One of the best things about being passionate about being a youth advocate and community engager is that you get to hear and witness all kinds of stories of Canada’s young leaders doing unbelievably amazing things. It’s one of the reasons that compiling the Top Leaders Under 30 list every year has become one of my holiday traditions. Some of the things that people do to make this world better staggers me some days!

This year is infinitely different than any year. Faced with an adversity only very, very few are alive to tell us about having happened before, it has been a pretty scary situation! That being said, the outpouring of compassion, generosity and camaraderie that I have seen in Canadians is something that we all knew existed, but never to the extent that it is now on display. From running errands for quarantined/self-isolating strangers to keeping our distance & wearing a face covering to raising our voices when injustices occur, Canadians have for the most part shown why being Canadian is pretty darn good. When I noticed this all happening, I got very inspired to do provide some recognition to those out there making the world a better place in a very odd and incredibly uncertain time.

In true Youth Beyond Enterprises fashion, I put the call out for those under 30 to be nominated as a Top Leader Under 30: COVID-19, and it did not disappoint! I didn’t want to do just a small snapshot of what a person was all about based off of the nomination like I normally do, I wanted to showcase why they do what they do too- straight from the nominee!

The first person I am pleased to feature is Caceila Trahan! Join me in a massive round of applause!
Who is Caceila Trahan? (Bio provided by CC).

Caceila “CC” Trahan, or Magical Being (Zhaabwezhaagan) is from downtown Sault Ste. Marie. This 28-year-old ikwe is discovering her identity. CC has used her experiences living in poverty and breaking the cycle to empower her and is a long time community activist in Northern Ontario. CC has a diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies, and a BA Community Economic & Social Development. She enjoys organizing, sharing and acting on issues related to youth poverty, women in the sex trade and the environment.

She is known for her work in Sudbury, co-founding Supporting Potential Overtime with Teens, and in Sault Ste. Marie, as co-founder of Youth Odena, Developer of To Teach Each Other, and New Shining Moon Workshop Series. Caceila is currently being supported by and is a member of Young Leaders Circle, the Algoma Lead for Northern Lights Collaborative, an Independent Philanthropist, a Residential Youth Worker and a TV Host.
What the Nominator had to say about Caceila when they sent me her name.

Caceila is a community champion, advocate for First Nation and underprivileged youth, social justice, youth social infrastructure, arts and culture and so much more. She connects people to skills, funding, professional development opportunities. She looks out for youth in her home community and across Turtle Island. She facilitates exchange and dialogue about the big issues and makes space for all voices, especially elevating youth and indigenous folks whose voices are so often systemically quieted.
What Caceila does and & why she does it (in her words to really highlight her passion).

In my younger youth, I was angry with living in poverty and social inequity around me. I didn’t quite understand that yet. My father raised me in a one bedroom apartment, and my Grandparents (from Belleville) worked very hard, and had 5 children. My Grandmother worked for Northern Telecom, became involved with the Union and local politics. I was raised to have a strong voice as a woman. I also was raised to be resilient. In college, I began public speaking after being encouraged by an awesome professor and an executive director of a local youth organization. For the last decade, I have used my voice and acted on community issues that are important to me. I am grateful that after many years of organizing in my community, I am now in the position a year post my undergraduate, to be funded (by Trillium Foundation) to do this work. When Covid-19 hit, it was challenging in many ways, as I could not see my family, multiple important people passed away (non covid related) during this time, and I fear for my family members that are immune compromised. The silver lining is the realization that we are in this together; and so together, we imagined and created a space where we could learn together; to share dance, art, skills, opportunity and empathy.

In late March we (Northern Lights Collaborative, partnered with Young Leader’s Circle) had intended on hosting a New Shining Moon Gathering in Baawating (Sault Ste Marie), for skill exchange and networking of 50 young at heart people across Northern Ontario. As a result of Covid-19 we had to rethink our strategy and with a core and extended team of over 20 young people we were able to develop the New Shining Moon Workshop Series (online using Zoom). With the help of some really awesome people I was grateful to lead this work. We worked with 20 young at heart facilitators to deliver 43 workshops over 19 days in April 2020! Together we had 323 participants from Ontario, British Columbia, Nunavut, Quebec, the North West Territories and Manitoba!
Something that resonates with CC (confession- me too!).

“We are all settling into a new reality and we want to help the people, organizations and groups we are connected to thrive through this new time. We are always making history as young changemakers but in particular a global pandemic is new territory for many of us in living memory. “
Want to know more?

Better Beginnings Sudbury:

New Shining Moon Online Workshop Series:

Northern Lights Collaborative:

Supporting Potential Overtime with Teens:

To Teach Each Other:

Young Leaders Circle:

Youth Odena:

Keep up the incredible work, Caceila!

– 30 –

I am looking to feature more incredible young people under 30 across Canada who are doing wonderful things through the “COVID Kindness Series”. They can do anything at all- from “essentials” runs for their neighbour(hood), to retooling their business, to launching a business, to launching a social enterprise or helping to solve a social issue. You name them, send me their story & contact email, and I’ll reach out to them! My contact info can be found here.