Spur Change is pleased to present our 2022 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.
I am Anelson PIERRE, a graduating student in economics and finance at the Institut des hautes études commerciales et économiques in Haiti. I am 23 years old and I am an intern at the THAMANI foundation for the traditional games and leisure activities of tomorrow. In the SDGs, inequality is the thing that interests me the most because being born in a poor country, I see the damage that it produces, because of the poor distribution of resources there are people who suffer bitterly who can not eat, clothe themselves, house themselves, etc. And this produces very glaring inequalities in relation to the dominant class.
The lack of strong institutions in some countries to ensure equality between men and women creates an imbalance within societies and can cause the rise of women who are victims of violence within society. I have tried to combat these problems with the THAMANI foundation especially in the promotion of traditional games that eliminate unequal practices since one can play and learn with one’s neighbor who is not necessarily the same person socially, economically, gender or origin.
I fight for a world where social justice triumphs.
I, Christina McRorie, live in Saskatoon, with parents from the rural prairies and Southeast Asia. I am completing a International Studies degree with an Economics minor and Sustainability Certificate at the University of Saskatchewan. I work as a Research Assistant for the University, a Constituency Assistant for a provincial MLA, and am completing an internship with Prairie Wild Consulting Co. One really important issue for me is the human rights violations in Myanmar. With parents from Myanmar, the recent political violence has significantly impacted my family. As a result, I created the group Solidarity With Myanmar to raise awareness, funds, and promote political action for the citizens. I resonate most with SDGs 11 and 12, as I strongly believe in social and planetary welfare and implementing that at a local and industry scale. I am particularly interested in alternative economies, ecological design, and collective action.This is important to me because environmental issues are fundamentally human rights issues, and intersect closely with economic access and just development. I strongly believe in transformative justice and leading with love.
I am Esther Olatunji, a Nigerian. I have a Master’s in Social Work (Social Welfare). I am a registered Social Worker with the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW). My passion is to see youth thrive; living out their dreams and aspirations in spite of prevalent challenges made me start up a foundation where the thematic focus is on : Mentorship, Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship which has been in existence since 2018 and has over 2,000 youth benefitting from its programs and projects.
I believe in the unique identity of individuals and working to be in the right relationship with ourselves, one another and this earth to nurture and build meaningful connections to inspire change.
I am Eyale Abibata Nadege Dialo and was born in Brazzaville, Congo. I have a training in accounting secretary level CAP and am treasurer in the association of women for socio-economic development AFDS which militates for the empowerment and independence of women in Burkina Faso.
I think that Burkinabe women need professional training to assert themselves on the social level. She does not have the right to speak because she is intellectually limited.
My name is Jean-Samuel Jean and I come from Haiti, the first independent black republic. I am 32 years old and a nurse by training. I graduated from the art school in Jacmel and since 2006 I have been working to improve the lives of people in rural communities through community organizations. In 2019 with the association of Young Solidarity of the Southeast I launched the first Haitian Traditional Games Festival with the basic theme “What if traditional games speak to us about Equity of Diversity and Inclusion?” using traditional games as a vehicle to promote equity, diversity and inclusion or the SDG 5 and especially the preservation of culture and tradition. I believe that by respecting people’s rights in an equitable way, there is a strong chance for this country to develop and I believe that there are no people without tradition.
I am Maria Farooq, 23 years old, from Pakistan and I study Environmental Bioscience in a Changing Climate at Warwick. I am a “Women in STEM Scholar” at the University of Warwick. As an environmental scientist, SDGs have always captured my attention. My field of study addresses sustainable development goals from climate action to life below land and earth, from clean water and sanitation to clean and affordable energy. Now, the world needs quick action now.
As a climate specialist, I believe women are most vulnerable to climate change. They are the victims of the gender gap in sustainable development. To create tomorrow’s workforce to build a resilient society, women should not be left behind. From quality education to good well being, women are not appreciated. From gender equality to climate action, women are the one most affected. But they are not given privileges to make their situation better specifically in third world countries.
Considering this, I love to dedicate myself wholeheartedly and to work with full enthusiasm to save this planet Earth. I have experience working with Worldwide Fund. Along with this, I have been a part of the climate march, Warwick climate negotiation forum, and TEDxWarwick. In the future, I am ready to make contributions to the global community.
I believe we will thrive together. As the youth of today is the future of tomorrow.
I am Michael Tefera. I am 23 and an Ethiopian citizen. I am a fourth year medical student at the Southern medical university located in Guangzhou, China. I have been involved in the project called a journey back to Sedika from Winnipeg, tasked in the construction of schools for the youth there, and I also work part time at a hospital located in Dire dawa, the second largest city of my country. Wasted potential is quite unfortunate but I believe it can be mitigated, that’s why SDGs goal 8 resonates with me the most, by ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities the youth can better understand and utilizes their innate potential to change their lives and their communities.
