Olivia on the Hill: The Governor General’s Round-Table on Youth Engagement

January 16th, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

Yesterday I received the opportunity to observe a round-table discussion on youth engagement hosted by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. Seventy-five hand-picked youth representatives from the National Capital Region were treated to a day of stimulating conversation in the Tent Room at Rideau Hall. 

Through story-telling and song, the Governor General reiterated the need for Canadians to create “a smart and caring nation,” a call that has permeated his time as Governor General. According to Johnston, Canada should look to young people when it is in need of smart, new ideas, and it is the responsibility of each generation to “carry on the goodwill” of those that came before them. 

The Governor General’s Round-Tabl​e on Youth Engagement

We also heard from Michael Allen, the CEO of the Ottawa branch of the United Way, and Mathieu Fleury, the councillor representing Ottawa’s Rideau-Vanier ward. Allen described their Growing Up Great initiative, and invited input for how they to inspire and engage and youth and help them realize their ideas. Fleury invited attendees to think about how they were going to leverage the event going forward. 

I had the chance to chat with Patrick Twagirayezu, the president of the Capital Youth Initiative. He believes that civic education and youth engagement go hand-in-hand, and that the existence of school boards, senates, and student trustees are all evidence of young people willing to get involved. Patrick feels that there are a lot of young leaders; it’s just a matter of making them more widely known, and creating opportunities for them to continue their engagement after high school.

The Governor General’s Round-Tabl​e on Youth Engagement

The youth representatives were tasked with exploring several questions related to youth engagement. Examples include:

  • What are some of the obstacles to engagement that youth may face? What would help to address these?
  • What is your experience in dealing with barriers to engagement?
  • What can young people do to increase their involvement?
  • What can organizations that work with youth do to support their engagement?

Do you have any answers to these questions, or experiences that relate to them? Let us know!

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