Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada hosted 100 youth in Ottawa for the Social Innovators Youth Summit in April 2013.
The goal of the summit was to offer practical tools and skills to inspire and empower these youth to go back to their communities and lead positive social change. During the summit, the youth had the opportunity to learn from many great leaders about goal setting, leadership, making dreams come true and to never give up on your goals.
Here are some of the highlights experienced by the youth delegates:
- A visit Parliament Hill to meet with MP’s from across the country to discuss the youth’s community project.
- A tour of Rideau Hall and meet & greet with the Governor General
- A gathering with the Speaker of the House.
- Opportunities to meet and learn from many leaders including: Olympic Team Trialist Tania Archer, sports legends Donovan Bailey and Bobby Orr, and Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler.
- A surprise WestJet concert with Kardinal Offishall and Karl Wolfe! (See the video of the big surprise here)
Five Little Sisters from our agency got to attend this summit. Here's what two of them had to say about it...
Little Sister Carmen, age 16:
As the eldest in a family with 3 kids, it’s always something special when you don't have to share it with them…just like this trip to Ottawa. I had the opportunity to visit Parliament Hill and take note of things that only the 100 or so youth were able to experience. Prior to the trip, I thought it would have been just a series of workshops and could almost imagine myself falling asleep as the guest speaker talked, but it was everything except boring. I learned the difference between good public speaking and bad public speaking and that when your facilitators tell you that you're going to a food bank to volunteer, you may want to expect big things when you get off at an aviation museum. I was able to meet Karl Wolf, Kardinal Offishall, Tania Archer and Donovan Bailey, all of whom are people that are genuine and passionate about what they do. On this trip, I learned about social issues and that if I want to see change, I must first be the change. The beginning is always rough, but everything will end wonderfully.
On the first day, we had enough time to do a little introduction event that hit home. It was a classic game of, "Step on the Line If..." and it showed me things that I wouldn't have thought I'd notice. I am a Little Sister, but many there were Bigs attending the summit and it's fascinating how different people are on the outside, but how similar we are inside. There were people there that were there because they wanted their Little to be able to eat breakfast in the morning, and not just one morning, but every single morning. This young lady wanted a breakfast club, so that she would know that her Little would always have food in her stomach before school started. It was something so simple, but also life changing. I had the experience of a lifetime becoming friends with all my group members in our safe space. We learned things together and made learning more than just fun, but memorable. I remember the little jokes we had and how many tears we shed the last day. It wasn't even a week of activities together, but we were able to bond so quickly because of our passions. Youth across the world aren't just youth, we are the next generation, and, because of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, youth are able to overcome challenges and succeed. It's cliché, but there are no words to explain how wonderful the experience was. Going to Parliament? No big deal. Private concert from Karl Wolf and Kardinal Offishall? No big deal. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada? Big deal. Thanks for the memories!
Little Sister Aziza, age 15:
Hi there! My name is Aziza, and on April 14th, I started a summit that unexpectedly changed my perspective. We were put in three large groups and, may I tell you, my group was a blessing. The kind-hearted people shared their stories and outlooks, ideas and perspectives, passion and respect. Our leaders were phenomenal. They too shared their journeys and their reasons for supporting us. Every step was a lesson to be learned, and I couldn't have been more grateful. We visited the parliament building, had a little walk around the beautiful city of Ottawa, visited the Governor’s home, and met inspiring athletes and role models. We ate amazing food and stayed at the beautiful Holiday Inn. This experience changed my ways at home, and coming home after those short five days couldn't have been harder. I cannot ever thank everyone who made this opportunity happen enough. Thank you!