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Session 4: Engaging Youth in International Development


Engaging Youth in International Development


The rapidly changing geopolitical landscape, ongoing economic uncertainty, and accelerating climate change challenges, among others, will significantly impact the immediate and long-term future of young people, both in Canada and elsewhere. It is a truism that youth will have to bear theconsequences of the (in)actions of their governments for a longer time compared to other age groups. Canada’s youth (aged 15-29) are more educated, diverse and connected than ever. While many are actively engaged on both domestic and international issues, they are also anxious about the future. For example, climate anxiety is acute among youth and young adults (Galway and Field, 2023).

A substantial portion of Canada’s youth are born here, but many are linked to the global diaspora as a result of Canada’s immigration policies.  These youth, whether in Canada or elsewhere, are not consistently involved in their governments’ decision-making processes. However, with the right incentives and opportunities, young people could be drivers of change, in addition to being more effective future leaders.

This panel brings together the perspectives of graduate students from NPSIA/Carleton University, and people from the NGO sector, to share their ideas and experiences. They will reflect on how young people could be more engaged in international development.

This session intends to respond to the following key questions: 

  1. Are there enough opportunities in Canada for young people to engage with international development issues? If yes, what are existing programs or initiatives? If not, how can barriers to entry be identified and addressed? 
  2. How can policymakers ensure that a wide range of youth opinions and perspectives are included in the decision-making processes of international development issues? 
  3. What motivates young individuals to pursue careers in international development? How can educational institutions and organizations better prepare and support these young people?


James (Jim) Delaney is currently a Deputy Director of Technical Services at World University Service Canada (WUSC).

Presenters / Panellists:

Valentina Canales Burke is a graduate student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), specializing in International Organizations and Global Policy and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She holds a position as a Researcher at Nexus Cooperation Inc, where she works on various domestic and international projects. Research themes include gender and conservation in Latin America, youth policy in Tunisia, and development coordination programs in the Ivory Coast. She has also held positions at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in Internal Audit and at Carleton University in Public Relations. Valentina is deeply committed to advocating for the inclusion and empowerment of youth in international affairs.

Ali Kaviri is the Manager of Youth-Led Partnerships with Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT). He previously served with non-profit organizations, including the Uganda Youth Network (UYONET) and the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), and has served on different Boards of organizations such the Centre for Black Development Options Canada. Ali is also an alumnus with Mandela institute for Development Studies in South Africa, a Women Deliver Young Leader, and he is among the 2017 120 Under Forty Winners under the Bill and Melinda Gates institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ali holds a Bachelor’s degree in Community Based Rehabilitation from Kyambogo University and he awaits an award of a Master’s of Arts degree in Local Governance and Human Rights from Uganda Martyrs University.

Emmett Mark is Executive Assistant to the CEO, and Project Assistant, at the Parliamentary Centre. In this role, Emmett supports the President/CEO and acts as an assistant for various external relations projects, such as EngageParlDiplo. Through the President/CEO, he is coordinator of the Centre’s Board of Directors, as well as partnerships, outreach, and communications, including the outstanding team of Centre Associates. Born and raised in Vancouver, he holds a BA in International Relations from UBC and is in the final stages of completing a Master of Arts at Carleton University. Previously, Emmett worked for several parliamentarians in the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.

A Nigerian Canadian, Ganiyat Sadiq is an advocate passionate about eliminating systemic barriers marginalized communities face. These interests are reflective of the @IAmXMovement, a social community founded by Ganiyat that seeks to raise awareness of the injustices faced by Black, Indigenous and racialized individuals, and to provide a safe space to share their experiences. She also co-founded and serves as the Co-Executive Officer External of the Black Inclusion Association, a novel non-profit that aims to achieve equity and social justice for Black Albertans. Ganiyat holds a BA in Honours Political Science and a BA in International Relations with an Embedded Certificate in Pluralism and Global Citizenship from the University of Calgary. She is currently pursuing her Masters in International Affairs with a specialization in International Development Policy with a Collaborative Program in African Studies at Carleton University. In February 2023, Ganiyat was selected as a Prime Minister’s Youth Council member.