Statement from My-Linh Hang

Inhabit Education PO Box 2129 2434 Paurngaq Crescent Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dear Educators and Partners of WE,

This year, I was immensely grateful and deeply humbled to receive two notable teaching awards: Toronto District School Board’s Teaching Excellence (May 2018) and OTIP’s Ontario Elementary Teacher of the Year (September 2018). I feel that any recognition that is bestowed upon me reflects the people and the opportunities that I am privileged to have connected with and who have inspired me to hope, help and contribute to the well-being of others. WE Charity, and the leaders and facilitators on this remarkable team have been pivotal in fostering “shameless ideals” to make the world a better place. I have always upheld the notion that gratitude, appreciation and celebration go hand in hand in spotlighting the goodness in our world. WE has worked tirelessly over the past twenty-some years to build a vision of championing youth to care and for educators to collaborate with our students to raise the empathy quotient in our society. Please allow me to take a few moments of your time to share what impact the work, the organization and WE’s philosophy have on education. We live in times ruffled with growing challenges, serious problems and uncertainty. Our young people now more than ever need to know of messages of hope and possibilities. WE’s philosophy of “making doing good doable” is profoundly simple and attainable for all. As an educator of eighteen years, I know that young people dream, hope and care for the world around them. From learning from and working with WE over these past twelve years, I know firsthand that you, your staff and your organization are the catalyst, the bridge and the guide that our youth need to see themselves as activators and social change agents of kindness and compassion. I read about the lofty ideals from the first generation of “Free the Children” club members, led by Craig and several of his grade- school classmates. As a young teacher in the TDSB, I applauded how both the Kielburger brothers collaborated to develop the motto of “Me to WE” into a movement of moving beyond self-centred thinking to that of caring for our communities and one another. I was most fortunate to be invited to be a teacher representative on the inaugural TDSB Me to WE planning executive. It was an honour to be able to help develop teaching kits for the elementary panel around the pillars of clean water, education, alternative income, health and global citizenship. In recent years, the WE philosophy has evolved to encompass teaching, celebrating and sharing the noble tenets of WE with families, communities and businesses. I am most impressed that the organization is not struck by stagnation. Amid new obstacles that our youth and world face, WE has always responded with timeliness and effectiveness. It is laudable and responsible that WE has seen a gradual evolution and transformation in your organization’s model for outreach to youth, supports to educators and extension into the wider society. WE’s growth reflects responsive and adaptability to the changing world around us. Thank you for being forward-thinking, even courageous in the multitude of ways your organization “thinks outside the box” to help youth, educators and our communities get on board being intentional and thoughtful in caring for issues of social justice, the environment and the well-being of people. Over the past twelve years of adopting the WE philosophy into my teaching, I have personally witnessed the positive benefits to the students, families and staffs whom I have worked with. As a WE club staff advisor, I marvel at how dedicated the students are in learning of and examining issues such as inequities in access to education, gender disparity, health, environment and Indigenous issues. Every year when school starts and it’s time for students to choose which clubs they wish to partake in, the WE club is always brimming with returning and new members. With the support of relevant WE created educational supplements to curriculum, along with the opportunities for students and teachers to learn from WE facilitators, we in the schools are well equipped with knowledge and opportunities to take part in caring campaigns. From collecting non-perishable foods for the “We Scare Hunger” food bank campaign, to “We are Silent” to bring focus to marginalized groups such as girls with limited access to schooling opportunities in impoverished countries, to “We Walk for Water” to highlight the importance of taking care of our planet’s water supplies, each WE campaign, theme and project raises awareness, builds understanding and heightens conscious and purposeful advocacy to make it better and make it right to help others.

As a teacher at Eastview Public School, with the largest population of Indigenous-identified students in the TDSB, it was a pleasure to have WE launch “We Stand Together” to put concrete meaning of true ‘truth and reconciliation’ at the ground level that was

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