Youth rights, culture preservation discussed at Northern workshop

Youth weighed in on issues affecting them during a workshop in Iqaluit on Wednesday.

The Canada We Want: Northern Voices was in Iqaluit on Wednesday

A small group discusses issues around rights of the child during a workshop hosted by the Students Commission of Canada. (Angela Hill/CBC)

The Students Commission of Canada is hosting workshops across the country ahead of the Canada We Want conference to be held near Toronto later this month.

On Wednesday, the Northern Voices workshop saw a variety of groups participate in Iqaluit. 

"We've come here to do a listening session with young people in the community to hear what they think about topics that are important to them," said Sharif Mahdy, executive director of the Students Commission of Canada.

In the morning, youth participated in small group discussions and tackled issues like whether the rights of a child are being met in the community, and how culture should be protected.

"There are so many Inuit youth facing struggles with culture and how their rights are being protected. I felt that was an issue in our community, so I wanted to take part," said Alika Komangapik, 16.

When talking about how food is marketed to youth, she said advertising creates an attitude of wants rather than needs — and with the high prices of food that becomes an issue.

Alassua Hanson, 16, spoke about wanting to see changes in Nunavut when it comes to youth rights.

"I really love being involved as an Inuk youth in Nunavut, so I'd really like to help my community and territory."

They talked about differences in lived experiences — including how even though situations might be similar, the outcome for the youth could be different.

The information gathered from the workshop will be analyzed by youth attending the national Canada We Want Conference.

Youth will use the data to make policy recommendations that can inform decision makers in governments and try to influence how they implement policy, Mahdy said.

Similar workshops will also be held in Halifax, Winnipeg, Kingston, Montreal, Saskatoon and Golden.

The 2018 Canada We Want conference is about looking toward the next 150 years of Canada and making positive changes. It will be held Feb. 28 to Mar. 5.