CCUNESCO in Canada

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Delivering UNESCO Programs at Home

There was no shortage of UNESCO activities to carry out here at home, many of which promoted inclusive societies, education for all, Indigenous cultures, human rights, youth empowerment, and the importance of balancing the health of ecosystems with the needs of growing communities and economies. Here are some highlights that align with our three priorities of equity, peace and sustainable development.

Wapikoni Mobile provides training in audiovisual creation and filmmaking with the goal of helping Indigenous youth acquire skills and employment in these fields, as well as countering drop-out rates and suicide among Indigenous peoples. The Montréal non-profit brings mobile filmmaking units (equipped RVs) to communities for the creation of Indigenous film and documentaries. Our support gave Wapikoni Mobile and an Atikamek filmmaker, Elisa Moar, a presence at the 12th Festival international de Cine y Video de los Pueblos Indigenas, which was held in the Mapuche territory in Chile/Argentina. Both Oxfam-QC and RICAA (Réseau international de création audiovisuelle autochtone) were represented in the small Wapikoni delegation that travelled to Mapuche Nation.

Photo: Mathieu Buzzetti-Melançon

We were involved in work for the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination in 2015/16. Five new Canadian municipalities joined the Coalition this year, and many more participated in activities on March 21st, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. CCMARD was also involved in ONE: The Mayor's National Summit on Racial Inclusion (Winnipeg, September 2015), an event so popular that space sold out and presentations were livestreamed across Canada. This inaugural gathering encouraged mayors and all Canadians to generate ideas for building inclusive cities. On a related note, we also supported the work of the City for All Women Initiative in the development of Advancing Equity and Inclusion: A Guide for Municipalities, which contains promising practices for developing more sustainable, equitable and inclusive cities. A webinar to introduce the Guide was also organized.

In 2015, together with UNESCO Associated Schools, we established a new partnership with Vision Diversité, a Montréal non-profit organization that strives to make diversity a key platform in Quebec society. We supported Vision Diversité's "Les Rencontres de la Diversité" event on May 21st, which brought young students together with professional artists in partnership with the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, the City of Montréal, and organizations from the cultural and educational fields. The celebration demonstrated the vitality of the cultural dialogue advocated by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and celebrated UNESCO's 70 years in the service of cultural dialogue.

Photo: Vision Diversité

The Commission and the UN Refugee Agency in Canada (UNHCR) invited students from Grades 4 to 12 across Canada to submit poems on the subject of “Refugees and Human Rights.” The contest was widely promoted within the UNESCO Associated Schools Network in Canada, and 8 out of the 18 winners were students from UNESCO schools. Along with the Canada Council for the Arts’ Writing and Publishing section, we participated in the juries that selected poems which, according to them, “imaginatively assume the voices of those whose lives have been torn apart by war, hunger and displacement.” Winners were announced in June on the occasion of World Refugee Day.

Photo: UNHCR Canada

Students on Ice (SOI) provides youth with a new understanding of the planet and with leadership tools for instilling positive change in their communities (watch their 2015 videos here). SOI’s 2015 Arctic Expedition was our first contribution to an initiative taking place in the Canadian Arctic, which included over 40 youth from the North. Along with the Government of Quebec, we supported the participation of two youths from Quebec’s Manicouagan-Uapishka World Biosphere Reserve. Together with the Canada Council for the Arts, we also supported a pilot Aboriginal Arts Residency as part of the project. Otipemisiwak (Métis) and Nehiyaw (Cree) artist Jaime Koebel led workshops on the ship and during landings in remote areas and communities. Her multi-dimensional art practice focuses on the relationship between people, land, culture and nature, through the creation of a participatory canvas using local material. The Expedition was in her eyes “an act of reconciliation,” and both Ms. Koebel and the SOI organizers highlighted their appreciation for Council and Commission support.

Photo: Lee Narraway

Under the theme Young Global Citizens for a Sustainable Planet, the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum (Paris, October 2015) was an opportunity for youth to work in concert with UNESCO, to shape and direct the organization's approach, and to present their concerns and ideas to Member States. As declared by Canadian youth during consultations, "Nothing about us, without us." In preparation for the Forum, we launched our largest national youth consultation process ever, engaging 3,000 young Canadians in the elaboration of recommendations. Some of the Canadian youth-led recommendations are featured in the Forum's Conclusions, namely the inclusion of traditional and Indigenous cultures within the framework of global citizenship education.