Rebel with a cause: Getting involved in advocacy groups
By Amy Fournier
Posted on June 21, 2021
The goal of activism is to advocate for, or support, a political or social cause. According to New Youth, an online community for refugee and immigrant youths in Ontario, advocacy groups create change using various methods to influence a government or society to act. Some methods include:
- public education: teaching or providing information to the community on different matters
- lobbying: attempting to influence decisions made by the government or other individuals
- media activity: using media and communication tools for social or political movements
- coalition building: forming a group of community members to pursue a common goal
- “grassroots” activities: organizing activities to encourage action for and by community members
In a study, which measured activism and its role in psychological well-being, activism was shown to promote self-esteem, self-actualization (to fulfill one’s potential), vitality, life-satisfaction, and other aspects of psychological health. Understanding and educating yourself on social issues that matter to you can also assist in identity formation and help you develop a sense of purpose. Activism allows you to connect with other like-minded people that share similar passions. As a newcomer to Canada, you may be interested in joining an advocacy group, but may not know where to start.
Here are some local resources to help you get involved in different advocacy groups:
Refugee and Immigrant Protection
The Canadian Council for Refugees is a national non-profit organization that is committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in Canada and around the world. Barriers to family reunification, immigration detention, and people without status are a few of the concerns that the CCR focuses on, among many others. You can participate in in-depth virtual meetings and discussions about specific topics regarding the rights of refugees.
Colour of Poverty — Colour of Change is a network that addresses ongoing ethnic and racial inequality. They provide many fact sheets, tools, and resources for anti-racism practices and education in Canada.
Black Youth Helpline focuses on understanding and then addressing the challenges that are faced by black youth. Volunteers are warmly welcomed, and they rely on a diverse team of parents, professionals, youths, and other community members to come up with solutions.
Black Lives Matter Canada is committed to fighting for justice and liberation for black communities as well as Indigenous communities.
Pride Toronto is a not-for-profit that celebrates and supports the LGBTQ2+ communities. They host many events that you can participate in, which are listed on their online calendar. Traditionally, the Toronto Pride Parade is an annual event that takes place at the corner of Church and Bloor Street. This huge event gathers around two million people!
Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is a community development program that works to support the health and well-being of queer and trans youth who are under the age of 29. Over 50 per cent of the young people they work with are newcomers.
Canadian Women’s Foundation understands the barriers that women and girls face and believe that advocating for gender equality improves economic and social conditions for everyone. They offer many resources and ways to get involved on their website. They also have a podcast called “Alright, Now What?” that is about the journey towards gender justice.
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) is a successful organization whose main focus is on law reform, legal action, and public education in order to advance gender equality. Preventing violence against women and gender-diverse people, eliminating workplace discrimination, and promoting reproductive freedom are just a few of the victories that LEAF has conquered since 1985, when they were founded. They have a variety of resources in their online library as well as summaries of their cases and links to law reform submissions (documents written by community members about their views and opinions on certain laws and their suggestions for improvement).
Fridays For Future Toronto is part of a global movement that was initiated by Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist from Sweden. This organization is concerned with the sustainability of our planet and is focused on creating a healthier environment for the younger generations. They’ve organized many school strikes, rallies, and marches.
Climate Justice Toronto is a youth-led collective that fights climate change through various petitions, educational resources, and events.
Finally, Youth Action Network is a charity that offers a safe and inclusive space for youth to have a voice and create meaningful changes in their community. There are many social causes that require attention, and new ideas and proposals for change are welcomed by Youth Action Network.
Connecting with local advocacy groups virtually can be a good start to participating in transformational social change while staying at home. Sharing petitions and educating others through social media platforms about causes that you are passionate about may also influence others to take action.
There are many opportunities to get involved in activism in Canada. Being involved in advocacy groups can be a rewarding and beneficial experience and is a powerful way of using your voice for greater good.