The Peter Gilgan Foundation has changed the lives of 98 Seneca Youth to Postsecondary (Y2P) students, their families and their local communities over the past three years and has renewed its support for another year.
Y2P students are amongst the most vulnerable at Seneca and have many barriers to overcome to get back into the classroom and be successful. Most students are new to Canada and have faced challenges finding employment, especially during the pandemic. The support that the foundation has provided will help students afford basic necessities, such as a laptop for virtual classes, textbooks, groceries and other living costs.
Lucky Temitope Osunbiyi is a former Y2P student (2019) and Peter Gilgan Foundation award recipient. He is currently working as a peer tutor for the Y2P program at Seneca’s Yorkgate Campus and studying Computer Programming at Humber College.
“I was only 18 years old when I came to Canada from Nigeria in 2019,” said Mr. Osunbiyi.
Through the Y2P program, Mr. Osunbiyi was able to gain more knowledge and the skills needed to continue his education. He credits the professors for always guiding and keeping him on the right path.
Maria Londono, a current Y2P student and Peter Gilgan Foundation award recipient, came to Canada 12 years ago from Colombia.
“I was 12 years old and didn’t speak a word of English,” said Ms. Londono. “I was very depressed.”
Ms. Londono has come such a long way since first coming to Canada. She recently received her Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate and is now in her first semester of the Business Administration - International Business program at Seneca.
On her decision to enroll in Y2P, Ms. Londono said, “I am a single parent of two children, ages four and five. One day I decided to change my life to give my children a better future.”
“Peter Gilgan Foundation believes that with the right skills, resources, and opportunities, everyone can reach their full potential, regardless of birth or circumstance,” says Luke Gilgan, Manager, Peter Gilgan Foundation. “Y2P has continually shown that they are able to help young people do exactly that – utilize an opportunity to further their education, and create a better and brighter future for themselves and their families. The stories of the students and their tenacity and commitment inspire us every day, and it is a privilege to able to support them.”
The Peter Gilgan Foundation’s continued support of Y2P comes at a time when COVID-19 continues to devastate vulnerable communities.
It has been well-documented, in publications like the Local, how COVID-19 disproportionately affects neighbourhoods with primarily Black, racialized and new immigrant populations. The City of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has acknowledged that income, access to housing, and employment are key determinants in neighbourhoods that show higher case numbers.
“Access to education and opportunities should not be limited by the circumstances one happens to find oneself in, circumstances that are far too often not of one’s own doing,” said Riaz Saloojee, Acting Chair, School of Arts & Science at Seneca. “We have an obligation to ensure all members of our society are given equal access to education and the opportunities to strive to meet one’s personal potential, to live a life of dignity and contribute positively to the betterment of our communities. Seneca is proud to partner with the Peter Gilgan Foundation in our continued effort to strive towards lofty goals on the horizon, by doing what’s best and right in the moment.”