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Celebrating 50 Years
The Governor General’s First-Ever Youth Forum

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Canadian Governors General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and His Excellency John Ralston Saul brought together over 100 Canadian high school students to Rideau Hall from February 12 to 17, 2002 for the first-ever Governor General’s Youth Forum.

“As we have traveled the country over the past two years, John Ralston Saul and I have been awe-struck by the young people we have met. Whether in schools, 4-H clubs or volunteering in countless organizations, Canada’s youth bring incredible energy, new ideas and impressive engagement to their communities and to the challenges they face,” said the Governor General in announcing the forum. “We want to tap into that, share it among young people from all over Canada.”

The four-day forum included youth delegates from every part of the country, from high schools in small, rural towns and reserves to large urban cities. The students were chosen based on their demonstration of community involvement, their leadership qualities, a passion for one or more community activities and their reasons for attending the forum.

The goal of the forum was to hear what today’s youth has to say about building and encouraging community involvement in their hometowns. They spoke with the Governor General and His Excellency John Ralston Saul about what community means to them, sharing their own experiences about the contributions they have already made in their communities, identifying challenges they have faced and exchanging ideas for solutions to getting more young people involved.

In a panel discussion with CBC Radio’s Anthony Germain, some of the forum delegates presented their own stories, which were heard on The House. Vanessa Reid of Montreal’s Santropol Roulant was invited to speak about the unique intergenerational approach that her organization takes in providing community service.

On the last day of the forum, the Ballroom at Rideau Hall became the location of a Town Hall discussion among delegates, led by the Governor General and John Ralston Saul. The delegates reviewed some of the key concepts that came about at the forum, and how they could be applied to communities throughout Canada. The hour-and-a-half discussion was broadcast live on CBC Newsworld.

The Governor General will build on the Forum discussions by involving delegates in the organization of activities and roundtables in their communities which coincide with the Governor General’s regional visits.

The forum was part of the yearlong celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the appointment of the first Canadian Governor General, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey.


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Celebrating 50 Years
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