A Provincial Exchange

The Youth.
The Work.
The System.

Knowledge to Action
For Youth Wellbeing


Panel Discussion

Talking Back to the System:
Perspectives on Addressing Complex
(aka ‘Wicked’) Problems

How do we move towards a system that collaboratively supports youth in every context and scale of development?

How do we move our knowledge of system dysfunction, violence or plain misalignment into healthy and tangible change that leads to better outcomes for youth wellbeing?

Youth development is embedded in different interconnected and nested physical and social contexts – for example: family, peer, caregiver, teacher, school, community, religious institution, social services, policy and government. These spheres of development can be differentiated through proximity to an individual: micro (personal), meso (organizations), and macro (political, economic, cultural). No matter what our entry point into supporting youth wellbeing is, we engage with policies, relationships, resources, and power that make up the ‘system.’ This engagement, while continuously developing and oftentimes interdependent, is also often also fraught with tension.

This dynamic panel, facilitated by YouthREX Curriculum Specialist, Cyril Cromwell, explored, from multiple vantage points, youth-system interactions with panelists sharing a range of responses and strategies for ‘talking back’ to the system on critical issues affecting youth.

Mélanie-Rose Frappier
Youth Ambassador of Canada,
Young Aboriginal Leader & Motivational Speaker,
Founder of “It’s Cool to be Healthy” NPO

Stephen Bediako
Executive Chair, The Social Innovation Partnership,
Board member of Project Oracle and
Trustee of Chance UK and Centre for London 

Dr. Naomi Nichols
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education at McGill University, Principal Investigator for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project, Schools, Safety, and the Urban Neighbourhood ,
and a SSHRC Insight Development project, Mapping the Influence of Engaged Scholarship.

Jim Rankin
Reporter and Photographer, Toronto Star


Mélanie-Rose Frappier
For 19-year-old Mélanie -Rose, making a positive difference in her community and country is her passion. In April 2016, Mélanie was selected as one of 36 Youth Wisdom Carriers to contribute to the Rideau Hall Foundation’s national initiative, Enhancing Indigenous Education Through Co-Creation. She will be speaking on this experience, sharing the resulting Youth Declaration that addresses four key recommendations for the enhancement of Indigenous education in Canada.

Mélanie is currently attending Laurentian University majoring in Health Promotion and taking a minor in Indigenous Studies. Her francophone and Métis culture are very important her and she is always looking for ways to attain cultural, spiritual and personal growth.

Stephen Bediako
Stephen is a leading figure in the drive towards establishing an evidence-based approach to social programmes. As Executive Chair for The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP), he is responsible for leading the board, strategic development and thought leadership. He has advised Nesta, Big Society Capital, Mayor’s Fund for London and Save the Children among others. Stephen has over ten years’ experience in strategy and policy, having previously worked at Tribal, Deloitte, iMPOWER, and the Home Office, as well as for Barack Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign. He has spent time in Africa with Voluntary Service Overseas and currently volunteers as a school governor and as an UpRising mentor for the Young Foundation.

Stephen holds a BSc in Politics and History from Brunel University, and an MSc in Public Policy from LSE. He has completed additional trainings including, the Common Purpose American Express Leadership course (2013), the Goldman Sachs and UCL Advances 10,000 Small Business Leaders Programme (2014), and Big Venture Challenge (2015).

Dr. Naomi Nichols
Naomi Nichols is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at McGill University. She is the Principal Investigator for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project titled, Schools, Safety, and the Urban Neighbourhood and a SSHRC Insight Development project titled: Mapping the Influence of Engaged Scholarship. Prior to joining the Faculty of Education at McGill, Nichols completed a Post-doctoral Fellowship with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at York University. The Fellowship focused on knowledge mobilization, research impact, and cross-sectoral responses to youth homelessness.

Nichols’ research activities and publications span the areas of youth homelessness; youth justice; alternative education and safe schools; inter-organizational relations in the youth sector; “youth at risk;” and community-academic research collaborations. In 2014, the University of Toronto Press published her first book: Youth Work: An institutional ethnography of youth homelessness. In 2016, she released a new co-edited book, published by the Homeless Hub: Exploring Effective Systems Responses to Homelessness 


Jim Rankin
Jim specializes in investigations, features and data journalism. His work has been nominated for ten National Newspaper Awards and in 2002 he was part of a team involved in the Michener Award-winning investigative series into race, policing and crime in Toronto. In 2014, he was honoured with a Harry Jerome award for public advocacy and a media award from the Urban Alliance on Race Relations for a body of work on social justice issues.

In 2010, Jim and his colleagues at the Star launched an ongoing investigation into the police practice of carding and, beginning in 2012, the “Known to police” series of articles. Jim and his team analyzed police data that showed disproportionate carding of people with black and brown skin. Youth of all backgrounds are subject to carding. The carding patterns mirror over-representation of black youth in other systems Jim and his colleagues have examined, including incarceration rates, school suspension and expulsion rates, and apprehensions in Ontario’s child protection system.