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IRENE OLAYINKA

Winner of the Sana Elache Student Empowerment Award 2021


Irene is a Grade 11 student at Westwood with a love for political philosophy, literature, and history. Despite being a fairly new resident of Fort McMurray, she has proven her commitment to leadership and service within the community. At school, she is Student Council's Treasurer and a Secretary for the Principal's Advisory Council. In these roles, she has established herself as a passionate advocate of social justice and equity. She further expresses this passion as a member of the Social Equity branch of the Mayor's Advisory Council of Youth, where she utilizes her eloquence and public speaking skills to make actionable change by holding our government representatives accountable through her persistent and determined lines of questioning. Her commitment to leadership is also evident through her role as Minister of Education on the TUXIS Youth Parliament of Alberta. Here, she acts as a proponent of diversity and inclusion, and always makes sure to consider the various actors that may be impacted by a resolution or bill.

 

Irene is a proud supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement; she was a prominent figure at the Black Lives Matter protest in June, where she gave a radio interview expanding on the importance of universal racial equity. She has been one of the primary organizers of the Black History Month events at Westwood since their inception, and she took advantage of this year's virtual formatting to create an educational video on issues impacting Black youth in Fort McMurray. She is also a member of Queens in Code, an organization that aims to make STEAM education more accessible to women, girls, and members of gender minority communities. With this organization, she has organized various virtual events, including one hosted by the co-founder of Repl.it.

 

Irene is a volunteer at the NLRHC and has volunteered with the Wood Buffalo Food Bank, the Multicultural Association, and the Wood Buffalo Regional Library. Her enthusiasm for political thought is matched only by her desire to give back to her community - and she believes that developing meaningful leadership skills requires that the two to go hand in hand.

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