The Chatham-Kent to the Power of Young People (aged 15-39) - CKY Advisory Group gathers and shares the voice of young people in CK.
The CKY Advisory Group was created in 2018 as a response to feedback from the Chatham-Kent to the Power of Young People, 2017 Survey which revealed that only 22% of young people feel their contributions to Chatham-Kent are valued. The Group facilitates discussions amongst young people and provides feedback to Municipal administration, Council, and community organizations on matters that impact the attraction, retention, and engagement of young people locally. Read the CKY Advisory Group Terms of Reference for more information on how the Group works, and check out the CKY Advisory Group Activities: 2018-21 infographic to see what they have been up to since they got started.
Follow the activities of the CKY Advisory Group here and over social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. See the latest CKY Advisory Group Meeting Notes (February - September 2022) to learn what the Advisory Group is focusing on. To speak with a member of the CKY Advisory Group, and share your thoughts and opinions, email CKY@chatham-kent.ca.
CKY Advisory Group Members
Morena McDonald, Co-Chair - Ridgetown
I grew up in Ridgetown and moved back to the community in 2011 after living in Toronto and attending U of T. It was difficult to find a job when I moved back, so I started an Etsy Shop selling handmade wedding décor. From there, I got into event planning and turned it into a business. Presently, I am known for organizing events such as Etsy: Made in Canada and the Dresden Night Market. I also work part-time at 99.1FM as a reporter and afternoon news anchor. I joined the CK^y Advisory Group to help other young people discover the unique opportunities that exist in Chatham-Kent. I also hope to encourage people of all ages to move to the area to take advantage of our affordable cost of living and growing community.
Kaitlyn Smoke, Communications Officer - Pain Court
I was born and raised in Pain Court, and returned after completing my Bachelor's degree in Linguistics and Language studies at Glendon College, York University in Toronto. I have always had a passion for being involved in my community, through various clubs, initiatives and experiences. Having a sister with multiple complex needs, I have always been a strong advocate for those with special needs, by volunteering with organizations such as the Children's Treatment Centre of C-K and spearheading fundraising initiatives such as CK Voiceless But Still Talking (With AAC). Chatham-Kent is an incredibly supportive and tight-knit community, and I look forward to helping CK continue to be better as part of CKy. Everyone deserves a voice, and every voice deserves to be heard; and I hope to help youth feel that their ideas and opinions are heard and validated for the future of our community.
Zara Belanger-Pepper - Chatham
I was born and raised in Chatham, and I can't think of a better community than this one. I currently go to École Secondaire de Pain Court, a full-french high school. I'm working towards becoming a doctor. After writing a book about the loss of my father to suicide, I've become an advocate for mental health for people all over South-Western Ontario, especially the youth of Chatham-Kent. I've done many talks at multiple events such as the Canadian Mental Health Go Green Golf Tournament and Ride Don't Hide Event as well as many other locations such as St-Clair College, Rotary and IODE Ridgetown. As one of the younger members of this initiative, I'm undeniably very excited to bring a youthful energy to CK, and I'm looking forward to making this amazing community even better to live in for everyone, especially for youth. I want the voices and opinions of every young person in Chatham-Kent to be heard and taken into consideration when decisions are being made, because the youth are the future of our communities.
Michelle Robbins - North Buxton
I was born and raised in North Buxton and am a sixth generation descendent of enslaved people who came to Canada via the Underground Railroad. I am the Supportive Care Program Coordinator at VON Chatham-Kent and have very strong ties to my community. I am the current President of Buxton's Next Generation, a community group to whose mission is to engage our youth and preserve our culture. Chatham-Kent is an incredible place to live and grow! I'm honoured to give back to Chatham-Kent by joining CK^y and to help continue to enrich our community with history and culture that we are so proud of!
Laura Wheeler - Ridgetown
Colm McGivern - Wallaceburg
I currently reside in Wallaceburg and think it is a great place to live. I attend Ursuline College Chatham as a full-time grade 12 student, and I also work at a local business here in Wallaceburg and volunteer in the local community when I can. I have joined CKY to bring my experience as a youth living in Chatham-Kent. I am excited to learn more about our broader community and the opinions of youth that reside within it. I hope to work towards improving the community as a whole, and to give something back to a community that has been a large part of my life.