Passing the Torch:
A Message from the Board
The Honourable Rob Norris, CWY Chair 2015-2021:
It has been a privilege serving as Board Chair for Canada World Youth.
Drawing on more than 50 years of success in enabling, encouraging, and engaging young leaders from across Canada and worldwide, CWY remains focused on its core mandate. CWY programs align with and help youth achieve personal and professional growth, strengthen communities at home and abroad, and foster a more inclusive country, for everyone.
Generously supported by the Government of Canada, CWY reinforces the importance of refining intercultural and technological skills, reinforcing a sense of solidarity among global citizens while at the same time offering tangible evidence of Canada’s inclusive foreign policy.
As the torch is passed to a new Chair, Dr. Michael Hawes, I am compelled to thank Dr. Hawes for his service to and support of CWY, as well as the membership of our entire Board. We have grown into true and trusted friends. These heartfelt thanks also extend to the tireless efforts of our staff, including our very able CEO Susan Handrigan and her capable first officer Julien Michel.
This spirit of appreciation also extends to our alumni, donors, volunteers, and governmental, corporate, and community sponsors. The generosity they demonstrate helps sustain the many efforts of CWY.
Most significantly, I offer a simple “thank you” to CWY’s young leaders – from Canada and well beyond – who serve as inspirations to so many, reflecting and reinforcing the very best of Canada with a shared, relentless pursuit of a better country and a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world.
Dr. Michael Hawes, Incoming Board Chair:
It is both an honour and a privilege to be asked to chair the board of such a worthy and venerable organization. For more than fifty years, Canada World Youth has set the standard for youth engagement, social responsibility, and social justice; all in the context of equity and inclusion in the developing world.
While the accomplishments of all my predecessors humble me, I am particularly impressed with the dedication, commitment, and sound judgment of my immediate predecessor Rob Norris. I have had the privilege of knowing Rob for some time and was not the least bit surprised by his commitment and by his leadership skills. As an organization, and I, as a colleague, owe him a debt of gratitude that is hard to measure and harder to repay. The good news is that he will remain on the board, providing me with critical guidance and support during these difficult times.
I am also deeply impressed with the commitment and skill of our CEO, Susan Handrigan, and rely on the hard work and good judgment of our dedicated staff.
The challenge now, as we (hopefully) head out of the dark days of the pandemic and imagine a world where we can once again do meaningful work in the developing world, is to be very clear about our vision, role, and responsibilities. Our priorities remain equity, diversity, inclusion, access, and belonging. More specifically, we need to do even more to provide those opportunities, while we engage and include more young women and girls.
In the end, our vision includes support for both youth at home and our friends abroad and, in particular, our commitment to and support for Indigenous persons in Canada.
Birthday Wishes from Newfoundland!
Thank You Sarah:
HerWASH Project Lead
Until very recently, Sarah Limbombe lead CWY-JCM’s participation in the HerWASH Project: Menstrual Health for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. This Water Aid project aims to address menstrual health and hygiene for women and adolescent girls as a foundation for improving comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Pakistan. As a subcontractor, Sarah, and CWY-JCM’s role is to engage youth in project activities.
We caught up with Sarah to reflect on her time with the program:
Q: How would you summarize your work with HerWASH?
Sarah: At its core, the HerWASH project is about creating spaces that allow young people, specifically girls and young women, to feel and be empowered. The cultural context in which the project was implemented initially did not allow young people to take active roles in their own development. So, I provided support and capacity building to country teams and implementing partners in order for them to foster environments that enable youth to learn invaluable interpersonal skills, grow, impact their communities and be empowered. I would also like to hope I was the voice of the youth when they wouldn’t be present.
Q: What impact do you think the project has had?
Sarah: The project has given the young people we’ve engaged, specifically the young women, the opportunity to be audacious. They’ve realized that even though they’re young, their voices matter, they’ve learned to take up space, and have learned to lead in communities that don’t “allow” or accept that from young people. Additionally, they have changed their attitudes and behaviours regarding menstrual health and hygiene that were bred by deep-rooted cultural myths and taboos.
Q: What was the best part of working on HerWASH?
Sarah: The best part of working on the HerWASH project is engaging with the youth and seeing their changes from the beginning. It’s been so wonderful to see the shift in how they view themselves as leaders and how they challenge the cultural conversations regarding MHM. It’s refreshing to see, and encouraging because we know that objectives we set out are being met.
We are so grateful to Sarah for all her work, and we wish her the best! Pamela Yengayenge will be taking over the HerWASH project.
Alumni Spotlight: More than a Research Project
Meet Hannah Marcus
While completing her MSc researching climate resilience in Kenya, 23-year old CWY-JCM alumnus Hannah Marcus aims to change the way we conduct research abroad.
A student of the University of Alberta, Hannah partnered with NGO Kar Geno Center for Hope based in Asembo, Kenya to complete her thesis on “Climate-Resilient WaSH Sector Development in the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB)”.
