We hear a lot these days about the apathy of our young people. Citing their declining voter turnout, reduced rates of engagement in political parties or a general lack of civic awareness, the public narrative often talks about what this generation is NOT doing compared to the last.
But I argue another side of the story – that it’s not about civic apathy, but civic adaption. Young people want to be where the action is and have a direct impact. A report by the Community Foundations of Canada showed that youth believe that public policy through direct action is more impactful than joining a political party. Our young people ARE engaged in civic life, they are just doing it in a different way.
CivicAction helps our youth to get more involved in a direct and meaningful way. We are a neutral sandbox, where unlikely partners from all sectors come together to tackle some of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s (GTHA) toughest challenges. CivicAction boasts a community of engaged, talented, and dedicated emerging leaders, that are making huge contributions that impact people across the city and region.
Some of these leaders’ stories were told at CivicAction’s MetroNext: A Celebration of Civic Leaders event on January 21, 2015. The event celebrated some of our emerging leaders and showcased the impact they’re making. The highlight of the recent event was CivicAction’s recognition of two outstanding individuals who have dedicated their time to make the GTHA a better place. Taking home the first ever CivicAction Lifetime Achievement Award for Civic Leadership is former Mayor of Toronto and long serving CivicAction board member, the Hon. David Crombie. Mr. Crombie has been a noted leader and supporter of the GTHA from the time he first entered office until today. Andrew Graham, CEO of Borrowell, received the first Emerging Leader Award as an inspiring member of our ELN who has committed to improving the region through a variety of initiatives, including the creation of Toronto Homecoming.
As a company that is known for its commitment to leadership development, we were thrilled to partner with TELUS on MetroNext. Similar to our Emerging Leaders Network, TELUS’ Leadership Development Network is all about bringing together future leaders through learning opportunities and networking events.
CivicAction’s leadership programs build the collaborative leaders that are needed for today and tomorrow. With the support of organizations like TELUS, CivicAction will continue to invest in our pipeline of emerging leaders as we believe there is nothing more important to the future of our cities than preparing those who will lead them.
Sevaun Palvetzian is the Chief Executive Officer of CivicAction, a non-partisan organization tackling some of the city-region’s toughest social, economic and environmental challenges.