(Edmonton) Two youth groups addressing the issue of gay straight alliances in schools and homelessness and poverty are this year’s recipients of the Edmonton Social Planning Council’s (ESPC) Award of Merit for Advocacy of Social Justice.
The City of Edmonton Youth Council and the Youth Action Project on Poverty, John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights will be honoured during the ESPC’s annual general meeting at 5:30 p.m. May 21 at the Edmonton Public Library, Centennial Room.
This award is presented to honour forward-looking and courageous individuals and groups that in the face of controversy seek social justice for a defined community group or for the whole community.
“The ESPC Board wanted to recognize the advocacy work of youth in Edmonton during our 75th anniversary year, as a way to focus on the future not only our history,” said Erin LaRocque, an ESPC board member and selection committee member.
City of Edmonton Youth Council
The City of Edmonton Youth Council (CEYC) is a civic committee of 16 youth (ages 13 to 23) representing Edmonton youth to city council. CEYC empowers and mobilizes youth on issues through education, skill building and experience in local government. This year CEYC passed a motion against Bill 10 in its initial form, and then took the motion to the Edmonton City Council where it was passed unanimously. Bill 10 would have permitted Alberta school boards to prevent students from forming Gay-Straight Alliances. After advocating for community support, and organizing a public forum, We Are Listening, the Government of Alberta amended the bill consistent with the recommendations of the CEYC motion.
The Youth Council also played a role in creating the documentary film Through My Eyes, a look at the realities of at-risk, homeless youth in Edmonton. Directed by two young and up-and-coming film makers, the film premiered in front of a sold-out audience and has since been seen by thousands online around the world.
Youth Action Project on Poverty
This project was supported by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, an Edmonton based non-profit group working to promote peace and human rights through education, events and programs. During the past year, the Centre worked with a number of young people participating in the Youth Action Project on Poverty. Youth spent five months broadening their understanding of poverty in Edmonton through a study tour of various social service agencies, street outreach programs, interviews and community presentations. The participants focused on issues such as justice, security, freedom and dignity, created a series of recommendations, and presented them to the Mayor’s Task Force for the Elimination of Poverty. As a result, city council passed a motion to review bylaws and enforcement that adversely impact people experiencing poverty.
This project was led by two urban Aboriginal youth who have struggled with poverty, criminalization and discrimination. They facilitated sessions, developed project outcomes and became significant role models for other participants. The work of the project will build on these recommendations throughout the coming year.
Stephenie White, youth participant
ESPC is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan social research organization, with registered charitable status with a focus on social research, particularly in the areas of low income and poverty.
For more information:
ESPC Executive Director
(780) 423-2031 x353 or (780) 218-7395 cell
Photos of both award recipients are available upon request.