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Project Details

Project dates
04/11/2023  – 03/01/2024
Barrie, ON, Canada

Ovith Thiyagalingam

Project Lead

My project, Youth Justice: Voices of Canada (YJVC), focused on the empowerment of racialized and marginalized youth in Barrie and across the country to build resiliency in environmental movements and be more engaged as youth environmental leaders in our local, provincial, and national communities.

Project Description

Collaborating with youth, non-governmental organizations, and Indigenous community leaders, I led a virtual workshop series with youth highlighting how marginalized youth can overcome barriers and take small actions in their communities to contribute to positive environmental change. Each session focused on a different topic, such as leading climate action locally, nationally, and internationally. By involving marginalized youth in conversations and efforts to tackle the climate crisis, YJVC strived to promote a more inclusive and accessible environmental sector for all.


This project has been created in commemoration of the lives of all the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, including two Ocean Bridge ambassadors, Danielle Moore and Micah Messent. We aspire to carry on their legacy and commitment to making the world a better place by creating long-lasting impacts with a firm commitment to driving positive change for the environment and our ocean. We will never forget the light that Danielle and Micah brought to the world and will continue to keep them in our hearts. To learn more about these two amazing people, please visit: Honouring Danielle and Micah  – Ocean Wise. This work is partially funded by the Commemoration Fund for Victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Tragedy.

What was your biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges I faced during the project was ensuring meaningful engagement and participation from marginalized youth, particularly amidst virtual workshop settings and diverse socio-economic backgrounds. To navigate this challenge, I implemented several strategies. First, I prioritized building trust with participants through active listening, empathy, and cultural sensitivity. Second, I adapted the workshop content and activities to be accessible, relevant, and engaging for diverse audiences, incorporating interactive elements. Additionally, I fostered a supportive and inclusive environment where participants felt valued, respected, and empowered to share their perspectives and experiences. Through ongoing communication, feedback loops, and flexibility in my approach, I navigated this challenge collaboratively, continuously adapting and refining my strategies to meet the evolving needs and preferences of participants. Ultimately, by centering the voices and experiences of marginalized youth, I overcame this challenge and strengthened the project’s impact and relevance.

What was your most valuable takeaway?

My most valuable takeaway from the project is the profound impact of inclusive and youth-led approaches in driving meaningful change. Through this initiative, I witnessed the transformative power of empowering marginalized youth to become agents of environmental justice and leadership. By fostering a supportive and collaborative environment, I helped to unlock the potential of young people to envision and implement innovative solutions to pressing environmental challenges. This experience reaffirmed the importance of amplifying diverse voices and perspectives in shaping inclusive and sustainable communities. It reinforced my belief in the inherent resilience and creativity of youth, inspiring me to continue advocating for equitable opportunities and meaningful participation for all in environmental movements. The project underscored the vital role of intersectional approaches in addressing complex issues and highlighted the immense potential for collective action in creating a more just and sustainable world.

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