One of our staff had the incredible experience of being a part of YOUth in Office, an opportunity created by Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada.
ESBGC’s Rukiyah Ghani went to Ottawa to experience Canadian politics first hand. And lucky for us, Rukiyah documented the experience for us to share with you all.
We hope that you read it and feel as empowered as we do!
My Trip to Ottawa with YOUth in Office:
As part of YOUth in Office, I was granted the opportunity to experience, firsthand, a segment of Canada’s political system. As a group of youth from across Canada, we gathered on the traditional unceded Algonquin territory [Ottawa]; we shared a common interest and purpose as influencers with political capital. It is through these types of experiences and knowledges that we become more empowered and capable in navigating the system that governs us. During my two days, I was able to engage and participate in political spaces, from the inside.
Through a selection of workshops, we were invited to speak, and have our voices heard. The Samara workshop on democracy, Instagram workshop on community-building using social media, and the indigenous presentations that welcomed us and informed us of Canada’s history and present realities- among other workshops/presentations-, guided us in ways through which our individual voices can impact, and even build, collective communities. As Cody Purcell [hip-hop artist, songwriter, social activist, and workshop facilitator] recognized, our political interests reflect our positionality and lived experiences.
After attending Instagram’s #KindComments mural launch on the second day, we were assigned to a member/staff from Parliament for a duration of the day. I was paired with Pierre-Luc Dusseault, MP for Sherbrooke, Quebec- the youngest Member of Parliament in Canada’s history. Elected to the House of Commons at the age of 19, he was now six years into his position. As a member of the NDP party, Dusseault had also introduced me to their new leader, Jagmeet Singh. We ended the day by sitting in on the Question and Answer period in the House of Commons. Overall, YOUth in Office provided us with the opportunity to engage our government; to discover our voices in the realm of politics; and to learn the ways in which we can exercise them. It is definitely an experience I would recommend to other youth.
Thank you to the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers and Sisters for this opportunity.