Spur Change is pleased to present our 2020 Youth Champions cohort! These youth are joining us from all over Canada and the world to participate in the program. They are skilled in public engagement, are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and are leaders in their communities. Each bring their experience and passion for gender equality and the SDGs, and a willingness to collaborate with peers and mentors.
Skaydu.û yu xhut duwasakh, Autum Jules dlet ka xanaxh. My Tlingit name is Skaydu.û and my English name is Autum Jules. Daxhlawedi I ya xhut. I belong to the eagle clan.
I am from the Teslin Tlingit Council First Nations in the Yukon Territory. I was lucky to grow up living off the land and water, harvesting berries and medicines, and subsistence hunting and fishing on my first nations traditional territory. I was taught by my elders at a young age how important environmental protection, equality, and respect is to the prosperity of all living things on this earth. The quote that guides me is, “who speaks for the ones who can’t speak for themselves?”
I work for the Teslin Tlingit Council Heritage Department and am passionate about learning and teaching my First Nation language, Tlingit. I have completed a fashion design diploma and the Coady Institute’s Indigenous Women in Community Leadership Program. I was fortunate to participate in both the City of Whitehorse’s exchange program in Japan and the International Internship for Indigenous Youth Program in Cambodia. I hope to show future generations that anything is possible if you put your mind and heart to it.
Bertha Mukonda joined VIDEA through Women for Change in grade 11 and has been a part of the Education Program with VIDEA for 8 years. Despite the hardship of rural life, Bertha did extremely well in Grade 12 and was accepted to the University of Zambia in 2015. She graduated with a Bachelor of Education in Special Education in 2019. Based in Lusaka, Bertha is keen to continue learning about global issues.
My name is Bornes Jepchirchir. I am twenty-two years old and the first-born child in a family of four. I started my pre-primary education in 2004 and completed my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 2012. I later attended Kosirai High School for my secondary education and sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in 2016. In 2017 I completed a certificate in computer studies at the Sokkin Vocational Training Centre. Later that year I was hired at Run for Life as a secretary.
I have always wanted to involve youth in planning and decision-making for programs that affect them and others. The SMO I partner with, Run for Life, works for a better tomorrow and for the good of the community.
I am Bushra Khateeb from Palestine. I was born and raised in Ramallah, the economic capital of Palestine. I finished high school in 2011, then studied English literature at Birzeit University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2016. My present involvement with the University of Alberta arises from an earlier partnership between the University and Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) in 2019. This partnership was formed in response to a request from Global Affairs Canada for proposals to “dismantle barriers to education in conflict zones.” The University of Alberta and WATC have kept up this relationship and continue to look for ways to deepen their connections over time.
Along with the partners at the University of Alberta, I welcome the opportunity to introduce and demonstrate to others the connections between youth in Canada and in Palestine. Nothing is more effective than person to person connections.
The University of Alberta and WATC see it as a special challenge to work jointly on SDG 5: Gender Equality and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities. This is a challenge because many people in Canada see gender relations and social equality as problems in isolation, especially regarding the Middle East.
I graduated from the Faculty of Development Studies with a major in Natural Resource Management and Development at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
I have participated in a workshop on water governance and hydropower dam, an international conference of environmental change, agriculture, sustainability, and economic development in lower Mekong Basin, and a workshop on community stories and the role of youth in society. I am a candidate of Young Spirit Program of Khmer Youth and Social Development (KYSD), and participated in the “Southeast Asian in Motion-Exploring Urban Change” summer school in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have also been a researcher mentor in a Young Women Researcher Program in Bandung, Indonesia and Kathmandu Nepal.
I am currently working as a research mentor on feminist participatory action research with young indigenous women at Cambodia Volunteer for Society (CVS). As a staff member with CVS I contibute my knowledge about environmental problems, facilitate relationships between ASEAN members promoting youth rights at the regional level, and mobilize young vulnerable women to resist the impact of a development project along the Mekong River. I mobilize youth by raising awareness on environmental protection and inspire their meaningful participation in decision-making in development projects.
