Youth Leaders Begin Nine-Month Community Phase for Social Change
Revitalizing Mi’kmaq youth, supporting refugee and newcomer mothers, and empowering youth for climate justice – these are just three of the nine initiatives designed by young leaders for implementation in local communities.
“Having programs like this where they believe in young people – because I do believe that young people bring so much value to society – so actually being believed in and being given the opportunity to do this is just so reassuring,” Salome Barker says. “Youth programs are really, really important because it’s redefining what people think of young people.”
The OceanPath Fellowship – which next year will become the Pathy Foundation Fellowship – provides community-focused experiential learning opportunities for graduating students of McGill University, StFX University, Queen’s University, and University of Ottawa. Over the duration of one year, fellows work closely with communities to foster sustainable positive social change in Canada and around the world.
Your culture shapes who you are and it can be so frustrating to know who you are and want to be able to explore it, but those resources – you’re trying to pull at them and you can’t find them anywhere … It develops who you are as a person. It builds confidence in different ways. It allows you to have different experiences and make new connections.
Salome is a graduate of StFX University’s Women and Gender Studies program. Originally from Grand Falls, Newfoundland, Canada, her initiative aims to revitalize Mi’kmaq identity with youth in her home province.
“Your culture shapes who you are and it can be so frustrating to know who you are and want to be able to explore it, but those resources – you’re trying to pull at them and you can’t find them anywhere,” she says. “It develops who you are as a person. It builds confidence in different ways. It allows you to have different experiences and make new connections.
“For me, being Mi’kmaq and being able to finally have the freedom to explore that and have resources like Coady that believe in your ability, is just so reassuring.”
Hanan Ghazal, a graduate of University of Ottawa where she studied psychology and linguistics, is working with refugee and newcomer mothers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and says that her mother has inspired her initiative.
“When we first came to Canada, my dad was still working abroad so my mom came here alone with my siblings. She had to put herself through school and work to support us all by herself. She had to learn how to navigate the system – take the bus, find the local grocery store, and know what’s cheap and what isn’t, where to buy clothes, and what schools to put your kids in; although my dad was a long distance support, she really did that on her own,” Hanan explains.
“Seeing her navigate that and how hard that was for her, and now seeing this community of mothers navigating the system by themselves – how overwhelmed and stressed out they are, especially if they are coming from trauma – it just made me really want to bridge that.”
Hanan is working with Britannia Woods Community House to create a network that will connect those navigating new surroundings to each other, to community members, and to supports and services.
Climate justice means looking at the ecological crisis we’re in through multiple lenses, and how it intersects with human rights, Indigenous rights, workers’ rights, and gender equality – all these other facets of societal issues that we’re working towards … It’s all under this umbrella of creating a healthier planet for the people that live on it.”
Julia Weder grew up in Queen Charlotte, a small town within Haida Gwaii in northwest British Columbia, Canada.
“It’s a really vibrant, resilient community,” Julia says, “there’s a lot of energy around energy independence, food sovereignty, and environmental activism, so it’s an exciting place to be with a lot of pride and a lot of potential.”
A graduate of the Environmental Biology program at Queen’s University, Julia is working with Literacy Haida Gwaii to create an inclusive hub where young community members can gather for self-reflection, creative activities, and to learn about climate justice.
“Climate justice means looking at the ecological crisis we’re in through multiple lenses, and how it intersects with human rights, Indigenous rights, workers’ rights, and gender equality – all these other facets of societal issues that we’re working towards,” Julia says. “It’s all under this umbrella of creating a healthier planet for the people that live on it.”
Since June, the 2019-2020 cohort has completed the first three of five phases of the fellowship, and will now spend the next nine months working with partner communities to implement their initiatives, with support from Coady Institute staff and program mentors. Through leadership development facilitation and one-on-one coaching, each fellow is narrowing in on their own definition of leadership, and what type of leader they strive to be.
“A leader is feminist – they have feminist ideals. They believe in inclusivity, and they believe in dynamic leadership skills,” Salome says.
“A leader is perspective shifting, empowering, and makes me feel understood,” Julia says.
“A leader is genuine,” Hanan adds.
To learn more about fellowship opportunities, visit: pathyfellowship.com