A group of UNBC and College of New Caledonia students learned about how the United Nations operates and had the opportunity to network with other students from across the country at the Youth as Peacebuilders Forum hosted by the United Nations Association in Canada.
Gifts to the UNBC Opportunity Fund made it possible for five University of Northern British Columbia students to participate in and contribute Canadian youth perspectives in peacebuilding at the recent Youth as Peacebuilders Forum hosted by the United Nations Association in Canada.
Outcomes of the Forum include youth pledges to peacebuilding and a final report to be presented to the Prime Minister.
Held in Vancouver for two days in November, the Forum brought together 130 young peacebuilders from across Canada. UNBC’s student delegation was made up of Karista Olson, Jen Baddeley, Dara Campbell, Ana Saenz and Lluvia Lopez.
“The experience gave us valuable insight into how the UN operates and the complexities we face in helping to move our country forward in terms of youth, peace and security,” said Karista Olson, a UNBC English and Environmental Science student. “The opportunity to hear from so many people that have experienced challenges to peace and security was remarkable and our ability to network with other youth leaders was invaluable.”
UNBC student delegates also had the opportunity to hear addresses by Retired Canadian General Roméo Dallaire, the Honorable Harjiit Sajan Minister of National Defence and former governor general Michaëlle Jean.
As a lead up, peer leaders were tasked with facilitating a workshop session where all 130 delegates were asked to choose one of 14 themes to focus on, and create a single comprehensive recommendation to be delivered at the Forum.
“The UNBC delegation was thrilled to see so many of the ideas that came from our consultations posted verbatim on the consolidated recommendations under the themes,” said Olson.
Olson’s participation at the Peacebuilders forum has inspired her to continue her work with the UN. She hopes to one day work with the Indigenous Rights Expert Mechanism that was established by the Human Rights Council at the United Nations. The Expert Mechanism provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the rights of Indigenous people outlined in the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Becoming familiar with the processes, gaps and realities of working within the UN arena is essential if I am to continue with that pursuit,” said Olson.
As a next step, she attended the UN Youth Assembly Winter Session in New York in February.
The students had this unique opportunity to participate in the forum thanks to the support of donors to the Northern Leadership Campaign.