Looking at Canadian agricultural issues and challenges with a familiar, yet different, perspective is a strategy being used by the Government of Canada.
The Canadian Agricultural Youth Council (CAYC) was created this year in an attempt to add new voices to the agricultural conversation.
A press release about the council stated: “Young Canadians are dynamic, engaged and passionate about the future of the agriculture and agri-food sector, and giving them a voice at the table is an important commitment of the Government of Canada.”
The 25-member council includes youth from across the country.
There are two members from the Russell area. Guillaume Pasquier and Vicky Brisson. Pasquier lives in Ottawa but works with the Embrun Coop and Brisson is studying for her master’s degree at Guelph University.
The selected members were pulled from 800 applications and represent a diverse mix of individuals from “sub-sectors across the agriculture and agri-food sector, as well as from every province and the North,” stated the release.
The group will have its first inaugural meeting at the end of August, and will meet again regularly throughout the year.
Vicky Brisson grew up on a dairy farm.
“I helped out with various tasks for as long as I can remember,” she said.
“After our herds dispersal in 2013, I continued working at other dairy farms in my area.”
Education has played a large role in her life. She graduated from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College in 2015 with a major in animal science. “I am now completing my master’s degree in the department of Animal Biosciences at Guelph,” she said.
Joining the youth council is a great opportunity for Brisson to be part of agriculture’s future in Canada.
She said, “As a francophone female scientist, I am passionate about merging the bridge between research and industry, while also using the skills acquired through my various life experiences to solve complex problems.”
While the agenda of the youth committee has yet to be set, Brisson has her own ideas about the kind of issues she would like to discuss with other council members.
“I look forward to discuss how we can use new technologies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the agriculture and agri-food sector. I would also like to address discrimination issues to ensure the inclusivity of our sector.”
Brisson is excited at the prospect of sharing her agricultural experiences with other members of the council.
“I think it is a great opportunity to come together,” she said. “Everyone will have different backgrounds.”
She was candid about not having all of the answers to agricultural challenges Canada faces in the 21st century, however she believes the council is a step in the right direction. “It is important to have these conversations,” she said. “people from different backgrounds will have different opinions.”
Another local member of the council is Guillaum Pasquier. He works at the Embrun COOP.
His selection to the committee brings a unique perspective and a global view of agriculture and economics.
Pasquier has a background in agricultural science and economics. He has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Agri-Food Industry, Environmental Sciences and Engineering Sciences.
He was educated in France and moved to Canada three years ago with his wife. He feels one of the reasons he was selected to the youth committee is because of his international experience in understanding the differences in agriculture, politics and economic factors in different countries including Canada.
He said many farmers are interested in what is going on in Europe regarding new technologies.
“That is part of my job with Embrun COOP,” to develop new technologies and to bring new technologies from the United States, Canada and Europe to members of the COOP.
“It is always important to consider the international level in our culture.” He believes international politics can have an impact on agriculture at the local level.
Pasquier also has to his credit a master’s degree in Agronomics, Agricultural Policies, Trade and International Markets of Agricultural and Agri-Food products.
He said, “It is very pleasant to be here and very pleasant to be able to work with local people.”
He explained that agriculture like other industries has to be able to adapt to changing circumstances.
“People will always try to adapt,” he said.
He added Vicky Brisson and he would be doing their best to represent the region at the council.
The two local youth committee members say they will be working on some projects together to promote the agricultural culture in the Russell, Embrun region.
At the Embrun COOP he has the roll of director of the innovation division.“I am in charge of designing strategic development options and future projects, leading and monitoring the implementation of these projects, working with public and private players to achieve our objectives and finally, stimulating the emergence and deployment of innovative projects across our divisions including Agriculture, Agri-Food and Energy,” said Pasquier.