The Youth of British Columbia: Their Past and Their Future.


234 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 978-0-919838-29-1
DDC 362.1'0835'09711




Edited by Roger S. Tonkin and Leslie T. Foster
Reviewed by Joan A. Lovisek

Joan A. Lovisek, Ph.D., is a consulting anthropologist and
ethnohistorian in British Columbia.


According to editors Tonkin and Foster, the youth, or “new millennials,” comprise 26 percent of Canadians. In 2026, they are expected to comprise 20 percent of the national population. By comparison, adolescents in the 1920s and the 1960s (baby boomers) comprised over 40 percent of the population. Despite their relatively low number in Canada, 44 percent of the Aboriginal people in B.C. are comprised of adolescents, 33 percent of the adolescents in B.C. are visible minorities, and 75 percent of adolescents live in rural areas. Based on these statistics, adolescents comprise a significant number of the B.C. population. According to the main theme of this collection of papers, adolescents in B.C. are being neglected in political agendas and policy programs. As a result of this neglect, adolescents, when they are considered at all, attract only negative attention for their “bad” behaviour.


The contributors to this volume of 13 chapters want to change this perception by citing statistics and case studies relating to demographic trends, health status, and health services. Special attention is placed on fostering positive development among Asian females, northern and indigenous youth, males, and rural youth. The studies emphasize the importance of providing adolescents with programs which will enhance their health and reduce negative, risky behaviours. Their subjects are wide ranging but include depression, HIV, early onset puberty, street youth, the influence of technology, bullying and suicide. The objective of the studies is to identify adolescents susceptible to risky behavior and to promote a youth agenda for B.C. In their view, this can be accomplished by identifying the various sociological influences on adolescents, and by helping adolescents with practical self-esteem issues. This includes ensuring that adolescents connect to school, family, community, and peers, and reducing their exposure to risky behaviours.


The contributors view adolescents as an investment in the future and provide the statistics and studies to back up their views about the appropriate interventions and the necessity for action. This book should act as an important wake-up call for parents, youth workers, policy makers, teachers, social services, and law enforcement agents.


“The Youth of British Columbia: Their Past and Their Future.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,