National Youth Dialogue on Water in Canada

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National Dialogue on Water Prologue Between September and December 2017, high school students from across Canada came together through virtual connections and online classrooms to discuss significant and timely issues facing Canadian oceans and waterways. Under the guidance of expert mentors from Ocean Wise, the students collaborated on a 3-month learning project. They shared ideas, knowledge, and experiences, informed by their schools, regional cities, communities, and provincial perspectives. This culminated in a final, national dialogue focussing on oceans and water conservation. In an effort to capture and capitalize on their shared passion, they co-wrote this paper, National Dialogue on Water. They will be presenting it to the Canadian Senate in the Spring of 2018. At this meeting, several students, representing the voice of their peers, will advocate and challenge one of the leading bodies of Canadian progress and change to listen to their ideas, and champion their calls for action. Welcome Starting in September 2017, our classes and environmental clubs from across Canada began an online journey to explore the impacts, threats, issues, and problems facing Canadian oceans and waterways. Through common interest and shared enthusiasm in understanding and protecting Canadian water, we completed weekly assignments, created dialogue across blog posts, as well as communicated with one another through video conferences. Week-by-week our confidence in our ability to make real changes in our homes, schools, cities, and even our country grew. In our final meeting, we held a 4-hour virtual town hall, that brought together over 200 students from across Canada in real-time to explore our common thoughts on water-related issues. We followed this with a National survey, collecting the opinions of nearly 4000 Canadian youth on water-specific topics. This paper is a synthesis of our conversations, arguments, questions, and dialogues. Our survey shows that over 75.7% of Canadian youth described their concern around water as a "threat" or "serious threat"; with 56.2% thinking we will begin to feel the impact of water-related issues in the next few years. Three main issues came into focus as we discussed our questions around water: Individual consumption, industrial pollution, and water accessibility. These issues are a serious concern to Canadian youth. Knowing that the consequences of inaction on these issues could be serious to our - and everyone's - future, we have outlined our calls to action around education, experiential learning, and collaborative decision-making around water and water conservation in

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