OPINION: Do better

In this photo provided by Kelsey Catherine Schmitz, zodiacs cruise between the icebergs in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Kelsey Catherine Schmitz via Newswatch Group)

As the program manager for a youth service program at Students On Ice foundation, I have the privilege of getting to meet young people from across Canada and the world, who are all passionate about one thing: planet earth.

I spent the last two and a half weeks on the 2019 Arctic expedition led by Students on Ice, learning from the brightest minds climate action, ocean literacy, sustainable development, and education have to offer, but the best teachers on board our expedition were the young people we were meant to inspire.

Instead, they inspired us. From northern youth who tackle what seem like insurmountable community issues to anti-gun activists from the USA to a local young man teaching us all about his passion for 4H club, these young people became my teachers. As an educator, I have always known young people to be capable of just about anything. But, sometimes, we adults like to lump them into “the future” and forget how much they care about the present.

Youth like Pierre-Luc from Alexandria, Ont., Samantha from Parkland, Fla., and Devin from Resolute Bay, Nunavut are our present. They want to see change for the better. They want us to do better. I pledged to the young people I work with every day that I would do better, fight harder for climate action, for progressive policies where we take a stand on ensuring all have access to clean water, good education, affordable housing and a planet that isn’t in crisis.

So, I am sharing with my region the lessons I have learned from 130 young people from across every province and territory in Canada, 18 countries, and all circumpolar nations: We need to do better.

Kelsey Catherine Schmitz