Two Winnipeg teenagers have been nominated for an award with some of the world’s leaders in arms control.
Rooj Ali and Avinash Singh are being recognized for their passion for peace and working to end the threat of nuclear weapons. The two youths have been chosen alongside scientists, politicians, and diplomats from around the world as nominees for the Arms Control Association’s 2021 Persons of the Year Award. They are the only Canadians on the list.
“I was very much shocked that our names were being considered for that, and the work we did here in Winnipeg was being seen on an international level,” Said Ali.
Ali and Singh’s inspiration was sparked in 2019 after attending the nuclear peace summit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
The experience pushed them to fight for nuclear disarmament to make the world a safer place.
“We weren’t just (at the summit) as participants, but we were one of the facilitator schools, so we were tasked with researching the topic, and ours was on nuclear power and nuclear energy,” said Singh.
“We understood that we were missing out on a lot of the education that we received through the summit and through the training, and part of that was also through the stories of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that touched all of us deeply.”
The two decided to start the fight for a safer world in their city. This past June, led by Singh and Ali’s activism, Winnipeg City Hall unanimously supported the United Nations Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and now more than a dozen other Canadian municipalities have done the same.
“We heard from a lot of other activists from other provinces who said that after seeing our campaign they wanted to lead some within their own cities as well, and so we have spoken to numerous groups and told them how we went through the process and how they can replicate it in some way within their own cities,” said Ali.
Singh said the action they are taking now is an effort to secure their generation’s future.
“It’s about our collective will to stand up against something we really shouldn’t be using as a basis for national security.”
The Arms Control Association operates out of Washington, DC.
The polls are now open and people have until January 12th to cast their vote for who they think should be Arms Control Association’s 2021 Persons of the Year Award recipients. You can cast your vote here.