Canadian Refugee Champion: York University Refugees Welcome Here
Brought together by shared passion and commitment for inclusivity, youth empowerment and human rights, the Local Organizing Committee for the 2018 Canadian Council for Refugees’ Youth Action Gathering (YAG) is working to bring together immigrant and refugee youth from across Canada to share, learn and network on strategies to address common challenges. The Local Organizing Committee consists of a partnership between York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) and Syria Response and Refugee Initiative, Amnesty International at York and the World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC) Keele Campus Committee. All of them have been active long term participants in the York U Refugees Welcome Here! Campaign.
The theme of this year’s Youth Action Gathering is “The Power of Being You: Liberating Our Intersecting Identities”. We believe that we are strongest when we stand together, but that our individual experiences and backgrounds are the power behind real change in the world. By creating a space for young people of diverse backgrounds to come together to share stories, raise awareness and be a part of something bigger than their individual selves, there is potential for worldwide impact against hatred and intolerance.
Moreover, beyond intersectionality and diversity of cultures and backgrounds, the national Youth Network is guided by the principle of being youth-led. At a population of 1.8 billion, the world is now home to the largest generation of young people aged 10 to 24 in history. Growing up in a uniquely globalized and digital era, young generations have the potential to lead innovative paths toward peace through movements against oppression, marginalization and displacement. The YAG, a one-day event on June 6, 2018 at York University’s Keele campus directly precedes the CCR International Refugee Rights Conference, allowing for the often underestimated voices and opinions of youth participants to be highlighted during the international conference from June 7-9.
The Local Organizing Committee is very excited to welcome youth from across the country and witness the formation of powerful connections revolving around newcomer and refugee rights advocacy. As key organizers and participants in various refugee focused events on the York Keele campus throughout the year, including those of Refugee Awareness Week and the campus’ Refugees Welcome Here! Campaign, the organizing groups look forward to the incredibly empowering and humbling experience of passionate youth coming together for a shared purpose. The YAG truly reinforces the Amnesty motto that it is better to light a candle than simply curse the darkness- and every young person who has the bravery and conviction to defend the rights of newcomer youth is a lit candle for us even in the darkest of times.