As a culture, we are facing a crisis of empathy.

Social technologies are meant to allow us to be more connected, but we are arguably more polarized and disconnected than ever. This lack of emotional connectivity diminishes our capacity to have empathy and understanding for one another. It is our belief that today’s youth are the ones to help us all connect the dots.

The Empathy Squad

is creating meaningful connections and increasing our understanding of one another across our city through public engagement, facilitated conversations, active listening and presentation aimed at capturing and preserving our country's collective community memory for generations to come.

Belonging

We need to talk:

building bridges to fight against the increased discrimination and marginalization that has historically accompanied periods of significant demographic and cultural change is a must.The best way to build these bridges is by connecting through shared experiences from differing perspectives

 

Click the icons below to listen to how Torontonians find belonging

SQUADCASTS

Now more than ever, it is critical to invest in accessible and sustained projects that bring together the diversity of voices that make up our country, foregrounding the local and personal stories that speak to both our uniqueness and our universality. That is something that deserves celebration, and together with the energy and contributions of young Canadians, we will create a physical and virtual space where these voices can live and be heard.

Listen to the short podcasts below created by our Empathy Squad members

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Our Generation by Bella Lyne

Our Generation explores how young climate activists are navigating their relationships to the older people in their lives as they fight for a better future. Young people today are inheriting a world defined by the climate crisis and it’s root causes, colonialism, capitalism and white supremacy. We find our purposes buried in the baggage and gifts left to us by our parents, our grandparents, our mentors and those who have been part of making the world for us. We find our hope, community and spirit in the movements we are building together.

Bampot : The Public Living Room, The Public Art Piece by Alina Kouvchinova

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Within the hustle and bustle of the city, there lies an unorthodox little bungalow in the west end, transformed into a public living room. This is an aural portrait of a local community art-hub called Bampot House of Tea and Boardgames, and the various unconventional characters who have held the space. This ‘portrait' aims to capture it’s eclectic atmosphere and the impact of it’s created culture on the community.

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Reputation by Charlotte DeSousa

People around the world all share the similar goal of finding purpose and meaning in life. The big question we all face is how? My piece explores how peoples' ideas of themselves and others prevent them or push them towards becoming their true self. This podcast includes a number of voices, young and old talking about a variety of experiences all pertaining to the idea of reputation. There are many different ways people come out, and many different things people “come out” about. This broader perspective on coming out brings to light the similarities between people as well their intrinsic fear of becoming their true self. In this podcast I compare the voices of the LGBTQ+ community with stories of people coming out in unconventional, unexpected ways. By the end of this podcast listeners will leave with a deeper understanding of what it means to come out and a greater curiosity for those around them.

My Brain by Anita Persaud

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Is our ability to belong dependent on having a sense of purpose? Can we belong without really knowing what our purpose is in life? Are we always becoming something and if so, what are we becoming? ‘My Brain’ explores these questions through the eyes of young adults as they discover their sense of purpose, where they stand in the world and what they believe they are becoming. This podcast also doubles as an audio representation of the creator’s thoughts, and how they come to be, and even their answers to these questions which are shared by the responses of the others.

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Whose City Is It Anyways? by Melissa Haughton

Toronto is currently ranked as one of the most ‘livable’ cities in the world, and many established and emerging creatives call the city home. But in a place formerly (and sometimes still) known as the “Screwface Capital”, how do artists who exist on the margins create work and build community amidst rising rents and closing venues? Whose City Is It Anyways? explores the challenges, lessons learned and beauty of pursuing artistic passions in Toronto. It highlights the strength of communities that fight to exist against the constant pressures of a rapidly changing city.

The REgulars by Alex Chouinard

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"The Regulars" is a portrait of The Mezz - a bar, long-time institution and close-knit community in Parkdale, as told through it's most devout members. As the neighbourhood experiences gentrification, The Mezz persists, trudging on against the odds and through multiple incarnations. With rent increases and the dwindle of public space, places to gather, celebrate, sing, mourn, shoot the shit and be seen are threatened. "The Regulars" explores the role of community, what it means and what it looks like to show up everyday.

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In the Making - Lifelong Learning by Karen Young

What is the cliché of lifelong learning all about? This eclectic podcast uncovers the continuously shifting gap between what we know and what we don’t know by taking stock of the ordinary everyday. How do we creatively discover parts of ourselves that were already there? How can we collectively achieve common goals? What role does curiosity and humility play in situating our capacity to learn together?

