I was born in Toronto, Canada (the traditional territory on Turtle Island of the Mississaugas of the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Wendat). My parents were born in Girón, Ecuador (originally known as Leoquina, meaning lagoon of the snake, and then Pacaybamba, which means guava tree valley, by the Cańari people). I am Latino with Indigenous Ancestry.
Approximately half of my ancestors are/were Indigenous. Over generations, my Indigenous ancestors' cultures were oppressed by ongoing colonialism, leading to today where I am consistently learning and asking questions about the "Chica" lineage in my family. Through stories, I hear the oppression of my grandparents and that feeds my desire to consistently work towards creating anti-oppressive environments.
With my parents working and attending school, I was partially raised by my grandparents for the first 3-4 years of my life. I did not speak any English, only Spanish, until I started Junior Kindergarten. We lived with my grandparents until my parents saved enough to rent, then eventually purchase, their own home. I attended 7 different schools by Grade 6. Two of those schools were gifted programs in the Toronto District School Board. Part-way through Grade 6, I moved to Richmond Hill and attended the remainder of Elementary and Secondary in the York Region District School Board.
I then was accepted to the University of Toronto for Biochemistry, but switched my Major to Human Biology and Minors to Chemistry and Psychology. I met my life partner during Latin American Studies, promoting the Organization of Latin American Students. It was here when I found my passion for teaching and critical studies through a tutoring/mentoring/political organization called Student Aid and Learning Opportunities. This passion evolved into an application to York University for a Bachelor of Education, then a semester in a private school and later, a career in public education. I am now a lead Guidance Counsellor in a public school in the North West area of Toronto.
From the age of 10 to about 20-22, I studied and practiced Go Ju Ryu Kara Te Do, Brasilian and Japanese Jiu Jitsu/Ju Do, and Kobu Do. I am a Shodan (Black Belt) in Go Ju Ryu and was a Senior Instructor in my Karate Dojo, often running classes for students of all ages and Summer/March Break Camps. In my past time, I also played Table Soccer (Jitz), Billiards (Pool), Soccer/Basketball, and danced Latin Music.
When I began teaching, I began listening to stories from students who are consistently marginalized by our society. I related to some stories, through my own experiences or family/friends, and realized that by consistently granting students opportunities, with high expectations, and building an authentic relationship, students were more likely to become empowered and overcome their own barriers. I began to develop a critical equity lens to better understand the oppressions that other people go through and I learned that an essential part of building a self-empowering space is to apply that critical equity lens. As I moved from classroom initiatives to school-wide, board-wide, or province-wide initiatives, I discovered a skill that we have as oppressed peoples: an innate ability to see under the surface of the system and identify systemic barriers that can be dismantled so others in our communities have greater chances of success.
I'd like to thank all my mentors throughout my life who have shaped, guided, and challenged my thinking throughout the years. I'd also like to thank my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, who showed me unconditional love and through a loving environment, allowed me to become who I am. Lastly, I'd like to thank my loving partner. I could not ask for a better best friend who grounds me so often in what's truly important in life: family.