Recently named a 2013 Global Change Maker by the Ontario Council for International Cooperation Mariah has traveled the globe to help raise awareness and to gain a better understanding of those suffering around the world.
Growing up in the small town of Cobalt in northern Ontario, Mariah was able to develop a unique global perspective early on.
“ [Cobalt is] an old mining town, so there are a lot of people that go abroad to the Congo and South Africa to work in mines,” she said. “So all while we were growing up there was this sense of what happens in our town is affected by everything around the world even though it was so small.”
The Cobalt native’s advocacy career was inspired at a young age when her mother bought her Craig Keilburger’s book Free the Children. Mariah was so moved by the book that she started a Free the Children chapter in her hometown and traveled with the organization to Nicaragua to distribute books and pencils and to see some of the human rights issues discussed in the book first-hand. Her passion for social justice also took her to Uganda where she helped educate youth about good governance and human rights.
However, not all of Mariah’s humanitarian work is done abroad; she also traveled to the Attawapiskat First Nations community to help facilitate a campaign run by local residents for a desperately needed school for the community.
Throughout all her travels, the global change maker has identified a universal issue that she believes stands in the way of youth.
“A big issue I’ve noticed is education, and the need to educate youth. In Attawapiskat of course that’s the main issue; youth aren’t getting an education because they don’t have a school,” Mariah said. “In Uganda something like 78 per cent of population is under 30 and there just isn’t an adequate education system.”
Mariah believes education is more important than ever as the world goes digital.
“The global modern world is changing way too fast and these people need education and skills, and they just aren’t getting them and they’re being left behind,” she said. “If we equip youth with a high quality education I know they will go off and make the world a better place.”
All her vocal advocacy work garnered her attention from the OCIC which proceeded to name her one of the eight global change makers of 2013.
Mariah is very humble about the achievement.
“Being a global change maker means being someone who is working with other people. It’s not an award I accept for myself,” she said. “It’s an award I accept for the people all over the world, the people of Ontario, the youth advocates,— it’s basically a recognition that things need to change.”
Her passion right now is much more local than her previous endeavours.
“I currently work at a homeless shelter in downtown Toronto; that’s my newest adventure.”
Mariah hopes that being a global change maker inspires youth to get involved and make a difference.
“Look around your community and see what your community needs,” she said. “It can be as simple as being nice, in terms of stopping bullying or trying to include kids who are new to Canada or new to your school.”
1. Be aware of your communities needs and help out where you can
2. Volunteer at a food bank
3. Start a chapter for a non-profit global aid organization in your community
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