[ensu] ActiveYouth: a dynamic celebration

  • From: "Rachel Riddle" <rachelriddle@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ensu@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 20:20:04 -0500

This email is to announce an dynamic event coming to the University of
Toronto in January of the new year. On FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2003, an event
entitled ActiveYouth02/03 -- "a celebration of youth activism at the
University of Toronto" -- will be held at Convocation Hall on the St.
George Campus of the University of Toronto. As the event is concerned with
youth activism, it is fitting that it will be held during _expression_
AGAINST OPPRESSION WEEK, sponsored by the Students' Administrative Council
(January 27-31, 2003). My name is Kevin Schenk, and I am the Executive
Coordinator of ActiveYouth. I am writing you to provide information on
this interesting event. So what is ActiveYouth, anyway?

ActiveYouth is a speaker's event, featuring multiple youth speakers talking about youth activism; each telling their own story through their life experiences with struggles that they have encountered. They each speak from a different perspective: for example, the speakers we currently have address activism from an environmental, educational, and gay/lesbian perspective, respectively. As well as having noted speakers from various backgrounds, we also will have a discussion panel consisting of various prominent academics and professionals who work and research in the areas we address. These individuals will be able to provide knowledgeable viewpoints which are the product of years of work in these areas. Let me tell you about some of the speakers that we have, and some members of our discussion panel. Some web pages can be found below.

DAVID KNIGHT is an 18-year old high school student from Kilbride, Ontario,
which is a community within Burlington. David has been harassed,
intimidated, assaulted, and abused by school bullies since he was in Grade
Five. Upon graduating to Lester B. Pearson High School in Burlington, the
bullies (from the same neighbourhood) also began to attend the same
school, resulting in an escalation of the abuse. The abuse involved
threats to his safety, vandalism of his house & car, abuse of his parents
and sibling, and many, many more things too numerous to mention. But this
year, things were different. After the worst year of abuse ever, David
completed Grade 12, and decided enough was enough: he and his family filed
a $500,000 suit against the bullies; and also against the school, for
their neglect of his family's constant complaints and their failure to
provide a safe learning environment. The matter is still before the
courts. David has appeared on CityTV's Breakfast Television, a
MuchMusic/NextTV video special on bullying, and has just completed a
documetary on bullying for the CBC. ActiveYouth welcomes David to discuss
what it means to be a bully victim, a troubling social issue which is
rising in prominence today.

JEAN-DOMINIC LEVESQUE-RENE is a 19-year old Montreal environmental activist. He opposes the profligate use of pesticides in communities. At age 10, Jean-Dominic contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. At the hospital where he was treated, there were an unusual number of children with cancer from the same community as he. In his own Montreal suburb community of Ile-Bizard, pesticide spraying took place at a very high rate all over the community; even the schools were fumigated weekly. A large number of compounds in use there were known carcinogens. Jean-Dominic's mother had levels of DDE (a metabolite of insecticide DDT) in her fat tissues of 500 parts per million (1 in 2000!), an extremely high level. She has never worked in agriculture, where DDT use was most common; yet, she was a teacher and social worker in the frequently fumigated schools. Jean-Dominic became an activist while undergoing chemotherapy; medical staff used to allow him brief periods outside of the hospital to go to protests, meet with elected politicians, and such related activities before returning hours later to the hospital for more treatment. He wrote a letter to Prince Charles in the UK, who was trying to see many pesticides banned there, and the Prince responded by visiting him and supporting his cause. Sadly, of all the children in his cancer ward, Jean-Dominic is the sole survivor -- a tragic history to face. He has kept up his fight for many years since, speaking to international conferences and numerous school and community groups. In 1996, Jean-Dominic was the subject of a CBC "Man Alive" television documentary. From the Governor-General of Canada, Jean-Dominic received the Order of Canada for Youth, Canada's highest honour for youth. He has also received the Terry Fox Award for environmental activism, the Quebec "Phoenix" Prize for Environmental Youth Awareness, and was recognized by Environment Canada's Canadian Health Environment Awards. In 2000, he was chosen as "Personality of the Month" by French newspaper Citees Nouvelles, and in 2001, Jean-Dominic was elected to the prestigious United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honour for his life of dedicated activism. We welcome Jean-Dominic to ActiveYouth to hear his personal perspective on environmental health and activism.

MARC HALL made headlines last spring as well. At Oshawa's Monsignor John
Pereyma Catholic Secondary School, his school principal and school board
denied his request to be permitted to take his boyfriend to his
high-school prom, on account of his sexual orientation. As a result, Marc
took his school board to court, claiming that the denial of his request
violated the Ontario Education Act, which requires school boards in the
province not to discriminate on such a basis. Ultimately, Marc's battle
was successful, as Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert McKinnon ruled
that Marc's rights were indeed violated. Marc was granted the injuction
being sought, and attended his prom. After numerous media stories, Marc
remains active, and has recently been the subject of a video documentary
entitled "Prom Fight: The Marc Hall Story."

Regarding our academic and professionals which will sit on our discussion panel, only a few have been booked right now. However, the panel is being chaired by DR. GEORGE J. SEFA DEI of the University of Toronto.

DR. GEORGE J. SEFA DEI is Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology and
Equity Studies, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)
here at the University of Toronto. Professor Dei researches and publishes
in the area of minority youth and schooling, anti-racism practice in
schools, African-centred educational alternatives, sociology of race and
ethnicity, international development, indigenous knowledges, political
ecology, ethnography, and anti-colonial thought. Professor Dei also has
made public comment in the media regarding the DAVID KNIGHT case. He is
extremely highly regarded in such circles, and is widely respected. We
value his input as Chair of the panel.
ActiveYouth also welcomes SCOTT GRAHAM to our Discussion Panel. Mr.
Graham is an anti-bullying expert, who works with children, particularly
those facing harassment at a young age. His organization, Kids 4 Kids, is
a leader in bringing anti-bullying workshops to schools, and teaching
leadership skills to children. Mr. Graham also plans to join us on our
panel, and brings a wealth of expertise and valuable input to any
discussion. His organization can be found at: <http://www.kids4kids.ca>
Finally, ActiveYouth is being endorsed or sponsored by numerous campus
student groups or student governments, and the number of endorsements is
growing. Currently, ActiveYouth has 5 partners:
Environmental Students' Union (ENSU)
Equity Studies Students' Union (ESSU)
Students' Administrative Council (SAC)
Peace by PEACE (PxP)
Peace and Conflict Society (PACS)
Given the theme of youth activism, we feel that SAC's _expression_ AGAINST
OPPRESSION WEEK is a ideal time to host such an event as ActiveYouth. The
SAC Univrsity Affairs Commission, led by Mohammed Hashim and Greg Dubecky, has been instrumental in merging ActiveYouth with SAC's busy week of
events. So, if you are interested in endorsing or becoming part of this
dynamic, progressive event, please contact me. I am the Executive
Coordinator of ActiveYouth02/03, and I would be happy to answer any
questions you may have. Finally, here is a small selection of web pages
concerning our speakers:
Kevin Schenk
Executive Coordinator
Kevin Schenk
Fourth Year Representative
Environmental Students' Union (ENSU)
University of Toronto
Room ES1049
Institute for Environmental Studies
University of Toronto
(416) 946-7427

Surf the Web without missing calls! Get MSN Broadband. Click Here

Other related posts:

  • » [ensu] ActiveYouth: a dynamic celebration