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#RisingYouth Highlights — Spring 2018

What a start it has been for youth across Canada who took their ideas and transformed them into impactful projects.

Tessa Battistin / $250 / Montréal, QC

Tessa applied for the $250 community service grant to raise awareness for her passion. She shares:

“Clothing swaps are a great way to find something new-to-you while also getting rid of lightly used, unwanted garments. Planning a screening of the documentaries True Cost and River Blue raises awareness about the social justice and power politics implicit in the fast fashion industry. The screening was a great addition to the blog posts I’m publishing in an effort to educate the Montreal community about the benefits of slow fashion, and how they can shop more sustainably.”

“We donated seven big bags of clothing to Le Chainon, a thrift store that raises money for women who are facing homelessness, domestic abuse, and other difficulties. We gave one box of clothing to Dress for Success Montreal, which helps underprivileged women get suited up and generally prepared for interviews. We donated 6 large tote bags filled with winter coats, hats, scarves, boots, and gloves for emergency distribution to asylum seekers arriving at the YMCA residences.”

When asked what advice she could share with youth thinking of applying, she stated:

“Anyone who is considering applying, should stop considering and go for it! It’s a low-risk way to engage with your community on a meaningful level. If you put out good intentions with your project, participants will respond in kind!”

Ishvin Riar / $750 / Vancouver, BC

All the way across the country, on the Pacific Ocean, another rising youth went for it, and applied for the $750 community service grant. Ishvin, along with his colleagues, hosted an event called Road to Healthcare, in partnership with the auxiliary at BC Children’s Hospital. The event consists of presentations by members from various health fields, such as medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and physiotherapy.

The purpose of this project is to introduce youth into the various fields available in Health, and provide a no-pressure opportunity to ask questions about the application process, rewards and risks associated with the presenter’s career, and so forth. They imagined the grant would help increase attendees by giving incentives for prizes and food, and indeed it did! The turnout to the event was better than expected. The event was such a success, they have already started thinking about next year’s event!

When asked what was the most rewarding part of the project, Ishvin shared:

“The whole process start to finish was an incredible experience, I have learned a lot about planning events and having all the attendees who rsvp’d to the event come and engage with the speakers shows that they were paying attention and enjoyed the talks.”

Marina Maric / $1500 / Montréal, QC

Marina and her team applied for the $1500 community service grant because they were hoping to be able to make an impact on the lives of asylum seekers in only a few short hours. However, given the financial constraints of putting on an event that they had hoped would make a lasting impression, they needed outside support to be able to make it happen. They were hoping that this grant would capacitate them to be able to put on as memorable an event as possible.

They are a group of students who have been working with two local centres in Montreal, the YMCA Praida, a temporary shelter for asylum seekers and Le Pont. There are many children at both of these locations and they have been told that they would love to go to a Cabane à sucre, however, have not had the resources. Their project will be helping refugees integrate in Montreal by having an immersive experience at this cultural space.

“The most rewarding aspect was seeing all of the happy faces and seeing the intercultural exchange occurring between the participants from various countries of origin and the volunteers coming from their own backgrounds all coming together and celebrating a quintessential Quebecois experience.”

When asked if they had an plans on doing anything like this again, she shared:

“While our team from McGill is mostly graduating this year, many of us plan to keep volunteering with our partner organizations during the summer and throughout the year to continue welcoming refugees into Montreal.”

Jagroop Johal / $750 / Toronto, ON

Meanwhile, at the school Jean Augustine S.S in Toronto, Jagroop and her friends, Arman, Lakshmi, and Gurleen strive to create a positive change in their community, especially around problems like women’s rights and homelessness. Together they formed Power of Periods, a focus on homeless women’s lack of menstrual resources in the GTA, and decided to apply for the $750 community grant to make the care packages that they will donate. They want to give their dignity back, by handing care packages that include pads, tampons, underwear, wipes and hand sanitizer all inside a decorated zipper bag.

“We hope to end the stigma and ease the burden of menstruation on homeless women. We can actually change someone’s life and educate others on an issue that is often overlooked. People were often surprised when we talked about the issue because they never thought of it. We want to enforce the idea that this is not a want, but a need and every single woman should have access to it regardless of their economic status. Not only that, periods occur every single month and every single month homeless women must choose between a tampon or food. In other words, dignity or survival.

They hope to continue their Menstrual Monday events, which take place one Monday each month, in which students can donate menstrual products and write messages to be placed into the care packages.

Louis-Frédérik Gauthier / $750 / Sherbrooke, QC

Meanwhile in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Louis-Frédérik and his team used the $750 community grant to organize a day of body care for women living in precarious situations. They offered the services of a hairdresser, a beautician, a thrift shop and a bag containing basic sanitary products.

“It was the smile of these happy women. Our reward was to see the joy and the good mood on their faces.”

When asked if he plans to do more initiatives like this one, he shared:

I’m studying social work. So volunteering is part of my life. I will continue to get involved in my community, because it’s important for me to do that and be part of my community.

Dakota Bear / $1500 / Saskatoon, SK

Dakota Bear was eager to apply for the $1500 community grant and find a way to give back to his community. His project involved travelling back to his homeland of Saskatchewan to take a group of family members and friends to a sweat lodge, share a feast with the elders and engage in medicine picking.
Family and friends are struggling with PTSD and addictions, they will find healing in the sweat lodge and medicines handpicked by the elders with help of the youth.

When Dakota began to access his culture through traditional healing, he got sober, pursued wellness and feels like others should do the same. He wants to facilitate a connection between his friends and family and their healing processes. He feels as though traditional ceremony is the only way for Indigenous peoples to achieve overall health and would like to promote this amongst his peers!

I think it went very smoothly, I learned more about my culture and our traditions.

To apply for your community project, apply here:


Be sure to keep your eyes open for more stories every month.



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