Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore, 21, Ottawa
Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore comes to social justice work naturally—her mother ran her own non-profit organization helping people with learning disabilities foster meaningful interactions, her grandmother helped children in her local community, and her aunt held a senior position at a women's shelter.
Tiyahna remembers travelling in her early teens, and seeing a glaring income and opportunity disparity. “[I saw] the gap between the wealthy and those living in tents in parks, or on the streets. There wasn't a social security blanket for these people. From Trinidad to the United States, the more I explored, the more I saw an unacceptable divide between how people lived.”
When she returned to Canada, Tiyahna became involved in charities responding to issues of equity. In 2015 she volunteered at RESULTS Canada's national conference in Ottawa, and from there went on to become co-president of their University of Ottawa chapter, organizing monthly meetings, member recruiting, and social media engagement, along with other events, presentations, and meetings with MPs.
This past summer Tiyahna was nominated to meet with World Bank, GAVI, and Canadian Embassy leaders, as part of the RESULTS International Conference in Washington. In these meetings she discussed malnutrition and food security, the issues closest to her heart. Tiyahna has also engaged in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine, as well as the Road to Rio campaign, organizing a basketball tournament to raise funds to fight hunger. Additionally, she participated in the Canadian International Assistance Review, making recommendations on international development funding and policy issues.
In addition to her work with RESULTS, Tiyahna serves as the program and communications coordinator for Volunteer Canada. Her primary focus is on the VO Connect program, which encourages corporate social responsibility by connecting businesses with team volunteer opportunities. Last year she coordinated a provincial program called ChangeTheWorld, which gets youth involved in their communities through volunteer opportunities. Nearly 18,000 students were involved over six weeks—the highest turnout in the nine years the program has been running.
Tiyahna has just submitted her master's applications in public policy and law for September 2017, and is ambitious about pursuing further education. “I feel that real change operates within the framework of policy, so moving forward I'd like to move my advocacy to a more political level.” She plans to work as a policy analyst on issues of development once she has completed her degrees.
Though it means a lot to her to be recognized for the work she's done, Tiyahna says she couldn't have done it alone. “You can't just have one person who's a global changemaker. It's in the actions of everyone who actively works to bring about development and change.”
RESULTS Canada is a global movement utilizing grassroots advocates all around the world to improve health, education, and opportunity for the world's poorest populations.