Taylor Dallin’s fight for social justice has crossed borders and will continue in her studies at Yale. Photo courtesy Taylor Dallin

Student’s fight for justice continues at Yale

  • October 22, 2020

Former Toronto Catholic District School Board student trustee Taylor Dallin has taken her fight for social justice to the halls of Yale University.

Now a freshman at the Ivy League institution in Connecticut, the soon to be 18-year-old made her mark in high school fighting for racial equality and environmental issues as a student leader. Recently selected to join Yale’s Title IX Advisory Board, which tackles sex and gender discrimination, she hopes to continue to use her voice in the journey towards a more equal society.

Dallin, who graduated from Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, says her mother, Gloria Yoon, a Toronto high school teacher who emigrated to Canada from Korea at age 16, helped to ignite her passion for service. 

“My mom coming (to Canada) and starting new with no money or knowledge of English and now dedicating her life to helping other people has been such a huge inspiration for me,” said Dallin.

Her own experience as a biracial person — her father is white — “and reconciling the different microaggressions has allowed me to live life with that extra lens.”

“I think it’s just always been natural to me to just like look out for people who are in need — the marginalized people who aren’t having their voices heard.”

“I think maybe telling her stories of me coming to a new country and facing different challenges, I think she sort of took that to heart,” said Yoon, who has been teaching for 19 years. “As she grew up, she became aware of other issues in society and we always encouraged her to speak up, speak out and stand up for others.”

In June, Dallin as student trustee brought forward a motion on dismantling systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in schools.

Dallin lives by a principle she calls “radical compassion,” and says her Catholic faith has been essential to her character development and social justice advocacy.

“Looking at the life of Jesus and the different prophets and saints, and looking at their work, has definitely been inspiring,” said Dallin, a parishioner at St. Andrew Kim Catholic Church. “It’s so important to me to put faith into action and really practise the values that we preach.”

On the Title IX Advisory Board, she’s working to fight gender-based discrimination and harassment. She recognizes this type of work has become even more relevant given the global pandemic and reports of those trapped in abusive relationships. Her priorities on the committee include making sure people feel comfortable coming forward and are supported. 

Majoring in ethics, politics and economics, Dallin hopes to become a lawyer and pursue a career in advocacy relating to human rights and social justice.

“I feel like that’s not a huge surprise when I tell people, based on my past work,” she laughed. “It’s been my dream for a little while. We’ll see where my path takes me. I know that social justice is certainly going to be a part of whatever I end up doing.”

Yoon believes her daughter’s exceptional work ethic and humility in taking nothing for granted will continue to bring her success as she pursues her studies at Yale.

“I’ve seen only a few kids in my (teaching) career who might work as hard as she does and for that I’m very proud,” said Yoon. “What she will decide to do in the future, or how much impact she’s going to have on other people’s lives, I’m not sure. But I know that she will always work hard to make things right for a lot of people in this world. I’m happy to stand by her and be there for her whenever she needs support.”

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