Global Youth Assembly 2007: Culture of Peace



Reach Out Speak Up and Ignite Change Now! Global Youth Assembly 2007

In the summer of 2007, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights presented the Ignite Change Now – Global Youth Assembly, an international youth conference aimed at energizing youth to take action on social issues affecting their communities and the world. Over 500 youth and young professionals from 23 countries and nearly all of Canada’s provinces and territories participated in the Assembly, all bringing their unique perspectives to the table.

As with each generation of youth brimming with creativity and enthusiasm, participants were excited to meet with their peers in a setting that encouraged their voices to be heard. Although delegates expressed significant angst for the state of current affairs, their compassion for humanity and hope for the future refined their conceptions for a better, more just world.

Issues revolving around war and conflict, racism, sustainable development, and the environment took centre stage as delegates journeyed through the experiences of speakers and other young people making a difference. Kim Phuc, Dr. Rubin Hurricane Carter and Sol Guy left delegates with a sense that personal and successful social action was possible by each of us. From living on the streets to being addicted to toxic substances, delegates heard stories of survival from young people just like them who had ignited positive change within themselves and were now having an important influence in their communities.

Leadership was also a key element of the Assembly and there were 30 workshops which provided opportunities for interaction between delegates and presenters. Many of the presenters discussed issues like family violence, AIDS awareness, and their own roles in the reconstruction of their societies after dealing with adversity like genocide and the residential school system. These young leaders provided inspiration for everyone in attendance, showing the resiliency of the human spirit and the value of community solidarity.

Through alternative mediums such as visual art, hip hop, and pop culture/mass media, delegates were exposed to creative and peaceful methods of positive individual and social change. This was reflected in the exciting evening events such as the Favela Rising film screening and the Global Hip Hop Summit. These activities promoted interaction and innovative dialogues through various styles and re-iterated the need for diversity and plurality in the search for viable solutions.

Most importantly, the Ignite Change Now – Global Youth Assembly provided the opportunity for youth to recognize the potential of their contribution to our world. Attendees demonstrated that the voice of youth provides the prospect of a better tomorrow, offering creative ideas and innovative approaches to the issues facing humanity. It is the hope of the John Humphrey Centre that this voice is heard, valued and acted upon.

Read the Ignite Change Now! Resolution 2007 (or en Francais ).