West Broadway became a beacon for social change Saturday afternoon through artwork created by youth focused on solving the world’s problems at the annual Art City Parade.
Organized by the non-profit community studio Art City, the event’s theme was chosen by its youth members, focusing on human rights protections, the environment, love and laughter.
“I think sometime that youth don’t understand the complex [issues] of the world and how serious some issues are, so I’m just trying to help with that,” said 13-year-old member Desmond Young.
Ranging from children to seniors, hundreds of Winnipeggers came to walk in the parade and hold pre-made signs.
Young made his own sign which read “Boys can be Feminists, too” with a fist to show solidarity with women. He wanted to tackle the issue of gender-pay equity, and let other men know that being a feminist is OK.
“I think it’s unfair that in upper management there’s pay gaps. It doesn’t make sense ’cause people should be equal in every way,” he said.
Although peer pressure has made him hesitant at times to claim himself as a feminist, Young said he feels at home at Art City, where he didn’t feel restricted with his opinions.
“I think the world is honestly getting better, and it’s easier for [people like] me. The world has just gotten more accepting in general,” he said.
Josh Ruth, the managing director of Art City, has made it a focus to allow for more inclusion, regardless of age. Now, he finds those youth feel empowered and wanting to become leaders socially and in the community.
“The youth are more and more socially minded and community minded young people … they don’t have some of the same presumptions or binaries that the previous generations have. They’re looking around and they’re saying you know this isn’t so hard,” he said.
The involvement of the youth and desire to focus the parade of socially and politically charged ideas fills Ruth with optimism about what the next generation can do.
“It fills me with hope for the future … to see that the young people from this community have ideas and are literally thinking of new realities and then creating solutions,” he said.
Ruth knows the platform and space Art City has in the community by being a safe haven for community members, but he is now realizing the the impact the parade could have in the future.
“It doesn’t stop here, it continues on as they go into the world and as they grow up and they actually do begin to create,” he said. “This is a symbol of the hope that we can have for the future.”