April 18, 2019


It is crucial that the young people of the world get the opportunity to have our voices heard. When we are the future of our countries, the next leaders of our nations and play huge roles in our current communities, we should all have the chance to have the microphone passed on to us- so that we can drop it! Hence the name ‘Mic Drop’, given to an incredible youth activist forum that took place at The 519 on January 11th 2019. ‘Mic Drop’ kicked off the year with a great group of over one hundred passionate, intelligent and excited students ready to immerse themselves in workshops and activities to build their own activist toolkits. As a forum made by and for youth, this day was just pure empowerment. As I was lucky enough to be a part of the organizing team, I got to feel like, for the first time, my voice and opinions were being heard and fully considered.

Often times, when in spaces with adults, teachers and authority figures, youth voices are condescended, talked over, and sometimes silenced. Although there are those adults out there who recognize the value of our words and truthfully listen to what we have to say, it is too often than not that we can’t feel comfortable and confident speaking out. As a woman and a student, I find that my and other women, non-binary and gender non-conforming student voices are VERY much spoken over and ignored- specifically in the classroom. This is also common in cis, white, male – dominated environments, whether it is teachers or even other students – intentionally or not, talking over us and invalidating our strong opinions. Although, as a white student, I do feel like I have much more opportunity and space to speak up when I want to- in and out of the classroom. Although every student’s experience is different, we can all share the experience of not being taken seriously or having had our voices fully listened to by adults or even each other. That’s why we created a space for students to speak up and be educated without fear or pressure from teachers and adults- just an experience of communication and learning with peers. Where more privileged students like myself, can check our own privileges and recognize the importance of listening to our peers, sharing our spaces and taking a step back when needed.

With the provincial government’s continuous cuts to education, specifically targeting the sex ed curriculum, Indigenous knowledge implementation and any programs and learning that derives from standard, boring, textbook absorption- ‘Mic Drop’ also acts as a space for students to take the step themselves to seek the education being ripped away from them. At the forum, we had workshops on Consent, Settler Colonialism, ‘Calling In’ vs. ‘Calling Out’, Self Care in the context of activism and much more. All of the workshops, although some were led by guest organizations, had the input and voices of students incorporated into them and were made with the intention to empower more students with that education. Being a part of ‘Mic Drop’ was an experience unlike any I have ever had- especially at school. I was given the opportunity to meet amazing and passionate youth activists, learn from my peers, and stand up in front of a group of students to talk about my passion for activism.

With the help of EQUITAS, who saw our passion and potential and took our ideas seriously, we were able to put on an event with proper and open spaces for learning and connection, food and drinks, student-made art installations, needed supplies and tools for workshops, and much more. As well, The 519, a City agency, Community Centre and charity serving LGBTQ2S communities, , where we held the event, organized for many months and had the support of so many incredible activists and workers (shoutout to Roza Nozari, a true powerhouse activist and advocate for youth voices), continually believed in us and helped us every step of the way to uplift our voices and make our vision a reality. Having these two organizations, and all the adults involved, have our back and show us that we can make change and be leaders, is a privilege I am so grateful to take part in.

I am so excited to be continuing with such a strong and powerful group of young activists from whom I have been and will continue to be learning from and being inspired by. The politicians, policy makers, and people in power - - and the rest of the world for that matter- watch out! The youth of today are unstoppable and will not back down until our voices are heard loud and clear! So pass on the mic!

By Chloe Lederman