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>