Cormier is a Halifax resident who hails from Moncton. With an English/Drama degree and an interest in writing, acting, cosplay and more, you'd think she'd have a lot more to say in this bio. These days, she mostly just works in the Diversity and Inclusion field by day and plays Dungeons and Dragons by night. Ask her about her tiefling bard sometime. She also cares a lot about intersectional feminism and queer issues, believes that Black and Indigenous lives matter now and forever, and is really just trying to be the kindest version of herself. If this bio somehow piqued your interest, you can follow Amanda here: Twitter: @Inner_Utopia Instagram: @innerutopia TikTok: @innerutopia
CARMEL FARAHBAKHSH (THEY/THEM)
Carmel Farahbakhsh (they/them) is a community worker/ educator, and arts maker. They have collaborated on The Khyber Centre For The Arts board for three years, and are enjoying their new position as co-director of local music festival EVERYSEEKER. They recently transitioned from a five year term coordinating South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre to working as the Executive Director at the Youth Project-- seeing a direct link between this community work and access to creative spaces/ arts community. Carmel also actively collaborates with local initiatives with the aim to create wider 2SQTBIPOC support systems locally.
AALIYAH PARIS (SHE/THEY)
PHOTO AND BIO COMING SOON!
CALEN SACK (THEY/THEM)
Calen Sack is a young Two-Spirit, L’nu & Nehiyaw, Non-Binary babe from Sipekne’katik, Indian Brook who is currently living in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Mi’kma’ki. Calen works at the Khyber Centre for the Arts as the Program Assistant where they work to support community gatherings and young brilliance. They are a malicious punk aunt in denim and a drama queen with a heart of gold.
HAYDEN O'MALLEY (THEY/THEM)
Hayden is a biology student at Saint Mary's University with a long term involvement with the Nova Scotia 2SLGBTQ+ community. They have been a member of the Youth Board since January 2018, and the Co-Chair of the Youth Board since March 2020. Outside of the Youth Project, they have worked with several non-profits in the past, such as Halifax Pride and MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning. Having facilitated at both the 2018 and 2019 GSA Conferences, they are excited to be back again this year to facilitate.
MEG SIVANI (SHE/HER)
An artist and recording engineer of Indo-East African and Irish descent, Sivani has relocated to her hometown of K'jipuktuk (Halifax) from Tiohtià:ke (Montreal) after a 3 year performance-hiatus spent rehabilitating from injury while navigating new realities. The co-cultivation of QTBIPOC care, collaboration, learning together and disability justice are at the forefront of her music practice, approach to youth programming and facilitation. Coming from a DIY punk background, Sivani creates an infectious and joyous celebration of the diaspora by fusing sub-continental sounds, contemporary electronics, and analog instrumentation with incisive songwriting. As a facilitator her lived experience has pushed her into new realms of learning and radical concepts surrounding disability justice for QTBIPOC.
KATE MACDONALD (SHE/HER)
Kate Macdonald was born and raised in Halifax, NS. Kate is proudly African Nova Scotian. She studied Performance Acting at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. At the end of 2016 with the political climate swiftly changing around her (en election of a new president) she knew her reaction had to be radical. Out of this desire to make a change she Founded and Co Created The Magic Project. Which focuses on bringing marginalized brilliance to the forefront of social media using the arts. Kate is also a Community Facilitator and Youth Programmer. She hopes to continue creating workshops, holding space for community discussions and empowering youth through celebration. Recently, Kate, Trayvone Clayton & DeRico Symonds created an African Nova Scotian community based, youth-led initiative called The Game Changers. After a year of working together in advocacy, activism, and community they decided to collaborate officially. Kate is currently the Branch Manager at the North Branch Memorial Library.
MAXIE JANES (THEY/SHE)
Maxie (they/she) is a queer, unapologetic Jewish weirdo. They've lived all over and have found a resting spot in Kjipuktuk/Halifax. They're a senior student in Yorkville's Masters of Arts Counselling Psychology degree, and have recently been certified through Nova Scotia's Peer Support certification program. In her spare time Maxie dabbles in as many skills as possible, and spends a lot of time sending dank memes to friends. She currently works at the Youth Project as a Support Services Educator, and can be reached by email at email@example.com
MATEO FERGUSON (HE/THEY)
Mateo Ferguson is a local artist and activist, born and raised in Halifax, but from Jamaican and Nicaraguan descent. They are currently 23 and finishing up their social services diploma at nscc ivany campus and can’t wait to be done. They love anime, outdoors when given the chance, socializing and their alone time. When not doing a 100 million different things both mentally and physically you can catch him nerding out on his desktop plying digimon