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2016: Quebec Youth Speak about Canada Today

In the spirit of celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, the project’s second year (2016) was centered on Canada’s present.

From January to March 2016, youths between the ages of 15 and 25 participated in regional youth workshops across the province in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Eastern Townships, the Gaspésie, the Outaouais, the Greater Montreal area and in the provincial capital region. Led by their region’s youth project coordinator, youth participants attended three regional youth workshops in their respective regions to discuss Canada’s present, based on six topics outlined in the 2016 Young Quebecers Leading the Way Discussion Paper: Canadian Identity, Indigenous Peoples, the Economy, Politics and Democracy, Canada in the World, and Social Issues and the Environment.

The workshops encourage Quebec youth to offer their views, through a reflection of Canada’s present, on the significance of youth engagement in shaping the future of their country. Using the bilingual Young Quebecers Leading the Way Discussion Paper as a reference, the regional youth coordinators lead workshop participants through relevant discussions pertaining to the theme of the second year of the project: Quebec Youth Speak about Canada Today.

 

2016 Provincial Youth Forum

This year two joint activities were offered to youth participants, in partnership with project partner l’Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM), who was hosting its 8th annual École d’hiver at Dawson College the same weekend as the Young Quebecers Leading the Way forum. Friday evening, following the guided tour of City Hall, a panel discussion on civic engagement took place at Dawson College. Animated by Dorothy Alexandre, panelists included Michèle Audette, Martine Desjardins, Celine Cooper and Jean-Martin Aussant.

Sonali Karnick, host of CBC’s All in a Weekend, was the emcee for the weekend event. Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Youth Affairs, gave a warm welcome to youth participants and invited guests Saturday morning during the opening ceremony at Concordia University. The keynote speaker for the opening ceremony was Emmanuel Mavridakis, who was struck by a car in 2013, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Committed to turning his setback into a comeback, Emmanuel became one of three teenagers from across Canada to take part in Le Marathon des Sables. With a goal that one day he will walk again, Emmanuel shared his story and inspired us to face adversity with courage and positive thinking.

Throughout the day, youths attended presentations based on the six themes that had been discussed during their regional youth workshops. To see the full list of workshop presenters, please click here to see the 2016 forum program.

Saturday dinner took place at Dawson College, in partnership with INM’s École d’hiver participants, where youth participants had the chance to interact with elected officials, social entrepreneurs, artists, activists and other public figures for a souper engagé. Honoured guests included the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) Director General, Sylvia Martin-Laforge, along with: Alexandre Warnet, Antoine Côté, Carminda Mac Lorin, Catherine Caron, Catherine Gauthier, Dorothy Alexandre, François Marquette, Ibrahim Kaboré, Isabelle Marin, Jean-Mathieu Chénier, Michèle Archambault, Pascal Grenier, Patrick Rondeau, Richard Filion, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Santiago Risso, and Youssef Shoufan. To read more about these guests, please visit page 11 in the 2016 program by clicking here.

On Sunday morning youth participants reconvened at Concordia University to draft their Youth Declaration on present day Canada, based on the six themes explored on Saturday: Canadian Identity, Indigenous Peoples, Politics and Democracy, Economy, Social Issues and the Environment and Canada in the World.

Geoffrey Kelley, Minister responsible for Native Affairs; Karine Vallières, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier for Youth; David Birnbaum, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and Higher Education and Jack Jedwab, Executive Vice-President of the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) were on-hand to provide their comments on this year’s Youth Declaration.