Why Canada’s Sophie Gregoire Trudeau wants young people to stay socially conscious and fully engage in politics

Sophie Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaks at the Women in The World Summit on April 14, 2018 in New York City.
ANGELA WEISS | AFP | Getty Images

In this world, everyone — both young and old — has a voice. But one of Canada's leading figures Sophie Gregoire Trudeau is campaigning for young people, in particular, to make sure their voices are heard in key debates.

"I think that it's really important that we are empowering youth in Canada and all over the world, because you're not leading tomorrow — you're leading now, today, and the actions that you take in your daily lives," the gender equality advocate and spouse of Canada's Prime Minister said at an event in New York last week.

Speaking at the Women in the World (WITW) summit, Gregoire Trudeau said she was drawn to advocating for youth issues by her own experiences as a young person. Gregoire Trudeau suffered from an eating disorder and was looking for answers and to know why she was suffering, she told the audience.

Even though speaking out about her troubles was intimidating, Gregoire Trudeau said it was "the best decision" because "when you share your story and become vulnerable, the ripple effect and the people that you can help along the way is a life lesson."

She added that society needed to be able to talk about the life experiences that people face, because "real change comes from real individuals and real experiences."

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau with his wife Sophie Trudeau
Morris MacMatzen | Getty Images News | Getty Images

While she became an advocate before meeting her husband Justin, Gregoire Trudeau said that being in the political arena has allowed her to have a greater platform that acts like "a natural extension of the work I had begun before — talking about self-esteem and girls."

As of late, the younger generation has become more politically active and socially conscious, with people taking to the streets to protest against key issues including gender equality, education, gun control and a lack of diversity.

Commenting on society today, Gregoire Trudeau said she thinks the youth is becoming more engaged, which she considered "great news," adding that change happens because people get involved in the process, not when a crisis happens or governments say the time has come for change.

Getting voices heard

So how do we as a society encourage a younger generation to help deliver a brighter tomorrow? Well, part of it is down to political process and getting people to accept themselves for their creative identities, Gregoire Trudeau said.

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, oldest son Xavier James Trudeau and daugther Ella-Grace Margaret Trudeau attend the 38th Annual Vancouver Pride Parade on July 31, 2016
Andrew Chin | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

"Sometimes I feel like the political process and governments feel so far away from young people and it is not 'the political process,' it is 'your political process,'" she said.

"We need your voices, we need young people to get engaged. We need to listen to them and see how they feel about the world. Not only that, we need to have complex, sometimes awkward conversations that are based on truth, because on this planet right now, the truth is in danger — on many levels."

While the media is fighting to report facts and avoid accusations of "fake news," there's another issue concerning truth that Gregoire Trudeau highlighted as needing to be discussed: social media and what messages are disseminated to people globally.

"We're asking youth: 'Go for it. Be yourselves. Conquer the world.' But at the same time, what does that mean when you're bombarded with images and messages of, 'This is what you should look like. This is what you should act like,'" she said, adding that this dichotomy was a "recipe for unhappiness."

When you share your story and become vulnerable, the ripple effect and the people that you can help along the way is a life lesson
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau

"When human beings distance themselves from their own inner truth and the truth around them, we can't see ourselves in our true light and that is to our detriment. When youth live in fear of becoming who they are, as adults, they can't become the creative beings that we are meant to be on this planet."

"And when we can't express our uniqueness as human beings and our creativity – we don't allow progress to take root. So this youth empowerment is related to the future of this humanity. It is of the utmost importance."

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