Juno award vocalist Liberty Silver turned to spoken word last week to inspire young people at an International Human Rights Day celebration at the Ontario Science Centre.
For the past 65 years, Human Rights Day has been celebrated globally on December 10.
“I believe that every spirit in human form has a God-given right to freedom, equal opportunity and justice,” she said at the Youth for Human Rights celebration. “It’s our responsibility that all mankind stop and intervene when we see injustice around the world and we open our mouths and shout at injustices. We must be held accountable and responsible to all people of all nations, colour and creed. We must start right here in this room with each other and continue to reach out to those who bury their heads and pretend the problem is not theirs and does not affect them.
“We must be a light to others and guide them to help others based upon informative materials and open discussion between different races, religions, ethnic groups here right now with each other. We must throw away the old subconscious opinions, prejudices, fear and open our minds and hearts to our universal connection to each other.
“It’s time to get back to basics, brotherly love, fairness, compassion, empathy, listening well and learning well…It’s my creed to shine my light to the world as a beacon to all of us to love and respect, especially the different and the unknown. Your mind is the most powerful thing you have.”
The theme of this year’s event was “Human Rights on the Move.” Nicole Crellin is the event’s co-ordinator and director of Youth for Human Rights Toronto.
“The purpose of Youth for Human Rights is to teach youths about human rights, more specifically the universal declaration of human rights under the United Nations,” she said. “These fundamental rights need to be broadly known and applied throughout the world starting with our own local communities.”
Other speakers at the event included filmmaker Tyrone Greenidge, motivational entertainer Kerry Lee Crawford and Youth Day founder and chief executive officer Tylaine Duggan.
Held annually at Yonge-Dundas Square since 2007, Youth Day is a free annual festival celebrating the positive achievements of young people through dance, music, art, photography and film.
The event was created following an escalation in gun violence in the city eight years ago.
“When I asked the kids why this (violence) was happening, they said they were bored and lacked the opportunity to do the things they wanted to do,” Duggan recalled. “When I asked them what they wanted, they told me they rap, break dance and (do) spoken word. They just wanted a stage, so I gave them one.”
The Youth Day concept will be taken to Montego Bay next January, Brussels and Amsterdam in March, London in May, New York in September and Barcelona in November.