Breaking the Green ceiling

Reconciliation – beyond the land address

Before I start, I would like to acknowledge my status as a settler on Turtle Island. My ancestors arrived from Ireland and Scotland 9 and 7 generations ago and have been implicit in the occupation of unceded, First Nations, Metis and Inuit territory.

I have been absolutely confounded in the recent months in my interactions with fellow settlers in my area (Kwikwetlem Territory). People sworn to upholding the truth have made very aggressive statements that directly contradict the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While of course our lived experiences may define our realities, Canada as a nation has agreed that the TRC is indeed the TRUTH, and deviation from this is contrary to the values we uphold as Canadians.

And we’re not even doing that well on a global scale, with the United Nations making several acknowledgements of the ways we violate indigenous rights in this country. Not great at all, especially with the way our Prime Minister talks about these issues, as though it were an issue exclusive to past governments.

Arguably one of the simplest things that we can do as settlers (for those curious, unless you are of indigenous heritage, you are also a settler) is to acknowledge that fact and recognise the land we’re on. For the most part, people in Canada are living on “unceded territory,” meaning that at no point in history was the land ever given, sold or surrendered to settlers. There is a lot of land that has been negotiated, “treaty territory,” but it is worth understanding that the context of the negotiations that led to those treaties were made pre-TRC, and therefore likely don’t respect how devastating the occupation of the land actually is, or the situation that led these treaties having to be formed in the first place. (Would we have just taken it if the treaty wasn’t negotiated?)

For example, when I meet with my Rotaract club, or my local Greens, we start our meeting by first acknowledging that we are currently on Kwikwetlem Territory. For good measure, as these organization encompass the Tri-Cities, I recognise that Port Moody is situated on Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish Territory as well.

Easy.

Too easy? Well, you’d think…

But for individuals and groups who have accepted this simple step as routine, it can quickly move from a first step to complacency. After all, other than starting to change mindsets, what does this acknowledgement actually do? It can indeed foster goodwill and understanding, but it doesn’t actually change the situation for the people whose land we have settled on.

As you can tell, this is an issue that resonates with me, and you can imagine that I’ve surrounded myself with lots of groups who share this value. We’ve all reached the point of wanting to do something more, and have since started taking steps to try and find more that we can do.

My very first step was one I recommend for anyone: go and visit the people in your area!

I was very much inspired in 2015 by Elizabeth May’s conviction towards reconciliation and on a whim I drove down to the Kwikwetlem First Nation reserve. I just pulled up to the administration office, said hello and asked what I could learn about them!

EASY.

To my delight, I was introduced to the history, culture and present story of the people there. I learned how fortunate we are to have any history at all to speak of, as the majority of the people were either displaced or lost to any sort of settler related death. Those who remained also live with the history of residential schools, the last of which closed just in 1996. For the cost of less than an hour of my life I learned a great deal about the lived experience of the people whose land I’m living on. I learned about the significance of salmon (Kwikwetlem literally means “red fish up the river”), and the relationship between the nation and the city of Coquitlam.

Of course there will always be more to learn, but from an education perspective, the ground work has largely been done. But what now?

Traditional colonial thinking would have us just toss money at the issue and hope that it will go away, but years later we are still in a situation where the highest rates of discrimination are still against First Nations, particularly women and children.

As a youth advocate, I am quick to pounce on anything that leads to the empowerment of youth, and through my work with the Tri-Cities Rotaract club, I have been delighted to learn of the organization called UNYA (Urban Native Youth Association). This organization focuses on making sure indigenous youth in the Vancouver area, particularly those not living on reserve, have access to cultural education and experiences. Their primary outreach program is akin to Big Brother/Big Sister and partners youth with “buddies” who meet up weekly to share time together.

Cool!

I am just so pleased that my group has also agreed that this is a really valuable program to support. We have now held multiple fundraisers to support this program, and we learned about an incredible project underway in Vancouver to construct an entirely new Native Youth Centre right in the heart of downtown! If you’re looking for a truly meaningful way to get out there and work on reconciliation, THIS is a great place to put your efforts!

In summation, here are some excellent choices for us as settlers to do to work on reconciliation:

  1. Learn about the land you’re on. You all have Google in your pocket, it takes mere seconds!
  2. Visit the people in your area! Meeting with real people is the number one way you can make meaningful connections with them. Coincidentally, they actually know best what is needed for their people.
  3. Sign up to the mentorship program at UNYA! For a few hours a week you can make a huge difference in the lives of young people in the city.
  4. Donate to the Native Youth Centre capital project! This is a surefire way to make sure that your donation goes fully towards a project that will make a difference in the lives of indigenous youth in the Vancouver area.

To reiterate, these are recommendations made by a settler with a basic understanding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There is always more to learn, and we still have a long way to go. Talk to your friends and family, visit your local politicians and ask them what they are doing to make reconciliation a reality.

