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Speaking Rights 2019 – Engaging with Youth Changemakers from across Canada



Speaking Rights National Youth Changemaker Forum

From May 8 to 10, Equitas is hosting a Speaking Rights National Youth Changemaker Forum in Toronto, an event which brings together over 150 young leaders from across Canada. Youth from 11 partner organizations from across Canada will gather in Toronto for three days to participate. This Forum is a space for discussion where participants will reflect on the issues affecting youth in communities across Canada. The Forum also will give youth the opportunity to work collaboratively as Changemakers, to map out strategies, and to contribute to the Speaking Rights goal: to promote cultural understanding, respect for diversity and diverse youth participation coast to coast to coast.



Public Event – Speaking Rights 2019 – Engaging with Youth Changemakers from across Canada

During the Forum, Equitas will be hosting a public event on Thursday, May 9, where these young leaders will be presenting their Community Action Projects. This is a chance to connect with them to better understand how issues such as mental health, sexual harassment and violence, refugee well-being, youth and women representation in power, and LGBTQ2S identities and rights are affecting diverse community-members… and what we can do about it.

For example, Mic Drop is a Community Action Project organized by a collective of resilient youth, with the support of The 519. It is a one-day, youth-led skills-based conference on social justice and activism. This year, the first-ever Mic Drop took place on January 11. High School students and teachers were invited to attend conversations and workshops on topics which included: Defining Social Justice, Building Consent Culture, LGBTQ2S+ Inclusivity; and Know Your (Human) Rights. High school students and/or community organizations facilitated all workshops.



Youth Changemakers from across Canada

Youth from the following organizations are taking action to address these issues and will be participating in the Forum and the public event:

  • Canadian Roots Exchange builds bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in Canada by facilitating dialogue and strengthening relationships through leadership programs.
  • The City of Calgary offers many community programs, services and initiatives for children and youth in Calgary.
  • The Youth Network at the FCJ Refugee Centre is a group of young immigrants who share their experiences, support each other and mobilize their knowledge to overcome the challenges that they face, including insecurity, isolation, access to social services, etc.
  • Young women from the Maison d’Haïti work to increase the safety of girls and educate adolescents on issues such as healthy relationships, hypersexualisation, sexism, sexual assault, respect for the rights of women, etc.
  • Mouvement contre le viol et l’inceste provides safe spaces for young people, particularly those from ethnocultural communities living with a disability, from the LGBTQI+ community, marginalized youth, and youth living in situations of poverty. In these spaces, youth people share their experiences and talk about their understanding of healthy relationships, sexual assault and consent.
  • Options Community Services is a non-profit organization in Vancouver committed in helping people to help themselves and promoting safe, healthy, vibrant communities through their social services.
  •  The 519 is committed to the health, happiness and full participation of LGBTQ2S communities in Toronto and beyond through their programs, services, capacity-building initiatives and advocacy.
  • The Engaged Immigrant Youth serves immigrant and refugee youth attending Vancouver School Board schools. The program aims to help youth develop the confidence and skills needed to improve their settlement experience in Canada while reaching their personal and academic goals.
  • The Centre filles- YWCA Quebec provide programs to girls in the Quebec City area designed to highlight their strengths and empower them to develop empowerment, self-esteem, critical thinking and leadership, and to build healthy relationships.
  • Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre is a value-based family resource centre in Winnipeg delivering community-based programs and services to Indigenous families.
  • Through Youth Leadership Programs, the YMCA of Regina aims to provide a sense of responsibility and well-being to youth so they become more involved in community initiatives, work on leadership, interpersonal and communication skills, etc.


RBC Future Launch and Equitas – New Funding Agreement to support Youth Changemakers

The Equitas Speaking Rights Program has reached hundreds of thousands of youth and children across Canada to help them break down barriers and have a real voice in their communities, thanks to our partnership with RBC Financial Group since 2011. We are pleased to announce that RBC Financial Group, through the RBC Future Launch, will be funding the Speaking Rights program for the next 2 years. Equitas will receive $200 000 over 2 years to further our work supporting children and youth leadership in building more equitable and inclusive communities. RBC Future Launch is focused on driving real change and preparing today’s young people for the future world of work helping them access the skills, job experience and networks that will enable their success.


About the Speaking Rights Program

Equitas Speaking Rights is a human rights program that aims at developing the capacity of youth to engage in actions that support respect for human rights. Through participatory activities and Community Action Projects, youth are increasing their understanding of human rights and human rights values (such as equality, respect) and building life skills (such as self-awareness, critical thinking, empathy) while increasing resilience, building positive relationships and having a stronger voice in promoting respect for human rights in their communities. Learn more about the program here.