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Il n'est pas rare que les idées des jeunes soient laissées de côté sous prétexte qu'elles sont émotives, impulsives et sans substance. On retrouve de telles attitudes dans la couverture médiatique des protestations sociales. 

Les jeunes militants sont trop souvent dépeints comme des hippies, des anarchistes, et de simples moutons. La créativité des tactiques qu'ils emploient, même si elles attirent l'attention, a malheureusement souvent pour effet de masquer leur messsage sous-jacent. Comment alors peut-on s'engager significativement dans la société sans compromettre l'essence de ce que nous sommes? 

La Coalition jeunesse de Sierra (CJS), les Groupes action-Jeunesse (GAJ) ont pour but de pourvoir les jeunes des outils dont ils ont besoin pour pouvoir s'engager à fond dans leur communauté.

 

 

 

 

”First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

-Mahatma Gandhi-

Be Heard, Learn How


Tim Murphy
National Coordinator, 
Community Youth Action Project
Sierra Youth Coalition
February 2005

My grandmother tends to express her disapproval in the most subtle of ways. When I first pierced my eyebrow she told me "c'est jeune ça". She said the same when my cousin announced her intentions to forego the traditional Catholic wedding and marry in the true house of God - the great outdoors.

The tendency to dismiss youth trends as emotional, impulsive and unsubstantiated is not specific to my grandmother. Similar attitudes can be seen in the media coverage of social protests. Youth activists are too often depicted as hippies, anarchists and aimless followers. The creative choice of tactics employed by youth, while successful in garnering attention, has the unfortunate effect of masking the underlying message. How then, can we meaningfully engage in society without compromising the essence of who we are?

The Sierra Youth Coalition's (SYC) Youth Action Gatherings (YAG) aim to provide youth with the tools they need to actively engage in their communities. The YAGs are free, week-long-camps held shortly before the beginning of the school year. Planning is presently under way for a potential bike gathering in New Brunswick. Specifically, the gathering would bring together 24 high school aged youth (14-19) to cycle through the province's South East region, spending equal amounts of time in each of its 3 most prominent cultural communities: Anglophone, French Acadian and Mi'kmaq.

The YAGs are about knowing the issues and acquiring the skills to fight for what's right. They're about having fun, while making friends and allies that will last a lifetime. They're about translating knowledge into experience. They're what teachers don't teach. They are a new curriculum for a new generation.

Young people are a gauge of the changing times. The YAGs should serve as forums for exploration, inspiration and change; they represent a convergence of young people, from newly interested youth to emblazoned activists, to hone and build their crafts. They arrive with a hunger to learn and an eagerness to fight for their ideals, unfazed by their ever evolving, and often contradictory, ideas."

Issues such as affordable education, food security, racial equity, gender politics, sexual freedoms and healthy, socially- just environments find their way to the forefront of political debate not because of the hidden radical agenda of some corporate-issued, middle-aged politicians, but because these issues constitute the realities of today's youth.

While fed up with the power hungry world of politics (over 7 million youth did not vote in the last election), youth nonetheless remain active members of their communities, hitting the streets in record numbers for protests small and large. Still, I wonder whether our voices, although loud, are truly being heard. Through time, I have come to realize that it doesn't quite matter, for regardless of the response, youth engagement has value unto itself.

Through solid organizing and creative networking, youth movements have become a force to be reckoned with and youth groups such as the New Brunswick Environmental Network's Youth Action Group and the Sierra Youth Coalition are working hard to assure this continues. The next logical step would thus be to expand the network and further the movement by strengthening ties and increasing communication between generations. Maybe I should take Grandma to the piercing shop…

For more information on SYC'S Youth Action Gatherings, including a planned New Brunswick bike gathering in the summer of 2005, please contact Tim at cya@syc-cjs.org