Submitted by Frank Proctor

In last months issue of North End Breezes, I promised to unveil the identity of the person seated next to me at a very moving performance by the cast of Beautiful Scars, the story of an indigenous man who only later in life discovers who his mother is. After the first act, I engaged in conversation with my seat mate, laughing at how we both were brought to tears by the performance. I was so impressed with the story of her involvement in a not-for-profit organization that I want to share ir with you. Here is her story.

Who is Joana Fejzaj, 

As Manager, Community Development and Partnerships, Joana is responsible for the strategic development, cultivation, and management of relationships with partners and stakeholders. This work spans across public, corporate, educational, and private sectors and is focused on fostering support to advance Empowerment Squared’s mission.

Joana has been with the organization since its inception in 2007. She met Leo Johnson, the CEO, at a community event where he spoke about his life in war torn Liberia, being separated from his family, and life in the refugee camps. Leo’s story resonated with Joana as she herself came to Canada as an unaccompanied minor at the age of 13 with her 8-year-old brother. Feeling and being alone in the world at such a young age is a painful experience but Joana found new inspiration in Leo’s aspiration to build a better world, something that Joana was also committed to. The suffering that Joana has experienced in life has revealed the truth that every life experience is a teaching, a knowing, a guide to unpacking the reason for our existence. Joana believes that the community support that she has received saved her life and now she has dedicated her life to do the same for others. 

About Empowerment Squared, 

Empowerment Squared is building a world where everyone is empowered with the tools and opportunities to thrive and contribute to society. The Homework Circle supports newcomer and marginalized youth from grades 1 to 12 in building self confidence in the education system. The dedicated staff and volunteers work alongside program participants to put them on pathways to success and access post-secondary education by mentoring, tutoring, assisting with assignments and homework. In February of last year, Empowerment Squared launched the Babb Ubuntu Athletic Centre, a versatile community in East Hamilton. The Sports and Recreation programming promotes healthy lifestyles and skill building. This includes Camp Ubuntu which takes place during March Break, Summer Soccer Camp which takes place in July and August, Basketball which runs throughout the year and other recreational activities. Over 1,000 youth have accessed the Athletic Centre.  Since its inception, the Access Program has supported over 1,000 individuals with Food, Household Essentials, Personal Protective Equipment and Access to Technology. You can learn more at