On October 16, I’ll be travelling to Edmonton with 60 other youth delegates for the five-day YouthfulCities Future of Urban Work Summit. The intention of the Summit is to bring together engaged, passionate youths from across the country to talk about work, where we see the future of work going within Canada, and what actions cities need to take to be better positioned to support young workers.
As one of two delegates travelling from St. John’s, Newfoundland, I feel extremely excited, honoured, and—frankly—a little nervous to represent my city and the youth population here.
Last year, NATIONAL hosted a series of events across Canada with YouthfulCities, focused on discussing the results of the organization’s first Canada-wide urban index. Of the 13 cities analyzed, St. John’s came in at lucky number 13. While the St. John’s panel identified sources of strength, there are also a number of challenges faced.
Coming from a city where a significant number of youths—including myself, for a time—feel compelled to leave to find meaningful work, I fully appreciate the significance of this conversation. With a projected population decrease ranging as high as nearly 90,000 by 2043, St. John’s finds itself at a fork in the road.
Attracting and retaining youth is seen as critical to growing cities, as young people are more likely to create new businesses, engage in community social initiatives, and grow the population further by choosing to have families.
If we stay our current path, we’ll continue to see outmigration of youth and low immigration levels. Or we change it up and try something new and actively work to make St. John’s a city where youth can see themselves not only building a life, but thriving.
St. John’s doesn’t have time to merely dip a toe and test the waters to becoming more youth-friendly—we need to cannonball in and make waves that push the status quo, and I’m excited to contribute to that momentum.
I don’t yet know the conversations that will unfold next week, but I do know these are conversations that need to happen, and I can’t wait to be a part of them.
If you’re interested in following along my experience next week in Edmonton, follow me on Instagram @katebgreenwood.