I am MJ, I was born and raised in Colombia. I moved to Canada in 2017 to study at Niagara College. As I was growing up, I realized how neglected the environment was and wanted to do something about it, that is why I got a graduate certificate on Environmental Management & Assessment. During my college years I became familiar with the SDGs and I completely fell in love with them because they connected environmental and social issues. I then understood that Nature it’s pretty well on its own, but we are not, so really taking care of it is taking care of ourselves! All 17 SDG are interconnected and are key to achieve a sustainable future, however I will say that Goal #10- Reduce Inequalities- is the one that resonates more with me. I believe it encapsulates most of the issues and opportunities the other goals bring to the table. The accessibility and/or inaccessibility of food, clean water, housing, health, education, work, and justice impact people’s life and these issues are also associated with the environmental crisis we are facing today in the world. So, in my opinion if we focus our energy on reducing inequalities, which would bring people accessibility would help us achieve some aspects in the within the other goals and then become more sustainable.
I am Nainika Paul, a second-year PhD student at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, USA majoring in Women in Politics. Prior to Rutgers, Ilived in Washington D.C. and completed a Masters in Conflict Management and Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. While in D.CI was also a graduate fellow for the Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense-Policy on the Afghanistan/Pakistan desk. Through my studies and volunteer work, I have come to identify and involve myself most with SDG #5, Gender Equality. This past year, through my PhD studies, I traveled to Canada and lived in Vancouver and Toronto, researching MMIWG issues. While in Toronto, in addition to my research, I became affiliated with Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan as well as COSTI Immigrant Services, raising issues related to women and children in Afghanistan and volunteering to resettle Afghan refugees in the GTA. In my free time, I love 70s camera based film photography, traveling, and comedy shows.
I am Oliva Chabi and I am interested in international development and philanthropic development. I have a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Montreal, a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Limoges and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from the Centre Africain d’études supérieures en gestion (CESAG) in Dakar. I currently work as a philanthropic development consultant for an international cooperation organization.
I lived for eight years in Benin, my country of origin, ten years in Burkina-Faso, three in Senegal and two years in France before settling in Canada. I am an Afro-optimist who has been involved in many organizations along the way. I enjoy traveling, reading, painting, documentaries and informative discussions.
I am joining the Spur Change Youth Champions cohort to continue learning and sharing with other young people.
I am Peter Friedrichsen and I live in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (Treaty 6 Territory, Homeland of the Métis) and I am the General Manager of the Prince Albert Model Forest Association (PAMF), a regional NGO dedicated to partnerships in research, education and community development with Saskatchewan’s forest communities. I was raised in Alberta, where I completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Development Studies and Bachelor of Arts in Economics. I completed a Master of Environment and Sustainability (MES) at the University of Saskatchewan in 2020, with a research focus on the resurgence of First Nations farming and food production in Central Saskatchewan. I want to help create more sustainable cities and communities and support life on land under the increasing strain of climate change. To do so, I have already engaged local youth in sustainability and to build pride in their communities by initiating a youth tree planting program in Prince Albert to build up the city’s urban forest. I am excited to collaborate with other youth champions!
I am Sarah Danks, VIDEA’s Communications and Fundraising Coordinator. I live on the traditional and unceded territories of the Lekwungen speaking peoples, also known as Victoria, BC. I have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Professional Communication from the University of Victoria.
I am passionate about human rights, especially the education of women and girls. I believe that knowledge is a powerful tool that can lead to self-advocacy and the ability to make informed decisions. I am also a strong advocate for sexual and reproductive rights for women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. I recently had the opportunity to work in Zambia where I helped facilitate an international youth conference and was able to learn about climate change, sexual and reproductive health rights, and human rights with Zambian students, teachers, and VIDEA staff.
SDG #4, quality education, is one of the goals that is particularly important to me. I believe that access to a proper education is a building block towards many of the other SDGs. With education comes the ability to speak on important issues, to feel empowered, and to be able to advocate for yourself. In my job, I often help share knowledge around global issues and also issues that are happening in Canada that even Canadians don’t know about. As people learn, it often inspires them into action, and they then share what they’ve learned with others. I witnessed how excited the students were to learn during VIDEA’s online youth conference, and how much that participation meant to them. The teachers commented on how they had already noticed a change in students’ behavior and the way they carried themselves, even after just one day of the conference. And that’s what education can do. It can be so simple and yet so impactful.
In my free time, I love reading, playing soccer, photography, and hanging out with my dog.
