The SWY34 Canadian Delegation

SWYAA Canada presents: the official Canadian Delegation for SWY 34! More information will follow on this page. Click on each candidate to read their bios.

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Michelle Chin

Michelle Chin is a second-generation Chinese Canadian, who grew up in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She is a French Immersion teacher and recent graduate from the Master of Child Study and Education program at the University of Toronto. She loves connecting and learning about other people’s cultures and believes one’s culture heavily shapes people’s lived experiences and personal identities. In her program, her group used arts as a form of social change to share how their racialized identity developments were influenced by white supremacy. They were asked to share their creative projects with the program’s faculty to help better understand their experiences as students and educators as they continue to work on their Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. She is also interested in educational research and is working on International Bilingual Education which is in partnership with the Netherlands and China. The project aims to work on assessment and interventions for students with at-risk reading difficulties in hopes to provide more equitable access to French Immersion programs for students of various backgrounds. Her thesis is looking at how transcription mode (handwriting/typing) influences second language learners’ writing performance.

From the age of 24, eighteen of those years have been dedicated to schooling. It is important for her to make time for things that bring her joy outside of school and is excited by the opportunity to be a part of the Canadian delegation. While she has no previous experience with Japan, it’s been her dream to visit Japan, and is intrigued by their collectivistic cultural values and way of life.

Brandon Wallace

SWY 34 – National Leader

Brandon Wallace was born in 1986 in Brampton, Ontario, and grew up in the Toronto area until moving to Ottawa in 1994. His family is of Irish descent and has lived in Canada for several generations. Brandon studied philosophy at Carleton university before participating on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme from 2011 – 2013, where he taught English at Akashi Nishi Senior High School in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. This experience created a life-long passion for Japan; its language, culture, history, and food! After JET Brandon received a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City and returned to Ottawa where he became active in the JET Alumni Association. Shortly thereafter he began working at the Embassy of Japan in Canada, first in the Information and Culture Centre, and then in the Political Section. Brandon speaks French and Japanese, enjoys reading (especially history, politics, economics, literature, and philosophy), and playing chess!

Richard Lee Watts

SWY 34

Ricky-Lee Watts (Aamiitlaa) is named after his late father and is Hupačasath Nuučaan̓uł through his mother. Living a life of interconnectedness and intentionality, he is a first-generation University graduate, passionate dreamer, traveler, motivational speaker, and visionary leader. 

Experienced in working with Indigenous communities, universities, and government, he is currently an elected councillor for his nation, models with SuperNaturals Modelling, an  Indigenous agency, and speaks regularly at conferences and with TakingITGlobal’s #ConnectedNorth Program. Ricky-Lee also recently created and oversaw Generation Power at Indigenous Clean Energy, an Indigenous youth clean energy and career training programme.

He loves connecting with people and inspiring them to embrace their power, to find beauty within themselves, their communities and in the world around them, even when it is challenging to do so. Leading with curiosity, passion and gratitude, Ricky-Lee brings forth love and dedication to being the role model he needed when he was younger.Identified as “young elder” by his colleagues, Ricky-Lee’s vision inspires values of ʔiisaak and hišukʔiš c̓awaak — respect for all creation having a common origin and that everything is one

Alyssa Craik

SWY 34

Alyssa (she/her) has always been passionate about serving her community and helping people reach their potential. Born and raised in London, Ontario, she attended Western University, graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Medical Sciences. As a student, she was actively involved in the Habitat for Humanity club, State Farm Youth Advisory Board, and a first-year student mentorship program. After graduation, Alyssa was looking to immerse herself in a different culture. She moved to Japan and worked for ECC as a conversational English teacher for nearly three years. There, she taught both children and adults, as well as taught on-site at many organizations including the Red Cross, Chukyo University, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. Her time in Japan transformed her. She developed a love for travelling, trying new foods, getting out in nature, and meeting new people. Since returning home to Canada, Alyssa has built her career working in student affairs at her alma mater. As a career coach, she helps students take actionable steps towards building their careers and futures. She continues to be involved in her community, volunteering with her local library as an English conversation partner and playing the oboe in a community ensemble.

