G7 Youth Summit

Setsuko Thurlow is the first Hibakusha story I read. Setsuko was only 13 years old when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and she was forced to endure the pain of family, classmates, and her fellow citizens dying and suffering around her. After such a traumatic event, Setsuko has taken her pain and shared it with the world in a way that unequivocally demonstrates that a nuclear weapon should never be used again. As she describes the suffering, she also describes the anger of being used as guinea pigs for a weapon and pawns in a political game. Setsuko has campaigned against nuclear weapons her entire life, and accepted a Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN in 2017 showing her incredible resilience and determination. As a Japanese-Canadian nuclear weapon survivor, Setsuko is an inspiration to me as a young Canadian who knows this weapon needs to be abolished and is willing to fight for that. 

After reading Setsuko’s story, I was equally moved and horrified. How can anyone who truly engages with a Hibakusha story believe that nuclear weapons are necessary? That amount of civilian devastation is never necessary. I shared the story with friends and family, and encouraged them to read it. I engaged in discussion with those like-minded to me, and those who are not. I believe that attending the G7 Youth Summit will give me the tools to better engage in discussion with those who are not like-minded to me, and believe that nuclear weapons are still necessary for security reasons. These are the people I want to share Hibakusha stories with. These are the people that I believe attending the G7 Youth Summit will help me approach. I want to take my engagement on this critical world issue to the next level.

The G7 Youth Summit will give me the opportunity to interact with more Hibakusha and learn their incredible stories of resilience. To have experienced something as traumatic as the nuclear bomb, and to share this pain and their strong message with the world is inspiring and motivational. I would be honored to have the opportunity to meet survivors and take the knowledge and experience back to Canada to convince as many Canadians as I possibly can to ban the bomb. There is nothing more valuable than survivor stories when campaigning against an indiscriminate weapon. 

The G7 Youth Summit will also be valuable for me to connect with other youth campaigners. As Project Officer at Mines Action Canada, I help run the youth program Mine Action Fellows and have had the chance to see first-hand the incredible impact they can have on landmines and cluster munitions. At the Stop Killer Robots Digital Dehumanisation Conference, I have been able to meet youth campaigners on killer robots. All these youth have inspired me and helped me be a better campaigner on these weapons. I haven’t yet had the chance to connect with youth who work on nuclear weapons and know it would be extremely valuable in my nuclear weapons campaigning.

Survivor’s stories need to be shared a million times over and spread to everyone- especially nuclear armed countries. Although Canada is not a nuclear armed state, we are allied with nuclear armed states and our financial institutions fund nuclear weapons. In fact, I recently wrote a post based on the 2021 Don’t Bank on the Bomb report,  that looks at Canadian financial institutions funding for nuclear weapon producing companies and highlights that 1 million dollars per Canadian was invested into nuclear weapons in 2021. Canada can, and should do better. We can create laws to promote divestment, and urge our allies to disarm. Canada has been a leader in disarmament in the past, most notably with the Ottawa Treaty, and we can do it again. I would like to take the knowledge I learn from the G7 and engage with Parliamentarians to take action against nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons should never be used again, and Canada can play a strong role in making sure of this. 

I will continue to learn and share survivor stories no matter what. Setsuko Thurlow’s story may be the first Hibakusha story I read, but it certainly is not the last.