Development and Peace has a vibrant youth movement that believes in creating a world of justice. Our youth members participate actively in our campaigns to show their solidarity with those who suffer the most from injustice in the world. They are dedicated to learning more about the structural causes of poverty and taking actions for change.
Their commitment to the mission of Development and Peace is also reflected in their participation in the governance of the organization. Each region has an elected youth representative and these representatives meet once a year at a national youth assembly, one in English and one in French, where they elect two representatives to the National Council, Development and Peace’s governing body.
The national youth assemblies were recently held in Winnipeg and Montreal, and two new National Council youth representatives were elected. We are pleased to introduce you to Natalie Rizzo from Toronto and Alexandra Elena Cadar from Montreal.
Natalie Rizzo (English Canada)
What is the national youth assembly and how does it feel to participate in the meeting with other youth from across the country?
The national youth assembly acts as an advisory body to the National Council youth representatives. We are composed of youth from across the country, more or less paralleling the regional composition of the National Council. We gather once a year to discuss resolutions to the National Council and share best practices.
It is very inspiring to be in the presence of like-minded youth. Every time we gather, I feel re- affirmed in my commitment to the movement.
Why is it important that Development and Peace have active youth members?
We are the future of the movement! Development and Peace has a very rich history as a social movement. We’ve championed labour rights and protested Nike before Corporate Social Responsibility was in vogue. We’ve fought for anti-apartheid in South Africa. Development and Peace has always been a trailblazer. What I love about Development and Peace is that we are an inter-generational movement. In order for Development and Peace to survive with its trailblazing principles intact, it is important that youth have opportunities to learn from the institutional wisdom of more experienced members. Likewise, more experienced members have much to learn from youth.
Why are you an active member of Development and Peace?
What I love about Development and Peace is the way in which it works in solidarity with its partners in the Global South. Development and Peace partners tell us how our policies in Canada contribute to unfair social, political and economic realities in their communities. They ask us to be a voice for justice on their behalf. I am passionate about the way Development and Peace engages with the political processes that govern our country. I believe development is inherently political and requires we take courageous civic action in our pursuit of a socially just world.
How do you feel being part of the National Council? How do you hope to represent the youth members of Development and Peace?
I am very excited! I have always thought this position would be a natural progression for me as a member. I hope to be a strong voice that advocates for youth and implements changes within the movement that they see fit.
Alexandra Elena Cadar (French Canada)
What is the national youth assembly?
Since the beginning of my involvement with Development and Peace, I’ve attended two national youth assemblies of young Francophones that were very rich in exchanges and content. We had the chance during these meetings to meet new faces from all over Quebec and neighbouring provinces, to learn more about the structure of the organization as well as its model of governance, and to wonder about the viability of its structure. Also, the national meeting is a unifying moment in which we project ourselves into the future as a youth movement in order to better equip ourselves to meet local challenges and issues of society. It is an opportunity for us, one that will enable us to build relationships and strengthen friendships. Finally, it is also a time to take stock of the campaigns, of our successes and the obstacles encountered.
Why is it important for Development and Peace to have active youth members?
The work of Development and Peace would not be possible without a renewal of people involved in the organization. Young people represent the future. Growing up in a rapidly changing society, they easily adapt to new challenges. They bring a different point of view, creativity, energy and hope.
Why are you an active member of Development and Peace?
Over the past several years, I’ve met a number of inspiring people. They are motivated and committed individuals who have kindled in me the call for social and ecological justice through the organization’s various awareness-raising campaigns. I did not hesitate for a second when I was approached in 2012 by Mr. Fernand Letourneau, a very committed member on the South Shore of Montreal, who asked me to participate in setting up a youth group. A year later, I joined the youth group in Montreal, made up of several dynamic and inspiring members with whom I made friends.
How do you see your role on the National Council? How do you think you will represent the youth members of Development and Peace?
It is important that young people identify with the person who represents them on the National Council. My role as a representative is to listen to young members, give them a voice and represent their vision on the National Council. As a representative, I am also committed to using my energy and enthusiasm to challenge perspectives in the circles where I am involved—especially among young people—about issues of social justice, protection of the environment and human rights, in a spirit of national and international solidarity.