Possian Seeks Seat on Toronto District School Board

Amara Possian is running for a seat on the Toronto District School Board. She is passionate about her candidacy and looks forward to a successful campaign that will lead her to achieve her goal. Keghart.com conducted the below on-line interview with Ms. Possian and it encourages the readers to support her candidacy by casting their precious votes for her.

Keghart.com (K) – Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB)?

Amara Possian (AP) – I’m running for trustee because it’s an opportunity to help strengthen and build the community that I love. I’m passionate about public education and I think I’d bring a lot to the school board — I’m a listener, a consensus-builder, and a fighter.  

Amara Possian is running for a seat on the Toronto District School Board. She is passionate about her candidacy and looks forward to a successful campaign that will lead her to achieve her goal. Keghart.com conducted the below on-line interview with Ms. Possian and it encourages the readers to support her candidacy by casting their precious votes for her.

Keghart.com (K) – Why did you decide to run for a seat on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB)?

Amara Possian (AP) – I’m running for trustee because it’s an opportunity to help strengthen and build the community that I love. I’m passionate about public education and I think I’d bring a lot to the school board — I’m a listener, a consensus-builder, and a fighter.  

K – What's the mandate of the TDSB? How many schools and students are governed by the TDSB? What's the TDSB budget?

AP – The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is the largest and one of the most diverse school boards in Canada. It serves approximately 246,000 students in 583 schools throughout Toronto, and more than 140,000 life-long learners in their Adult and Continuing Education programs.

The TDSB’s annual operating budget is approximately $3.3 billion.

You can find more information about the TDSB here: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/About-Us

K – Why do you believe you are qualified to be an effective trustee?

AP – Effective trustees don’t just provide support to students and parents navigating the education system — they are also advocates who see the big picture, fight for lasting change, and know how to engage communities.

Here’s what I bring to the table:

I know first-hand the power and potential of young people. I believe students and parents should be centered in the decisions that affect their lives.

I went to schools in this area all through my childhood. It’s where I learned to care about the world around me, and where I developed a passion for making things better. As a young leader, I know firsthand the power and potential of youth when they are well supported. I’ve taught teens at wilderness survival camps, and I led youth delegations at the United Nations climate talks while a student at McGill University. I have trained and coached thousands of young people to take action in their communities, and now I’m setting my sights on helping set students up for success in their local schools.

I understand how organizations like the TDSB run — and how they could be even better.

I run a successful consulting business advising organizations on how to effectively govern themselves, organize their teams, and set strategic directions for their work. At the Centre for Story-Based Strategy, a social justice non-profit where I was the Chair of the Board for three years, I helped govern the organization and set a course for success despite a difficult and often changing political environment. I know how to help organizations set ambitious goals and then achieve them.

I know how to work with diverse groups to get things done.

Whether it’s working on reconciliation with Indigenous communities or organizing a national campaign to bring people together across party lines, I know how to bring diverse groups of people together to achieve big things. I believe we have more in common than not and that now more than ever, we need to come together to fight for what matters — our communities, our schools, and our kids.

I’ve been an advocate and community organizer my whole life, and I know how to lead meaningful community engagement.

I’ve run national and international campaigns on affordable housing and climate change, often meeting political leaders at all levels of government to advocate for bold reforms. At Leadnow, I engaged over 400,000 people in setting the vision, direction, and campaign priorities of a national advocacy organization, and then mobilized those people to vote for change in the last federal election.

I know the power of bringing people together to work for something bigger, and I’m passionate about bringing out the best thinking in a community. Most importantly, I don’t think I have all the answers. As trustee, I will listen and learn about what matters to students and parents in this ward, and then fight hard to make it happen.

K – In the recent provincial elections you garnered an impressive 10,000 votes. What are the chances you might expand that  base and get elected to the board?

AP – I can’t predict the future but I know we’re running a solid campaign. I’m canvassing and out at events every day, I’m having lots of meetings and our volunteer base is growing. This is especially impressive given the fact that people usually pay less attention to TDSB races and there’s a ton of chaos and confusion around this election. Face to face conversations are what win elections and I’m working hard to have as many of those as possible.  

