Rick Hansen Secondary School (RHSS) in Abbotsford and the Mosaic Institute, a Toronto based not-for-profit society, began an education partnership in the last school year.
The Next Generation: Canadian Global Citizenship Project involved the school’s 150 Grade 9 students in the 2015-16 school year.
Between February and June, students attended 10 workshops, designed and implemented five community service projects – in support of the Abbotsford Food Bank, Amnesty International, Vivek Foundation, Global Medic, and welcoming Syrian students at RHSS – and participated in a United Nations-style “youth summit.”
Student groups presented to a youth summit special panel on the United Nations’ millennium development goals and sustainable development goals, as well as what they saw as solutions to solving some of the world’s biggest humanitarian and environmental justice issues.
The panel consisted of RHSS principal David DeWit, school trustee Stan Petersen, assistant superintendent of schools Gino Bondi, and Kirpa Kaur, an Abbotsford community organizer who has played an integral role in bringing social services to women and girls in the local Punjabi Sikh community.
The Next Generation began in 20011, with a goal of encouraging and supporting youth to become active agents of social change and promoters of peace and justice in Canada and around the world.
The program has involved almost 1,000 students from five school districts in Ontario and B.C.
The project provided local students with 20 specially designed workshops over six conference-format days.
Topics included: family histories, migration, Canada’s Aboriginal communities, Canadian challenges on the road to becoming a multi-cultural country, and active global citizenship.
Each day, students had a special guest speaker who is a role model. These included Naveen Girn, who created the 100-year anniversary art exhibit honouring the Komogatu Maru, and Ranj Dhailwal, a former gangster and now a best-selling author.
An equally important part of Next Generation is the development and implementation of community service projects.
One of these projects was a partnership with the Abbotsford Food Bank. The students created a website and video (in both Punjabi and English) that showed the food assistance work being done by the Sikh community and also the common aims shared by the food bank and the Sikh Temple in Abbotsford.
Visit mosaicinstitute.ca/work/next-generation/ for more information about the program.