In March 2020, the On Canada Project was born out of frustration in public health and officials’ communication with citizens around the pandemic. The organization was founded by Samanta Krishnapillai, and is a grassroots, young led organization trying to help people stay informed, take up action and champion change.
The main focus of the initiative was to fix 2 main gaps that she noticed as a Millennial during this unprecedented time: firstly, that communication was lacking between people living through the pandemic and decision makers, and second, that the majority of the communication was focused on people with privilege, and those who didn’t have privilege had to tailor the information to their own life experience, which was difficult given the complex nature of public health guidelines and epidemiology. She soon grew frustrated that many people were trying to follow the guidelines, but were operating based on missing pieces, seeing as some were unable to self isolate, work from home, or buy masks, and additional information wasn’t provided about how to work around challenges in following the guidelines.
However as the pandemic progressed, On Canada identified an even larger issue. It began by identifying that the majority of spread was happening in workplaces where people were working in close quarters. On Canada began making educational social media content about indecent work conditions and how that can translate to workers’ health. Soon they started to receive an influx of messages via Instagram, asking why more steps weren’t being taken by the government to support these people in sectors of precarious work. It became apparent that Millennials were confused as to why the actions and words of political leaders were not aligning, and that they were not familiar with writing to their MPPs. This is when On Canada launched its Flip The Script Camagin, which aimed to mobilize Millennials to protect all people.
They first launched their website, which was designed to make learning more about one’s MPP more accessible. The website includes information about their initiative, templates on how to email elected officials to address the issues, and the Twitter handles/emails addresses of elected officials. “I knew that we would face difficulty in getting people to write to their MP for the first time, I get it, the government is daunting”, Samantha noted, proving the necessity for a resource for Millennials and Gen Zs to gain information about effectively reaching out to their elected officials.
On Canada’s approach with the Flip The Script Campaign predominantly focuses on the importance of Millenials and Gen Zs getting involved in politics, and thus putting the responsibility on Millennials and Gen Zs to do their part in making their voices heard. “If enough of us reach out, they will be compelled to improve their actions because they will see that more young people are engaging in politics”, Samatha stated. Currently politicians report to several main groups, the Baby Boomers, Gen Xs, Millennials and Gen Zs in their riding. Unfortunately, only 2 of the 4 groups have been engaging back with them, those 2 groups making up the older half of the riding. Thus, when policy decisions are being made, they are mainly factoring in the interests of those holding them accountable. The Flip The Script Campaign encourages younger citizens to to take the time to go to where elected officials will check, which are not the common online watering holes of the youth today (ie Twitter, Instagram), but instead are their phones and email addresses.
Today the On Canada Project is working hard, led by over 150 passionate Millennial and Gen Z volunteers, to empower the next generation of Canada to use their voices and stand up for those less privileged than themselves in times of crisis. “We have to become the change that we seek, because waiting for them to take action proactively is not happening as of right now”, Samantha stated.