Our youth team
Born on unceded Songhees and Esquimalt lands, Paloma Ponti is currently in her last year of high school. She is an activist, feminist, daughter and friend, admired for her constant determination, strength and organizational skills. She has been part of various violence prevention projects, both with the Rhizome Youth Social Action Team and through her school. A lover of theater, she co-produced and co-directed the successful production of “8” by Dustin Lance Black (with fellow Rhizome member, Rowan Hébert) and is an adamant advocate for LGBT rights and peace activism even when that lands her in the principal’s office.
As a two-spirited person from the Kwakwaka’wakw nation, Draco has made it his prime goal in his activism to decolonizing sexual education, and changing laws to ensure the safety and prioritization of traditional knowledge for his people; he does this through his work at Project Respect. Draco has volunteered for four years now at Project Respect, spanning throughout his high school career and now moving into his college years. Draco is a musician, mostly a singer, who spent time at Esquimalt High School singing for the Rhythm and Blues band, as well as running the swing dancing club and the Queer/Straight Alliance. He hopes to continue singing in the field of Jazz. He is also a published writer, having recently won second place nationally in the prestigious Aboriginal Arts and Stories competition called Our Story, and having become the recent recipient of Esquimalt High School’s Aboriginal Writing Award. He plans on contributing his skills and passion to Project Respect for the foreseeable future.
Rowan was born and raised on an urban farm on the unceded territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. She is currently still in high school but is often mistaken for much older due to her rampant activism, lack of interest in pop culture and irritating cynicism. She has been described as “crazy”, a “hyperactivist” and (on her better days) “relentless”. Her volunteering includes the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, Project Respect, Victoria Midwifery Group, and the Keiskamma Trust (South Africa). She is very passionate about theatre as a means of bringing about social change and last Spring co-produced and co-directed (with fellow Rhizome member, Paloma Ponti) the first Canadian production of the play “8″ by Dustin Lance Black which helped win the fight for marriage equality in California. You’re most likely to find her in the library, in the theatre, or outside the legislature.
Chloë was born and raised on the unceded territory of the Esquimalt and Songhees nations. She is a poet, actor, and certified goofy person. She is a member of the Esquimalt High Gay Straight Alliance, the City of Victoria Youth Council, and is very passionate about her new involvement with Rhizome and Project Respect. As a proud feminist and activist, Chloë will forever be committed to helping everyone feel as groovy as possible, no matter where they come from, or where they go.
Blessed with a name to be miss-written a thousand times, Mikayla was born on the unceded territories of the Duwamish people (Seattle) and has since moved to several places on both the Nanwakolas and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples’ territories.
Being a part of a feminist family her whole life and participating through rad programs since she was twelve, this melding of awesomeness and community has allowed her to travel to conferences as far as Toronto – thrice! Mikayla loves to read beyond her education level, knit (all horrible scarves), and learn through Friday night Google research expeditions. If you were wondering, she get’s her anger out in the most feminist way there is, Roller Derby.
Past Youth Members
Emily was born on Gabriola Island, she is a musician and poet, and uses her powers for good. She has been an active member of the Esquimalt High School Gay Straight Alliance for three years, and this is her second year volunteering with Rhizome. She also collects strangers’ shopping lists.
Nicholas was born and raised on the unceded territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations and has also lived in France. He grew up in a family of academics, and was often part of discussions about social issues. He discovered a year ago that he wanted to be a part of the anti-violence movement and has been involved ever since. Nicholas has a passion for musical theatre, dance, fiber arts, poetry, singing and all other forms of creative expression. He is interested in integrating these hobbies into his activism. He is still in high school but is enjoying his time there as much as possible and using it as an opportunity to discuss social issues with his peers (who are, contrary to most stereotypes, very engaged!). He is a passionate activist and will try to get you involved too!
Safahanna Hussein is a young woman in high school who enjoys spending time with her friends, family and dog. She indulges in the small joys of life. She can be found blowing bubbles or collecting rocks and shells on the beach. Safahanna finds thrill in playing soccer and basketball at a competitive level. Art as well as music (both playing and listening)is where she finds relaxation. She adores all shows that involve serial killers and detectives and she spends the majority of her free time watching them. She believes in creating a community and world free from sexualized violence, gender based violence and colonialism. Safahanna believes that everyone has the power to be who they truly are and the power to change their world for the good.
A non-Indigenous settler of French Canadian, Irish and Eastern European Jewish ancestry, Geneviève is an activist/feminist/environmentalist who was born and raised on the unceded traditional homelands of the Lekwungen peoples. She is very involved with Victoria’s immigrant and refugee community and is a weekly youth leader and citizenship mentor at the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society and an ESL tutor at the Inter-Cultural Association. This past fall she spent a month volunteering in Mexico as an English teacher with La Catalina Educational Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities for people in the rural community of La Manzanilla. She has been a member of Rhizome for two years in which time she has been involved in various anti-violence projects in her school and community.
Shannon Phillips is a free-spirited artist, musician, and poet from Victoria, BC. Shannon is an equal rights advocate and activist dedicated to creating peace and understanding. Shannon has been involved with Rhizome for a year.