Youth Canada

Youth Darfur Conference a Success

31-07-2008 by Tracy Anderson

Youth Darfur Conference a Success

The Youth of this country are unbelievable. They never cease to amaze me with their passion and energy. Sadly, our media are so quick to portray youth as delinquent, uncaring, rude and wild. Stories of speed-racing and youth crime are abundant. Yet this is not the typical youth. Instead, they are brilliant minds, curious to understand the world and question why it works the ways it does; quick to demand solutions for the ways it works badly. They have a passion most of us adults have forgotten or lost in the drudgery of grown-up responsibilities.

Yet our youth, with enormous pressures and responsibilities of their own, have an inner light and a determination we often ignore in ourselves.

They channel that energy and take on the unrelenting task of changing this world we have left them.

I had the great honour of helping out with the organization and implementation of the 2008 Youth Conference on Darfur, which took place this weekend in Vancouver. I knew it would be interesting and I knew the youth participants would be great. The reality, though, was overwhelming!

The absolute highlight of the event for me was how organized and knowledgeable these youth (the vast majority were in high school) were! The quantity and quality of the research they put into this event was amazing. As Senator Jaffer, one of the guest speakers and former Canadian Envoy to the Sudan said, these youth were far more knowledgeable of the conflict and its key players than most of the ‘real’ delegates and politicians she has met. They were armed well with information and presented an articulate account of their delegation’s position on the conflict on Darfur. The questions posed after each speech were thoughtful and on point, the answers forthcoming and honest.

The event also included a variety of remarkable guest speakers such as Senator Jaffer; Calyn Shaw from STAND Canada; Robert Fox, the executive director of Oxfam Canada (whose emotional speech left a lasting impression on all involved); and Clement Abas Apaak, the founder of Canadian Students for Darfur; all of whom touched the participants and informed us of how to take further action (write a letter to the Prime Minister and MPs, write letters to the editor and demand the media report on Darfur, join a group, donate time or money, host a film night using a film or documentary that is related, pass on the information, tell your friends, tell your parents).

It was truly a memorable occasion that was inspiring for all, and left me, personally, with a brain full of information and a heart full of hope. Not just for Darfur, but for our world. With youth such as those present at this event, the dastardly past will be past, the future bright.

TRACY ANDERSON is currently an intern at Amnesty International's Pacific Regional Office in Vancouver, BC. She helped with the organization of the 2008 Youth Darfur Conference and co-moderated the event. She is also currently finishing her Master of Arts degree in Criminology at Simon Fraser University.

Image courtesy of user "GIRLintheCAFE" at via Creative Commons License.