October 18th was Global Dignity Day. Established in 2005 by HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Operation HOPE Founder John Hope Bryant and Professor Pekka Himanen, Global Dignity is linked to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 process, in which leaders from politics, business, academia, and civil society join efforts to improve the state of the world. This year’s theme was diversity and inclusion, honouring our interconnectedness and the intrinsic value of each individual.
Through a collaboration between TakingITGlobal, the Centre for Global Education, and Kim Samuel on behalf of the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, schools across Canada joined a live video conference from Bayview Yards in Ottawa and Queen Elizabeth High School in Edmonton, Alberta. Joining this celebration were students from 9 schools coast to coast, including our neighbours in Alaska: Hillcrest Academy, Shelburne, NS, Steve MacLean Public School, Ottawa, ON, Nepean High School, Ottawa, ON, Lougheed Middle School, Brampton, ON, Sa-Hali Secondary School, BC, Ghùch Tlâ Community School, YK, Kenai Central High School, AK, USA and Soldotna Prep from Soldotna, AK, USA.
During this special event, students had the opportunity to hear stories of dignity from 3 dignity role models. These guest speakers included Caitlin Whelan from Newfoundland, who works closely with a non-profit social enterprise called Fishing for Success that aims to promote cultural dignity and conserve traditional practices. Following Caitlin was Gerrit Wesselink from Thunder Bay Ontario, an inspiring young leader passionate about community building and creating open dialogue, particularly in Northern Ontario and Alaskan communities. Lastly students had the honour of hearing from Kluane Adamek of Kluane First Nation Yukon, who started the initiative ‘Our Voices’ to empower northern Indigenous youth.
Following these stories of dignity, students participated in an activity where they had the opportunity to create wishes in how they can support building a more dignified Canada in the next 150 years. These wishes addressed how they can take action within their own communities to help foster a sense of respect and connectedness. As the conference came to a close, the students shared their wishes with one another, highlighting the importance of building bridges across the nation. You can view the full video conference recording below: