Rural Ontario Institute researching concerns of young people in rural areas

(Provided by Rural Ontario Institute)

The Communications Manager and Program Coordinator for the Rural Ontario Institute says they’re in the process of touring rural, remote and indigenous communities in Northern Ontario as part of their Young, Rural, Resilient project to find out what concerns young people in those communities.

Melanie Bidiuk explains, the Young, Rural, Resilient project is a program of the Rural Ontario Institute’s Rural Change Maker Program.

“It’s a youth engagement initiative to gather the perspective of emerging leaders throughout rural, remote and indigenous communities in Ontario. So once we’re done, everything we hear is going to inform and shape the 2023 Rural Change Maker Program,” Bidiuk said.

So far, Bidiuk says they’ve connected with about 150 to 200 young people. She says one disturbing trend they’ve noticed is a significant decline in youth engagement since the pandemic and one of their goals is to identify the concerns of young people and why engagement has declined.

“The current economic climate and the pandemic have had a profound impact on many young people, but especially for rural youth, for the issues like access to housing, services, health and well being, food security, they’re having profound impact on our younger generation,” added Bidiuk.

Bidiuk says they’ve already learned a few things from the Young, Rural, Resilient project, including that young people are very passionate about change. Some of the things they care about include access to housing, mental health and well-being, the legacy of residential school systems, climate change, sustainable energy, food security, agriculture, indigenous knowledge sharing and even less visible issues in Canada and Ontario, like human trafficking.

More information about the program and the Young, Rural, Resilient survey can be found on the Rural Ontario Institute web site.

(Courtesy of the Rural Ontario Institute)