June 3, 2021
Liberal Arts grad joins TTC to tackle racial discrimination issues
Seneca provided the pathway to postgraduate studies
Most people don’t attend college just to prove a point, but that’s exactly what Seneca grad Eunice Kays Yeboah did.
“There was always this narrative when I was in high school that college was subpar,” she said. “I deliberately wanted to address that notion. For me, it was a very conscious decision to come to Seneca.”
That decision paved the way for a unique career opportunity with Canada’s largest transit provider.
Mrs. Yeboah, 28, is the first person to fill the position of policy consultant for anti-racism at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). As part of TTC’s new Racial Equity Office, she is contributing to the development of an anti-racism strategy and working to apply a racial equity lens to the hiring process. This includes a new policy addressing anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and all forms of discrimination towards other racialized communities.
“It feels like a big responsibility,” Mrs. Yeboah said. “I’m taking on this really important role to revamp the whole organization.”
While the TTC has been supportive of her work, Mrs. Yeboah says she has faced pushback during her years of anti-Black racism work prior to joining the organization.
“Some people ask, ‘Why are we doing this?’” she said. “‘Why are we focusing on Black and Indigenous communities?’ Meanwhile, we know Black people are more likely to be stopped and ticketed. From my own personal experience, I know people move and act a little bit differently because of the colour of my skin.”
Among other things, Mrs. Yeboah has seen how people walking toward her would suddenly change direction just to avoid her. But what really bothered her was when her high school guidance counsellor advised her to go to college and “take applied courses” instead of going to university.
“The underlying message I got was that I wasn’t capable of doing well, or university wasn’t the best option for someone like me,” said Mrs. Yeboah, who had wanted to go to law school. “I was being discouraged to pursue academic courses. I really wanted to go to college to prove that I could do just as well and that I was just as smart.”
Through Seneca’s Liberal Arts University Transfer diploma program, Mrs. Yeboah completed a bachelor’s degree in business and society at York University while also obtaining a professional certificate in public administration and law.
From there, she earned a master’s degree in public policy from the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
“I had intended on getting a law degree, but I also contemplated studying human resources and fashion design,” she said. “I became interested in learning more about government along the way, so I ran with it.”
It was at Seneca where Mrs. Yeboah, who grew up shy, broke out of her shell.
“Seneca was a training ground for my master’s degree,” she said. “My professors were great at guiding me, and I had an enriching experience. They pushed us to speak up and study hard. I was able to build a good report with my professors, and when I got to my master’s program, I knew how to approach them.”
In addition to her role at the TTC, Mrs. Yeboah is Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Canadian Black Policy Network and the Toronto Black Policy Conference. These experiences have shown her that change, in general, is not easy to accept.
“There’s an education component,” she said. “It’s about storytelling.”
Mrs. Yeboah’s parents, immigrants from Ghana, are watching her success with pride.
“My parents came here and started from zero,” Mrs. Yeboah said. “They are big on education, and they are very supportive of everything my sister and I do. They are just happy that they can witness what they couldn’t do before. It’s a dream come true.”