I allows look forward to hearing the weekly rant from Rick Mercer and I have been inspired by his most recent book A Nation Worth Ranting About, to do what he says and rant about topics and issues that are important to us, so here is my rant:
As part of the program for the Summit there are a series of special events for “Future Young Leaders” about 150 young co-operators from around the world who are participating in the Summit and in many cases, the Imagine 2012 conference immediately prior.
I have been very critical of this program to say the least, not the components of the program but the name of the program and the message that it sends. For me, the message that the name of this program sends is that there is a specific age, a set of criteria that one must reach before their leadership and the contributions that they make will be recognized. In this case the program is for young people between the ages of 20 and 35, so that magic age is 36. People who are close to me know that I always have something to say when young people are referred to as ‘future leaders’ or ‘leaders of tomorrow’ because I, and I think many of my peers, are driven not only to lead and be active contributors today but tomorrow and for years to come. I think that leadership is a spectrum, I think it takes many different shapes and forms and I think that it is forever evolving- certainly that is how I would describe my leadership and the leadership of those that I admire and see leading within the world around me. When I think about leaders and leadership, there are attributes and skills that I think of- but age is not a defining characteristic.
I did self-select and apply to participate in this program and I have been looking forward to participating, namely because I knew that once together with my fellow future leaders, I would be in the presence of others who felt the same and together we would be able to learn about and celebrate the incredible diversity of leadership of young people currently involved in co-operatives. Let me tell you, it is true, following the opening reception of the Summit, the young leaders had a special cocktail and in meeting many of them the the leadership is vibrant and dynamic, from those who have developed co-operatives in all types of industries to those who are champions of co-operatives because they have found a type of business that matches many of their personal values. This morning, and each morning during the Summit, we will start our day with a special breakfast. This morning the panelists that we heard from were Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO, The Co-operators; Jürgen Schwettermann, Director, Dept Partnerships and Development, ILO; and José Antonio Chávez Villanueva, youth director, ICA board. Each speaker was great but José took his opening remarks and with great passion made it very clear that we [youth] are the future but we are not waiting for the future, we are leading now. This statement was endorsed by a huge round of applause.
So I am going to start using the language that was shared with me in a conversation that I had with a leader from Vancity Credit Union, where he described young leaders as the the avant-garde of the co-operative movement. Now that I can get behind, I will continue to learn, to take up my responsibilities and to pursue innovation, and that makes me a co-operative leader.
– Tanya Gracie