Youth Dialogue in Greece
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Youth Dialogue on “Building for Social Change”
Athens, Greece, Friday, October 30, 2009
How are you?
Let me tell you how pleased I am to meet you, the youth of Greece, during my first State visit to the Hellenic Republic, the cradle of democracy,
Some of you may not know, but when I accepted the nomination to be 27th Governor General of Canada, I decided to make youth one of my main priorities.
That meant ensuring that the institution I occupy—the highest public office in Canada—engaged as many young people as possible in a perpetual dialogue on building positive change in Canada and abroad.
Your perspectives are important. Because I have seen you in action.
Wherever I have gone—whether across Canada, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia—I have witnessed love, patience, and devotion you bring to bear in order to transform spaces scorched by the flames of rage and despair into places soothed by the fresh waters of hope and opportunity.
Beyond any doubt, you are tearing down the walls of geography, language, ethnicity, and religion, to strive for a world in which global citizens are main agents of positive change.
For many youth, solidarity is not an antiquated slogan.
Solidarity is a responsibility that is fulfilled everyday by simple gestures, one-step at a time.
This is not to say that the path to solidarity is an easy one.
Many youth have told me that they are frustrated.
Frustrated at being ignored.
Taken for granted.
And excluded when decisions are made.
“Why”, you may ask.
Well in many parts of the world, we still underestimate the living force youth represent.
We still gloss over the critical and innovative ideas you possess.
And we still shun the audacity that makes your efforts so effective in bringing about change locally and globally.
I have always said that you cannot build a nation by excluding youth.
Youth are leaders today, and it is here and now that we must listen to your voices.
Canada is still learning some of these lessons.
While we can take great pride in having established a free, democratic, and multicultural society, we are constantly reminded that more needs to be done to include and empower youth.
That is why I created the Governor General’s Youth Dialogues.
I wanted to give young people a platform upon which they could express themselves and create networks of solidarity with their counterparts at home and abroad.
And that is what we are going to do today.
I am accompanied by a delegation representing various sectors of Canadian civil society.
They will share their experience working on youth engagement in Canada.
My wish is that we will leave Technopolis with new energy, new ties, and a renewed sense of purpose, which will strengthen the bonds of friendship uniting our two great nations.
Before I close, I would like to thank the Narchos Foundation for helping to make this event possible and for its ongoing support of strengthening people to people relations, particularly between Canadian and Greek youth.
I am particularly interested in the ways in which youth in Greece have been affirming their points of view on the public sphere.
I cannot wait to hear what you all have to say.
So without any further ado, let our conversation begin.