May 2, 2013: Speaking Rights – Youth Transform Montreal!

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This past May 2nd at the Musée d’Art contemporain de Montréal, over 200 people came together under the banner “A Thousand Youth, A Thousand Ways to Participate” for the annual Speaking Rights event. Youth from a dozen organizations took the opportunity to present the community engagement projects they led through the Speaking Rights program. The projects aimed to promote human rights values in the community: a video to counter stereotypes, a sports event to unite generations, workshops to learn how to cook sustainably … the projects the youth presented were creative and diverse! The guests who attended the event greatly enjoyed visiting the different kiosks. Among those whom they had the opportunity to meet were the girls from Women and Cities International; who were showcasing the postcards and T-shirts they created to raise awareness about the importance of fairness in the community. Several kiosks invited visitors to better understand the challenges youth experience in their neighbourhoods and the solutions they find to respond to them. For instance, the participants from Youth in Motion presented video clips to counter bullying. “For us,” explained a 13 year old participant, “shooting the video was easy because bullying is something we see almost everyday at school. So we know what it looks like. But our video was also meant to present solutions. We wanted to show people that we can solve the problem!” The event allowed youth from different neighbourhoods to speak to each other and share their experiences with one another. “For my group, it’s important to participate in this event!” explained Darley, a youth worker at Dawson Community Center. “One of the girls in my group told me that this was her first time speaking with an Aboriginal youth. Through this event, many youths from different organizations found things they have in common! For example, our youths from Verdun made a video to talk about diversity and the youths from Ka Mamukanit made a video to counter stereotypes about Aboriginal people. Youths from these two groups have had different experiences, but they can relate to each other!” The event was also an opportunity to recognize the importance of youth contributions to community life. “Let’s stop saying that the youth are the future,” said Equitas Executive Director Ian Hamilton, “they are the present. They are the ones who, today, are transforming the community in positive ways. Their projects contribute to making Montreal a city where Human Rights are respected. I say WOW! Because for me, personally, these youth are role models, examples to be followed!” At the end of the evening,, each group was awarded a certificate to outline their hands-on contribution to Equitas’ mission. Click here to watch the video that presents the 2012-2013 Community Engagement Projects led by youth through the Speaking Rights program. Click here to learn more about the Speaking Rights program

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