CCUNESCO Transversal Priorities
Reconciliation and Youth Engagement
The work we do is a reflection of the work UNESCO does. Our members and partners in Canada share expertise and seek solutions in all UNESCO priority areas. They do this, however, with an eye towards CCUNESCO’s own transversal priorities: reconciliation and youth engagement. A transversal priority is one that cuts across all other concerns and activities, so that consideration of that priority continually intersects with our work on, for instance, sustainable development, cultural heritage, inclusive cities and education. In bringing these priorities to the fore, we hope to encourage governments, schools, organizations, researchers and members of the public to consider reconciliation and youth engagement as natural extensions of their own various mandates.
Acting on Reconciliation
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be 10 years old in September 2017. In response to this Declaration and to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, CCUNESCO views all of its programs and activities through the lens of reconciliation. We believe it is essential for peace-building and cooperative organizations such as our own to show leadership in implementing the TRC’s Calls to Action, and pursuing initiatives that foster mutual respect among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.
To make a valuable contribution to reconciliation, and in collaboration with our Indigenous members and partners, CCUNESCO has committed to the following:
- Celebrate and showcase initiatives that demonstrate reconciliation in action.
- Integrate Indigenous cultures, knowledge and perspectives in CCUNESCO’s work.
- Create the conditions that encourage Indigenous Peoples to design and implement their own various CCUNESCO and UNESCO programs.
In response to these commitments, we are updating our advisory and governance structures to frame them within reconciliation, and inviting Indigenous Peoples to sit on our various committees at levels never achieved in our 60-year history. We have also launched the Reconciliation in Action series, which highlights initiatives and success stories in our networks that assist reconciliation efforts across Canada. To date, the series features:
- Ledge Talks: Tsá Tué: A UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve (video): Tsá Tué Biosphere Reserve (NWT)—the first Indigenous-led Biosphere Reserve in the world. Tsá Tué is situated in the traditional territory of the Dene Peoples, who were instrumental in the creation of this Biosphere Reserve and who will continue to oversee the balancing of the area’s ecosystem with community needs and sustainable development.
- “Indigenous-led Biosphere Reserves: Nothing to Fear” (reflection paper): For the first time in the history of the Man and the Biosphere Programme, CCUNESCO and UNESCO brought delegates from the Tsá Tué Biosphere Reserve to UNESCO House in Paris, where a reflection paper on Indigenous-led Biosphere Reserves was launched prior to EuroMAB 2017. This international event celebrated the Dene Peoples’ efforts in the creation of the Tsá Tué Biosphere Reserve, and showcased the role that UNESCO designated sites can play in supporting the aspirations of Indigenous Peoples and in celebrating their diverse cultures, languages and traditional knowledge.
- Reconciliation in Action in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (video): This video demonstrates how the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (BC) is a governance model for UNESCO Biosphere Reserves that wish to put “Reconciliation in action” by inviting the contributions of Indigenous Peoples.
- Wapikoni: Cinema on Wheels (film screenings): This pan-Canadian tour brings 14 short films by young Indigenous directors to audiences across Canada. The films were created with the support of Wapikoni Mobile, a CCUNESCO partner that brings audiovisual equipment and instruction to remote communities.
- Along with the French National Commission, CCUNESCO has started to explore ways to work in collaboration with other UNESCO National Commissions worldwide, so that the international network can play a proactive role in supporting the spirit of the upcoming UNESCO Policy on Engaging Indigenous Peoples and helping UNESCO mark the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019.
Engaging Youth in Canada
UNESCO has stressed the importance of youth engagement through its commitment to Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education. Youth are among our most essential innovators. More than just “the future,” today’s youth are active change-makers working locally, nationally and even internationally to drive social change. CCUNESCO has committed to keeping youth engaged in our work. Making youth engagement a transversal priority means that youth and their perspectives are considered—and included—in our programs, events and initiatives.
CCUNESCO’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG) is a model of youth engagement and one of our greatest success stories. Their contributions don’t just strengthen our networks but energize them. Dedicated and creative YAG members across Canada are currently working in their communities on intercultural and intergenerational dialogue, social innovation as seen through northern perspectives, and the implementation of the Agenda 2030 goals and the Conservation 2020 initiative. They are also leading our national youth consultation in preparation for the 10th UNESCO Youth Forum in fall 2017. You can read about YAG members’ achievements and goals here.