Yolanda Elias

SWY 34

Born in Guatemala, Yolanda became a Canadian citizen at the age of six and grew up in London, Ontario. Yolanda then completed her studies majoring in political science at the University of Ottawa. During this time, she worked for the Embassy of Canada to the Dominican Republic, which helped Yolanda understand the role Canada plays in international affairs. A strong proponent of youth involvement to bring about positive societal changes, Yolanda has participated in different youth initiatives such as Katimavik and Canada World Youth. Additionally, Yolanda actively participates in different community programs and truly believes in the importance of volunteering-Yolanda has notably volunteered in Guatemala, Peru, Dominican Republic, Thailand, and three Canadian provinces. She truly believes these international experiences have enriched her life. During her free time, Yolanda loves to draw, read, run, and box. She believes that to be healthy, one must be both physically and mentally healthy. Since 2015, Yolanda has lived in Montreal, Quebec and currently works in the mental health sector. Yolanda is very proud of being Canadian and of her Mayan roots. 

Soomin Han

SWY 34

Driven by her passion for climate justice and lived experiences, Soomin is a climate solutions designer, an artist, and an advocate for climate justice, equitable decision-making processes. Currently as the Climate Finance Lead at Youth Climate Lab, she supports youth across the world to build capacity and lead climate solutions. Additionally, she is supporting the development of youth engagement strategies within UN Climate Change Adaptation Division as an intern. Soomin is pursuing her Bachelor of Environmental Studies with a focus in policy and law at the University of Manitoba, and has worked with various environment and justice-centered non-profits, advocacy groups, serves on the board of directors for a climate non-profit supporting youth leading lead community work, and recently worked on Parliament Hill as an intern championing climate justice and gender equity. With all aspects of her work rooted in intersectionality, youth engagement, community care, and gender equity, she was also named Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 in Canada.

Yasi Shahidian

SWY 34

Yasi is currently studying Physics at Queen’s University as a Chernoff Family Scholar. Growing up in Manitoba, she became involved with student leadership through the Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine. Throughout the past few years, Yasi has worked to help newcomers connect with their community, teach leadership skills to rural students, and support students at Queen’s.

During this past summer, Yasi was a McDonald Institute Fellow at the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute. She has also completed internships with KF Aerospace and the Government of Manitoba. Through her work with the provincial government, she attended the Institute of Public Administration of Canada National Conference as a sponsored delegate. At the Portage Learning & Literacy Centre, she helped newcomer youth grow community roots as a leader for the Summer Youth Engagement Program. Yasi is continuing to develop skills relevant to the tech industry and was selected to attend the Google Software Product Sprint program and Uber Empower Summit. She is passionate about science communication and is currently working on bridging the gap between rural students and post-secondary STEM education. She is fluent in English, French, and Persian. She aims to learn from her peers at SWY and implement ideas that will further develop her communities.

Amanda Boadi

SWY 34

Amanda is a health scientist with a passion for building, shaping and mobilizing communities. Her interests in education, community development, and youth empowerment have led her to explore a career in the charitable sector, where she enjoys planning programs, facilitating engagement opportunities, and working collaboratively within communities to break down their barriers to success.

Outside of her work as an impact and sustainability advisor, Amanda works and volunteers at the local YMCA and spends her spare time baking, cooking, and planning special events and games with friends. After living in Alberta for over 20 years, Amanda recently started exploring more national and international travel, and is eager to visit Japan, a top country on her travel list. She is most excited to have a firsthand experience of Japanese pop culture, technology, and food, and learn more about Japanese history, food systems, and traditions.

Amanda is excited to share her knowledge in community engagement, lived experience as a Ghanaian-Canadian, and random hobbies and talents within SWY. Valuing the power of perspective, she is also looking forward to meeting, learning from, and exchanging stories with the diverse participants of the SWY34 cohort. 

Jesslene Jawanda

SWY 34

Jesslene Jawanda was raised in the highlands of Unama’ki in Mi’kma’ki (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia). They have always been connected to the ocean through scuba diving and kayaking with the long-finned pilot whales and humpbacks of Unama’ki. This connection paved the way for them to complete their Bachelor of Science degree at Dalhousie University in Marine Biology and the Oceans Technology Advanced Diploma Graduate program at Nova Scotia Community College. While in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Jesslene took part in social and environmental advocacy as a board member and as an employee of various environmental organizations. Their academic research focused on the behavior of climate change gases in the ocean. In 2017, Jesslene was invited to participate on the Canada C3 Expedition which allowed them to transit between Iqaluit and Qikiqtarjuaq Nunavut on the Polar Prince, an ice-breaker vessel. Shortly after this program, they accepted a position in Iqaluit, Nunavut, conducting Arctic fisheries research for Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC). In this role, they lead fisheries development projects and work aboard the QC research vessel in various Nunavut coastal communities.