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Toronto – July 11, 2014 – With the sponsorship of Canada’s leading union for young workers, Ryerson University has launched the first-ever Jack Layton School for Youth Leadership. UFCW Canada activists participated in the intensive leadership development program, which draws students aged 18 to 29 from unions, community groups and social justice organizations.
The special week-long summer school program is named in honour of the late Jack Layton, who led the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) to official opposition status in the 2011 election, winning the party’s best-ever standing in the House of Commons. Brother Layton was known for his steadfast belief that young people could indeed change the world, a faith which garnered results in 2011 when Canadians elected an unprecedented number of young NDP Members of Parliament.
At last year’s annual Jack Layton Lecture, Ryerson University announced the creation of the special summer school program to carry on Layton’s vision of providing exceptional leadership training for youth activists. The program is led by Ryerson professor Myer Siemiatycki. This year’s pilot program had a total of 25 students, chosen equally from the labour movement and advocacy groups. Six of the students included UFCW Canada youth activists Daiana Dumitru, Local 1000A; Rosannie Filato, Local 500; Ashley Nesbitt, Local 175; Anneela Lautan, Local 175; Philippe Metras. Quebec Provincial Council; and Jennifer Johnston, Local 175.
During the inaugural session of the Jack Layton School, UFCW Canada national representative Pablo Godoy facilitated the workshop Youth and Unions. As Canada’s best union for private sector workers, particularly young people working in retail, UFCW Canada is well known for fostering youth activism and leadership with programs such as Students Against Migrant Exploitation and the UFCW Canada Youth Internship Program. Participants at the Jack Layton School agreed that joining the union is an important step to empowering young activists, not only in our workplaces, but in our local communities and the world at large.
“As the leading union to support Jack’s leadership of the NDP from the very beginning, I cannot think of a better way to honour his memory than providing cutting edge leadership training for today’s young activists,” says Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada National President, “UFCW Canada is proud of our committment to make the Jack Layton School for Youth Leadership a reality.”