As founding executive director of The Children’s Breakfast Club, Zubeda Nanji oversees the distribution of nearly 4,000 meals weekly in nearly 20 clubs across the city, many of them in designated priority neighbourhoods.
To mark the global celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) honoured Nanji for a making a difference in the community.
Following consultations with the Metro Toronto Housing Authority, the first club – under the leadership of community worker, Rick Gosling – was opened in the Jane-Falstaff community 28 years ago. The clubs are a safe place for parents to leave their children when they go to work and ensure a nutritious start to their child’s day, a move that could help to curb behavioral problems, limited attention span, truancy and frequent tardiness.
In addition to serving hot, nutritious meals, the clubs also offer children social and intellectual stimulation.
Nanji, a Ryerson University Early Childhood Education graduate, is also involved in several other community activities. She plays an active role in organizing Black History Month events and has assisted in the development and organization of Asian Heritage Month.
Police Chief Bill Blair and CBC News Toronto co-host Anne-Marie Mediwake made the presentation, congratulating Nanji and praising the remarkable role that women have played in transforming policing and improving the quality of service that the organization delivers to its citizens.
The TPS employs nearly 1,000 female uniformed officers while over half the organization’s civilian members are women.
Blair noted that the role of women in the organization has evolved significantly in the last three decades.
“When I joined the service 35 years ago, the role of women, quite frankly, was relegated to a number of positions which might not have been really considered frontline,” Blair said. “We were blessed in those days with some extraordinary women with remarkable talent, perseverance and courage who really demonstrated the contribution that women could make to law enforcement and to public safety in the city of Toronto.”
Blair said that a woman has held every position except for chief, which he expects will change someday.
“As we look at some of the most important functions performed in our organization, we see in leadership positions women who are calling the shots,” he added. “They bring a unique and incredibly important perspective with their skills and intelligence which match anyone else at the table.”
Under Blair’s leadership, Sonia Thomas became the service’s first Black female Inspector while Ann-Marie Henry – the manager of benefits and employment – is the highest-ranked female Black civilian member.
By RON FANFAIR