“Now that we were conducting the research, it felt more like power“: On Doing YPAR Before and During COVID-19 – A Conversation between Maddy

This episode is the second in a two-part series featuring conversations between the WhyPAR Podcast’s new co-host, Maddy Ross and five youth researchers: Valeria Pineda, Lainey Rios, Luisa Gonzalez, Jaden McGregor, and Annie Silva. In this episode, the five youth researchers discuss their most recent YPAR project conducted in the summer of 2020 that explored the experiences of Indigenous and Latinx youth living in Tkaronto during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valeria Pineda (she/her)
I am 21 years old and I recently graduated from a Social Service Worker program for Immigrants and Refugees, and I am currently working as a Youth Support Worker at a non-profit organization. I was born in Mexico and migrated to Canada with my family at a young age and have grown up in Toronto ever since. My experience being raised as a Mexican immigrant has definitely influenced my choice to work with marginalized communities. I was able to use my desire to work in social justice, research and community with the YPAR group for Indigenous and Latinx students.
Lainey Rios
My name is Lainey Rios. I am 18 years old and identify as Latinx as my family originates from Mexico. I love to learn, spend time with family, and enjoy being involved in my community or in other programs, like YPAR. I am in my second year of the biological science program at the University of Guelph. I am currently working towards achieving high grades, expanding my knowledge in the science field and completing my undergraduate degree. I enjoy studying the sciences because it relates to everyday life and helps build my understanding of the world we live in. I have been working with YPAR for 3 years now and have really enjoyed my time with the program. Through YPAR I have learned many things through the research projects I’ve participated in, such as how much I love being part of research.
Luisa Gonzalez
My name is Luisa Karime Gonzalez, I am 19 years old, my pronouns are she/her. I identify with the LatinX community as my parents are both from Guatemala. Currently I am in my second year at Ryerson University obtaining a Bachelor of Social Work. I am very grateful for the opportunities of participating in multiple YPAR projects
Jaden McGregor
My name is Jaden McGregor, and I’m an 18-year-old Toronto and Waterloo based Indigenous and Jamaican photographer, traveler, entrepreneur and youth researcher. I’m also in my Second Year at the University of Waterloo studying Geography and Aviation to obtain both my pilot’s license and a degree in environmental studies. In November of 2019, I joined the YPAR Program because I felt like it would be an interesting program to attend and to learn from and connect with other Indigenous and Latinx Youth as well as offer my unique perspectives and to further build my skill set.
Annie Silva
My name is Annie Melisa Silva Borda, I am 19 years old. I identify as a Latinx, born in Colombia and then moved to Canada a couple years later. This past year I finished my first year at the University of Toronto in the Arts and Science Faculty. I enjoyed it very much, I learned a lot of new things and accomplished another goal of mine. I love playing sports, learning and being part of making a change. Having the chance to share our project and talk about it in depth has been an amazing experience and I’m glad we could shine a light on people’s different experiences during COVID-19.
This episode was hosted and directed by Madeleine Ross, produced by Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández and Sarah Switzer, and supported by Youth Research Lab Assistant Naima Raza.

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