Metro Morning

Torontonian of the year nominee: Shereen Ashman

For the second year in a row, CBC Radio's Metro Morning is on the lookout for the Torontonian of the year. Shereen Ashman is nominated for this year's award for her dedication to making black youth realize their potential.

A shooting became the turning point of her life, nominee says

Shereen Ashman went from being a victim of gun violence to the programs coordinator at Careers, Empowerment and Education. Her goal: to make youth in marginalized communities realize their potential. (Submitted)

For the second year in a row, CBC Radio's Metro Morning went looking for the Torontonian of the year.

The call was out for Toronto residents who are making a positive impact in their communities.

Nominee: Shereen Ashman

In 2002, Shereen Ashman was celebrating a friend's 30th birthday when she heard a series of gunshots. She ran, but soon realized she had been hit, and that a bullet had broken her leg.

Ashman now says that was her moment of disruption; the moment she decided to devote her efforts to stopping gun violence in her community. 

"I really had to make a choice," she told CBC Toronto's Metro Morning, after finding out she'd been nominated for the Torontonian of the year honour.

Ashman encourages those she works with to consider themselves something other than 'at risk.' (Submitted)

Ashman now works at Careers, Education and Empowerment, where she encourages youth to get involved in business and develop their unique talents. She also wants the people she works with to see themselves as something other than "at risk" — a descriptor that Ashman detests.

"It's a heavy burden to carry around," she said.

Emily Mills, who runs the How She Hustles network and also works at CBC Toronto, nominated Ashman for the award because of her selfless dedication to fostering the potential of young black people. 

"She finds the goodness in the young people that she works with," Mills said. 

Mills said in a year that's been marred by gun violence — 39 people have been shot to death in the city in 2016, according to police statistics — Ashman's work is more vital than ever. 

With files from Metro Morning