Justine Brien and Simone Cavanagh with fellow delegates at the New Canada Conference in PEI

Please briefly describe where you worked this summer and what you did.

In early September, we travelled to PEI to participate in the New Canada Conference, to honour the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown gathering that led to the Canadian confederation in 1867.

One hundred inspired young people across Canada were selected to share their ideas on how to improve our country over the next 50 years. Within three days, we had to produce an ideabook expressing these suggestions to be published. We were divided into 8 committees, each one addressing an important category of issues from Environment and economic to Technologies and medias.

We were in the “Justice & Equity” and “Canada’s place in the world” streams respectively. We brought up the issues of access to justice, social justice and the struggling relationship between first nations and the justice system. In the latter, we explored Canada’s defence strategy, international development goals and world security policies.

What did you learn that was related to your studies in Law?

As McGill law students, our perspective was different than that of our fellow delegates in that we approached each challenge with our legal thinking. Working with a multi-disciplinary group of individuals was unsettling at first but quickly allowed us to understand the role of justice in the improvement of society and how to integrate legal structures in our vision of a better Canada.

What did you learn that was unrelated to your studies in Law?

Participer à cette expérience nous a permis de réaliser la vitalité de la jeunesse canadienne et l’ampleur de leur volonté de changement. Il fut inspirant de constater à quel point chaque délégué souhaitait ardemment comprendre les enjeux vécus par chacun et activement trouver des solutions qui respectaient les différentes valeurs et identités.

What are you taking with you from your summer into the academic year?

In addition to our newly acquired understanding and sensitivity about many of these issues, we left Charlottetown with an overwhelming sense of pride and community. If these youth are those who would be in charge of our country in a couple of decades, which we strongly believe, then Canada is heading in the right direction.  This experience motivates us to continue our engagement in our community and our Faculty.

Anything else you want to add?

There was no delegate present that was fully satisfied with the overall current condition of our country. However, we are certain that with more hard work and discussions like these, we can be actor in completely rejuvenating our society. We believe everyone is capable of enacting this change, whether you go to some conference or not!

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