First Canadian Youth Summit: Believe in Yourself & Believe in Others

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, addressing youth delegates.

I can’t believe I’m getting on the plane. I’ve been anticipating this trip for months and now. Lauren Castelino and I are on our way to Ottawa for the first Canada Youth Summit. Our work with Pitch It Green, funded in part by Chantiers jeunesse, earned us our delegation to this government-run event. All the delegates are buzzing with excitement. Some of us greet familiar faces, many more faces are new. 

 The next two days fly by in a whirlwind of activity. We are introduced to numerous opportunities at the Youth Marketplace, and we see our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, speak. We are reminded that youth are the leaders of today and each one of us has been given a chance to make changes in our country.

No Limits. No Excuses. No Limits. No Excuses. No Limits. No Excuses.

Everybody chants Luca Patuelli’s tagline as he break dances using crutches. Luca, stage name Lazy Legz, doesn’t have a conventional dance body. But what most people consider his “disability”, he calls his “ill-ability”. In hip-hop, “ill” means “cool”. His passion and dedication reminds us that we are all capable of more than we think. Often our progress is set by our own beliefs, our excuses, our self inflicted limits. Luca reminds us to pay attention to ourselves and to define our own greatness by the depth of our curiosity. Each one of us has the opportunity to serve others when we push the boundaries of what we think is possible for ourselves.

From watching his performance, you find yourself asking: what do I really want to do that I have I been telling myself I’m not capable of doing?

It’s understandable when fear and doubt surface. There are many things that we don’t know how to do. And besides, we could fail.

Kendal Netmaker was a shy Indigenous kid who had no idea how to start a business or become a successful entrepreneur. In his speech, he tells the summit delegates one of the biggest barriers we create with our mind when we think we should already know how to succeed. We silence our curiosity because think we need to be knowledgeable and skilled just to start a project.

Suzanne Ross (left), Kendal Kentmaker (middle), Lauren Castelino (right).

Kendal Netmaker tells us that success comes from conscious effort to contribute to the world, connect with others, and change ourselves. 

Everyone is a beginner at one point and if we are afraid to fail,  afraid to look awkward and silly or make mistakes then we will always be a beginner.

In reality, we do not need to be scared of failing. Failure is our teacher. If we really listen to failure, it will make you strong enough to succeed.

Tell yourself: I promise to give myself the opportunity to succeed, even if that means I first have to fail.

Of course failure hurts and there will be tough days. When MP Mariam Monsef came on stage she tells us to find our “why”. Why do we bother to get up in the morning? Why make an effort? Why change? She said we have to get connected to what really matters in our lives and for the planet. ​

Mariam believes in the power of youth because Mariam believes in the truth and the truth is we are powerful. We are the most powerful generation to have ever lived in terms of our access to education, health care, and connection. It is therefore our responsibility to advocate for a better future for everyone.  That’s a big task, I know.  But you don’t have to take any steps alone.

Believe in yourself.  Believe in others.

There will be doubt, and there will be tough days.

Some days were really tough for myself. I saw myself in this woman’s story of a young girl with an eating disorder who overcame compulsive behaviour using self love and movement as medicine.

She said when you talk about suffering you heal and you help others You don’t have to suffer alone and you are never alone suffering 

Believe in yourself.  Believe in others.

You and your allies are an unstoppable force. Keep your goal in mind and you will overcome any circumstance.

Pitch It Green team members Lauren Castelino and Suzanne Ross with Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Driving by the flooded houses in the Ottawa-Gatineau region I witnessed the power of the elements.

As Lauren and I helped the volunteers fill bags with sand to hold back the encroaching water I wondered how a circumstance of such magnitude could be addressed.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna believes people are the driving force. She doesn’t want to tell anyone what to do because she knows that if someone really understands the situation they can make their own decision. 

We can’t control other people. We can only show them what they already wanted to do.

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