Hello! My name is Christine Lan and I am 22 years old, finishing up my undergraduate degree in Commerce at the University of British Columbia. I like getting involved in my community through participation in school clubs, part time employment, and volunteering with local organizations.
This passion of mine led me to find the Canadian Network for International Surgery (CNIS). I began working with them over a year ago as a volunteer to help with their portfolio of activities. CNIS is a non-profit organization aimed at elevating domestic healthcare services in low-income countries through the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and experience. With a team of experts, Dr. Ronald Lett travels to countries such as Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, and teaches vital surgical skills.
In the past year, I have assisted the delivery of these trips by managing inventory of the supplies, recruiting sponsorship for our annual charity dinner, sharing CNIS activities to stakeholders through email communications, and more. With the guidance and tips from Spur Change, I hope to increase my impact with CNIS even more within the coming months!
My name is Dinu Rajapakse and I am from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I am in my first year of studies at the University of Manitoba, and I am pursuing a career in medicine. I am involved with A Journey Back to Sedika from Winnipeg, whose goal is to support the education of youth in Sedika, Ethiopia. I have been involved with this program for about a year through volunteering at their fundraising events.
My name is Fern Rayas and I was born and raised in Mexico. I am in my third year at Ambrose University, pursuing a BBA in Human Resource Management and Marketing. My calling is to provide opportunities for others by making a remarkable difference in everything I do. I believe there are many diverse issues developing communities face every day; issues such as poverty, gender inequality, sustainability and many more that are not being discussed by other members of society.
Growing up in a developing country, a fire intensified in me, a desire to learn more about international community development. I am hoping that, through this program, I will obtain sufficient knowledge to pursue my passion. I am an animal lover, so volunteering at animal shelters is one of my favourite hobbies. I believe being part of a community is essential to all beings; that is why I participate in my church’s activities as often as I can. Painting is one of my preferred pastimes, as it allows me to be as creative as possible. Lastly, I identify myself as an E (extroverted) N (intuition) F (feeling) J (judgement).
My name is Girma Shimelis Muluneh and I am Ethiopian. I have a master’s degree in Education, and am completing my Ph.D. in Education Policy and Leadership. In my academic journey, I have published four articles and two book chapters on change management, social justice, and ecological leadership.
I have over 11 years of working experience in Government Organizations (GOs) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). I was a university lecturer and project manager at both Save the Children and Amhara Development Association (ADA). My university career gave me experience in teaching education courses to youth pursuing their bachelor’s and master’s degrees; there, I could incorporate some global issues into the curriculum. Likewise, at Save the Children and ADA, I led teacher training and community outreach programs, which required working with youth.
Currently, I am a senior education officer at Partners in Education Ethiopia. My role is to work with schools, teachers, students, and communities to improve access to quality education. Our holistic approach involves school construction, teachers’ capacity development, school greening and gardening, as well as hygiene and sanitation, which are directly related to some SDGs.
Bio coming soon.
Hi! I’m Juan José, I’m 20 years old, and I’m from Colombia. I have been an active YMCA Volunteer since 2016. I’m in my 7th semester of studying psychology and I am certified by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as a life skills trainer at the YMCA in Latam.
I’ve been participating in the following projects:
1. Leadership school Jaibaná: I’ve been a facilitator of this school since 2017. Our main goal is to make students change agents for the future so that they can propose innovative projects or activities. Their work forms bonds between neighbours and makes each community a better place.
2. Ykids – School for Experiential Education Facilitators: The YMCA created this school and asked me to lead it in 2018. The main goal of the school is to build skills through experiential education and teaching English through play, knowledge, and experience.
3. Finally, I lead a program I created called UsaSOStenible. It aims to fight the effects of fast fashion, to strengthen relationships between Pereira citizens, and strengthen the volunteers’ life skills.
My name is Ligia Teresa López. I’m 23, I’m from Managua, Nicaragua and I’m a Social Communicator. My passion is being a volunteer, and that’s how I started working to achieve the SDGs.
Five years ago, I was volunteering with a project that helps people from rural communities to work with risk reduction and climate change, and that’s when I realized that climate change was affecting the dry zone of the country. Based on that experience, I decided to continue working with organizations that contribute to development in that zone of the country.
