BC youth use their skills to promote social and environmental change around the world

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BC youth’s leadership and creativity in creating social, economic, and environmental change globally is highlighted by the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) as part of International Development Week (IDW), February 3rd to 9th.  IDW is a national initiative of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) that celebrates Canadians making a difference on global issues.   

In a three-part campaign entitled “We Are Making a Difference”, BCCIC’s website, bccic.ca, is showcasing outstanding BC youth groups creating change, while also running a Facebook photo contest for youth to share inspirations on making a difference, and hosting a youth event on Saturday, February 9th in collaboration with Gen Why Media. “Local 2 Global” brings youth 30 and under together to collectively explore how each individual impacts the world with locally based actions and the role social media and mobile play in bridging the space that previously lessened the ripple effects of small initiatives.  

BCCIC’s “We Are Making a Difference” photo contest encourages young people across the province to interpret this theme with a creative photograph.  The contest is featured on BCCIC’s Facebook page until February 8, with great prizes being awarded.    

BCCIC’s website is profiling videos of three BC youth groups who are inspiring examples of youth taking action on global issues.  The 2013 IDW campaign features three BC youth groups:  AfricaCanada.org, Fertile Ground’s Kids to Kids Project, and the PeaceGeeks Youth Network.  Members from each group will be featured as panelists at “Local 2 Global”.

The PeaceGeeks Youth Network

The PeaceGeeks Youth Network, a volunteer group of students and recent graduates primarily from Vancouver’s Lower Mainland that help organizations worldwide build a greater impact through technology. Passionate about addressing international issues from home, the PeaceGeeks Youth Network plays an integral role at non-profit organization PeaceGeeks, supporting and building the technological and communications capacities of grassroots organizations working on the promotion of peace, accountability, and human rights. “It makes me feel really good inside because, you know, I’m making a difference,” says Sunny Shah.

PeaceGeeks Youth Network members are graphic designers, software and apps developers, students of business and fine arts, and more.  Their work has included a wide range of projects.  They have developed a new website and related training for the Centre for Women in Governance, a Ugandan partner which focuses on building the capacities of local women to run in elections and participate actively in peace processes.  Members of the Network have improved the outreach tools and brand identifiers of Egyptian partner HarassMap, which focuses on challenging the social acceptability of sexual harassment in Egypt.  A local speaker series where experts discuss key issues affecting communities around the world is another aspect of the PeaceGeeks Youth Network’s contribution. “I do this because it’s a great way to utilize the skills I have to help a really great cause,” says Cheryl Loh.

Fertile Ground’s Kids to Kids Project

The Kids to Kids (K2K) Project, an initiative of four Comox Valley children that connects youth in Assam, India and youth on the Canadian West Coast around sustainable environmental practices, is being recognized by the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) for their outstanding leadership and collaboration on local-global issues.  

Established in 2009 and inspired by the work of local non-profit organization Fertile Ground: East/West Sustainability Network, the K2K Project has created learning and support between children in BC and in India on issues that affect their communities.  In March 2011, one of the young founders, Onyx Vaughan Ogilvie, and his mother, Fertile Ground board member LeighAnn Vaughan, traveled to Assam to meet some of the kids and their families.  They shared stories and photos about their lives and efforts to improve agricultural practices, while building connections and communications between the children in Assam and those in the Comox Valley.

Since then, the K2K Project has made direct connections of youth in BC with youth in India through ongoing exchanges of photos, stories, and art.    Fundraising efforts of the BC youth have also brought many smiles to the kids’ faces on both sides of the world.  “You have to be the change you want to see in the world,” says Ogilvie, quoting Ghandi’s adage, “I think Kids to Kids is getting… up on to that road.” 


A small group of University of British Columbia (UBC) undergraduate students, promoting ethical human rights advocacy through their group AfricaCanada.org, are being recognized by the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) for their outstanding leadership and collaboration on local-global issues.  

Started by undergraduate students, AfricaCanada.org came from a desire to promote responsible Canadian leadership after undergraduate students learned of Canada’s problematic legacy in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (the Eastern Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda).  Since then, AfricaCanada.org has expanded its mandate to include a focus on ethical human rights advocacy, and how Canadians (particularly students) can ethically and meaningfully express solidarity with grassroots peacebuilding and social justice initiatives in the Great Lakes Region.  

Ethical advocacy means to reflect critically on international engagement and understandings of social justice by challenging assumptions of dominant advocacy narratives. “I myself have been fooled by advocacy campaigns… so for me, this is about personal growth,” says Klaudia Wegschaider, group member. 

Through its blog.africacanada.org, the group seeks to bridge the gap between expert analysis, local perspectives and initiatives, and issues that are relevant to socially conscious Canadians.  The group also holds discussions on topics ranging from the value and problems of social media advocacy campaigns to the role of women in both armed conflict and peacebuilding to the complicated nature of justice with respect to child soldiers/forced combatants. “We don’t necessarily come from a position of know it all’s,” says Maneo Mohale. “What we’re trying to do is learn as much as possible and to walk as we talk.” 

IDW is a national initiative of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) that celebrates Canadians making a difference on global issues.   

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