A hand­ful of prom­i­nent Cana­di­ans of­fer grad­u­ates some in­sight­ful advice

Calgary Herald - - YOU - CRAIG KIELBURGER

The COVID-19 pan­demic has cut young peo­ple off from their friends and can­celled im­por­tant rit­u­als such as grad­u­a­tion and prom. In lieu of live cer­e­monies and con­vo­ca­tion speeches, our team reached out to some prom­i­nent Cana­di­ans, seek­ing their advice and guid­ance for the class of 2020.

What’s hap­pen­ing to you now seems un­fair, and at times un­be­liev­able. But I’d like you to think of it this way: You’re fac­ing a pan­demic at a scale that comes once in a cen­tury. The Great­est Generation was forged out of two world wars and emerged stronger from it. Even if you’re not in for­mal classes, you’re learn­ing some of the most im­por­tant life skills. Re­silience and the emo­tional ca­pac­ity to weather dif­fi­cult times are learned skills that will ben­e­fit you for a life­time. In the words of Juno Award-win­ning artist Kar­di­nal Off­ishall: “Even a rose can rise from the con­crete. You guys have made the best out of pos­si­bly one of the worst times ever. And that just goes to show the re­silience of the hu­man spirit.”

It may seem like an odd ques­tion, but ask your­self: Which as­pects of your life do you hope will re­main changed when re­stric­tions are lifted and we es­tab­lish a new nor­mal? De­velop self-care rit­u­als now so that you can bet­ter adapt to what­ever is com­ing next. You need to look out for one an­other, and for your­selves. Heed the words of So­phie Gré­goire Trudeau: “Be kind to your­self. Treat your­self with the same com­pas­sion, kind­ness, re­spect and love that you show to oth­ers.”

Don’t lose sight of who you want to be. Let your drive, your cre­ativ­ity, your unique at­tributes “come out and play,” ad­vises

Olympian Silken Lau­mann. “When you find the courage to be your­self, you will not play small; you will take up space and you won’t apol­o­gize for that. Our world needs you to be the big­gest ver­sion of your­self.”

Post-pan­demic, your generation will face more global chal­lenges. Our world re­ally does need the best you. Help­ing oth­ers will help you be­come bet­ter. “We rise by lift­ing oth­ers,” says Michael “Pin­ball” Cle­mons, gen­eral man­ager of the Toronto Arg­onauts.

You have a re­spon­si­bil­ity, prompts Perry Bel­le­garde, na­tional chief of the As­sem­bly of First Na­tions. “It is up to you to make yours a ful­fill­ing life,” he says. “Be self­less and pas­sion­ate and work ev­ery day to make bet­ter the lives of oth­ers around you, and you will en­joy a life well lived.”

To close, I leave you, the grad­u­ates of 2020, with the wis­dom of a man who has watched the Earth spin be­neath his feet, Chris Had­field, for­mer com­man­der of the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion. You can’t con­trol the past or the fu­ture, he says. What you can con­trol is what you choose to do mo­ment by mo­ment.

“Your life is not what you set out to do; it is not what you thought you might do. It is just the sum to­tal of all the lit­tle things that you chose to do next,”

Had­field ad­vises, “So choose wisely!” Craig Kielburger is co-founder of the WE Move­ment, which in­cludes WE Char­ity, ME to WE So­cial Enterprise and WE Day.

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