Historic Moments of Youth Leadership in Ontario


(Rihkee Strapp) #1

I am so inspired by the leadership young people are demonstrating all over Ontario. As I type, the sounds of students protesters advocating for change echo through the streets of downtown Sault Ste. Marie. In early 2018, Pascale Diverlus spoke to local students at Algoma University about the politics of “Good hair, bad hair,” but students could not help but ask about her involvement as co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto.

Youth are visibly at the center of this movement systematically advocating against anti-blackness. Whether this group is delivering potent social messages in the street regarding exclusion from Pride events, advocating to the city against police brutality, or running their kids summer program Freedom School, this group of young Black leaders have made history by demanding change and built powerful supports for their community.

Youth are “respected for their vision and energy” and with strong relationships with Elders in Indigenous communities, transformational change is possible. Spanning across colonial borders The Journey of Nishiyuu first came as a dream to young David Kawapit of the Cree community of Whapmagoostui. The 1600km walk re-established historical alliances with nations across their traditional trade routes ending with a celebration hosting about 3000 people in attendance in Ottawa.

Kinwhapmackin is a person with leadership qualities, who sacrifices themselves for the betterment of others, protecting the people, culture, heritage, and land. Ensures promising future for present and generations to come. They are the carriers and are guided by the teachings of Courage, Honesty, Humility, Compassion, Respect, Sharing, and Wisdom. (Teachings - The Journey of Nishiyuu.ca)

The exceptionality and bravery of young leaders does not go unnoticed and Autumn Peltier is known across the country for presenting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a water bundle. This 13 year old is nominated for the Children’s International Peace Prize and has had speaking engagements all over the world including at the United Nations:

"Our water deserves to be treated as human with human rights. We need to acknowledge our waters with personhood so we can protect our waters." (Autumn Peltier - CBC)

From the frontlines to the 25th year of LGBT Youthline, youth are leading the way in demanding safer spaces and creating them, advocating for their own health, and inspiring each other to reach the top.

Do you have stories of other young people taking leadership to shape their communities? Please share them with us. We would love to hear from you.