Children Youth

Harry’s Last Stand Advocates for the Future of Today’s Youth

HarryI’ve lived through nearly a hundred years of history. I have felt the sting of poverty, as well as the sweetness of security and success and I don’t want to see everything we’ve worked for fall apart. I will not go gently into that good night. I want to tell you what the world looks like through my eyes so that you can help to change it.”   Harry Leslie Smith

I had the extreme pleasure of attending the “lunch and learn” on February 24th, sponsored by the Community Development Council of Quinte, East Central Ontario Training Board, Loyalist College Community Employment Services & Volunteer and Information Quinte, featuring 92-year-old Belleville resident Harry Leslie Smith.

After growing up in poverty during the depression and surviving the horrors of war, Harry describes the subsequent years as a time of opportunity for all – where finding a job, getting married, buying a house and raising a family were attainable.

But because history has a tendency of repeating itself, he states that our society is now experiencing that same edge of economic instability, national debt and indifference to poverty that existed in the ’20s and ’30s.  Too many people are struggling to live at even a subsistence level, and our society pretends that people aren’t going hungry.  Harry believes that our real problem right now is poverty, not terrorism.

Harry is concerned about the impact of this socio-economic instability on our young people.  He has met and spoken to a great many who have said that they only expect what previous generations have had – steady jobs, affordable homes and the opportunity to raise a family.  Harry’s engagement with youth has led him to conclude that many young people have no hope for the future.

Harry said, “ordinary people know what ordinary people need” and advocates for a bottom up democracy.  In his book, he offers some advice on what we as individuals and communities can do to bring about positive change.  Being informed about the issues that affect us all, reading, voting, questioning the state of our lives, and giving our young people a voice are a few ideas offered by this caring, eloquent and passionate man of 92.

For more information, visit

Wendy Anderson, Coordinator, Children and Youth Services Network

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