To the editor:
On May 14, the Regional Multicultural Youth Council (RMYC) joined 15 other youth groups across the province in a pre-election virtual: “Ontario We Have Something to Say Youth Town Hall” organized by former Ontario Child Advocate Irwin Elman. Local NDP candidate, Lise Vaugeois co-hosted the forum and invited us to participate. Our youth council came up with a list of priorities for Ontario to invest in to stop negative cycles and create change we want for children today and future generations.
Due to limited time for each group we just presented our list summarized below. A full text including actions we want those elected to office to take is posted on our website: http://rmyc.info
1. Implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action to enhance social justice, and advance the wellbeing of Indigenous peoples to benefit and prosper from their traditional lands.
2. Investing in children and youth to prevent addictions, misuse of substances, dependency on alcohol, drugs, pills to cope with trauma, stress, abuse, grieving, mental illness and so forth.
3. Making schools more welcoming and accepting of diversity for all students to realize their full potential to learn, enhance their wellness, safety and achievement.
4. Engaging the youth in dialogue about sexuality and teen pregnancy, teaching parenting skills and creating strategies to prevent youths from having kids who end up in care.
5. Providing leadership to acknowledge systemic racism, instructing schools to do more to counter homophobia, Islamophobia, prejudice and racial discrimination, and supporting youth-led initiatives to promote human rights, tolerance, respect and teach kids to learn to get along.
6. Funding safer spaces and after school programs for vulnerable children and youth to hang out (rather than be on the streets), access guidance and information to make wise choices, have snacks, get help with schoolwork, participate in healthy extra-curricular activities, and volunteer to earn community hours, explore career options and gain work experience
7. Leadership training and role modelling for those in dysfunctional and abusive homes and positive peer influence to promote healthy life-styles, fight negative peer pressure to engage in bad habits, build character, foster good behaviour and ideal citizens.
8. Violence prevention, anti-bullying/cyber-bullying, safety using the internet and promoting peace.
9. Eliminating poverty, homelessness, supporting youth aging out of care transition to independent living, providing employment opportunities, workskills and a work ethic to underprivileged teens.
10. Having a Child and Youth Advocate to amplify youth voices in Ontario on matters such as taking care of Mother Earth, climate change, youth in care, and ensuring that impoverished, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQAI, racialized and minority groups marginalized from the social mainstream feel included.
Investing in children lays a strong foundation since we are society’s most valuable human resource. for building a better and brighter future. Damaged children become dysfunctional adults who pass on the pain, cost a lot more to treat and rehabilitate. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, and as Frederick Douglass put it: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”.
Eternity Neekan and Atlas Waite,
Regional Multicultural Youth Council, Thunder Bay