Canadians have a rare and precious opportunity to influence the future functioning of our democracy, both in terms of citizen representation and the balance of power that underpins day-to-day decision-making by our national government. This is a window of opportunity that, if squandered, may not present itself again for years to come.
Numbered at 1.8 billion, the world is now home to the largest generation of young people aged 10 to 24 in its history. Having grown up in a digital era and more connected than ever before, younger generations are able to see the world's boundaries as more fluid, recognizing their shared interests and values with people around the globe.
Last month, I wrote about my frustration with how slowly Canada is moving toward reconciliation with First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples. I despaired about the bad news coming out of reservations, the streets, the jails, our women and girls, the youth suicides... and wondered if we were ever going to move from pretty words to action.
Simply put, sports has a way of connecting people. When you throw on your team colours, you're no longer a Sikh, Jew, Christian, White, or Black. You're simply a fan. And the only thing that matters in that moment is realizing the dream of seeing your team lift up the trophy one day and host a parade on your home streets.
From my earliest moments as a new mother, I'd longed for my daughter to experience the same enjoyment from reading and falling into a good book that I'd felt in my youth. I pictured us walking in tandem in our mutual appreciation for stories, unpacking plots and characters for each other as we bonded in conversation.
Over the five years I spent seeking treatment, my family and I encountered a seemingly endless series of obstacles -- from programs that couldn't accommodate me, to waiting lists that lasted much longer than my desire to get clean -- all of which combined to feel like the treatment system was designed for me to fail.
Canada's youth are the biggest winners from Tuesday's federal budget, but not in the way you'd expect. Buried deep inside the budget, well below the commendable financial commitments to First Nations, families and young children, is a potential game-changer for young people -- plans to create the first ever Prime Minister's Youth Council.
We decided early on that, while we would of course ensure we had messaging towards youth across the country, and support young campaigners in constituencies nationwide, our focus had to be tailored to where we could be most effective. We decided to focus our efforts organizing constituencies with campuses.
Each year, 360⁰kids -- an organization that provides a range of services to York Region's homeless youth -- encourages local community members to experience homelessness, just for one night a year. Last March, our group made it through some bone-chilling temperatures. I will do it again this year. For more than 300 youth in a region that's home to large detached homes and flourishing businesses, they've lost count of how many nights they've been homeless. It's an issue that doesn't get enough attention.
Any meaningful and inclusive peace process entails the inclusion of young people. That's why World Vision Canada is urging the Government of Canada to focus on ensuring their voices are heard. Let's involve them in the discussion. By doing so, I'm convinced we will arrive at sustainable solutions we could never have imagined without them.
I can't truly explain how exhausting, challenging and incredibly cold this night was. I had been given a real-life scenario of a homeless youth as a part of 360°kids' 360°Experience. Our experience had us stepping into the shoes of a 16-year-old male, who was unsafe at home and had to leave quickly to save himself.
The way we have treated aboriginals in Canada is our great shame. This week confirmed to me that they are collectively more forgiving and forward thinking than our previous governments' racist policies. I am not new to these stories. While working in youth protection, I saw the pain in families torn apart by the legacy of residential schools. A little known fact about the residential schools is that when they were built, these were the only schools in Canada that included a cemetery to bury the children that would die. This is our legacy.
I have been to 14 funerals since turning 17 years old. Fourteen people who were friends, co-workers, crushes, debate partners, school mates and amazing members of the world's community. Fourteen people whose families and friends I sat next to at funeral services, whom I heard whisper "If I would have known," "How could I miss the signs?" and the awful "How could they do this to us?"
The holiday season is truly a magical time of year. It is a time for giving, reflection, and appreciation. Many individuals and organizations come together and show thanks by donating what they can to those in need. Unfortunately, the holidays will not be magical for everyone, especially not for a high proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and 2-Spirit (LGBTQ2S) youth who have experienced familial, societal, and institutional rejection. The holidays can be an especially lonely time for many, particularly for those without a safe place to call home.
The challenge isn't simply to get youth to vote. First, you have to inspire youth about the act of voting itself. There's no point in getting youth to vote if it's an activity they really would rather not be doing; that won't form a lifelong habit of voting. You have to first sell the benefits of voting before you can push youth to the polls.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a commitment ratified by the United Nations and 193 signatory states -- the largest participation since the UN's inception. These SDGs are not about environmentalism; they're about the sustainable direction of the world -- be it social, socio-economic, or environmental.
"Research shows the earlier and longer youth spend in the system, the worse the outcomes are," says Peter Leone, a professor at the University of Maryland who has studied juvenile justice measures around the world for more than 20 years. It costs approximately $100,000 a year to incarcerate one young person in Canada. If that individual becomes a hardened life-long criminal, the amount will exceed a staggering $2 million, according to a Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.