Apr 22, 2016
Meet Generation Z: 6 Canadian teens determined to build a better world.
Evaan Kheraj Credits: Evaan Kheraj
Apr 22, 2016
Meet Generation Z: 6 Canadian teens determined to build a better world.
These young women reflect the best of a generation unlike any that has come before it: connected, creative and determined to build a better world.
MEET THE GIRLS
Name: Rachel Parent
Extraordinary extracurriculars: Anti-GMO activist who debated Kevin O'Leary on TV (and totally won).
Name: Trinity Arsenault
Extraordinary extracurriculars: Youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario; doing the English Channel this summer.
Name: Hannah Alper
Extraordinary extracurriculars: Free The Children Ambassador who gives talks in front of huge crowds on the regular.
Name: Linda Manziaris
Extraordinary extracurriculars: Started a jewellery business that helsp build schools in Jamaica.
Name: Sabrina Cruz
Extraordinary extracurriculars: YouTuber Nerdyandquirky with over 133,000 subscribers.
Name: Kasha Sequoia Slavner
Extraordinary extracurriculars: Travelled the world making a doc about global citizenshiop; UN Youth Delegate.
ON WHETHER THEY’RE ALL NARCISSISTS
HANNAH “Everyone thinks we’re immature because we take selfies. A lot of people in my school are on their phones a lot, and people judge that.”\
SABRINA “We just have room for a lot of love—that love goes out to one another and also to our selfies.”
KASHA “We’re focused on loving one another and also ourselves. I don’t think that’s narcissistic.”
TRINITY “I think a lot of teenagers are used to ‘having’; some people don’t have those opportunities, but for those who do, it’s easy to feel entitled.”
ON THEIR GENERATION’S SOCIAL SKILLS
RACHEL “I find myself not knowing what to talk to my friends about anymore. I’m almost awkward around people my age.”
KASHA “They want to gossip and talk about boys and Instagram.”
HANNAH “The most popular clique in my school knows about all the latest memes.”
TRINITY “I think everyone here is just involved in so many more interesting things than what’s going on on the Internet.”
ON SOCIAL MEDIA
LINDA “Your social media is who you are. It’s onedimensional, but people judge you by what you post. It’s important to maintain your ‘image.’”
SABRINA “Everything is kept under this lens, and it’s forever; even if it’s deleted, somebody has a screen shot of it. You have to watch everything you say.”
LINDA “Other generations could make mistakes, but for us, it’s recorded and it’s out there, so we’ve become a lot more cautious and responsible for our actions.”
LINDA “It’s more common now to have a job for two years than be at a company for life. There’s no job security, so it’s important we save and not go into debt.”
KASHA “I don’t even want a credit card! I’ll stick to my debit card.”
SABRINA “I like saving my money. I like being frugal. But if I had an infinite amount of money, I’d buy an island.”
HANNAH “My motto is ‘Save, spend, give.’”
LINDA “One of our big struggles is going to be balancing our economy with the environment. Our economy is based on waste and excess. We need to rethink how we run things.”
ON THE PRESSURES THEY FEEL
LINDA “I’m an athlete, I run a business, I have school— so for me, it’s time management. I hold myself to a high standard. Sometimes you sacrifice things.”
SABRINA “I’m trying to get into university, and it’s stressful waiting on those acceptances. I made this decision to join a program, and, if I get in, it will dictate what I’ll do for the rest of my life.”
RACHEL “I’m in Grade 11, and already our teachers are putting pressure on us to find a university and apply for early scholarships. It’s scary, especially when you’re not exactly sure what you want to do.”
KASHA “My pressure comes from ‘How do I turn what I do now into a job and monetize it? And how can I give back?’ I don’t think a nine-to-five is for me.”
SABRINA “I really want that! I consider making YouTube videos a creative outlet, and I want to keep it that way.”
HANNAH “I want a nine-to-five so I can keep busy. I want to find something where I can help people.”
SABRINA “We have to do everything that the previous generations did, like get a job and pay a mortgage, but you have to do it in a way that helps people.”