K – Can you tell us about the election and voting process?

AP – Everything you need to know is available on the City of Toronto’s MyVote website.

You can vote in your ward on Election Day (October 22) or in advance (October 10-14). If you can’t vote on any of these days, you appoint another eligible elector to vote on your behalf. Voting locations will be available after September 24.

You can vote in Toronto’s municipal election if you are:

  • a Canadian citizen; and
  • at least 18 years old; and
  • a resident in the City of Toronto; or
  • a non-resident of Toronto, but you or your spouse own or rent property in the City; and
  • not prohibited from voting under any law

You can check, add or update your information on the voters’ list on the MyVote website.

K – What will be your priorities and issues of top concern when you become a trustee?

AP – We all deserve to reach our full potential. I’ll work to ensure every student is safe, supported, and set up for success. I’ll advocate for state-of-the-art schools in our growing communities. And I’ll be a committed representative who engages people early and often on the decisions that affect them. 

You can find my full platform here: https://www.voteamara.ca/platform

K – The Genocide of the Armenians is part of the history curriculum in Toronto. Denialists unsuccessfully fought its introduction and since then have tried to remove it from the history curriculum. How do you propose to keep it as part of the curriculum?

AP – It’s so important that the Armenian Genocide remains part of the history curriculum in Toronto. Learning about and understanding history is a crucial part of ensuring we don’t repeat it. At the moment, removing it from the curriculum isn’t on the table. I’ll build support among my fellow trustees to ensure it stays that way.  

K – Armenians overall tend to be socially conservative.  Sex-ed education is on the chopping block. What are your views on the changes that the Ford government has introduced?

AP – We all want our children to be safe. We all want our children to feel included. The provincial government has introduced an interim curriculum for 2018-19 which doesn't include consent or specifics about puberty, and only refers to gender identity and diversity in the glossary. Having been a young woman around people who didn’t understand consent, I know this is going to make our children less safe. It’s will also erase and exclude the lived experiences of many families and young people. 

The province has said it will conduct public consultations on a final version, which should be released for the 2019-2020 school year. They're also consulting on math scores, cellphone use in schools, financial literacy, and preparing students for jobs. As trustee, I'd make it a priority to ensure people are well-informed going into the consultations and to ensure the consultations are accessible.   

K – How can your supporters and the public help your campaign?

APDonate. Your donation helps us print campaign literature, buy lawn signs, and reach as many people as possible with our message. Make a donation here.

Volunteer. We need people out there talking to voters across Don Valley West. We’re canvassing daily and there are many other ways to help. Join us here.

Spread the word. The more people sign up, the more supporters we’ll be able to reach. Share the campaign on facebook or share the campaign on twitter.

K – What's the address of your campaign office?

AP – Don Valley West is a huge ward so instead of having one campaign office, we are hosting canvasses out of volunteers’ houses in different neighbourhoods! If anybody lives in the ward and wants to host canvasses, get in touch at [email protected]

K – How will the redrawn boundaries / “notwithstanding clause” affect DVW?

AP – Since school board wards must align with City Council wards, Don Valley West’s boundaries change under Bill 5. We lose all of Flemingdon Park in the east and gain some turf in the south-west portion of the ward. Here’s an updated map of the ward: https://www.voteamara.ca/our_ward

The size of the ward isn’t affected. Under the 47-ward model, Don Valley West (TDSB Ward 13) was made up of City Council wards 27 and 33. Under the 25-ward model, Don Valley West (TDSB Ward 11) is made up of City Council ward 15.

Ward boundaries aside, I think the recent events affect us all. We all know that it isn’t fair to change the rules in the middle of the game and the Ontario government did just that by meddling in Toronto’s election while it was underway. It is also deeply concerning that the Premier, and all of the PC MPPs, were willing to use the “notwithstanding clause” to ram through legislation that was found to be unconstitutional. We have to be vigilant. Our provincial government has already shown that they’re willing to throw our rights out the window if it doesn’t suit their agenda.

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