Today is UN’s International Youth Day, which “gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.” Today, there are many events taking place designed to recognize the importance of youth participation in political, economic and social life and processes.

“The theme of International Youth Day 2020, “Youth Engagement for Global Action” seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.”

It’s all about celebrating and promoting PARTICIPATION for youth and centering their voices in important dialogues. So today we are bringing you the perspective of one of our graduates, Cedric, who participated in our Work 2 Live program, and now participates as an activist and artist right here in Whistler. We are so proud of Cedric’s journey, voice, and the thought and care he brings to everything he does. Take it away, Cedric…

 

Cedric sharing his point of view: from Winnipeg’s prairie airwaves to crashing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

It is through Zero Ceiling Adventure Sessions that I got introduced to the Work 2 Live program then applied for it to start my freeride in the thrill-filled mountain town that is Whistler. However; during my homeless time, I stayed at a youth shelter in Downtown Eastside and had a series of interactions in the streets with folks out of all walks of life from inner city & suburbs, locals to global immigrants and tourists.

Those conversations were full of life enthusiasm; as well as, harsh realities.

Given that, I had to live in a state of survival within the V6A concrete jungle. Therefore, I went on to search & learn how to improve my situation; usually, through podcasts & documentaries from unbiased, independent, national and international media platforms as I had a little experience since I had previously hosted a variety of radio shows ranging from contemporary world music to youth empowerment topics. Moreover, I would implement it within my daily life wherever I found myself dwelling.

I’m an avid adventurer; likewise, I am aware of environmental & social issues that we are challenged with. In fact, I have a worldwide sense of belonging probably because I’m not a “born & bred in one location” type of person. Thus, I feel nomadic as I’ve been always on the move since being born in a post-Soviet Ukraine to African parents, then growing up at the north-east shore of Lake Tanganyika in Burundi. I’m still fascinated by the East African Rift Afromontane forests & great lakes that surrounded my urban childhood.

Cedric is a cool dude. This photo shows him standing on a green hillside with his arm outstretched, feeding a small bird. Let's all try to be as cool as Cedric is!

Cedric at one with nature. His love of the outdoors fuels his activism and his self care.

In addition, I’m an outspoken youth advocate through rhythm & poetry since my teenager years as my home country was going through its first freedom of speech wave yielded by peace agreements that had been reached at the beginning of the 21st century which, unfortunately, only lasted a dozen years then ended up being violated slightly after I left Bujumbura in 2014.

Amid all the turmoils, I experienced and survived wars mainly fueled by tribalism, injustices and multinationals mineral resources quest in the region. Plus, I got to exchange with Middle-Eastern exiled folks in their war-torn region along the East Bank of the Jordan River during my half-year stay in Amman before taking on my international studies. And later on, my refugee journey in the red maple leaf country where sexism, racism and neo-colonialism are real.

To sum it up, my travel and media experience has helped me on how to balance between my activism & mental health as this year have been hectic with unprecedented COVID-19.

Cedric tells young people: know your worth, word up and act upon it fearlessly for social and environmental changes!!Indeed, it’s been a ruff turf so far; still, I continue to strive for the best on all paths I cross and stand still for my human rights and constantly live in consideration with obstacles that I’m faced with as a black youngster. My message towards millennials is: “know your worth, word up and act upon it fearlessly for societal & environmental changes.”

Huge thanks to Zero Ceiling Society of Canada for the love and support 🙂

Truly yours,

Cedric Nkūnzúmwămi