ON ROLE MODELS
SABRINA “From a business standpoint, I admire the Kardashians’ ability to build a career out of...whatever they have going on. I won’t tear them down, but there are better role models to find.”
RACHEL “With the incredible power and money that the Kardashians have, they could be using that power positively. I think we live in a generation that is becoming much too concerned with the way we look instead of how our world will look for future generations.”
KASHA “Emma Watson is probably one of the most inspiring celebrities. I love how she uses her platform through the United Nations to discuss feminism; it’s so empowering to see.”
SABRINA “I can’t stand celebrities who get into petty fights on social media — that’s what the DMs are for, people!”
LINDA “I would define love as an intense feeling of deep affection.”
SABRINA “It’s being willing to wait to watch the newest episode of Game of Thrones together.”
KASHA “Love is caring in action.”
SABRINA “My friend group has evolved to include people from the Internet. I’ve never met them in real life.”
HANNAH “I’ve met some really cool people on my travels. I have a really good friend in New Brunswick whom I’ve only seen twice in real life; you feel so connected, even though you’re talking over the Internet.”
LINDA “We’ve all got at least one friend on Facebook who lives in another country, and you get out of your small bubble of Toronto or Canada and you can see what’s really going on in the world.”
SABRINA “It’s super-enriching because these aren’t just friendships of proximity. It’s people you’re willing to juggle time zones for.”
ON BODY IMAGE
SABRINA “I used to rate myself as a 0. I didn’t look like people who are considered beautiful. I hated my nose, how I dressed—it made me feel terrible. And then one day, I was like, ‘This is exhausting. I’m lazy. I’m beautiful!’ and I shot straight to a 10.”
HANNAH “I’m growing, so I guess I would rate myself as a 6 or 7. I’m at that age where people start to get self-conscious and really look at their bodies. When I was 12, I didn’t—and then I turned 13, and bam!”
LINDA “I have a pretty solid body image. I don’t really look like people in magazines, and I don’t compare myself to them because I’m a different person.”
RACHEL “I was bullied for a long time, and it was really tough to go through being called ugly, too fat, too thin. Over time I had to embrace myself."
KASHA “I’m just coming out of a place where I was really uncomfortable with myself, and now I’m like, ‘So what? I’ve got a little bit of stomach fat. Everybody does.’”
TRINITY “I was really self-conscious for a long time. I have swimmer shoulders, and finding clothes that fit my shoulders is hard. But as soon as I did my swim [across Lake Ontario], I was like, ‘Yes, my shoulders are big, but they’re also powerful and they allow me to do great things.’”
LINDA “Clothes are just clothes. I try to focus on my actions and what they say about me as a person.”
HANNAH “I’m a fashion guru because I think it can express who you are, and I like playing dress-up.”
KASHA “It’s hard to be socially conscious, especially with brands and a lack of transparency about where things are made or how much people are getting paid to make them.”
TRINITY “I don’t want to not be taken seriously because of how I look. I think dressing nicely is dressing modestly, maturely and professionally.”
ON THE FUTURE
LINDA “I see myself going to university and starting a career. I also think I want to start a family.” SABRINA “Hopefully I’ll be on Bay Street or Wall Street, introducing more ethical and sustainable practices to the business world.”
KASHA “Twenty-five years from now, who knows? The world is changing all the time. It’s hard to say which planet I’ll be working from....”
10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GEN Z
1. They were born between the late ’90s and now. 2. They have an
average eight-second attention span. (Gen Ys have an average of 12 seconds.) 3. There are two billion Gen Zs worldwide. 4. They make up 25 percent of the North American population. 5. Some call them “Generation Mobile” because they’re constantly connected. 6. These are true “digital natives” who have never known life without computers. 7. Experts think that because they grew up during the Great Recession, Gen Zs will be more
focused on stability than their Millennial predecessors, who grew up in the
relatively prosperous ’90s. 8. Their access to the Internet and smartphones
means forming friendships online is fairly normal. 9. They’re concerned
about the environment. 10. As kids of former “latchkey kid” Gen Xs,
they’re thought to be more self-reliant than the parentally dependent Millennials.