Seher Shafiq

Seher Shafiq
  • Active Citizenship Manager
  • Company: North York Community House

Seher is deeply passionate about community building, shifting narratives, and building an inclusive democracy.

Seher currently works at North York Community House as the Active Citizenship Manager, where she is co-designing new civic engagement programming that will be adopted by settlement agencies across Canada.  Since April, Seher has also been working as a Managing Editor for Ryerson’s new First Policy Response initiative, which seeks to feature policy ideas that will get us through the COVID-19 crisis and to a fair and sustainable recovery.

In 2019, Seher led the country’s very first national non-partisan voter engagement campaign out of Ryerson’s Democratic Engagement Exchange. As part of this campaign, Seher travelled coast-to-coast to deliver voter engagement trainings to community-based organizations across the country and convened the Canadian Vote Coalition, the first campaign of its kind.

Prior to this, Seher was a Program Manager for the flagship DiverseCity Fellows program at CivicAction, where she worked with hundreds of emerging and senior leaders to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Seher also has experience working in the refugee and resettlement sector at Lifeline Syria, as well as at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.


Democracy According to Seher Shafiq

Why did you get involved with DemocracyXChange?

There are very few *formal* spaces that are dedicated to discussing issues of democracy. DemocracyXChange is a great place to meet other like-minded individuals who are passionate about the same things I am. I also love collaborating with the DXC PAC and Ryerson team!

When did you first start to care about democracy?

In 2015. This was the year that a group of community leaders co-founded The Canadian-Muslim Vote. I learned that year that my understanding of the Canadian political system combined with my familiarity with South Asian culture is a huge asset in communities that are often “left behind” by Canadian democratic systems. I spent most of my weekends volunteering at grassroots events in 2015, in an effort to promote voter turnout in my community. Since then, I have become very passionate about building an inclusive democracy, and have dedicated my career to it.

What democracy book/article/podcast/show/movie has had an impact on you during the pandemic?

So many! At the start of the pandemic I subscribed to the Sunday edition of the New York Times, and I read it cover to cover each week (it’s a lot of material!). Through that I have learned how democratic norms continue to erode in the US, particularly as the US election approaches. I also love listening to CBC Ideas podcast (they recently had a really good one with George Monibot about the politics of belonging, and what conditions allow democracy to evolve and flourish). I’m currently reading Barack Obama’s book that he wrote in 1995 – Dreams From My Father. It’s always interesting to see people’s career journeys and how they ended up where they are.

Who should attend DemocracyXChange and why?

Community and grassroots leaders. We know there are certain demographics disproportionately impacted by political decisions, and those communities should be at the virtual discussion table. This year’s model is Pay-What-You-Can too, which is great! DemocracyXChange is also a great opportunity for students to learn about the sector and network with like-minded individuals.

My Sessions