Author : Michel Venne, General manager, Institut du Nouveau Monde
The word “citizen” is heard more and more frequently in today’s vernacular. In fact, a new political party in Québec bears the name “Option citoyenne”. Demonstrations against globalization and social movements are now qualified using the word “citizen’s” which is now being used as a qualifier.
But what is a citizen or what is citizen-like behaviour? I asked myself that question last summer for a speech in front of 600 young Québecers gathered together for the second edition of École d'été de l'Institut du Nouveau Monde, a citizenship school for 15-30 year olds. I arrived at the following definition: “A citizen is first and foremost someone who cares about others. It is someone who is conscious of belonging to a community, a nation; conscious of the fact that we need the help of others to resolve problems and face and overcome new challenges that are common to us all yet beyond the ability of any individual. To be a citizen is to contribute, to take part, to say: “I am here and I refuse to cop out in front of challenges facing society as the world evolves”.
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