Toronto not-for-profit, Amadeusz, recently began airing a new podcast, Off the Record, about gun violence and other issues in Toronto. We spoke with Tina-Nadia Gopal Chambers, founder of Amadeusz, and Warren and Cauldrick, Peer Mentors and Hosts of Off the Record, to learn more about the work they do and their podcast.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Amadeusz is a not-for-profit organization in Ontario that has been operating since 2009.
Amadeusz supports young people who are incarcerated to create positive change in their lives through access to education, community supports, mentorship, and exceptional care.
Amadeusz does this through different initiatives such as our Education Program, Prosper, Quiet Storm, Rezearch and our newest initiative, Off the Record. Off the Record, the podcast, brings voices from the inside out. O.T.R holds real discussions and shares views on personal, social and systemic issues, ranging from gun violence in our city to the effects of COVID-19 in our jails. Off the Record is hosted by Amadeusz peer mentors, Warren and Cauldrick. Both of these young men have been incarcerated themselves, and are determined to have real and honest conversations about their experience before, during and after incarceration on this podcast.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Amadeusz aims to solve the issue of equitable access to education and community supports for the remand population in Ontario.
When did you start/join it?
Amadeusz started in 2009 as a project, with our education program that was formerly called “The Look at my Life Project”. After years of growth, we became a not-for-profit organization in 2017. We are looking forward to continued growth as we have recently applied for charitable status.
What made you want to get involved?
Tina: I started doing this work because of community trauma, need and personal experiences.
Warren: The reason why I got involved in peer mentoring, which eventually led to OTR, is because as a youth, I ended up taking so much away from my community. Getting involved in this type of work is a way for me to give back to the community and helps those with similar backgrounds away from the choices I once made.
Cauldrick: Initially I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do OTR because I knew nothing about podcasts and I didn’t think I had an entertainer’s voice that anyone would wanna listen to. As we dove deeper into it, and I started getting more and more of Tina‘s vision, it became something that I welcome the thought of being a part of.
How did you decide on topics for the podcast?
Warren: Coming up with topics for OTR were relatively easy. 2020 was full of interesting things to talk about so basically we picked the top four topics that we felt impacted young people the hardest.
Cauldrick: The topics weren’t necessarily hard to come up with, because as per Tina’s vision for the podcast, it’s genuine conversations about real life situations. Given the lived experience shared between both Warren, and I we just started thinking about what we would want to hear, listening to a podcast like O.T.R and what topics we felt were important to talk about, that most people aren’t talking about.
What was the situation like when you started?
Tina: When I started, young people who were incarcerated on remand did not have equitable access to education and community supports. I knew this was a need that needed to be addressed.
How has it changed since?
Tina: Things have significantly changed. Since Amadeusz started, young people on remand in Toronto now have access to a high school completion program, post-secondary courses and supports that are needed to attain their education such as financial bursaries, books and education facilitators. Young people on remand also have increased access to community supports.
What more needs to be done?
Amadeusz has outlined recommendations and activities for sustaining equitable access to education and community supports for the remand population in Ontario. We need more culture makers, politicians and influencers to prioritize this issue in order for change to be made.
How can our readers help?
Readers can help by engaging in conversation related to issues that effect that remand population such as gaining equitable access to education and community supports. Readers can sponsor young people’s education goals, provide employment opportunities for young people being released released from incarceration, participate in outreach and social media campaigns to raise awareness about Amadeusz’s cause, and finally, listen to O.T.R as it offers perspectives that many readers may not have thought of before.
Do you have any events coming up?
We are launching Season 2 of our podcast, Off the Record, in Spring 2021.
Amadeusz will also launching an exciting initiative coming up in Black History Month – stay tuned!
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome Toronto charity that you love?
Tina: Remix Project and Literal Change are great organizations that support young people who are vulnerable to incarceration, violence and crime.
Warren: Young Street Mission – they do awesome work with youths that’s both authentic and sincere