At the same time, I was building my skills in the social media field as a Community Manager and Content Strategist in a digital marketing agency. I had to decide how I would relate both passions: social media and the SDGs. I chose to work to increase the use of technology in a sustainable water resource governance project. My role was to train people from rural communities on using technology for monitoring, reporting and water rights advocacy. That’s how I met Change for Children Association. We are jointly working to change people’s lives and achieve sustainable development on a daily basis.
I was born and raised in the vibrant city of Edmonton, Alberta and I am a proud member of the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 4. I am currently in my third year at the University of Calgary where I am studying my bachelor’s degree in Development Studies with a concentration in International Indigenous Studies. I am partnered with VIDEA, an international development organization based in Victoria, British Columbia.
I am currently taking part in a 3-month long development internship program through VIDEA where I have had the opportunity to volunteer with a local, human rights-based NGO in Entebbe, Uganda.
I am honoured to be a part of the first Youth Champions Program cohort and am very excited for all of the learning, growing, and multi-generational collaboration this experience will bring!
I am TOWOU Martial Stanislas from the Republic of Benin. I completed my primary and secondary studies until the 12th grade. My love for the social led me in 2012 to the NGO Tabitha, which has allowed me to follow several training courses at the Don Bosco Home, including on the psychology of children in difficult circumstances and the legal protection of the child in conflict with the law.
From 2016 to 2018, I worked as facilitator and focal point of the ROAFEM network in Porto-Novo, for the following project: prevention of violence against women, sexual harassment in the school environment and forced marriage of children. In 2017, I decided to volunteer with Voluntary Action of Benin International (ABB-I), an organization whose main objective is to support the development of human, and social and economic activities in Benin through the promotion of volunteerism. At that time, I created a Facebook page to share with young people the importance and benefits of volunteering. From 2018 to this day, in collaboration with the NGO Tabitha, we organize exchanges and awareness-raising sessions for the parents of students and religious leaders on the importance of going to school for girls and on the health consequences of early marriage.
I was born and raised in a small rural village called Kisangasa in Tanga region in the United Republic of Tanzania. I studied Community Development and then a Bachelor of Social Work at the Open University of Tanzania. I have worked and volunteered with different local and international organizations including The Kesho Trust, Amref Health Africa, and Ereto Maasai Youth (EMAYO), an organization I still volunteer with.
As a social worker, I have been involved in mentoring and training women’s groups on social entrepreneurship skills and their social economic rights by designing and implementing rainwater harvesting projects and reproductive health projects for youth. I am an activist and a champion fighting against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). I envision a community that gives both men and women equal access to social and health services and where everyone enjoys his or her rights regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social status.
I hope to see the health of women and children improve as it is a matter that is very close to my heart. I am passionate about getting the opportunity to do things that help save the lives and improve the living conditions of vulnerable girls and young women.
My name is Noor Shawush. I am a Libyan Canadian born and raised in Canada. After originally pursing a degree in biology, I am now in my third year of Human Justice at the University of Regina. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend law school and focus on human rights law.
In 2019, I started working with immigrant and refugee children and youth at the Regina Open Door Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing settlement and integration services to refugees and immigrants in Regina. Working in the Welcoming Community for Newcomers Youth Program, I connected seamlessly with our youth and came to learn about their journey to Canada: the trauma, the losses, and their desire for a better life. These youth have a drive for success despite the barriers present in their path. Their perseverance and resiliency to adversity inspired me every day.
I have developed a keen interest in climate justice and I now see that my original interest in biology is integrated into my worldview. The effects of socioeconomic developments and the exploitation of resources are creating a dangerous cycle that damages underdeveloped countries disproportionately in matters such as food, waste, and poverty.
I was 15 years old when my parents sent me to an orphanage in hopes I would get a better education and find a better life. Little Footprints Big Steps Child Protection Organization (LFBS) helped to reunite me with my parents and supported my education while I lived at home.
I recently completed a training in hospitality. I am currently learning English and attending a post-secondary program in business administration. I am an active leader in my church and have raised my younger sister. At times I support staff members at LFBS.