This statement was written by members of BGC Canada’s National Youth Council (NYC). The NYC is a council comprised of youth across the country who give input on and reflect youth issues and goals. The NYC operates independently of BGC Canada.
As youth of BGC Clubs, we are concerned with policies and issues that urgently affect youth across the country. We welcome the creation of the State of Youth Report and its insights on key issues, including reconciliation, climate, health, employment, and leadership & skills building.
As settlers on Indigenous territory, we are concerned about systemic racism and the ongoing oppression of Indigenous youth and communities across Canada and its Nations. We echo the State of Youth Report’s call for non-Indigenous Canadians to adopt citizen responsibility and engage with the histories, cultures, and rights of the original caretakers of this land. We ask that the government uphold its promises and take concrete action through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, including land back, in order to reconcile Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
As young people who will bear the costs of climate change, we are frustrated with governments and their lacklustre response to the ongoing climate crisis. Young people across this country and the world deserve to grow up in a clean, safe, and healthy environment. We echo the calls of the report and call on government to prioritize the advice of Indigenous elders and scientists over corporate interests, and to take immediate and serious action against industries responsible for emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many struggles that youth are facing throughout the country. With uncertainty in our lives, disruption in our education, termination or unavailability of employment, and disconnection from our supports, youth mental health is more important to address now than ever.
However, the support currently available is inadequate, especially in many smaller communities. Many feel the answer is technology, however these same communities lack consistent and stable Internet access and some youth do not have access to devices. Youth want and are willing to seek services to help with both their mental and physical health struggles, but need services that suit their unique needs.
The pandemic has exacerbated existing issues facing youth in leadership and employment. Youth across the country are struggling to find meaningful employment and leadership opportunities. Often, the youth who are most affected by the issues at hand are the ones who don’t have the platform to speak on them—for example, youth in rural and remote communities tend to have far fewer opportunities to discover and develop their leadership and employment abilities.
We agree with the State of Youth Report’s calls for greater investments in paid internship and employment opportunities that have career growth opportunities, as well as the need for a centralized database that collates leadership as well as employment opportunities for Canadian youth outside the difficult to use Canada Job Bank.
With the appointment of a new Cabinet, we look forward to the action the Honourable Minister of Youth will take on the recommendations of the State of Youth Report. It is crucial to empower and engage youth voices on key issues because when youth are able to grow and thrive through activism, better health outcomes, and employment security, they are better able to contribute to their communities, Clubs, and country.