I am Tijan Kuyateh, 26, and I am a youth leader from The Gambia. I have over 10 years’ volunteer and advocacy experience in youth, women and children development in The Gambia. Through a Canadian NGO, NSGA, I continue to empower young people with Life Skills, Reproductive Health Education and Career Development Counseling. I am also the National Clerk for a national youth parliament in The Gambia, where I volunteer to represent the voice of the youth in national development matters. Currently, I am pursuing a degree in Public Health at the University of The Gambia. I am committed to ending gender based violence in The Gambia and increasing youth participation, health and well-being.
Gender-based violence continues to be a huge gap and is an impediment to gender equality in the Gambian local communities. This is enabled by certain cultural practices that reinforce these vices and keep women and girls silent. My work majorly as a youth advocate and volunteer has been focusing on creating awareness and advocating for women participation in decision making processes, leadership and politics. My goal is to see gender stereotypes free in The Gambia and I believe targeting the younger generation and shaping their mindset in a positive framework will increase chances for the realization of what I advocate for.
As a proactive development practitioner, gender and humanitarian champion, I, Umme Mim Mohsin, hope to bridge local humanitarian work with global initiatives, “Think global, act local” being my motto. I hold a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts Degree in World Religions and Culture from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. As a Program Associate at CARE Bangladesh, I supported the Humanitarian and Resilience program to formulate project proposals, prepare internal and donor reports, communication materials, oversee emergency responses, and manage network/cluster stakeholders. I have also volunteered in international (Oxfam in Bangladesh) and national development organizations (Leaping Boundaries, BD clean, etc.) supporting humanitarian aid programs, education for girls, and environmental awareness in rural areas of Bangladesh. Currently, I am pursuing my second Masters in International Development Studies at Dalhosuie University. My current research interests include Canadian aid distribution, aid in humanitarian and development, donor relations.
I am Utthara Wanigasekara, born in 1993, originally from Sri Lanka. I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations. Currently a post graduate of Centennial College specialized in International Development. As an International Relations scholar my main focus fields of study were SDGs, human security, and peace building. I have done research on the above fields. I served as the cultural ambassador to the United States of America where I got opportunity work for many volunteer organizations on human rights, reconciliation and peace building portfolio and also to work with senior administrations.
The SDG I am interest is SDG#4- Quality Education. Most of the children in conflict areas are unable to reach a quality education. For example Syrian refugee kids have become a missing generation of the future with less literacy rate due to high rate of internal displacement and not having proper education system for them to reach. I believe education is the foundation for human development. I strongly worked on gender equality and women and girl empowerment in order to remove the discrimination on having education in their life.
I, VERONICA NYIRONGO am VIDEA’S international indigenous youth internship facilitator. I was born in 1997 from Chasefu district in Eastern province of Zambia and currently live in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia.. I am the first born in a family of six, two boys and four girls. I hold a secondary teaching diploma in English and Art as well as certificates in Critical thinking and problem solving, information communication technology, entrepreneurship and life skills. I am a role model to my community as I am the first person to attend tertiary education. I am a strong advocate for girls, youths and women especially on gender equality, early marriages, gender based violence, prevention of suicide, sexual abuse and human rights. I am highly interested to continue learning more about global issues.
For SDG #5: -Gender Equality- the issue that concerns me the most is gender-based violence. Often women’s roles in the house involve violence. Women are not awarded land and women are disadvantaged by many things and have limited power. Women suffer at the hands of their partners. I work with local women by having conversations on what to do if they are in that situation. Also, these conversations are empowering, to show women that they deserve better and can have lives without violence. In the future I would love to continue talking to women and promote reporting for gender-based violence. I want to give women more resources for when they find themselves in violent situations.
For SDG #4: Quality Education – Engaging youth, specifically girl children is my issue that concerns me the most. Girls coming from low income families who may have no-one to sponsor their education may end up marrying early and reducing their chances of having a quality education. In the past with VIDEA I have hosted youth conferences for youth across Zambia and Uganda to have conversations of education that can motivate youth to stay in school. In the future, I want to continue going to schools and create a mentorship program for youth to show them the importance of education. This is also important to me because I am a teacher.
I am Viktor Luiz Stembrock Nascimento, 26 years old and who holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. Originally from Brazil and having just recently moved to Canada to further pursue my postgraduate studies in the international development field, my interest came about after partaking in a scientific research regarding the development banks of the BRICS countries. Always eager to learn and take on opportunities, I am curious by nature and strive to follow my passion for discovering and immersing myself in different cultures. I enjoy exploring the world of graphic design, watching movies, discovering the city and meeting new people. I look forward to increasing my engagement and contribution to the development sector as a global citizen. “Acknowledging the difficulty that is choosing an STG to care the most about, since many if not all are extremely vital, STG #4 feels to me as definitely one of them. Access to quality education can change the potential of a community and its individuals drastically, being a powerful force in the fight against inequality. While not the only factor the international community should focus on, together with others such as the empowerment of women and girls, it can be the answer to many of the struggles and limitations faced by many communities.”