Roberta Bondar addressing students at the EcoMentors Earth Month Youth Forum. Roberta Bondar addressing students at the EcoMentors Youth Forum. Photo © Julie Bélanger.

The energy generated by the Earth Month Youth Forum, presented by Earth Day Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), was absolutely contagious. It was uplifting to meet youth choosing to spend their Saturday learning about environmental activism.

The hands-on workshops equipped participants with skills to bring about real environmental change. Host Simon Jackson shared his experience gained from founding Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, the largest youth-run environmental organization in the world. This wove together the different components of the forum. The inspiring keynotes delivered by Roberta Bondar and Sebastião Salgado further drove the need for action, complementing the workshops.

“My favourite part was hearing the mentors speak about their journey and how we can incorporate that into our daily lives,” explained one of the participants. An educator attending the environmental education workshops said he chose to attend the forum to learn how to better communicate environmental messages, which he found to be challenging given that it wasn’t part of his formal education and upbringing. The managing director of the ROM’s Centre of Discovery in Biodiversity, David Ireland, clearly struck the right note as he exclaimed early in the forum, “There are more stories to be told than there are great storytellers.”

It was a pleasure to meet young environmental leaders and to see them supporting and learning from one another, creating invaluable networks. There’s no doubting that these 250 voices emerged, stronger, louder.

You can learn more about upcoming EcoMentors’ training sessions on their Events page

Julie is an urban planning graduate student at the University of Waterloo, focusing on sustainable transportation.

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