Youth have an essential role to play across Canada and around the world. They are the compassionate leaders paving the way for a sustainable and just future for all. To celebrate the 31st International Development Week (IDW) with Global Affairs Canada, we wanted to hear directly from Canadian youth. So we held a contest and asked them, “‘’What makes you hopeful that Canadian youth can make a difference in the world?’’ The responses were inspiring. Check out the winning entries for a big dose of hope.

Rhea | Manitoba

Artwork painted by Rhea

Raising awareness of injustices related to Indigenous people has always been my passion. As a non-Indigenous person, numerous speeches and drives with organizations have helped me understand the cruciality of all Canadian citizens uniting to respect Indigenous cultures. However, there was a point in my life when I often struggled to find like-minded youth; youth who use their passions to make their voices be heard.

This changed when I attended the Youth Parliament of Manitoba a few months ago. Bills on pertinent issues were debated, and intense discussions took place. But, it was after my inaugural speech that I truly felt inspired by youth. In this speech, I introduced myself and spoke

about the devastating ways Indigenous people are treated. Afterwards, the second debate occurred on a bill for reforming prisons. To my shock, during their debates, members used the content of my speech in regards to the disproportionate rates of incarceration amongst Indigenous people. I was stunned by everyone’s ability to grasp the topic I talked about and use it in such an eloquent and powerful manner.

This experience made me hopeful that Canadian youth can come together to make a difference. When young people involve themselves in issues that are only discussed by adults, that itself is proof that they are the changemakers of tomorrow. But, when they demonstrate listening skills and use them to foster healthy dialogue, that is proof that they are striving to become better changemakers than the ones we see today.

Ryan | Quebec

What gives me hope about the future is young people on the frontlines fighting alongside people of all races, genders, religions and nationalities, demanding change. What gives me hope is people of all ages who devote their lives to science and conservation, to protect and conserve the environments we inhabit today. What gives me hope is organizations like The Jane Goodall Institute, who use their platform to invigorate our youth to become the future leaders of global change. What gives me hope is the power of human connection, which provides the ability for us to come together and not give up until the change that we want is the change that we see. I am hopeful for a future filled with the idea that global change isn’t an infallible idea. I am hopeful.

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