Brigette DePape issues a call to action at the Youth Action Summit
On May 2nd over 70 young people from all across Saskatchewan came together to learn about issues, share skills, and put their ideas into action. The 2nd annual Youth Action Summit was held in Regina at the stunning First Nations University of Canada.
“Saskatchewan’s labour movement recognizes the importance of reaching out to young people and First Nations people. This Summit is a great step towards strengthening those relationships, and we’re delighted to be part of it,” said Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL).
The Summit featured an impressive and dynamic group of facilitators and presenters, including: Karen McIver, a local teacher and community activist, Professor Darlene Juschka, City of Regina Councillor Shawn Fraser, CUPE communicator Tria Donaldson, and journalist Mitch Diamantopoulos.
The keynote speaker for the Summit was rogue Senate page, and Stop Harper enthusiast, Brigette DePape. DePape made national headlines in 2011 when she staged a silent protest during a Speech from the Throne in Ottawa, during which she held up a Stop Harper sign. Since that time DePape went on to work for ShitHarperDid.com, edited the book Power of Youth with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and now works as the youth vote campaigner with the Council of Canadians. DePape has also studied Leadership, Organizing and Action with Professor Marshall Ganz through the Harvard Kennedy School, and put that training into use during her two presentations at the Summit.
DePape’s first presentation was about “game-changers” – those young people who live in federal ridings across Saskatchewan and Canada that have the numbers to Stop Harper if they voted. With the aid of maps, statistics, graphs, and a powerful message of hope, DePape put her case to the Summit that young people have the ability to defeat the Conservative government in this year’s election. Summit participants were engaged and excited about the prospect of doing game-changer organizing in Saskatchewan.
DePape’s second presentation of the day was a Story of Self workshop. The condensed workshop challenged participants to think about their story, why they care about the things they do, and what drives them to work for change. Adding personal narratives to the work activists do can help others relate, and be inspired to join. The workshop was well-received and left participants feeling empowered about the work they do in their communities.
Other session topics throughout the day-long Summit included: participatory action, intersectionality, and privatization. Participatory action demonstrated the power that young people have to build better communities, and guided participants on how to engage with organizations and each other. The intersectionality session introduced the concepts of different identities, and how they relate to one another in the work activists do. Such identities can include being a women, being trans*, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, being racialized, disabled, or of First Nations descent. The privatization session provided many concrete examples of sell-offs, P3s, and contracting out that the Sask. Party is currently undertaking. Part of the session was about empowering Saskatchewan citizens to fight back, and say YES to the benefits of strong public services by signing-up at www.OwnYourSask.ca.
The workshops at the Summit were “How to Get Elected”, and “Forming and Using Alternative Media”. Both workshops provided real, hands-on information for people to use in their work to make positive change.
“The principle reason for holding the Summit is to provide a space for young people to come together, learn about issues, share skills, and put their ideas into action,” said SFL’s Community Organizer, Paige Kezima, “I have no doubt people are leaving here with larger networks, more tools for organizing, and a renewed inspiration to make their communities better,” she added.
The Youth Action Summit is an initiative by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), the Youth Action Collective, Project: Community, and many other unions and community organizations across Saskatchewan.