Last week, I got to have breakfast with the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. Just your average Tuesday morning, right? The former Governor General was in town promoting Generation Art, a line of home accessories by young artists, the result of a collaboration between the FMJF and EQ3, one of the country’s leading design retailers."

When a Governor General ends her tenure, she receives a legacy fund, one that that allows her to continue work she began while in her role. The Michaëlle Jean Foundation was born from this fund, and it aims engage youth, particularly in the arts, to use their creativity to bring social change to their communities.

Both Jean and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond (filmmaker, writer, philosopher) passionately believe in the redemptive power of art, especially with young people.  “As a young person, art saved my life,” said Lafond at last week’s launch.

When thecouple were shopping at Ottawa’s EQ3 a few years ago, they met and befriended the company's president Peter Tielmann. “In Ottawa they came into our store, and they were so intrigued by a great Canadian company, and they were also interested in getting some furniture for themselves, personally. That’s how it started, that’s how we met.”

Generation Art was an idea forged over one of many dinners together, discussing ways they could collaborate between the foundation and his store. The initiative, which launched a year ago, invited youth between the ages 15 -30 from across the country to submit original artwork reflecting on the theme: Imagine…A better community.  A panel of famous artists was enlisted to pick the winners, and the design team at EQ3 translated these works into a line of accessories.

It was an idea that generated enthusiasm among every  party involved in the project. When he proposed the idea to his team at EQ3, the concept of promoting youth voices really resonated, says Tielmann. “This cause is so close to peoples’ hearts”.

To youth in marginalized communities, the barrier between the creation of visual art and its promotion can seem insurmountable. Generation Art opened the door to the workspaces in these stores, teamed young artists with designers, and ultimately helped the winners to see their art as a product of value, one that is currently being promoted by this high-end store.

You can buy this limited edition line of accessories -- all profits go to the FMJF – at any EQ3 store, or online at EQ3.com.