Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) Convention 2019 – the voices of Youth #1

The following report and reflections were compiled by Christian Everall, Youth Engagement Worker, Greater Than County Youth Collective, on attending the Victoria, B.C. Convention.

Real Talk and Fresh Voices; Belonging for young people in philanthropy and activism

I was so fortunate to attend the #AllIn2019 conference as a youth delegate. The conference was held in Victoria, BC this past June, and my whole youth delegate experience was funded by RBC and The County Foundation. This article captures my reflections and learnings from one session that I attended called “Real Talk and Fresh Voices; Belonging for young people in philanthropy and activism.”

The CFC really walked the youth leadership talk by using the first #AllIn2019 conference-wide plenary to introduce a panel of 4 young leaders with diverse backgrounds to talk about the role of youth in the shifting world of philanthropy. This was especially meaningful and empowering to me as a youth delegate.

The youth panel shared a very powerful message: “Nothing about us without us.” This means that design, delivery, and evaluation of any innovations to do with youth and/or future generations need to be youth led. The speakers echoed many of my own opinions and sparked some new perspectives. They expressed that if young people feel valued, they will want to do more, making philanthropy more accessible to younger generations. We want to shift away from a limiting charity model and towards an empowerment model, where youth know that they have the autonomy and competence to take on leadership/activism roles. Instead of waiting for older generations to take care of things for us, youth should be involved in the development and implementation of modern-day solutions.

One of the panelists said, “I am who I am because you are; we cannot exist in isolation.” The speaker was talking about our own personal ties to the global community and how we are all learning from and influencing each other. By honouring relationships with one another and letting our common values drive our work to shift power and societal norms, we are all walking thousands of steps in the same direction. The discussion went into building enabling structures that let our values drive our work. What would an enabling structure look like? Perhaps it would look like society putting decisions in the hands of the people whom the decision will affect the most. It could look like society shifting away from practices that are, in essence, against common human values. A system that lifts up all people to allow them to reach their full potential. What do we need to do to drive progressive change? We can acknowledge and accept that there is always room to improve. Advocacy is an under-utilized tool in today’s world. We have strength in numbers, and collective impact happens every day in an informal/unstructured manner. Collectively, our money is political, our work has impact. Let your money do the talking by supporting local businesses/businesses that are aligned with your values. Let your work be aligned with your values. We all have to make an effort towards a culture shift where the power of love overcomes the love of power. We need to leverage power within communities and let common sense become common practice. The question that we were left with was this:

Can both global and local approaches to solving different issues affecting the modern world/societies co-exist?

This is what I think; global and local approaches to solving different issues affecting modern world/societies can and do co-exist. Historically speaking, we haven’t been intentionally building structures that enable us to let values drive our work. This has proven to be a monstrous issue over time, and so perhaps the quickest way to improve our world is to give the people in the front lines the resources needed to build enabling structures, with support from the national and global communities. When people are taking action to fix issues that they are affected by, their work may be more meaningful and sustainable. When you scope out and look at the global picture, how can we try to solve community-rooted issues? By evaluating programs and processes on a global level, we will be able to identify solutions to similar barriers in different communities.