Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 41st Parliament, Volume 148, Issue 165
  Thursday, May 23, 2013
Statement: Era 21 Networking Breakfast for Young Canadians on Parliament Hill
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, on May 8, I hosted the ninth annual Era 21 Networking Breakfast for Young Canadians on Parliament Hill. This event was started by the Honourable Vivienne Poy. After her retirement last year, I was humbled to be asked to serve as the patron of this wonderful event.

In its ninth year, the breakfast is held annually in the Parliamentary Restaurant to celebrate Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month, and it brings together about 100 young Canadians in grades 11 and 12. Those students of Asian, African and Aboriginal heritage invite a peer who is not of their own ethnocultural community to attend this inclusive event. Parliamentarians and local business, professional and cultural leaders are also invited to network with the students at their tables.

This event is a joint Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month diversity celebration supported by our outstanding community partners, the Ottawa Asian Heritage Month Society, the J'Nikira Dinqinesh Education Centre, and our sponsor, the Royal Bank of Canada. I would like to thank them for their hard work on this event. I would also like to thank the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board for their participation in this event year after year.

The intent of the breakfast is to encourage the idea of networking across the diverse cultures that reflect Canada's unique multicultural heritage and to help students understand the great advantage of Canada's diversity in terms of the opportunities it provides them as global citizens.

The event started off with a traditional Aboriginal song from the Picody Family Aboriginal singers and drummers. We were honoured to have three outstanding young panellists to speak to the students about their struggles and triumphs of being a young leader in Canada today. The panellists were Caitlin Tolley, a band councillor at the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin First Nation and bachelor's student at the University of Ottawa; Jorge Barrera, a reporter from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network; and Jenna Tenn-Yuk, a slam poet and master's student at the University of Ottawa. Each of these speakers offered a unique story of what pushes them to understand their own heritage and use it as motivation for achieving change in their communities, Canada and the world. I would like to thank Caitlin, Jorge and Jenna for inspiring the students and also me.

Honourable senators, Canada's diversity allows us a great opportunity to expand upon our own cultural identification and connect with those around us. This country is our shared home, and understanding and celebrating our differences will only strengthen our society.

Looking out into the crowd that morning and seeing all of those young, bright and multicultural faces looking back at me really gave me hope that this new generation can achieve great things, not just in the future but right now. There was definitely an energy in the room that morning; these young people were ready to act. I wish them all the best in their endeavours.