The night that I meet Nerissa Cariño, there are several children at her home in Pickering, Ontario. Four are her own: Cariño and her partner have boys aged 11, seven and three, and a five-year-old girl. The others are family that they are babysitting. “It’s really loud there!” she says, as we chat at Tim Hortons. But Cariño seems pretty serene about the situation – the U of T student, volunteer, activist and volleyball player is used to being pulled in a lot of directions.
In November, Cariño was awarded the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Peace Medallion. The award recognized V-Day events that she organized at U of T Scarborough in 2009. V-Day is a movement inspired by Eve Ensler’s playThe Vagina Monologues – independent groups hold events all over the world on or around February 14, raising awareness and money for charities that combat violence against women. It’s an issue that Cariño has become passionate about. “To raise money, I approached entrepreneurs. And many of the women said, ‘I really want to get involved, because this is what happened to me,’” she says.