Canadian Youth Put their Faith in Action!
“I commit to stop using disposable coffee cups, plastic water bottles and containers. I commit to gaining different perspectives on global issues and sharing this knowledge with my friends and family on a weekly basis. I commit to purchasing 2 items from the Canada Food Guide each time I grocery shop to donate to the local food bank.”
These commitments to real, concrete change were made by over 100 youth of diverse faith traditions at GEN-Y to G-8: A Multifaith Dinner to Inspire Change. On June 22nd 2010, youth from Winnipeg and across Canada came together to discuss major social justice issues and to start taking action to improve the situation of the world. This mini-youth Summit was held in conjunction with the Religious Leaders’ Summit, a gathering of over 80 leaders from around the world in Winnipeg to challenge and encourage the G8 and G20 leadership to address poverty, care for the environment and invest in peace (University of Winnipeg, June 21-23rd 2010).
At the end of the evening, while enjoying some refreshing ice cream, we challenged every single one of the youth present to commit to 1 specific, tangible thing that they could start doing as of that very moment to advance the Millennium Development Goals in their communities. On brightly coloured paper pinned to a blue anti-malaria bednet, they committed themselves to everything from promoting peaceful dialogues in their school to pushing their church to start using sustainable energy sources. This dramatic visual illustrated not only what these youth care about, but exactly what they are willing to do to make the world a better place.
But was this just a symbolic visual? No way! The youth have taken these commitments seriously and have started, in small ways, to improve the lives of people in their communities.
Ketevan from Ottawa rode her bike to work last week. Shannon brought a travel mug for her Tim Hortons coffee run before heading to class. And Alisha has started planning a multifaith concert to combat the issue of poverty in her home city of Winnipeg.
Alisha described how getting together with youth of different faiths last Tuesday inspired her to start taking action. She said: “I was at an extreme low [...] and was unsure of a purpose that I could pursue in my life. After this event I realized that after years of saying I wanted to get involved and make a difference but never made the first step, that I would actually commit myself to do something about some social justice issues. I have now got some new energy in my life, and the energy is stemming from wanting to make a change in people's life... what greater energy is there in this world?”
Although she’s encountered some initial setbacks in the planning process, she’s motivated and committed and is under no circumstances “going to let that stop me!”
These youth are dedicated to making the world a healthier and more peaceful place. They are taking actions every single day to ensure this happens. Listening to them talk, and hearing about their progress, I feel a renewed sense of hope for the future. Let this be an inspiration to the world leaders and to people everywhere, small, community-level changes can and do have a significant impact. And they all start with one I commit.