Voicing Youth Perspectives, Opinions and Priorities to National Decision-Makers
A discussion with Topaza Yu, #RisingYouth Alumni and Member of the Prime Minister Youth Council
Tell us about yourself
Hi everyone! My name is Topaza Yu, and my pronouns are she/her. I am currently finishing up my kinesiology degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, which is the treaty six territory and the homeland of the metis. I am a #RisingYouth Alumni and a member of the Cohort 5 Prime Minister Youth Council.
I am actively involved in the areas of youth empowerment and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). I am currently on both Action Canada’s Sexual Health and Rights governance and National Youth Advisory Board. I work on policy work, community-based research around barriers to care for youth and creating optimal sexual health promotion campaigns.
My most recent community initiative funded by TakingITGlobal: #RisingYouth Community Grant, “Covid Pacs” is where I created 160 care packages that contained educational resources and were distributed to Saskatoon families in need during the pandemic. The mission of “Covid Pacs” was to combat barriers around accessibility to educational resources for youths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is the Youth Council?
The Prime Minister’s Youth Council is a group of young Canadians who provide non-partisan advice to the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada on issues of importance to us and all Canadians. Youth Council members meet both online and in-person several times a year to discuss issues that matter to our peers, community, and country. We interact with each other outside of meetings to discuss ideas and upcoming activities and talk with each other about issues that matter most to youths. We also engage with local and national organizations, meet with policymakers and decision-makers like Cabinet Ministers, and attend public events.
What does it mean for you to be chosen?
It is an honour to have been chosen to be on the Prime Minister Youth Council and be able to work closely with other bright-minded Canadian Youths across Canada. The council is a platform for youth to use their voice and one of the mechanisms to incorporate youth perspectives in government policy. I am excited to continue my work advocating for sexual rights and reproductive health and other pressing issues that matter most to youths!
What do you hope to personally bring to the Youth Council?
My priorities and goals for the PMYC are to advance and highlight the importance of sexual rights and reproductive health. More specifically, I want to continue the push forward in eliminating the MSM blood ban as it is based on questionable science and perpetuates a stigma against MSM while limiting the already scarce Canadian blood supply. I am also interested in advocating for universal contraceptive coverage for youths.
What do you see yourself doing in the future after your experiences?
I would love to continue my work in youth empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and rights through counselling, advocacy, and entrepreneurship.