Youth Action Gathering 2012: We did it!
On Labour Day weekend 2012, over seventy participants from Montreal, Toronto, Fredericton, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Vancouver Island came together and were part of the first Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Network Action Gathering. The energy was incredible – we shared, laughed, danced, grew, exchanged together. This inaugural youth action gathering was so important because it is something that youth network has been working towards for since its inception and thanks to support of our numerous supporters it finally became a reality.
ENGAGING NEWCOMER YOUTH IN PARTICIPATORY MEDIA FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
The theme of the conference was engaging newcomer youth in participatory media for social change. This is a very relevant and enticing theme, but not so simple to incorporate in a concrete way.
It was important that the participants leave with concrete skills and luckily we had the good fortune of crossing paths with and involving Parker Mah – renaissance gentleman and media facilitator extraordinaire. He led a media mentorship throughout the weekend with interested participants. Seven youth had one-on-one training and learned about sound, video and photography. There was also a panel entitled Participatory media and me – its goal was to give participants a survey of the mediums available and the advantages and drawbacks of each one when it comes to creating media for social change.
WORKSHOPS AND MORE
The workshop topics were selected by the network and the majority of the workshops were organized or facilitated by youth with the support of mentors. The calibre of the workshops was incredible. Throughout the weekend the organizing team kept receiving feedback about how the participants were blown away by the workshops – there were workshops on anti-oppression, best practices in newcomer youth programing, and digital storytelling to name a few. It was important for the youth network that the workshops were eye-opening, educational as well as engaging, and they were.
NEW PARTNERSHIPS, NEXT STEPS AND YOUTH ACTION GATHERING 2013
The Youth Action Gathering was not only a great opportunity to solidify national partnerships but it was also an opportunity to create new partnerships locally. We were able to create links with Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi, Y des Femmes de Montreal, Conseil Jeunesse de Montréal, Canada World Youth and Immigrant Workers Centre. It was a really unique experience to bring all these local and national partners together. One of the reasons it was and is so important to bring all of these groups together was to have a conversation about structure and processes of the network. This was the first time that we were able to have this conversation with such a diversity of members in the room. We also began discussing the campaigns that members would like to see the Youth Network take up in the coming years. Clearly an event such as this one is indispensable for the network, and we are pleased that we count on having it for the next couple of years. If you or your organization in interested in hosting a Youth Action Gathering in your community please refer to our call for submissions.
INTANGIBLES AND IMMEASURABLES
Connecting across a country as large as Canada requires not only access to technology, but also the initiative, motivation and desire to connect. This often starts with an encounter or an experience which sparks this desire. National meetings are one such opportunity. That is why it was so important to create this space for youth from all over Canada to come together to share, learn and connect. This was arguably the most important outcome of the Youth Action Gathering. The friendships and connections that were made, moments that were shared, knowledge that was transmitted, horizons that were broadened are the springboard for uncountable future actions and campaigns.
We can't wait for next year!