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CASSA’s Remarkable Year: A Recap of the 2023 Annual General Meeting

By January 15, 2024No Comments

The Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) recently held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 28, 2023, at its office located at 705 Progress Ave, Toronto. The meeting presided over by Bharat Saini, Chair of the CASSA Board of Directors, highlighted the organization’s significant achievements and plans for expansion. The program started at 5.30 with the welcome dinner and tours to attendees through the 5000+ sq. ft CASSA facility.

Mayor Olivia Chow connected with the meeting through a video conference to acknowledge CASSA for creating Safe Spaces for South Asian Communities. The key moments and updates from the AGM are scrutinized below.

Land Acknowledgement and Agenda Approval: The meeting commenced with a respectful Land Acknowledgment delivered by Samya Hasan, Executive Director of CASSA. The AGM proceeded smoothly with the approval of the draft agenda, proposed by Hasina Qadir from Bangladesh Centre & Community Services and seconded by Ehsan Qureshi from GTA North West Community Services.

Reflection on the Past:
Approval of 2022 AGM Minutes: Bharat Saini emphasized the importance of member attendance for the approval of the previous year’s AGM minutes. Sukanya Akula from We Can Win motioned to approve, and Shalini Konanur from SALCO seconded the motion, indicating the members’ agreement with the minutes.

Chair’s Report: CASSA’s Impactful 2022: A Year of Growth and Advocacy”
Bharat Saini presented a comprehensive Chair’s report, highlighting CASSA’s remarkable growth in 2022. The organization extended its reach beyond the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), engaging with South Asian agencies nationally on issues of housing, health, anti-hate, and anti-racism. CASSA actively participated in decision-making tables and advisory bodies, contributing to initiatives like the Coalition against Anti-Asian Racism Canada and the Ontario Provincial Police Hate Crime Advisory.

Noteworthy achievements include becoming the secretariat for the Toronto Non-Profit Network (TNN) and contributing to the Spatial Justice Campaign for racial equity and reconciliation. Securing funds from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation facilitated the successful completion of the ‘Policies that Perpetuate Systemic Racism’ project in collaboration with the Anti-hate Community Leaders Group.

In response to the pandemic, CASSA wrapped up an impactful vaccine engagement campaign and continues to focus on health equity initiatives with South Asian health agencies. Strategic planning efforts extend until 2026, with a charitable status application in progress. CASSA’s acquisition of a 5000+ square feet space in Scarborough signifies a future hub for South Asian communities, offering diverse social services. Bharat expressed gratitude to funders, partners, and members for their generous support.

Executive Director’s Report:

“CASSA’s Impactful Journey: A Year of Growth and Social Change”

In the dynamic realm of community service and advocacy, Samya Hasan, the Executive Director of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), presented a compelling report outlining the organization’s achievements in 2022.

CASSA embarked on a journey of national expansion in 2019, establishing partnerships with South Asian agencies in Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec. This initiative, driven by the collaborative efforts of members and partners, is set to continue its positive impact into 2024.

Throughout 2022, CASSA actively engaged with social justice agencies to combat online hate and provide social media training. The success of these endeavors led to a notable recognition from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, which sought CASSA’s expertise in adapting their training and toolkit for children and youth. This collaboration resulted in the launch of the EradicateHate 2.0 mobile app.

CASSA’s commitment to community engagement shone brightly during the in-person Annual Health Equity Summit, themed ‘Shifting and Sharing Power: Community Engagement to Reducing Health Inequities.’ The organization further demonstrated its dedication to social justice through the successful hosting of the social justice summit and the virtual celebration of South Asian Heritage Month in 2023.

A significant highlight in CASSA’s calendar was the ‘Together We Rise Festival,’ held on June 2-3, 2023. Funded by the federal government, the festival featured a vibrant mix of live performing arts, film screenings, and more, drawing substantial attendance.

Looking ahead, CASSA is poised to embark on a three-year project in collaboration with a Post- Doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. This project will focus on addressing the exploitation of international students in Canada.

CASSA’s impactful Anti-Islamophobia strategy, initially adapted by the Peel region, found further recognition and adoption by the Toronto District School Board. The organization aims to extend his initiative to the York Region School Board, demonstrating the widespread impact of their advocacy.

In her closing remarks, Samya Hasan expressed heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated staff, funders, and community members whose invaluable contributions have fueled CASSA’s impactful work. Their collaborative efforts have been instrumental in driving positive change within South Asian communities.

Board Member Nomination and Special Resolution:
Bharat introduced Zeeshan Sumrani from Skills of Change as the new Board Director, presenting the 2023-24 slate of directors. The motion to approve the slate was supported by members Sukanya Akula from We Can Win and Afroza Begum of South Asian Community, solidifying the leadership team for the upcoming term. Additionally, a special resolution to revise the Purpose Statement for CASSA’s charitable status application was brought into motion, demonstrating the organization’s adaptability and commitment to compliance.

Bharat also acknowledged three outgoing board members and four new incoming board members.

CASSA also set some strategic priorities for the next five years.

Auditor’s Report and Financial Approval:
Leanne Saldanha summarized the Auditor’s report, assuring members that the financial statements were presented fairly. The approval of the 2022 audited statements and the reappointment of Rashidi LLP as the auditor were met with support from members Amandeep Kaur of PCHS and seconded by Ehsan

Coalition for Racial Equity in Education project:
Meeting Adjournment: Ehsan Qureshi motioned to adjourn the business segment of the meeting, a fitting conclusion to a successful and productive AGM.

Concluding note: CASSA’s 2023 AGM showcased a year of growth, resilience, and impactful advocacy. The organization’s commitment to social justice, community engagement, and innovation positions CASSA as a vital force for positive change within the South Asian community and beyond. As they move forward, CASSA’s members, partners, and leaders are poised to continue making a lasting impact on the issues that matter most.