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Young people connecting at the 2014 Top LEft Fundraiser

2014 Conference Themes

There were 5 topics discussed at the 2014 Top Left Conference on November 28th through December 1st at Tim Horton Onondaga farm, camp. The workshops were co-facilitated by youth in partnership with young adults to shed light on important issues decided by the Top Left Youth.

  1. Theme 1: Beauty & Culture

    Description: This team discussed and focussed on the image of genders from the perspectives of opposite sexes, how our society influences youth in terms of the definition of natural beauty from all races and ethnicities, and how the LGBTQ community is affected as well.

    Subcategories: Exotification of women; Defining beauty for oneself; Critically looking at current beauty standards; Where do these standards come from (Media, Parents, Peers, etc.); Pressures to conform to certain standards; Shadeism and skin bleaching or tanning; Looking at colonization and how that affects our current culture.

    Questions to Consider:

    • What is beauty and who defines and labels it?
    • What are some things you struggle with as a youth?
    • Does putting your physical appearance before your happiness act as a barrier to feeling confident about yourself?
    • Do you feel pressured to change your appearance as the social setting changes and does this stand in the way of expressing your uniqueness?

  2. Theme 2: Gender Based Violence (G.B.V)

    Description: This team focussed on issues surrounding gender-based violence in our current society and came up with strategic ways to inform people on how to address gender-based violence and how to prevent it in their own communities.

    Subcategories: Young men & gender stereotypes; Dating & violence; Healthy Relationships; Influence of media on young girls; Power labels and stereotypes.

    Questions to Consider:

    • What facts in these issues do you find surprising?
    • What subtopics of violence does society need to address that have not been open to discussion or are taboo in today's current paradigm?
    • How do policy makers shape or facilitate the discussion on violence based issues? Do they sometimes act as a barrier to open these discussions?
    • Do you think the media influences the commonly held opinions on violence?

  3. Theme 3: Influences of Pop Culture

    Description: This theme team discussed how pop culture has become a way of defining ourselves and the impact it has onour society. This theme team also explored how to recognize and embrace individuality and uniqueness.

    Subcategories: The critical analysis of media (Music and Top Record Sales); The narratives that advertisements preach (Fashion and Beauty Products); Body image when compared against the heavily altered celebrity world; Lost messages of self love to the branding of break up music; How to evoke narratives of self empowerment; Power of self accomplishment contrasted against the power of materialization.

    Questions to Consider:

    • Do these narratives need to be changed or altered?
    • How can these narratives be changed or altered?
    • Why did celebrity worship become the tales our culture clings to? Why did we choose this narrative to replace our narratives of history and culture through parables and moral stories?
    • How did branding and marketing guide this transition?
    • Why did we buy in?

  4. Theme 4: Aboriginal Issues

    Description: This theme team focussed on addressing current issues such as racialized violence, stigma, inequality, and incarceration rates. This theme group also explored the truth of reconciliation and demonstrate the process and advantages of healing circles.

    Subcategories: Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women(#MMAW); Idle No More (#IdleNoMore); #AmINext; Residential Schools; Reconciliation; Incarceration Rights; Stigmas and the role they play; Commercialized Racism; Aboriginal Ceremonies and Practices; Relocation of Current Reserves for Oil Fracking Rights (Mi'kmaq).

    Questions to Consider:

    • Why is there a lack of teaching about Aboriginal history in schools?
    • How could the school system incorporate Aboriginal teaching into the curriculum?
    • What is your knowledge of Aboriginal teachings, practices and history and who told the narrative?
    • How well do you think our teachings and history lessons of Aboriginal culture align with the Aboriginal peoples?
    • How could our views and biases be reduced when creating the lessons we learn in school?

  5. Theme 5: Consent

    Description: This theme team focussed on current events, such as the Jian Gomeshi case & the impact movement it has created. It will also explored the 5 W’s of giving consent, the laws surrounding consent & the importance of communication. This theme group also explored healthy relationships, the cycle of violence, self-care & peer pressure.

    Subcategories: The Jian Gomeshi Case; The fine line between unique fetishes and abuse; Laws and Policy Makers; What is Consent?; How to give Consent?; Why is it important?; When is Consent Applicable? (Consent and Intoxication); Healthy Relationships; What different support structures are available?

    Questions to Consider:

    • Are there enough resources on Healthy Relationships?
    • What suppport structures are not currently available that should be made available?
    • Are some of the resources exclusive based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, or culture?
    • What aspects are important in making a relationship a positive one or a negative one?
    • Does the setting in which a relationship takes place change the dynamics of a relationship?

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