By Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Fri. June 24, 2022
Dominique Noralez is currently the Regional Representative for the Caribbean on the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC), and as part of her new role, she traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, last week to attend the Commonwealth Youth Forum 2022. The three-day forum, which was attended by hundreds of youth delegates from across the Commonwealth, was one of many held during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022 (CHOGM 2022). There, those youth delegates had an opportunity to inform Heads of Government on what they felt were issues that demand more attention.
Upon returning to Belize, Noralez spoke with the media about the outcome of the forum, including the Youth Declaration—a series of policy recommendations that were finalized and presented to the Commonwealth Heads of Government during last week’s meeting. According to the 25-year-old writer and activist, this year’s forum, while much different from her experiences in London in 2018, was fruitful. “We at the Youth Forum did it quite differently this time. I don’t remember it being this way when I was in London in 2018, I believe. What we did was action labs—so young people get to split up based on what their passions, what their expertise are and you work on creating this project or pitching this project proposal that then would feed into the Declaration,” she said.
The process of creating the Youth Declaration, says Noralez, was a long one. “The declaration has not been released yet. It was a year-long process—it started well before the Commonwealth Youth Forum (the CYF) would have started. So, young people would have been engaged for over a year. It was drafted and redrafted, edited, and re-edited. Then, at the CYF the action plans that would have come out would then be integrated into that,” she said. Those action plans, which have since been presented to the Heads of Government, focus on numerous issues, including migration, technology, and the environment.
“And so we’ve done our part. And so we ask, like I said in the interview with BBC, I want to see money and skills and technical assets be put behind these objectives. We can dream all we want. A young person, he’s from the United Kingdom, he said that we could have all these ideas but they’re just ideas without money. And so we need money to be able to do our jobs and, of course, the technical capacity to manage those funds to get these objectives finished,” expressed Noralez.
Also discussed at the Youth Forum were the courses of action that the CYC executive hopes to take throughout the next two years. Noralez was elected as the Caribbean representative on the Council in 2021 and was officially sworn in earlier this month. She is the first Belizean to sit on the council, and she told local reporters that while the road towards being elected was a long one, winning was a beautiful experience.
“I for sure will be leaning a lot on Belize’s youth development structure to make sure that in my tenure as the first Belizean in this space, to make sure that Belize benefits as much as it can, but of course, keeping in mind that I represent the Caribbean, so my work has to extend beyond the borders of Belize,” she stated. “Winning is always a beautiful thing and knowing that you couldn’t have done it by yourself but there’s a committee of people that were supporting, whether by mentorship or by gathering people around you to make sure that they vote for you because you have to gather African nations, Asian nations, Pacific nations, and you have to have those people see your perspective and so, yeah, so that was a beautiful thing,” she later added.
For years, Dominique Noralez has been an advocate for youth development in Belize. She is currently a student at the University of the West Indies, pursuing an undergraduate degree. She is also a frequent contributor to the AMANDALA.