Young Leaders Connect at 2017 EPC: IRL

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Everyday Political Citizen Wednesday, July 12, 2017 View Count = 1219

Young Leaders Connect at 2017 EPC: IRL

“A gathering that emphasized storytelling, nurturing connections between our lived experiences, learning lessons, and dreamed aspirations. Samara, through EPC: IRL, has helped me think more critically on engaging my community… Thank you for helping me be more resilient in an age of complexity and overwhelming information.” – Rahul, EPCitizen, Mississauga 

“Canada's diversity, both cultural and geographic, is one of our biggest strengths and challenges as a country. Samara's work to highlight and celebrate EPCs from coast-to-coast-to-coast not only advances our abilities to make change, but to inspire the next generation of leaders to continue making change for generations to come!” – Gerrit, EPCitizen, Ottawa 

EPC- IRL Forum logo blog

Successful community change relies on the development of leadership capacity. The EPC: IRL recognizes the value of connecting youth leaders to each other, in order to share experiences and develop tools to support their community work.

Calling on Everyday Political Citizens from across the country, earlier this year, Samara Canada hosted the second and third EPC: IRL forums, convening young advocates, mobilizers and politicos to learn from one another and collaborate on tools for deeper and more meaningful civic engagement. (IRL, Internet slang for “in real life,” acknowledges the importance of taking online conversations offline.)

Participants in Toronto pose alongside the forum's guest listeners

At each forum, Canadians ages 18 to 29 came together for two days of dialogue and collaboration. In addition to being nominated as EPCitizens, all participants had to complete a competitive application process to attend. To ensure a wide range of voices, Samara covered participants' travel, accommodation and attendance costs.

At the forum in Toronto in late February, Samara invited participants to dig into the challenges facing young EPCitizens in their communities. They talked about tools for bringing new voices into the political process and grappled with the need to identify common ground and foster mutual understanding in an increasingly polarized world. Participants exchanged insights and made connections to each other's work and experiences.


Then in April, at the forum in Edmonton, Samara brought together a second group of EPCitizens to move the conversation forward and explore paths to deeper political engagement. Drawing on recommendations from Samara’s 2017 Democracy 360, participants worked with MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith to envision new and effective methods for public consultation by MPs while another group developed a workshop to help youth find their political voice.


They also drew on valuable outside perspectives. From the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, EPCitizens learned about the hard work of governing and how she thinks young leaders can contribute to deepening civic education. Elder Dorothy, of Anishnawbe Health Toronto, reminded participants to give pause, reflect and take time to build their personal resiliency.

At every turn, these real-life gatherings demonstrated that, despite their varying contexts and unique challenges, Canada’s up-and-coming leaders are bold, committed and passionate about creating a better politics within their generation.

Participants on the steps inside Edmonton's magnificent City Hall building

A special thank you to our guest listeners: Karim Bardeesy, Olivia Chow, Senator Lillian Dyck, Ausma Malik, Chief Billy Morin, Senator Kim Pate, Barry Peters, Karen Restoule, Ian Tucker, and Councillor Michael Walters.

Samara would also like to thank The RBC Foundation, Toronto Telus Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation and Edmonton Telus Community Affairs for their generous support.

IRL sponsors


On the Samara BlBlog logo representing the letter 'o'g