HOPE is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists…It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.”

                                                                                 Rebecca Solnit.

May 18th, 2017 marked the final day of the Next Generation: Canadian Global Citizenship Project at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute. The program for this day differed from the previous four: students started the day with an opening plenary where they reviewed the previous conference day, and familiarized with the schedule for the coming day. They then broke into their Community Service Projects (CSP) for the final time to finalize their presentations.

The Youth Summit portion of the day began after a healthy snack break, which, as always, was provided by the Next Generation Project. The Youth Summit began with a traditional Indigenous welcome and land acknowledgement by Kim Wheately. Kim spoke to students about the ways in which the Indigenous peoples of Canada have embraced, invited, and welcomed new people to the country to share their space with them. She said goodbye to the students on a note of ‘unabashed hope and belonging.’ This marked the official beginning of the Youth Summit – an opportunity for students to share their CSP project not only with their other peers, but as well to showcase their work to the special guests, and panelists in attendance for the final day of the conference. The panelists at the Youth Summit included: Vahan Kololian (The Mosaic Institute Co-Founder and Chair); Amita Handa (Toronto District School Board Equity Leader); Tamam McCallum (Turtle House Art/Play Centre Founder and Executive Director); and Asam Ahmad (Next Generation Project Facilitator). As well in attendance were, Renu Mandhane the Chief Commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and Jennifer Mac Donald the Discrimination Prevention Officer at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

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Each of the six groups focused on themes related to Turtle House – art, community, youth, displacement, conflict, war, forced migration, and refugees among others. They approached these themes through different mediums including: fundraising, music, theatre, social advocacy, art show, and video. Each group had 10 minutes to present their project to the panelists, who in turn had one minute each to provide comments and feedback on the group’s work. The breadth and depth of understanding, care, and attention that each group had put into their work was reflected in each group’s presentation. Each group portrayed a deep sense of understanding and ability to draw local-global connections between the work of Turtle House Art/Play Centre and the broader context.

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After the Youth Summit, students, panelists, guests, staff, and teachers came together over biryani, pakoras, naan, and golab jamuns for the last communal lunch at Marc Garneau C.I. Following lunch, students went into their respective Core Learning Groups one last time. This was a time for students to meet with their facilitators, debrief the project as a whole, and be awarded with the certificates of completion, and complete part two of the Global Citizenship Survey.

Following this time with their facilitators, everyone regrouped for the closing celebrations. The final portion of the day began with a book giveaway for students, as they commented on their impressions and understanding of the Next Generation Project. The book was a graphic novel published by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) titled “Telling Our Stories: Immigrant Women’s Resilience.” This was followed by acknowledging the efforts and generosity of the participating Marc Garneau C.I. teachers, and thanking and parting words by the project facilitators and staff. The seventh iteration of the Next Generation: Canadian Global Citizenship Project came to an end with a charming performance by the fantastic guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Haniya Aslam.

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