Youth Challenging Discrimination

July 28, 2020

What does this have to do with human rights?

One of the pillars of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the right to non-discrimination for all young people. This is in Article 2 of the CRC. The right to non-discrimination means that young people should be treated equitably, without distinctions of any kinds regarding their historical or present day realities. It means that all children and youth deserve to feel safe, happy, and be able to reach their full capacity. It is the responsibility of everyone to ensure this is true for every young person.

Community Action Projects of 2019-2020

1. AGIR, Montréal Québec

The youth group of Action LGBTQ+ avec les Immigrant-e-s et Réfugié-e-s (AGIR) in Montreal challenged discrimination by creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ immigrant and refugee youth n Montreal. In this space, youth discussed the issues and obstacles that they faced, built a deeper sense of community and friendship, and learned from each other about how to access their rights. With this they were able to elevate each other and their communities. Their aim was ultimately to produce a short video about the youth group discussions to raise outsider awareness on the barriers they face, but this was unfortunately postponed due to COVID-19. They did, however, collectively create a poem, “When I came to Canada I thought …" that explored the differences of their expectations of a “welcoming” Canada and LGBTQ+ community and the very different reality they faced when they arrived here.

2. Saamis, Medicine Hat Alberta

Saamis challenged discrimination in their community of Medicine Hat, Alberta specifically by addressing racism and exclusion faced by newcomer youth. They created a Newcomer Youth Advisory Council to bring these youth together to discuss the issues they faced with the aim of learning how to enact their right to a more inclusive, welcoming, and diverse community. The Council had a lot of successes. For example, they were given the opportunity to present their project at a local City Council meeting, to be interviewed by the local news, and to create partnerships with local youth centers.

3. City of Surrey BC

To challenge discrimination in their community, and with the help of Equitas’ Community Action Project guide, the City of Surrey created an awareness campaign for social media to address bullying in the lead up to Pink Shirt Day. The MYzone Peer Mentorship program happened over 9 weeks with youth leaders helping guide children through a series of activities. The children and youth’s project was featured in local news articles and highlighted the group’s passion for raising awareness against bullying and fostering more welcoming and inclusive communities.

4. Maison d'Haiti, Montréal Québec

The youth of la Maison d’Haïti challenged discrimination by organizing two days of workshops against bullying in order to make their communty more inclusive and safer. Youth from three different programs offered by la Maison d’Haïti participated in different workshops that offered spaces for reflection, education, creativity, and fun, while discussing anti-bullying. Together these youth found ways to ensure their schools and communities would be more opened to differences. Artists and community decision makers also joined these youth in their workshops, offering personal testimonies as well as words of encouragement to these youth in their great actions.

5. YWCA Québec: Comité Jeunes Féministes, Québec Québec

The Comité Jeunes Féministes of the YWCA Quebec allies young women based in Québec city who decided to challenge discrimination by leading numerous actions to raise awareness about feminism and LGBTQ2S+ issues in their community. Among other things, they joined Quebec’s General Assembly and led a discussion with decision makers on a number of feminist issues affecting youth who identify across the gender spectrum. They also led multiple popular education initiatives, such as curating a selection of movies focusing on LGBTQ+ and feminist rights for the FIFEQ, an ethnographical film festival and planning multiple workshops, panels and events led by diverse groups of women and non-binary individuals. Some initiatives will unfortunately be postponed because of COVID-19. With their actions, they challenged discrimination by drawing on the responsibility of each individual to make human rights a reality, particularly engaging their community decision makers and other community members in these discussions.

6. CAAL Jeunesse: Projet Pisikotan, Joliette Québec

The youth of the Centre d’Amitié Autochtone Lanaudière (CAAL) challenged discrimination experienced by Atikamekw youth in Lanaudière. With the ultimate aim of developing a sense of pride for youth of the Atikamekw culture, particularly in relation to language, and to develop a deep sense of respect for the culture for those in the community outside of this culture, the youth of CAAL started a project with three components: outdoor adventure sports, training for interveners, and the production of a film. The project aims to build the Atikamekw youth’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and collective mindset in order to denounce discrimination, particularly linguistic discrimination, that is found at all levels of Lanaudière’s urban institutions.

7. CCR Youth Network

The Canadian Council for Refugees’ (CCR) Youth Network is currently challenging discrimination in their communities by creating a toolkit that supports newcomer youth to engage with decision makers in their communities. In order to create the most helpful toolkit possible, this Youth Network is conducting interviews with key community decision makers that work in the field to learn from their expertise and their suggestions. It is a long process, and they are almost done!