Canadian Youth Speak Out on Human Rights Issues

May 11, 2023

Community Update

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Twelve student finalists took the 2023 Speaker's Idol stage yesterday to raise their voices on human rights issues that matter to them and how they envision creating positive change in the world. From discrimination to women's rights to the war in Ukraine, these inspiring young people addressed important issues the world is facing today.

Speaker's Idol is Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center's (FSWC) annual student public-speaking competition, which promotes the empowerment of youth by providing them a platform to stand up and speak out about human rights issues of our day.

We are proud of all the finalists who presented at the Speaker's Idol finale, chosen from more than 200 students across Canada who submitted speeches. Thousands of students, teachers and community members tuned in to listen to powerful speeches delivered by the 12 finalists - six in the elementary school category and six in the secondary school category.

MC Rick Campanelli, Evelyn and Joel Krakauer, FSWC's Ariel Tobe, Speaker's Idol committee members Michelle Glied-Goldstein, Ricky Brooks and Tracie Graff

MC Rick Campanelli

Speaker's Idol judges Matthew Gottlieb, Dr. Toni Zhong and Annamie Paul delivering feedback to contestant Isla Mason

Speaker's Idol judges Matthew Gottlieb, Dr. Toni Zhong and Annamie Paul speaking to contestant Nevaeh Pine

Thank you to MC Rick Campanelli for an amazing show, committee members Ricky Brooks, Michelle Glied-Goldstein and Tracie Graff for continuing to support and inspire us, and Albert Z”L and Evelyn Krakauer and family for sponsoring Speaker’s Idol for the second year in a row. We would also like to thank our judges, Matthew Gottlieb, Dr. Toni Zhong and Annamie Paul, for sharing their insight and wisdom on the finalists’ speeches.

Congratulations to our two Speaker’s Idol first-place winners, Isla Mason and Nevaeh Pine, and to all the runners-up! The first-place winners received MacBooks, while the second- and third-place winners received iPads.

Elementary school category (grades 6-8):
1. Isla Mason (Hamilton, ON)
2. Kiva Doherty (Gatineau, QC)
3. Avira Fernandes (Ottawa, ON)
4. Vaishnavi Verma (Surrey, BC)
5. Karla Wu (Richmond Hill, ON)
6. Amara Lesanthan (North Bay, ON)

Secondary school category (grades 9-12):
1. Nevaeh Pine (Sault Ste. Marie, ON)
2. Clara Bertoldi (Toronto, ON)
3. Erica Li (Thornhill, ON)
4. Ren Ran Sun (Ottawa, ON)
5. Fayhaa Kafi (Surrey, BC)
6. Sonya Kovtun (Newmarket, ON)

Want to be inspired by today's youth? Watch a recording of yesterday's Speaker's Idol competition!

Watch Speaker's Idol 2023