Presented by TELUS

Meilun Yu

Markham, Ontario

Meilun Yu is a passionate advocate for youth empowerment and equitable opportunities, has organized impactful initiatives promoting truth and reconciliation including the Northern Youth Art Display amplifying Indigenous and Northern artists’ voices.

Her journey as a tireless advocate for youth voice, reconciliation and equitable opportunities traces back to her high school years, where she and her twin sister embarked on a mission to empower newcomers and refugee students through The New Gen, a non-profit they founded at 15. Their vision was simple yet profound: to provide free STEM + Arts online courses to students in immigration and culture centers, fostering inclusion and bridging educational gaps. What started as a local initiative quickly expanded its reach nationwide, impacting over 2,000 students across nine provinces and territories.

Beyond teaching new skills, Meilun and her dedicated team aimed to create connections, facilitate language acquisition, and instill a passion for STEAM education among children aged 6-12. They believed in making Canada a more inviting and supportive place for newcomers, ensuring that every child had equal opportunities to learn, grow, and succeed regardless of their background.

As The New Gen flourished, Meilun’s role evolved from a co-founder to a leader driving impactful change. Her advocacy extended beyond the digital classroom into policy and practice. Elected as a Student Trustee for the York Region District School Board, Meilun represented a significant constituency of over 125,000 students spanning grades 5-12. In this influential position, she championed essential policy updates around dress codes to promote inclusivity, consent education to create safer learning environments, and initiatives to promote equity in pathways to skilled trades.

Moreover, Meilun’s leadership extended to her role as the Chair of the Markham-Thornhill Youth Council, where she collaborated closely with Minister Mary Ng on initiatives supporting young entrepreneurs and fostering professional development opportunities for youth. Over her tenure, she organized impactful events like toy drives for homeless shelters, job fairs for youth navigating challenges during the pandemic, university fairs, and youth mental health panels, showcasing her commitment to community welfare and youth empowerment.

One of Meilun’s most notable initiatives was the Northern Youth Art Display, a project born out of her recognition of the lack of representation for Indigenous, Inuit, and Northern artists in her local art scene. Partnering with artists from Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon, she curated a week-long art exhibition that not only showcased artistic talent but also served as a platform for advocacy, education, and raising awareness about the importance of diverse representation in the arts. Through this initiative, Meilun amplified the voices and stories of Indigenous and Northern communities, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of their culture and struggles.

Meilun’s impact and dedication have been recognized with prestigious awards, such as the Lieutenant Governor General’s Award for Young Volunteers and FBLA Canada Bronze Entrepreneurship, highlighting her outstanding contributions to her community and beyond. Her voice and expertise have been featured on various platforms, including TedX, OMNI News TV, CBC Radio, and the University of Pennsylvania’s WQHS Radio, where she shared her experiences as a Student Trustee and youth advocate.

Looking ahead, Meilun’s dedication to equitable education, youth empowerment, and community engagement remains steadfast. She continues to inspire and lead by example, demonstrating that with passion, dedication, and a commitment to positive change, individuals like her can make a difference in the lives of others and create a more inclusive and nurturing society for all.