The (Kid) Immigrant Experience by Zawadi Bunzigiye

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This piece covers the personal experiences and feelings of first and second generation immigrants. I wanted to particularly explore the viewpoint of those who have had their formative years in Canada. In that way, I could see how generational differences played out between them and other members of their family who immigrated with them. A perspective that is seldom represented. I saw myself in people who have gone through the same thing of coming from more than one place. Do they feel like they belong? How do they negotiate with their dual identity, their attitudes towards marginalization and community? Are there any stories about their culture and the languages that they speak? Was it their friends at school, or volunteering in their community, or family ties that made them feel at home? And so the making of The (Kid) Immigrant Experience was the answer to all of these questions. I hope that you enjoy this piece as much as I enjoyed making it. It holds a special place in my heart.

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6 Torontonians, Crafting Community by Madeline Smith

Community. Is it a place? Or a group of people? A feeling? Hear from 6 Torontonians who access community through an artistic hobby. Whether it’s acting, writing, music, movement, or visual art, there’s something about coming together to be creative that allows community to flourish. Listen-in to learn about these hobbyist groups, the people who make them happen, and their reasons for using creativity to tap-in to community.

Started from the Shop by Laura Stradiotto

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♪Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you Came♪

 

Weather it’s a bar or a barbershop, maintaining places where people feel connected is more important than ever before. “Started from the Shop” explores the communities within barbershops and salons, and the stories they create. A surprise performance? Jello in hair? Shared experiences like these, no matter how trivial they may seem, are the foundations for a happier and more empathetic city.

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Mental Health Awareness by Ralph Tungol

This piece was initially meant to allow for those I interviewed to have a space to tell their story of having gone through mental health struggles, including working through a mental illness. I found that the process of trying to make sense of your personal story becomes a cathartic experience for both interviewer and interviewee. What do I want to make people aware about that isn’t already known by the efforts of organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association? Our Points of Empathy team set out to bring empathy into the city we live in, so I wanted that to remain essential to my work. So, I set out to give listeners an idea as to what living with a disorder is like, and the overall context of mental health when it comes to concepts like staying well and recovery. Empathy humanizes us and it is through these stories that we understand a little more the nuances of individual experience. In this way, we may be of better service to our loved ones and others and also give better care to ourselves.

SlipStitch by Lily Scriven

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A slip stitch is a hand sewing stitch that brings together two pieces of cloth without being seen. This piece is a rumination on cloth and textiles — where they come from, how they connect us and the different ways clothing can impact our lives and the lives of others in ways we don’t always think about.

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Missinihe by Johannes Chan

Take a journey up the Credit River, and encounter how people take in the beauty of Mississauga’s majestic waterway today. Enjoy a stop at the quaint neighbourhood of Meadowvale Village and learn about its history as a 19th-century mill town amid the charm of Terry Wilson’s Miniature Village—a little known gem in the area. Take a glimpse into the historic importance of the Credit River for the Anishinaabe peoples in the area and how their livelihoods and identity were tied up with this precious ribbon of water. Contemplate how the colonial projects on Turtle Island, and along this very river, were entangled in other colonial interventions abroad that affected the ancestors of second generation immigrants living in Mississauga in 2019. Discover how water is embedded into this city’s name, and what water might mean for people living on this land today.

Yidd-ish? by Michael Berger

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Can a culture exist without the language that is central to it? “Yidd-ish?” explores thoughts and feelings within the Ashkenzi Jewish Toronto diaspora surrounding the demise of Yiddish. In the past, Yiddish provided a much-needed cultural touchstone and alternative lens for an isolated culture within a Christian society. Now, for the majority of the diaspora, it’s just a language your grandparents spoke. In an increasingly global and integrated world, dominated by a few major languages, some young Ashkenazim are taking on the difficult task of learning Yiddish in order to connect to their roots.

STORIES

Toronto is a city that prides itself on its diversity.

According to the recently released Toronto Vital Signs report “over half of Torontonians (51.5 percent) identified as belonging to a visible minority group, the first time this figure has ever surpassed 50 per cent” (Toronto Foundation, 2017/18). This is an exciting time, but also one that demands innovative approaches to strengthen conversation and connection between disparate voices across the city.

 

Click the photos below to hear short stories/anecdotes from a wide range of Torontonians

Keep coming back as we continue to add to our wall of empathy!

