“It is important to embrace compassion within one’s local community…I feel that compassion must be the biggest focus in youth throughout today’s world, as well as the other two areas of focus at Wishadoo, which are cooperation and community.”
I’d like you to meet a most amazing young man: Harnoor Gill. Harnoor is a 14-year-old leader and volunteer extraordinaire, from Georgetown, Ontario. His resume is already rather stunning, with nearly 1000 volunteer hours with 20 different groups, some of which he created himself.
He got a very early start, which is one of his primary messages to others, especially his peers. “I don’t want the youth of my community to start thinking of volunteer work only when they start 9th grade. They can start at an earlier age!”
Harnoor was born in Hong Kong and immigrated with his family to Canada at an early age. His parents are role models, and have encouraged and supported his many efforts to help the environment and to help those less fortunate than himself.
His activism began in kindergarten in the recycling club, and he continued to deepen his knowledge of conservation and biodiversity, often being the creator of school groups and clubs when they didn’t previously exist.
When asked what motivates him, Harnoor replied, “I love volunteering. It connects me to my community through many causes, including the environment, and it’s our family tradition to give back to the community.”
Harnoor also uses his artistic talent to serve others, playing drums and dancing (hip hop, bhangra, and bollywood) to perform for charities. So far he has used his music and dance talents to volunteer for 50 events in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, and in India.
Here are just a few highlights of his achievements thus far:
- In 2011, he was recognized in Canada’s Top 15 under 15 and was mentioned in the Canadian Family magazine. In recognition of outstanding volunteer efforts that contribute to environmental restoration and for his commitment to helping youth understand the value of a healthy environment, he received the “2011 Young Conservationist Award” from the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. He has made it his own personal mission to raise environmental awareness by showing that, “age is not a barrier in volunteering, you feel good when you help out in the community.”
- He has been interviewed and mentioned in many publications, both international and local: Times Of India, South Asian Focus, Canadian Immigrant, City Parent, Amazing Kids! Urban Teen, Chandamama, The Independent & Free Press, Asian Journal, South Asian Generation Next, Oye! Times, Living City Magazine and has appeared on Omni TV, Rogers TV, Cogeco TV and WOW! Living TV.
- On June 7, 2012, the Conservation Halton Award of Excellence was presented to him for promoting a better understanding and appreciation of conservation. He also sits on the Mayor’s Youth Action Committee in Halton Hills which advocates for youth issues within the community
- He also cares for other youth who are needy. He founded the “Jean Green Drive” and collects gently used jeans for youth in need. This grassroots initiative has been a great success and more than 1,000 jeans have been donated since 2010. He raised enough money to donate hundreds of gently used jeans to youth in India, which he personally delivered. “Besides helping those in need, this is a way to help the environment by recycling,” he says.
- Harnoor believes peace means building relationships, and he began the Peace Welcome Club, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” He has created a new group for youth called PEACE WELCOME CLUB which is to welcome all new young immigrants to Canada. “I’m an immigrant too and knows what it feels like.” He understands how hard it is to enter a new culture, a new society, and is aware of the role bullying has with today’s youth. Gill, who has been bullied himself, firmly believes that by working together as a community, caring and assisting others, especially the “newcomers” bullying will largely become a thing of the past.
Harnoor Gill is a shining example of putting his beliefs and passions into action, and has become a leader who has inspired countless others. He is a humble young man, however, and doesn’t feel he’s extraordinary. He simply knows that he wants to create a better tomorrow by doing something today.
“It is not about self-affirmation, but about reaching out to the community and taking care of the land under your feet! You don’t have to be an extraordinary person, just believe in you and bring peace whenever you can.”
Harnoor is doing just that, and we are honored to have him as a member of the Wishadoo! Community. He is living the Spirit of Wishadoo!, putting his beliefs and passions into action.