So many young Canadians are looking to make their mark on the world. Some pick up a shovel to build a school or a ladle in soup kitchens to serve the homeless. A small number choose a different way, traveling to Syria to pick up an AK-47. Where does the road diverge between the youth who choose the path of helping and those on the path of harm? And for those on the road toward extremism, are there points along their journey where they might be set on a positive path?
Like a decade ago, the goal is to end the Ebola crisis and allow a nation to begin its recovery. The next step will be to re-open schools shuttered by chaos and fear, allowing the next generation of health practitioners to be educated. But success will only be achieved -- and the next crisis averted before it begins -- if we all follow the example of those Canadian children who refused to ship out of Sierra Leone until the job was done.
In the dead of winter, minus 40 degree winds whistled through gaps around doors and windows of the decrepit portables that made up the entirety of their school. Until this month, that was life in elementary school in Attawapiskat. After a 14-year wait, children in the remote northern Ontario First Nations community have a real school again.
Irony -- when Canada's Minister of State for Multiculturalism is the victim of a racial slur. Minister Tim Uppal and his family walked into an Edmonton tennis club this past week and overheard a woman express disgust that the Sikh-Canadian family was allowed membership. She went on to suggest that Uppal was probably unemployed. It was an ugly reminder that Canada may be the land of multiculturalism, but we are not immune to racism.
No more hockey. No more swimming lessons. For 15,000 Thunder Bay families living in poverty, the proposed funding cuts in 2005 meant the end of the only affordable sports and recreation programs available to their children. The council debate was rancorous. The motion looked ready to pass. Then one councillor rose to remind his colleagues of their promise to the city's young: the Children's Charter.
In the small First Nations community of Moricetown, in central B.C., teens haunt the convenience stores and gas bars, their lives adrift. Locals call them "phantoms." Cain Michell, then 14, was one of them. His life changed when Moricetown teachers Tom and Lorna Butz came knocking in 2012,
Clemantine Wamariya went years without taking a shower. Living with the filth and stench was still preferable to risking rape in a refugee camp bathroom. It would be six more years before she again had a home not constructed out of blue and white United Nations tarps, and several more years before she became a Yale University grad and activist for displaced peoples. Wamariya's incredible success story is a testament to what refugees can achieve when every day is not just a fight for survival.
Although she attended primary school, Daisy's family couldn't afford the fees to send her to high school. But when Barengetuny was 19, development workers began travelling from village to village by motorcycle, including her community of Motony, introducing women to the micro-finance "merry-go-round." Now she's an established businesswoman.
I soon learned that anyone (even young people) could make a difference in the lives of others around the world. It all starts by committing to take one action in support of a local or global issue.
What astounds us is that, despite everything he saw and endured during the apartheid years, Tutu remains one of the most joyful human beings we know. A laugh is never far from his lips. When music plays, he is the first on his feet dancing. We can only attribute this to his mastery of the art of forgiveness. Tutu's soul remains unburdened by anger and vindictiveness.
On July 28, 2010, after years of pressure from many countries, the United Nations General Assembly declared access to clean water for drinking and sanitation to be a universal human right. But many places in the world struggle to guarantee this human right. Access to water is no longer just a third world problem.
Malala Yousafzai has recovered to become a crusader for universal education. Less often do we hear about Ziauddin -- or "Zia", as he is affectionately known -- who was the family's first crusader. He is his daughter's greatest champion and confidant.
Among the incentives to host a major international sporting event is the promise of an enduring legacy of infrastructure for future generations of athletes and citizens to enjoy. It seems that the global athletic events of the future will leave something other than crumbling ruins behind, as short-term sporting venues are built with social development in mind. We can only hope so much for Toronto's 2015 Pan Am Games. With a total budget of $1.44 billion, the creative opportunities for a sustainable legacy, like the athletes themselves, know no limits.
I was particularly inspired to write on this topic after attending Youth in Motion's Top 20 Under 20 Awards Breakfast celebration last month in downtown Toronto. Canadian youth from across the country were recognized at the organization's signature event, ranging from 15 to 19 years of age. Their accomplishments in one word -- outstanding.
One of the most fundamental aspects of a well-rounded post-secondary education is getting some life experience outside of the classroom. This past May, five deserving post-secondary students from across Canada travelled to Kenya to volunteer with Me to We.
Track down an old favorite by email or phone, and give the greatest gift a teacher can receive: the knowledge of their long-term impact, and where all their hours of extra care and effort got you.