Each year, National Youth Week runs from May 1 – 7. It’s a week dedicated to the celebration of youth and their active participation in the communities in which they live, work, and learn.
Canada’s youth participate in many meaningful activities – as volunteers and as leaders. On National Youth Week, we honour them and their involvement in these activities, which enrich and enliven our communities, our province and our country.
Our youth are an asset to our communities, and they are the key to our collective future. They are often students but also teachers and leaders in their own right, helping to instruct and inform others in meaningful ways. And they are breathing new life into the social justice movement.
Our youth prove that we can all learn from one another.
We are all inspired by youth like Greta Thunberg and her remarkable leadership on the climate crisis. Her activism has sparked a movement that’s antithetical to the polarizing politics we’ve witnessed over the past few years.
So, whenever you hear, “but I’m just one person,” take a moment and think of the significant accomplishments of our youth; those fighting for environmental and social justice in new and creative ways. Their expertise in the use of modern communications tools, like Twitter and even TikTok, is helping to shape the social and political landscape like never before.
As young leaders, and as young workers, our youth have the energy, creativity and ideas to shape a brighter future.
They’ve grown up in a world with record-level income inequality and environmental degradation. They face barriers like growing tuition costs, low wages and then enormous student debt, and astronomical housing costs once they graduate. Our youth are entering a labour market rife with precarious, part-time work, little job security, and few pensions or benefits.
And right now, our youth are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis too. Endless lockdowns have taken a toll on our collective mental health. So, as we take stock and celebrate our youth, we must recognize the unimaginable toll that this pandemic has had on youth mental health.
We must all do better. As a social justice union, we pledge to continue to fight for a better, safer Ontario; one where our youth can continue to thrive. We will continue to work alongside our youth and young workers to support them in their work as change-makers who are building a better world, and an even stronger union.
We’ve often said our youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they’re the leaders of today. Despite all the obstacles faced, our youth have emerged as leaders and they bring us all hope for what the future holds.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
OPSEU/SEFPO Provincial Young Workers Committee (PYC)