News / Toronto

Everyday Political Citizens: Harpreet Gill on getting out the vote in Jane and Finch

“Politicians are making decisions for us that aren’t effective for us," says Harpreet Gill.

Harpreet Gill, 28, helped get out the vote in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, leading to a seven per cent increase in voter turnout during the 2015 federal election.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

Harpreet Gill, 28, helped get out the vote in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, leading to a seven per cent increase in voter turnout during the 2015 federal election.

Every year, Samara Canada’s Everyday Political Citizen project honours Canadians making positive changes in their communities. The winner of the 2016 contest will be announced Dec. 8.

Metro is profiling the seven EPC nominees in the GTA. Today we meet Harpreet Gill, a social worker from Toronto.

Growing up near Jane and Finch – one of Toronto’s most low-income neighbourhoods – Harpreet Gill never felt like politics was for her.

“The community I grew up in, we’ve always been neglected, and I didn’t see the point of being civically engaged,” the 28-year-old social worker says.

That changed last year, when she met a professor at York University who convinced her to join a get out the vote campaign in her area.

“He told me that for us to hold politicians accountable we need to first put them into positions where we can make them accountable,” she said. “Those words changed my perception.”

Gill began talking with local youth and encouraging them to cast a ballot during the federal election.

If the results are any indication, she was pretty persuasive.

“Our goal was one per cent, but we got a seven per cent increase in voter turnout. It was phenomenal,” she said.

Seeing her peers speak up at the ballot box made Gill feel like the change she wants to see in her community is actually possible.

Her efforts have garnered a nomination as one of Samara Canada’s Everyday Political Citizens for 2016. Gill says she’s not one to seek out the spotlight, but she hopes the extra attention will help others in her community see the connection between politics and the policies that impact their lives.

“I hope they can look at me and say ‘she grew up with us, she’s been through the same struggles, and now she’s doing something to make change in our community.’” 

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