Letter to the future from the Executive Director of Young Diplomats of Canada

Originally published in Global Compact Network of Canada

Tell us about your role and how you are contributing to the society:

I am the Executive Director of the Young Diplomats of Canada (youngdiplomats.ca) a federally incorporated non-profit, non-partisan, and youth-led organization. Our operations are focused around our core mission of building Canada’s next generation of global leaders through capacity-building and sending delegates to the highest level of diplomatic engagements. We are focused on carving out meaningful space for young people to have seats at the tables where critical policy discussions occur (G20/G7 Meetings, World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, etc). Ensuring the youth lens is applied to global decision-making is the cornerstone of the work we do.

I also sit on UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board where I help advise UN Habitat on youth-led initiatives and work on promoting the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, both domestically and abroad.

Presently, what do you like about Canada?

There are many things I like about Canada, such as its embrace of diversity, which is evident in its heartwarming response in the face of the current state of divisive politics around the world. Noteworthy, too, is Canada’s natural beauty, from coast to coast and its current stance on protecting the environment. Furthermore, having been blessed to work alongside incredible social justice advocates through my role at Young Diplomats of Canada, I am encouraged by the dedication of many Canadians to defend basic human rights and who work tirelessly to achieve a more inclusive and better society. Although much work remains, Canadian youth advocates from various communities, including indigenous and LGBTTIQQ2S youth are my source of constant inspiration, and are the reason I am optimistic about Canada’s future. 

Your Letter to the Future:

At the start of this year, which has been plagued with many uncertainties, it is critical more than ever to promote social inclusion and to protect the vulnerable state of democracies around the world.

Now and in decades to come, Canada must not be complacent nor should it take for granted that our society will continue fostering acceptance of all cultures, religions, beliefs and those most vulnerable and marginalized – including refugees, immigrants, indigenous people and the LGBTQ community. Canada must continue its zero tolerance on racism, hate and fear, and be the voice of reason globally to call out divisive politics and fear mongering. 

Canada is also blessed to have such wealth in both natural resources and land, which puts greater responsibility on our shoulders to be global advocates for the protection of the environment and to promote sustainable living. Within the current turbulent political context, it is imperative that we work even harder to advocate for the global agreements related to sustainability, including the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Although these are ambitious goals, adhering to them and ensuring global cohesion regarding these commitments will be integral to the prosperity of future generations.

Lastly, loosening borders and promoting labour mobility is an important policy Canada should advocate for going forward. From the youth perspective especially, ensuring young people have opportunities and are not obliged to engage in precarious work is an important foundation for our shared future. With wealthy nations around the world closing their doors to their neighbours, many of whom are fleeing persecution, we are witnessing the next generation being robbed of opportunities. It is ludicrous that capital mobility is unprecedentedly free but labour mobility is being more and more infringed upon. I hope Canada stands up to this and demonstrates the positive power of an inclusive and diverse society globally. 

Sincerely,

Olivia Labonté
Executive Director
Young Diplomats of Canada