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    Interview by Zawadi Bunzigiye


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    Interview by Tijana Spasic


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    Interview by Johannnes Chan


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    Interview by Michael Berger


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    Interview by Madeline Smith


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    Interview by Ralph Tungol


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    Interview by Laura Stradiotto


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    Interview by Lily Scriven


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    Interview by Karen Young


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  • SEE MORE

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      Interview by Johannes Chan


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      Interview by Laura Stradiotto


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      Interview by Ralph Tungol


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    •  

      Interview by Madeline Smith


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      Interview by Michael Berger


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      Interview by Johannes Chan


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    •  

      Interview by Madeline Smith


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      Interview by Madeline Smith


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      Interview by Zawadi Bunzigiye


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      Interview by Madeline Smith


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    •  

      Interview by Michael Berger


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    •  

      Interview by Johannes Chan


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    •  

      Interview by Ralph Tungol


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    •  

      Interview by Laura Stradiotto


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    •  

      Interview by Michael Berger


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    •  

      Interview by Johannes Chan


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    •  

      Interview by Karen Young


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    •  

      Interview by Johannes Chan


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    •  

      Interview by Zawadi Bunzigiye


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    •  

      Interview by Karen Young


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    •  

      Interview by Madeline Smith


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    •  

      Interview by Zawadi Bunzigiye


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      Interview by Zawadi Bunzigiye


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GET INVOLVED
Contact Us!

Have a story to tell? Or do you want to bring the Empathy Squad to YOUR community? Send us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can!

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BELONGING Short audio documentaries exploring how Torontonians find belonging SQUADCASTS Single topic podcasts created entirely by our Empathy Squad members STORIES 1-2 minute audio stories featuring the hundreds of people we've interviewed GET INVOLVED Find out how you can help increase empathy in the City of Toronto site français
Belonging
SQUADCASTS
Our Generation by Bella Lyne
Bampot : The Public Living Room, The Public Art Piece by Alina Kouvchinova
Reputation by Charlotte DeSousa
My Brain by Anita Persaud
Whose City Is It Anyways? by Melissa Haughton
The REgulars by Alex Chouinard
In the Making - Lifelong Learning by Karen Young
The (Kid) Immigrant Experience by Zawadi Bunzigiye
6 Torontonians, Crafting Community by Madeline Smith
Started from the Shop by Laura Stradiotto
Mental Health Awareness by Ralph Tungol
SlipStitch by Lily Scriven
Missinihe by Johannes Chan
Yidd-ish? by Michael Berger
STORIES
GET INVOLVED
Contact Us!
Belonging
SQUADCASTS
Our Generation by Bella Lyne
Bampot : The Public Living Room, The Public Art Piece by Alina Kouvchinova
Reputation by Charlotte DeSousa
My Brain by Anita Persaud
Whose City Is It Anyways? by Melissa Haughton
The REgulars by Alex Chouinard
In the Making - Lifelong Learning by Karen Young
The (Kid) Immigrant Experience by Zawadi Bunzigiye
6 Torontonians, Crafting Community by Madeline Smith
Started from the Shop by Laura Stradiotto
Mental Health Awareness by Ralph Tungol
SlipStitch by Lily Scriven
Missinihe by Johannes Chan
Yidd-ish? by Michael Berger
STORIES
GET INVOLVED
Contact Us!
Belonging
SQUADCASTS
Our Generation by Bella Lyne
Bampot : The Public Living Room, The Public Art Piece by Alina Kouvchinova
Reputation by Charlotte DeSousa
My Brain by Anita Persaud
Whose City Is It Anyways? by Melissa Haughton
The REgulars by Alex Chouinard
In the Making - Lifelong Learning by Karen Young
The (Kid) Immigrant Experience by Zawadi Bunzigiye
6 Torontonians, Crafting Community by Madeline Smith
Started from the Shop by Laura Stradiotto
Mental Health Awareness by Ralph Tungol
SlipStitch by Lily Scriven
Missinihe by Johannes Chan
Yidd-ish? by Michael Berger
STORIES
GET INVOLVED
Contact Us!
Belonging
SQUADCASTS
Our Generation by Bella Lyne
Bampot : The Public Living Room, The Public Art Piece by Alina Kouvchinova
Reputation by Charlotte DeSousa
My Brain by Anita Persaud
Whose City Is It Anyways? by Melissa Haughton
The REgulars by Alex Chouinard
In the Making - Lifelong Learning by Karen Young
The (Kid) Immigrant Experience by Zawadi Bunzigiye
6 Torontonians, Crafting Community by Madeline Smith
Started from the Shop by Laura Stradiotto
Mental Health Awareness by Ralph Tungol
SlipStitch by Lily Scriven
Missinihe by Johannes Chan
Yidd-ish? by Michael Berger