BAM Collective, Gendai's new youth-led wing
Founded in 2018, BAM Collective is Ontario’s first youth-led collective that empowers equity-seeking young people through policy, art, innovation, and community engagement. We are a group of young, racialized community organizers and artists based in Toronto, improving the lives of youth through workshops, local activism, and BAM (Books, Art, Music).
Operating from a non-partisan and anti-oppression framework, BAM Collective creates impact in several ways, such as:
- Engaging youth in decision-making through roundtables and creative activities.
- Hosting community art events and workshops
- Raising awareness of crucial issues through online campaigns and conferences
- Uniting local changemakers to effect positive change
- Connecting youth with resources to strengthen communities
- Addressing local and national issues through research
- Mentorship and coaching for marginalized youth
- Developing training workshops to prepare youth for the workplace.
The inspiration for BAM Collective comes from our co-founders’ passion for community-building. Hanen Nanaa and Hani Moulia are both Toronto Metropolitan University students and Syrian newcomers, who made Canada their home in 2016. They quickly made connections within Toronto's diverse artistic community, which motivated them to give back and support others.
Having been refugees themselves, Hanen and Hani were also inspired by the people they worked with abroad. They met so many resilient people, who taught them to be strong and compassionate—to rise above adversity and obstacles, waking up every morning to a brand new day full of possibilities.
- After fleeing war, Hani captured stories of refugees in a Lebanese camp through his camera lens—with a unique perspective, as a legally blind photographer. He empowered refugees through his artwork and advocated for them through his passion for community-building.
- For Hanen, working with vulnerable communities in Turkey was a life-changing experience. The small daily interactions with displaced people made a huge change in her life, as she worked enthusiastically to build resilient communities in difficult circumstances.
To honor the multiple sides of people—recognizing their vulnerabilities and strengths, in different situations—Hanen and Hani began to work together to establish a safe, creative space for equity-seeking groups. Through BAM, they have found a way to use art as a bridge to bring people together, celebrate diversity and inclusion, and promote local community-building efforts in Toronto.
Select recent projects:
BAM Virtual Social Justice & Art Café: a creative forum for BIPOC youth to connect online. By bringing awareness to social justice issues while connecting through art, the cafe aims to:
- Build a community where individuals can speak up for the needs of their communities
- Provide equal access to institutional opportunities and resources within the network
- Establish a safe space for people to discuss personal difficulties and heal from past traumas
BAM Virtual Social Justice & Art Cafe hosts monthly sessions for youth to discuss social justice issues while engaging with professional guest speakers. This project is funded by the Ryerson Office of Social Innovation, in collaboration with the Syrian Canadian Foundation.
Rays of Hope—Youth United for Safety: Gun violence has resulted in a sense of fear and trauma in the city of Toronto—with the most affected population being racialized youth in the city. The daily tragedy of gun violence has severely threatened community safety and the future of our youth.
Rays of Hope is a series of art therapy and creative workshops in Scarborough and Regent Park, funded by the City of Toronto. This initiative established a safe space for youth affected by gun violence to heal and grow through interactive sessions, including family harmony and peace-building; awareness of mental health, trauma, and depression; healing and resilience; and self-defense.
Gun violence has created a sense of fear and trauma in the city of Toronto, and the most affected population is the racialized youth of the city. BAM has been acting as a leader in addressing this growing issue. We have been invited to participate in several roundtables with decision-makers and national leaders.
In July, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Masai Ujiri (Vice Chairman and President of the Raptors) invited BAM Collective to participate in a roundtable discussion on gun violence and community safety with neighbourhood organizations from across Toronto. BAM was the only youth-led collective at the roundtable, we urged the Prime Minister to provide more resources and funding to grassroots youth-led organizations like BAM Collective.