Born in Canada, I was always eager to make a difference in the world. From a very young age I always dared to do the impossible, get out of my comfort zone and explore.
As a kid, I was pretty shy. I kept my opinions to myself. In spite of my nature, I was an optimist and believed that the world is better when we are working together. My optimistic outlook was challenged in grade 10 when I a teacher told me that despite my own experiences and research, “racism doesn’t exist in Canada.” At a Black Lives Matter protest shortly after, I shared my experience as a Black teenager.
The opportunity to use my voice empowered me. I knew I wanted to offer the same opportunity to other youth. I posted a video of my speech on YouTube CameronD and the response was incredible. More than 50,000 people have watched my speech. Students have thanked me for giving them the courage to speak up. Teachers have thanked me for helping them understand why the education system needs to change. The York Regional Police had me consult on their community training initiatives. I realized that one person speaking out can make a difference, not just for themselves but for their community.
Since that speech, I’ve continued to speak up through news platforms like CP24, CTV and CBC, as a keynote speaker and as a panelist at events around the world. I co-founded BYR Youth. Together, we have been able to change the curriculum around diverse histories in York Region. We've spoken with the Minister of Education, to several different schools and hosted panel discussions on allyship and youth excellence.
Inspired, I signed up for youth council opportunities. On the youth council of Markham Stouffville MPP Paul Calandra, I advocates for the needs of minorities in Markham. On MP Marci Ien's youth council in Toronto Centre I added my voice to those of other youths calling for change. And in my current role on Markham Mayor Scarpitti's Black Youth Liaison Committee, I’m working to further empower my peers. Most importantly, all of these opportunities have been opportunities to help project the voices of others.
Last year, I tried something new. I started 721merch.ca to create a global community bonded in their support for social justice. My business’s activism arm donates either all or a portion of the proceeds to charities that support minority youth.
What started out as a negative has turned into my passion. I intend to pursue a career in politics. I may only be 17 years old, but I have already begun to inspire global change. I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
I'm a dedicated, hardworking, resilient, extroverted, optimistic teen and I am trying to make anywhere I am, a better place for everyone who is there. I will never lose sight of my goal and won't stop working until I achieve it.