The amphitheatre of Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre (SLC) transformed into a holiday market this week with over 50 vendors and a lot of homegrown talent.

For the third year in a row, Shop the SLC gave independent entrepreneurs a platform to promote their products, and shoppers a chance to cash in on some unique finds.  

But this year’s market went beyond handmade accessories and baked goods. Many students used this opportunity to broaden the conversation around international social issues.

Initiatives ranged from Children of Hope Uganda, who work to empower war-affected youth, to Ryerson’s Alternative Spring Break group, who are travelling to India and Zambia this spring to build and renovate housing, schools, community centres and sanitation conditions.

For Dana Kandalaft, the founder of Tight-Knit Syria, markets like Shop the SLC allow her to connect face-to-face with people who are interested in the non-profit organization, which helps rebuild the lives of women in Syrian and Lebanese refugee camps by selling their hand-knitted and embroidered products.  

“It gives us a chance to actually dive into this amazing story about the positive impacts that these products have,” she said. “It’s not only a tangible connection between Syria and people here in Toronto, but it’s also an emotional connection.”


Kandalaft was wearing a knitted purse when she visited Syria in 2013, which sparked a reaction from young girls who had knit their own pieces with donated yarn. She had a lightbulb moment about women using their traditional skills and creativity to make money for their families, and wrote up a plan for Tight-Knit Syria that night. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Tight-Knit Syria aims to help these women go from the production stage to a more entrepreneurial stage where they can sustain their own clientele and work independently. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Sisters Sarah and Ali Johnson are the faces behind Point Blank Candle Co., creating hand-poured candles free of toxins and chemicals. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Ali Johnson designs and draws the candles’ labels, which each take on a personality inspired by someone in the sisters’ lives, from Little Monster to Red Lips. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Shoppinglee, a social e-commerce enterprise empowering marginalized women by selling their art and products, set up at Shop the SLC. The organization partners up with Palestinian, Haitian and Syrian women. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Children of Hope Uganda (COHU) employs 26 teachers and support staff at Barlonyo Technical and Vocational Institute and Early Childhood Development Centre. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


COHU sold jewellery and stuffed toys, donating the money towards malaria bed nets, school uniforms, foam mattresses, and goats for the school farm. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Emma Dixon created a baking bucket list in 2014, with 39 mouth-watering treats like red velvet Oreo truffle brownie bars and toffee crunch cupcakes. Three years later, she’s baked her way through nearly half the list. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Ola Saleh is an aspiring architect who uses Etsy to share and sell her own watercolour bookmarks and leather, beaded, wired and wooden jewellery. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Students from Ryerson’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) group are heading to India and Zambia this spring, partnering up with grassroots organizations worldwide. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Sophia Smith, a leader of one of ASB’s volunteer initiatives, said travelling to Nepal last year was amazing because she experienced a culture that is so different from what she was used to. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Pieces of Flair showcased shrinky dink pins, key chains, magnets and ornaments for shoppers on Tuesday. (Photo by Kate Skelly)


Britany Kasjak, the creator of Whole On Life, who usually blogs about healthy recipes and lifestyle, joined Shop the SLC to promote her vegan energy bites. (Photo by Kate Skelly)

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