In May 2017, following my final undergraduate exams at York University, I was fortunate to have secured a full-time permanent role at an organization in the health sector. It was not in my preferred field of study, nor did it require any of the skills that I had spent the last four years acquiring at York, but like any other young person in Toronto I was elated to have secured post-graduate employment. Fast forward a few weeks into the role, and also like any other young person, I quickly got bored of working in a role I had little interest in. Sure, it paid my bills, but I was not happy, and I wanted to do something more in-line with my interests. Then I found the Toronto Youth Cabinet.
Within weeks, I had signed up as a member with the Equity & Employment working group and had begun research on a project focused on youth unemployment that piqued my interest. Each day, I looked forward to the end of the workday, when I would retire from my day-job and begin tasks that related to the research project. I started learning more about municipal governance and the ins and outs city hall. I started off going to City Hall once a month for the 2-hour cabinet meetings, and by the end of the year, I had walked past the Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square more times than I could count. I fell in love with City hall.
I also developed personal skills during this time that were very beneficial such as report-writing, research skills. By engaging stakeholders through a series of interviews and surveys, I was able to improve my interpersonal and communication skills. It was also such a surreal feeling to experience when we finally finished the project in April 2018. I was finally able to hold a printed copy of this youth-led, youth-centered policy report that my team and I had worked so hard to produce over the course of a year.
As a result, it was an easy decision to apply for the role of Equity & Employment team lead in the spring of 2018, in an attempt to develop upon our successes. Since then, it has been a year of even bigger successes and accomplishments. Since May 2018, I have participated in the If I Ruled TO conference at the City of Toronto’s Youth Week, YouthREX Webinar, TCHC YouthWorx 2018 Conference, 2018 municipal elections, Identify ‘n’ Impact grant panel, and the University of Toronto’s Institute on Municipal Finance & Governance annual City Manager address – to name a few. The City Manager of Toronto, Chris Murray, actually read the policy report my team and I worked on, and commended me on it, which was surreal! Evidently, the opportunities for personal and professional development have been endless and I have the TYC to thank for all of that.
I am currently about to pass the leadership baton as I intend to complete a Master’s program in Public Administration at Queen’s University in the fall, and I feel like I have been well equipped to head into this next adventure. My time at the TYC has been filled with learning opportunities and groundbreaking experiences, and I unreservedly advocate for any young person between 13 and 25 to become a part of this movement. As I complete my time as Equity & Employment Lead, I intend to still be a part of the Toronto Youth Cabinet in any possible capacity as I remain under 25. Whether here in Toronto, our out in Kingston, I pledge my dedication towards contributing to youth development, and for any young person who is contemplating the same, I strongly advise in favour of it. I have made what I believe to be life-long friends at the TYC and I’m certain this will be the testimony of future TYC-ers!
Osivue Itseumah is Equity & Employment Lead for the 2018-2019 term. He oversees the Equity & Employment Working Group which works to fight the city's rising rate of youth unemployment.
Established in 1998 by Toronto City Council, The Toronto Youth Cabinet is the official youth advisory body to the City of Toronto. The Toronto Youth Cabinet (TYC) is a youth-led advocacy group that promotes youth participation in civic affairs and in policy development. TYC membership is open to youth between the ages of 13 and 24 who live, work, or learn in the City of Toronto