Ryerson honouring Jack Layton with new summer program

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By Lara Onyak

Ryerson University announced Tuesday that it will be offering students a new activism opportunity next summer entitled the “Jack Layton Summer School for Youth Activism.”

The announcement was made Sept. 24 at Ryerson’s second annual Jack Layton lecture, titled “Social Democracy: Dead as a Dodo or the Only Option” by Ed Broadbent, a Canadian social democratic politician and former leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP).

Cathy Crowe, a Toronto street nurse and Ryerson graduate, will be a part of spearheading the creation of the program.

“I just hope to really share my passion for social justice with students,” Crowe said Wednesday, confident that Layton would have been honoured and loved the idea of a youth activism program.

Crowe will help the Jack Layton chair, Ryerson professor Myer Siemiatycki, start the summer school during her two-year term at Ryerson as a visiting practitioner.

Layton was a prominent activist for several social justice causes. He went on to write two books titled, “Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis” and “Speaking Out”.

“We’ll put together a program that strengthens their [students’] leadership capacities and abilities,” said Siemiatycki.

Siemiatycki also determined that about two dozen young people will be chosen for the one- to two-week course, but hasn’t confirmed how they will be selected.

NDP MP Olivia Chow said this summer school was a great way to honour her late husband.

“At a time when young people may feel that government is really distant from them, how perfect is it to have a Layton summer school to say the government is you: it belongs to young people,” said Chow.

Chow feels that with Crowe’s experience, the summer school will be successful. “Cathy has years of history in motivating governments and non-profit organizations. She has a lot to teach all of us.”

The summer school highlights Layton’s commitment to young people. “Jack, when he was alive, had a great deal of faith in the enthusiasm and energy of young people,” said Chow.

Layton had a strong connection with the institution. After receiving his political science degree from York, Layton became a professor at Ryerson in 1974 and taught for the next decade at York, Ryerson and the University of Toronto.

*The Eyeopener deeply regrets having published an error in the original version of this article. The changes have been made*

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