Lacombe’s Emily Mueller signs in at the ACT: Humanitarian Leaders of Tomorrow youth conference at Burman University Friday. The three-day event is hosted by A Better World Canada and the Centre for Peace and Justice at the university. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)

Humanitarian leaders of tomorrow gather in Lacombe

Future humanitarian leaders will learn how they can make the world a better place in Lacombe this weekend.

A Better World Canada and Burman University’s Centre for Peace and Justice are holding the first-ever ACT: Humanitarian Leaders of Tomorrow youth conference, which began Friday and ends Sunday.

The conference has workshops, lectures and a mini-expo where students can speak with local humanitarian organizations.

READ MORE: Humanitarian youth conference coming to Lacombe

Sarina Aryal, who is originally from Nepal, came to Canada when she was very young. Now a Grade 12 student at Lacombe Composite High School, Aryal said she has always been interested in helping people.

“I always wanted to give back to other countries, so when I saw this conference I thought it would be a great opportunity to see how I could get involved at my age,” she said.

Emily Mueller, a Grade 11 student at Lacombe Composite, said she wants to pursue teaching in developing countries. She has already spent a year living in Indonesia.

“It was interesting to see the poverty first-hand and it really inspired me to make a change. When I saw this conference was happening I knew I needed to go and learn from it,” said Mueller.

Mueller said she’s excited to bounce ideas off other likeminded people.

Aakriti Pandit, a Grade 12 student at Lacombe Composite, said she’s passionate about making everyone equal and helping the less fortunate.

Pandit said she can’t wait to listen to the keynote speakers, which includes Indigenous entrepreneur and activist Gabrielle Scrimshaw, playwright and filmmaker Andrew Kooman and ABW Canada executive director Eric Rajah.

“We can look up to them and envision what we want to do in the future. That will help guide us on our own journey, so I’m excited to hear from the speakers and learn how I can improve myself,” said Pandit.

Glen Graham, Burman University assistant professor and Centre for Peace and Justice director, said a year of planning has gone into the conference.

“It’s been very exciting getting the word out there and networking with all the local high schools,” he said. “All the students were basically hand-picked by teachers. These students are very passionate about humanitarian causes and really want to be here.”

Graham said he hopes the students continue to network with each other after the conference.

“We don’t want it to end with the conference, we hope they can keep working on any projects they are passionate about,” he said.

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