Once in a lifetime opportunity

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If you went to a conference and did not take pictures for social media, did you even go to a conference? Amina Salah

This National Youth Leadership Summit is the gateway to many opportunities

The National Youth Leadership Summit is a three-day event hosted from June 5 to June 8 in Saskatoon, by Canada World Youth (CWY-JCM), an international non-profit organization that seeks to empower young people. It does so by collaborating with partners in Canada and across the globe. The purpose of the non-profit is to foster learning opportunities that focus on spreading knowledge and building leadership skills through various projects. These projects are created to help young people navigate the world and to learn from each other and from those who are more experienced.

Some of the other summits that are hosted by CWY-JCM include the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City, Pathways for Indigenous Youth Leadership hosted virtually and in Peru, and the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Livelihoods Initiative in Ghana and Senegal. 

This June, I was able to participate in the National Youth Leadership Summit in Saskatoon. The process had some difficulties along the way, especially with getting some of my documents sorted out. Out of around 300 interviewees, only 127 youth from across Canada were accepted. The summit was sponsored by Heritage Canada, and the governments of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, Yukon, as well as Saskatchewan. There were many wonderful workshops hosted by organizations such as the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health, STEM Minds, Be The Change YYC, Youthful Cities, the Stronger BC Young Leaders Council, Apathy is Boring, and more. Furthermore, there were incredible guest speakers and keynote speeches from inspiring women like Sarain Fox, Erica Violet Lee, Zainab Muse, and Anu Bidani. The Honourable Marci Ien, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality of Canada, also joined for a Q&A session. 

The most important thing when it comes to attending summits is packing. It’s important to pack casual to business casual to loungewear clothes. I made sure to pack PJs, loungewear clothing, a hoodie, and blazers. Shoes are also important. I find heels useless if I am going to be walking all day, thus I packed comfortable yet chic shoes. 

I arrived on Sunday evening, checked into the hotel, had dinner, and went to sleep sometime after. We stayed at the Saskatoon Inn & Conference Centre. The hotel itself was absolutely stunning. It had lots of greenery, a beautiful swimming pool, and great nearby restaurants and cafes. The first day I attended a workshop titled “making how and where we live work and play better for all”. This workshop was hosted by Youthful Cities. It was introspective. It allowed me to think about my future and things that bring me joy. It focused a lot on how we can be better workers by also making time for the things we love. It emphasized on the importance of balance. I also attended a workshop about public speaking. To me, this was one of the most important workshops because I am someone who struggles with public speaking. There was emphasis put on speed, tone, volume, and how you articulate yourself. 

On the second day, I attended a workshop on project management hosted by Apathy is Boring. This was interesting and I was given many tips and tricks such as the best websites to use when it comes to meeting deadlines, planning out your work, and being accountable to yourself and others. 

The last workshop I attended was about how to turn your hobby into a potential business. This was hosted by STEM Minds. I particularly liked this workshop because it focused on marketing and technology. 

The summit was amazing because we were also able to do things in the city. On the second day, we went on a trip to Wanuskewin Heritage Park. We went on a bison walk where the tour guide told us about what bison mean to Indigenous peoples. Although we couldn’t get close to them, we were able to watch them from afar. The heritage park also has an art gallery and a kitchen inside. The staff served us some bannock with strawberry jam and butter. There was also some tea to go with it. Personally, this was the best thing I ate during the summit. 

In many ways, the summit was healing to me. It allowed me to meet different people from all over Canada. I also made a mental note to reconnect with the land. As a university student, I am always busy. It is difficult for me to make time for things that are healing for my soul. Nature heals me. It gives me perspective, it allows me to realize how small and insignificant we really are. The world is a lot bigger than our problems, and as weird as it may sound, it gives me some comfort. Paying a visit to Wanuskewin instilled new values in me. 

All in all, the summit was amazing because I got in contact with many different people. I think networking is the gateway to many opportunities, and I hope that this continues to open many more doors for me in the future. I ate great food, had deep late-night conversations with my fellow delegates, and learned from the workshop hosts and keynote speakers. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would never trade for anything. I am very introverted, so I went into the summit not expecting to make friends. However, during that short period many of the delegates have now become my friends, which is something I never expected to happen. 

More than anything, I am grateful to Canada World Youth for making the Youth Summit happen. A lot of work went into it and I am extremely grateful that I was chosen to attend. This summit helped me learn more about myself. 

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