The Department of Women’s Studies was proud to nominate Kayla Etreni in 2 categories of the Lakehead Leader Award: Citizenship and Community Engagement as well as Diversity and Inclusion.
Kayla has shown Citizenship and Community Engagement by being involved in care for the greater community and the University in a number of ways. Kayla is the Ecojustice liaison between WGGSA (the Women's and Gender Studies Student Association) and the group of students advocating for institutional responses to climate change.
She also runs the Career Closet for Student Success, an organization that helps out-of-town and cash-strapped students by loaning them professional clothing to wear to interviews, and for the first few days on the job. This service enables students who couldn't otherwise afford professional clothing a better opportunity for success at the interview stage. Kayla was also a summer camp volunteer at Camp Quality, a summer camp for children with cancer.
In her role as one of the founding members of WGGSA, Kayla has been instrumental in building relationships with local women's shelters Faye Peterson and Beendigan. Kayla's work building bridges with community organizations lead to Sharon Johnson, the local nationally-known activist for MMIW, reaching out to the group for help fundraising in order to help pay to repair sexist and racist vandalism that someone caused at the MMIW Full Moon Memory Walk.
Kayla is one a co-founder and president of Sociology Association of Lakehead University, which puts on events for Sociology students to build a more inclusive and reputable environment in the Sociology Department, and to provide student mentorship, including spearheading the development of a peer mentorship program in the Department of Sociology.
Kayla is one of the founding members of WGSSA (the Women's & Gender Studies Student Association), which puts on student events, including bake sales, providing food for RFDA, paint nights, yoga nights, and trivia nights to raise money for local women's shelters.
Kayla is the Assistant Captain of Thunderwolves Women’s Hockey, a role that requires her to organize fundraisers, that support both the team and community partners: this year she was one of four returning players whose role was to lead the all-new incoming players. She was also the co-organizer of a fundraising summer tournament in 2019, made up of women’s hockey teams who paid to play, and money went towards the LU women’s hockey team to support their contribution to Lakehead’s reputation and visibility on the national stage.
Kayla was the Student Engagement Coordinator for Student Success Centre; although this was a paid position, she was successful in getting it because of her past work with Student Success, and her LU and community engagement. Kayla's work as a student ambassador has been recognized with an award from Student Success.
Kayla is the Past Captain – due to age – of the local Thunder Bay Ice Lacrosse team, Thunder Bay’s women’s rep lacrosse team, which lead her to represent Lakehead and Thunder Bay at the Provincial Level for Team Ontario Lacrosse in 2016, her first year at Lakehead. Kayla is a Level II Provincial referee for Lacrosse, and helps coach young women's teams.
By request, Kayla was the Campaign Manager in the 2019 federal election, for local candidate Cristy Radbourne (Liberal party, Rainy River). Kayla organized her campaign: organized volunteers for door-to-door campaigning; and organized all advertising and marketing.
Kayla has also demonstrated an exemplary contribution in Diversity and Inclusion. As a Student Ambassador with the Student Success Centre, Kayla designed and ran an EXCEL Leadership Workshop on Inclusive Leadership. Students can take these workshops and receive credits towards a certification in completing the EXCEL Leadership Program.
As part of the administrative team for the Women's & Gender Studies Student Association, Kayla is part of a group that works closely with Pride and the Gender Equity Centre to raise awareness about gender-based discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia on campus and in the community.
Kayla's role in supporting the local Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women's Full Moon Memory Walk this year, when someone vandalized the walk's port-a-potties with racist and sexist graffiti was to assist the MMIW group with fundraising to pay for the damages costs by rallying the members of WGSSA to do fundraising.
Kayla is one of the co-founders of the Sociology Association at Lakehead, the aim of which is to build a more inclusive and reputable environment in the Sociology Department, in order to give students a space where they can engage in, and produce, research and participate in activities that run counter to anti-equality groups. By providing students with an active (as opposed to reactive) space where they can engage in more inclusive behaviours, Kayla as a co-founder has found a positive way for students to engage in social justice-linked work on campus.
As a founding member of WGSSA (the Women's & Gender Studies Student Association), Kayla contributed to that group's manifesta, which in inclusively based on intersectional feminist approaches that recognize how racism, classism, ethnocentrism, heterosexism, transphobia, and other systemic oppressions intersect with sexism. The group that WGSSA does, with Kayla in a leading role on the Executive, is meant to raise awareness about, and transform, racist, classist, heterosexist, sexist, etc. attitudes. This year, for International Women's Day, Kayla will be running an information table about how categories of marginalization are connected, and why anti-racist work is equally important as work for gender equality.
Kayla works with Pride and the GEC on local initiatives, and continues to learn through her volunteer work with them, and her classes, the importance of having an informed perspective on multiple social issues.
In her work running the Career Closet, Kayla works with newcomer students and provides opportunities for them to integrate into the Thunder Bay job market. This work, although simply loaning clothing that allows students to look professional at job interviews, is one step in promoting diversity in Thunder Bay.