Trinity’s Leanne Toshiko Simpson – recipient of the 2023 U of T Course Instructor Teaching Excellence Award

Posted: May 17, 2023

Leanne Toshiko SimpsonCongratulations to Trinity’s Leanne Toshiko Simpson – recipient of the 2023 U of T Course Instructor (CI) Teaching Excellence Award, which recognizes a course instructor for the contributions they make to teaching and learning at the University of Toronto – educational leadership, meaningful contributions to course and curriculum development, and impact on student learning.

“I’m so honoured to receive the CI Teaching Excellence Award this year, especially because my students put so much kindness into their nomination letters. A big thank you to Trinity College for supporting the development of classes that center BIPOC literature and disability arts at a time where undergraduates are looking for readings that reflect their worlds, and to my fellow nominees who offered such incredible knowledge at our teaching innovation panel last week. I have been so positively impacted by my students these past six years, and it’s really amazing to know that they feel the same about our time together,” said Leanne, who is the course instructor for Trinity’s first-year foundation seminar courses TRN194H: Literature and Wicked Problems and TRN196H: Joy and Resistance in Diverse Storytelling, and a writing instructor with the Trinity College Writing Centre.

Leanne Toshiko Simpson (she/her) is a mixed-race Yonsei writer, educator and mental health advocate from Scarborough. She is a graduate of UTSC Creative Writing and the University of Guelph’s MFA, and is currently completing an EdD in Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto, focusing on the intergenerational impact of the Japanese Canadian internment. Leanne attended Trinity College as an undergraduate student and returned to teach as a writing instructor and lecturer a few years back. She also runs weekly creative writing circles for BIPOC students through Trinity’s Writing Centre. Her debut novel, Never Been Better, is forthcoming with HarperCollins.

In 2021, Leanne received the U of T’s Arts and Science Student Union’s 2020-2021 Urmila (Uma) Sarkar Service Award for her work on the Trinity College BIPOC Writing Circle and her mental health advocacy. At that time, ASSU commended “Leanne for launching the Trinity College BIPOC Writing Circle to create a space for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour students to expand their writing practice and share their experiences. Students appreciate Leanne’s openness about talking about her own experience with mental health, along with all the mental health advocacy work she does. Finally, ASSU applauds the immense support Leanne gives to students who are also struggling.”

>>Get to know Leanne Toshiko Simpson – view the College’s TRINfocus series where back in January 2021, she talks about the Writing Centre, the BIPOC Writing Circle and what her life is like amid the pandemic.


Trinity’s First-Year Foundation Seminar Courses are available to all first-year Faculty of Arts & Science students. These courses are designed to provide the opportunity to work closely with an instructor in a class of no more than 25 students. These interactive seminars are intended to stimulate students’ curiosity and provide an opportunity to get to know a member of the professorial staff in a seminar environment during the first year of study.

Leanne Toshiko Simpson is the 2022-2023 course instructor for TRN194H and TRN196H.

  • TRN194H: Literature and Wicked Problems: the course examines contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction to understand how various interpretations of disability engage with and challenge the framework of “wicked problems”. Students reflect on how sick, mad and disabled bodies have been labelled and socially managed, and how disabled storytellers are pushing back against harmful stereotypes and reductive narrative expectations.
  • TRN196H: Joy and Resistance in Diverse Storytelling: students engage with contemporary fiction by BIPOC writers, offering opportunities to engage with academic research, literary analysis and creative writing. The readings for this course will highlight how race, language, community well-being and cultural identity intersect, as shared through a multiplicity of voices.