When you get involved in political activism, there are many different areas a person can get involved. You can be a candidate for an election, you can be CEO of an Electoral District Association, you can get involved municipally, provincially or federally, you can be an internal party worker, or you can be an on the ground, grassroots volunteer. The list goes on, and though I’ve only been involved in politics for a couple of years now, I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the scope of the political sphere.
I came in before the federal election, and now fully in the middle of the provincial election I have many colleagues gearing up for the municipal elections next year! And in a sense, this seems to be a healthy rotation for politicians. The dream, of course, is to represent my constituents in Parliament, but a logical pathway is through the lower houses, either at city hall or in Legislature. Since the dream requires something of a resume (as do most dream jobs), you’ve got to work your way up the ladder, one step at a time.
After the federal elections, my mentors recommended that I get involved with the Young Greens of Canada, and with my experience in communications on the campaign, I felt like I had the resume for the Communications Chair position on the YGC Council. Besides, at twenty-six there aren’t a lot of places that still include me in the youth sector- better make the most of it while I still can!
After the elections, I fell in love with the youth movement. My fellow councillors have been some of the most reaffirming people I’ve ever met. Not only are they passionate and tuned-in, working together we have a much greater care for young Greens from Victoria to St Johns than any formidable volunteer working solo. The friends I’ve made are people who are going to stay in my life forever, even if distances separate us most of the year!
At this point, I must take an aside and mention my dear friend and co-councillor, William Gagnon. This guy is not only the most professional young individual I’ve ever met, he is easily one of the most engaged and spirited young politicians in the party. On top of running the Concordia Greens (while being fluent in French, English and Spanish), he is also playing the long game and looking at running against our current Prime Minister in his home riding! This guy is bold and on task, and to boot he makes me feel like I’m totally normal for thinking that young, environmentally charged politicians are going to change the world.
Due to external circumstances, one of the co-chairs for YGC had to step down, and with the term more than halfway over, I was appointed to fill the role and help get us through the rest of the year, one councillor short. Being co-chair comes with greater responsibility though, as well as the position of Youth Representative on Federal Council for the Green Party of Canada.
Second step… and a third one!
So now I get to sit in on council calls with Elizabeth May and the gang and give a voice to youth! But what does that look like? What does that actually mean?
Essentially, we participate in the meetings as equal members and speak to and vote on motions. With youth in mind, it is critical to have rapport with the constituents, to have actually spoken with them and know what is going on in the country. While still a ‘young person’ myself, my own opionion matters, but as an elected representative, so do the opinions of my fellow youth. New topic; form an opinion and get on the speakers list! Fortunately as co-chair, I get an awesome fellow co-chair to help share the load, or in many cases double the strength of our voice! There are a lot of places where people talk about promoting youth, but there are few places that make as tangible of committments to us as the Green Party.
So now we are nearing the end of our term. We have proposed constitutional amendments, participated in two conventions, fought for electoral reform projects, marched against pipelines and spoken out against intolerance. It has been a hectic year, but as usual, for every question we answer, two more questions come up (if you’re doing it right).
It’s hard to express how exciting I am for the Young Greens, especially with the Global Greens Congress just days away, but I know that I am committed to another year of dedication to the youth movement. Three more years, really, and how great would it be to have a career helping them as I get older?
Step four… five… six…
I don’t know where the top of the ladder is, but I know that I’ll keep on going! And I KNOW that the next step is getting elected co-chair for 2017-18, so make sure you keep an eye out for voting period! And if you’re wondering who ought to fill the other co-chair position, HINT:
His name is William Gagnon!