October 12, 2012

Socially-engaged Young Leaders from Montreal, Benin and Nepal Receive Top Honours at Canada World Youth’s 2012 Leadership Awards

Montreal, October 10, 2012 – Charles McMillan, Chairman of the Board, and Louis Moubarak, President and CEO (interim), Canada World Youth (CWY), are proud to host the 2012 edition of the CWY Leadership Awards, at a ceremony to be held this evening at Montreal’s city hall, in the presence of elected municipal, provincial and federal officials, representatives from NGOs across Canada, and the CWY community. Similar events will take place later this week in Ottawa and Calgary, and the tour will culminate at a reception on October 15th in Ottawa.

This year’s laureates, who hail from Montreal, Benin and Nepal, will receive their awards from the hands of Ville de Montréal’s Mary Deros, executive committee member overseeing cultural communities and youth. “I’m thrilled to be involved in this inspiring event which recognizes active citizenship among youth in the community. These laureates have demonstrated their competencies, their entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of social engagement that sets a wonderful example not only for Montrealers, but for young people all over the world.”

The CWY Leadership Awards recognize the achievements of young people from Canada and around the world who are engaged in innovative initiatives that promote peace, intercultural understanding, and community and international development. “More than 50 outstanding young leaders from 19 countries were nominated this year,” explains jury member Gillian MacCormack, a senior advisor in global communications, “which made our final decision very difficult.” Winners are each awarded $3,000 towards the advancement of their projects.

The laureates and their projects

  • “Receiving the Outstanding Canadian CWY Alumni Award means so much to us,” says Tim Murphy and Noémie Desbiens-Riendeau, co-organizers of the Urban-Rural Farm Exchange project launched earlier this year at Montreal’s Santropol Roulant. “I discovered my passion for community organizing during my CWY Quebec-Benin exchange back in 1998-1999,” adds Murphy.
    The project addresses the need for more local, sustainable food sources for urban populations, particularly in communities considered “food deserts” due to a lack of access to nutritious, affordable food. In addition to its strong public education component, particularly aimed at youth, this project provides food directly to 40 families and to 15 individuals with reduced autonomy by supplying fresh vegetables to Santropol Roulant’s weekly Fresh Basket program. The project also feeds another 150-200 people by supplying Santropol Roulant’s meals-on-wheels kitchen and weekly market stand. Santropol Roulant, founded in 1995 and managed by young Montrealers, is itself an award-winning community organization that brings people together across generations and cultures through an innovative approach to meals-on-wheels.
  • When Beninese journalist Alain Tossounon – winner of the Outstanding Overseas CWY Alumni Award – co-founded Le Réseau des journalistes du Bénin pour l’eau et l’assainissement (RJBEA) in 2007, in Benin, West Africa, over 50% of his country’s population had no access to clean drinking water or proper toilets. The RJBEA network’s 70 militant journalists join forces with other organizations to lobby local and national authorities, organize awareness campaigns and publish articles on the issues of access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation systems. “Since the project began,” explains Tossounon, “new legislation has been passed with respect to water management, and other collective efforts have resulted in 65% of Benin’s people now having access to clean drinking water. This is very encouraging.” Tossounon became part of the CWY family in 2004 when he participated in a Québec-Benin exchange program and then acted as supervisor for two exchange programs in 2006-2007 and in 2010-2011.
  • This year’s winner of the Youth Innovation Award, Subhash Ghimire, founded The Sarswati Peace School in 2008, in his hometown of Arupokhari in Nepal – the first school in that country to address the need for accessible education and educational resources in the aftermath of the 1996-2006 Nepali Civil War. In addition to teaching 250 students, an additional 2,000 community members have access to the school’s library, Internet services and other resources. This project united people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups, as well as former rebels and local and national officials, around a common cause. “Our school works to directly impact the lives of youth affected by the war and provide them with the tools and training needed to create a more just and peaceful future for their communities,” explains Ghirmire. Ghirmire is also involved in a school for slum and street children in Kathmandu.

Youth Leaders in Action Program

CWY’s Youth Leaders in Action program encourages participants to develop leadership, communication and other life skills through volunteering in community-driven projects that have a sustainable impact on those communities and that contribute to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. During an intense six-month program, a group of nine young people from Canada – between the ages of 17 and 29 – team up with nine youth from one of several partner countries to do volunteer work together – three months in a Canadian community and three months in a community in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe or Latin America. Youth Leaders in Action is the only Canadian exchange program of its kind.

Cet article est également disponible en FR.

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About Canada World Youth

Canada World Youth is dedicated to enriching the lives of youth aged up to 35 who want to become informed and active global citizens. CWY offers international transformative learning experiences focused on building knowledge, leadership and skills through participation in sustainable community-driven projects. For more than 40 years, 38,000 youth and 12,000 host families have participated in CWY programs, in Canada and abroad.

CWY is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency as a charitable organization (#118973999RR0001).

Source : Mary McGee, Communications Officer, Canada World Youth, 514 931-3526 # 336,

Interviews and information (photos available):

Mary McGee
1 800 605-3526 #336
514 931-3526 # 336