Youth and elders
Elders and youth join together at an event held in British Columbia last fall. (Credit: IICRD YouLEAD Impact video.)

When young people and elders get together, they can learn a lot from one another.

Philip Cook is the founder of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development. The group held three events last fall where young activists and indigenous elders shared knowledge about climate solutions and their feelings about the climate crisis.

Cook: “Many young people are very optimistic and feel that we can make a difference. Some, however, are feeling completely overwhelmed. Others are increasingly angry, and I think we need to hear those voices and see how we can respond to them.”

At one event, a young man shared his despair about pollution and violence in his community. His words resonated with Bill White, an indigenous elder from British Columbia.

White: “And I thought, oh my God, this is where we can connect!”

White says he and others can offer wisdom about overcoming hardships and injustice.

White: “The old people that we’ve worked with have had 150 years of systemic discrimination and they’re still here. What can we learn from them about the future, and about now, and about being strong, and about helping one another?”

Cook says conversations across the generations are an antidote for despair.

Cook: “I think one of the human traits, this comes through really powerfully working with elders and youth, is a sense of hope.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.