Hannah participated in a Canada World Youth exchange to Costa Rica when she was in high school. There she worked in environmental conservation helping to replant on a biological reserve.
“It really galvanized my interest in global health and international issues.”
From then on, Hannah participated in several other international exchange programs, and she quickly realized that she wanted to study conservation-related issues.
Having worked virtually with the NGO in Kenya, Hannah arranged to travel to Mabinju and spend the next several months interviewing community members and stake-holders in the community.
“I decided to do my thesis on climate adaptation in response to changing rainfall patterns,” said Hannah, “specifically adaptive measures related to water sanitation and hygiene.”
While she has gathered a lot of valuable information for her thesis project, Hannah also takes her relationship to the communities and individuals she interviews very seriously. “I don’t want to just contribute again to that one way knowledge exchange research dynamic that is so typical of Northern researchers who go to the global south,” she said.
The young Masters student said there are several projects that would improve climate resilience for the residence of the Lake Victoria Basin. “There seems to be such consensus around these three things that they want to see,” she said.
First, the residents want more trees planted in targeted areas, to help control mudslides, erosion and soil water retention during floods. Second, community members have expressed a need for solid, permanent plumbing, as pit latrines are susceptible and troublesome during heavy rainfalls and floods. Finally, interviewees have told Hannah they would like permanent, larger water containers, so that they can maximize during rainy seasons and better prepare for droughts.
“The kinds of projects we are seeking are not ones where they’re going to be forever dependent on some external commodity or system,” said Hannah.
“What we’re looking for is something that they can own themselves, and sustain themselves, without needing constant inputs of more finances and resources.”
Those types of projects, she said, already exist, but they are not a sustainable solution to the changing climate problems. Hannah is still in the innovating stage of her project, and she is seeking support, both in financing and resources.
Throughout all of this work, Hannah has been struck by the compassion, resiliency and support that community members show for one another. Social capital is what’s at play here, she says, “this idea of community being such a big buffer against hardship.”
“It’s really just, we’re in this together,” said Hannah, “[I’m] realizing how a society that’s not based on primarily individualism works, and how that in itself can be a buffer in times of adversity.”
If you have any ideas for how to support Hannah or have any other questions about her work get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women’s Entrepreneurship and Livelihood’s Initiative:
In Case You Missed It
CWY-JCM Speaker Series Panel 2: The Future’s in our Hands
On November 25th, we held the second panel in our virtual speaker series fundraiser, a youth discussion called ‘The Future’s in Our Hands.”
Hosted by the young CWY-JCM alumnus and international development expert Alexandre Gosselin, the event featured a lively and inspiring discussion with three young Canadians from very different avenues of knowledge.
Océane Yao is a program manager at the Conseil Jeunesse Provincial, a non-profit organization representing Francophone youth in Manitoba. Laurence LeBlanc is a law student and researcher for the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill. Claudia Larosilière is the co-founder of a small business Découverte Lokal, bringing the works of local artisans to Quebec via a seasonal subscription box.
This second event was held entirely in French, with the wonderful translation services of Isabelle Martiliani providing an English voice over.
The themes of the panel centered around issues facing young people today, and the ways in which Canada, and youth in particular, can, and are striving for a better society. The hour-long discussion was packed with incredible insights and ideas, only a tiny few of which are shared here.
Despite their different careers and passions, the young women found common ground around what motivates their work. All three agreed that the most pressing issues for Canadians, and youth around the world are the intersecting problems of inequality, racism/ oppression and climate change.
“Some lives are valued more greatly than others in our society,” said Laurence, “but if we look at history, we see that it is often the case that those who have more, often comes at the price of dehumanizing others. “And that’s what motivates me in my work,” said Laurence, “this re-humanizing.”
Although we all have different lived experiences, the speakers suggested that we can create a more equitable society by finding common ground. “Using myself as an example,” said Océane, “I’m from the Cote d’Ivoire, which was colonized by France. There are so many countries that have gone through a similar trauma, and if we could look at how to build relationships between immigrants and Indigenous people in Canada, based on those similarities, I think that would be really important.”
An audience member asked about how the three women feel about the future: hopeful or fearful?
“I have to ask myself, if we don’t have hope, who will have it for us?” said Claudia. Drawing on her experience earlier that day at the Salon du Livre, speaking with an author, she explained how she views fear as the major enemy of hope.
“Fear is the opposite of love, it’s the opposite of determination,” she said. “When we approach something with fear, we accomplish nothing, but when we approach with love, that’s when we can create change. So no, I’m not afraid, I’m keeping all my hope, I continue to give my love to the world.”
Alexandre asked the group what advice they would give to young people who are looking to get involved in change-making.
“I would say, it’s great to have passion, but combine passion with knowledge,” advised Océane. If you are passionate about reducing inequality, she said, then you need to make sure you go and hear stories, take workshops, and engage with people who have lived through this or that injustice, because sometimes we have prejudices that we are not even aware of.
Watch the full conversation on YouTube, and stay tuned for our next speaker panel, happening in January!