This is Our Canada 2014

The This is Our Canada: One Nation, Many Faces project is an effort to engage young Albertans, ages 16-28, in a discussion of what it means to be Canadian and to learn from our diverse experiences and histories. It comes out of a deep concern that the strength of our values is only as strong as the relationships between us as Canadians.

Events in Alberta throughout 2014 of young Calgarians fighting Jihad overseas, young Somali Canadians murdered in the streets across the province, suicides of LGTBQ youth, speak to the vigilance and commitment we must place on building bridges between communities and fostering communities where everyone feels safe and accepted.

In November, 36 diverse young Albertans participated in the This Is Our Canada retreat hosted in Nordegg at the Goldeye Centre. Over the course of five days, these Albertans discussed Canadian history, identity and heritage. We walked away with a plan for a tour of five Albertan communities with special guest Emmanuel Jal in March 2015.

EMMANUEL JAL was born into the life of a child solider on an unknown date in the early 1980s in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan. Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and go on to emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his personal experiences.

Emmanuel has made Canada his home. In 2013, he came to Edmonton to speak at the Ignite Change Now! Global Youth Assembly and he made an impact.His message is one that all of us in Canada can learn from.

In March, Emmanuel will provide a keynote presentation at a full day regional youth forum followed by an open community potluck where youth participants will present a community report card and recommendations to invited public officials and community leaders.

The youth that participated in the five day retreat left with commitments that they bring what they have learned back to their communities.  The planning of the youth forum is one of these commitments. They have also received training in facilitation and applied experience in presenting.  If you are a teacher or community organizations and may be interested in bringing in one of these young leaders to facilitate a session, please contact us at or call (780)453-2638.

These sessions can range from one - three hours and could include:

an exploration of Canadian values and identity;

a fun art project where we explore identity and make our own flag of Canada;

a timeline exercise highlighting the rich history of Canada’s cultures and faiths and important milestones in Canadian citizenship and history;

a film night to spark dialogue and discussion;

a dialogue and activity session exploring the diversity of values and viewpoints within Canada; or

a community potluck and dialogue.  

The This is Our Canada Tour with special guest Emmanuel Jal kicks off on March 17 in Rocky Mountain House and culminate in Fort McMurray on March 27. In between, forums will also take place in Cold Lake, High Prairie and Edmonton.

We are currently looking for help to make this a reality - both volunteer support but also in-kind or sponsorship support. Here is what we need to make this happen:

financial sponsorship of space (around $500 per community)

AV equipment for each forum

refreshments for Emmanuel Jal - nuts, fruit, water and juice... we also need a full length mirror (can be borrowed!) and four towels

a place to stay for a team of us from JHC (we’d take a church floor or whatever!)

hotel accommodations for Emmanuel Jal and his assistant

meals for Emmanuel Jal and his assistant

gas for the team as we travel across the province

printing for materials at the youth forum

prize for best community photograph taken by participants

lunch for youth at the forum!  We’ve asked them to bring their lunch but what a nice surprise lunch would be.

If you can help, please call us at 780.453.2638 or email at

This project has been made possible [in part] by the Government of Canada, and supported by our partners the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association, Wood Buffalo Multicultural Association, Aboriginal Resource Centre, Young Diverse and Proud, and the Alberta Multiculturalism and Human Rights Education Fund.