It has been a year of returning to community and in-person connection, but we haven’t returned to how things were. We’ve changed as people. We’ve learned and grown, gone through challenge and loss. Some are tired, some are hopeful. Some are both. We’ve also changed as communities. We interact in different ways. We’re recognizing and being called to action on big challenges in our systems and structures: racial equity, mental health, climate change, generational gaps, international conflict, political polarization, to name just a few. In so many of these areas, young people are leading the way. They are not ok with the status quo and have creative ideas about how to do things differently.
For almost three years, there’s been talk about a “new normal”. It feels like now is the time to put those conversations into reality. A new normal that has youth and young people at the center. A new normal that prioritizes the voices calling for change, over those who are holding on to how things were. A new normal pushes us to continue asking questions about what changes are needed. What else do we need to let go of? What do we need to do differently?
This year, it has been encouraging to reconnect with community in different ways. To have more in-person connection, but also find ways to embrace the new ways of working and interacting. It has become a hybrid world. We’ve returned to cherished events that had been put on hold for a while and developed new partnerships and opportunities that we’re excited about. Many amazing young leaders who have been part of the Canada Bridges community are also stepping into new roles and opportunities for creating much needed change in a wide range of organizations and sectors. Its exciting to think about all the different types of change and impact they are creating.
It takes courage to step into a new normal. Whether you’re the one pointing out the change that needs to happen, or the one hearing that feedback, we all have a role to play. Its important that we continue building our capacity to work collaboratively and equitably, to share and listen to each others’ stories and invest in relationships. These have been important focus areas for us at Canada Bridges over the past year, and we will be continuing this work as we go forward into 2023. We believe they are important foundations for the changes that the new normal calls us into for ourselves, for youth and for our broader communities.
As we go forward into 2023, we want to thank everyone who has been part of our journey at Canada Bridges this year. The young leaders who push us to change, the community partners who support and collaborate, and all the storytellers we have listened to and learned from. We invite everyone to consider what the new normal means to you and to those around you, especially young people who are eager for change.