This is not just a one-off project. Canada will likely be working on this for generations, but if we don’t start making headway soon, the can will continue to be kicked down the road.

Let’s make a difference now.

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Green Pride

While this year’s Pride season has drawn to a close, the fight for inclusivity and diversity continues for advocates and activists.

As a politician, the topic of Pride has been something I’ve been wrestling with for the last couple of years. Leading up to this year’s event there was a lot of discussion about Black Lives Matter and how/whether support and solidarity could be shown. I was heartened by the meaningful discourse that ensued; I had rather expected the idea to be brushed off, even if the result was more watered-down than had been hoped for. Still, it was great to see our leader, Elizabeth May, wearing her BLM shirt and the passion with which she defended this choice. This is exactly the kind of progress that I believe our party needs to see – rather than just waving our anti-pipeline signs, which further perpetuates the false notion that we are a single issue party.

As a queer youth activist, there is much work that needs to be done on the ground, and while the reality of equality is hopeful, we still have a very long way to go, both as Canadians and as global citizens.

As Greens, one of our core values is Social Justice. Since I joined the party, I have not only felt included and welcomed, I have been elected a number of times for council positions and am frequently included in decision making processes. I am, in fact, immensely proud of and empowered by my party, but I must admit that this also comes through the lens of a cis-gendered white male.

As someone who actively volunteers within the LGBTQ+ community, I have learned that despite how open and inclusive I once thought I was, I actually take up a great deal of space. I like things to move along in discussion groups, and I often find it hard to not shout out the answer immediately, rather than waiting for someone with a less pervasive voice to be heard. I frequently find myself talking passionately about political opinions without assessing my audience or considering who might feel uncomfortable hearing these thoughts. It’s a struggle, but the more often I keep it in the front of my mind, the more I find myself able to dial it down and make space for others to have a voice.

It is this thinking of how others might feel by what I say and do that has helped guide me down the road of a political activist. When, for example, I am in a delegation at a city council meeting about adding a rainbow crosswalk to my city’s streets, it is not only my goal to tell them how I feel, but also to consider how everyone else who might not have a voice at the table might feel by council’s responses. When one councillor tells me that despite understanding that the rainbow is a symbol of universal inclusion, that many of his constituents will see it as a proclamation exclusively to the LGBTQ+ community, I have to have my sensitivity on extra high alert. While the majority of my being understands what he’s saying, there is still a tiny, nagging feeling that something is not quite right about that.

What is it?

While I might personally not be harmed by this notion, it is a place of extreme privilege that has allowed me these feelings. For everyone else that hears this as the majority further marginalizing and compartmentalizing the minority, their voice needs to be heard.

Just because you know someone who is queer, or you’re related to someone who is gay, that doesn’t necessarily make you an ally. Just thinking and believing that you are inclusive and welcoming in nature doesn’t make it so. Furthermore, just because you are part of a party that flies the social justice flag, you aren’t automatically a social justice warrior.

Social justice is like a verb. Setting a quota is not an ongoing action, it is an attempt at resolution through a single act. Like many issues, implementing legislation is only a small part of the picture- true change comes through continuous, internal efforts. Marching in a parade doesn’t make your party inherently more inclusive, though like legislation, it is an important first step. When our leaders parade through major cities with rainbow accessories, what message is the marginalized community taking from it? Do they see a goofy hat and assume that the party is truly inclusive in nature, or do they see politicians looking for a selfie opportunity? Do they see people promoting equal human rights, or do they see people looking to position themselves for more votes?

For all the political parties that participate in these events, the answer to me is not crystal clear. While I might not doubt our intentions, I have only to look at our track record as a country for doubt to be cast for the rest of the population. What more can we offer the communities that we hope to represent?

It’s here that I remind us that social justice is a verb. Like most things in life, you can’t get to it by simply agreeing (or clicking ‘like’ for that matter), but through continuous actions and efforts.

And surprisingly enough, it’s not hard to do! If you’re a federal party, have you heard about our country’s outrageous HIV non-disclosure laws? If you’re a provincial party, have you considered that our education system (in many places) continues to leave children feeling marginalized by inadequate or non-existent sex ed?  If you’re working on a municipal level, what sort of visible contributions have you made to communities that are frequently left feeling invisible? And of course if you’re a truly concerned citizen, what tangible work have you done to make your home more inclusive?

If you want to make a difference, it’s not hard! But you must first open your eyes to the amount of space you’re taking up, and consider who you’re taking that space away from. Take some time to educate yourself on issues like race, class or colonialism by listening to the voices of marginalized people. This is truly an example where actions speak louder than words- when asked what we have done to contribute to a minority of the population, we must be able to point to ongoing actions, not just historical achievements. When elected to a position of power, we must actively think about what more we can do today and how to make it a reality for tomorrow. And of course, when you have that nagging feeling that perhaps something is not right, unpack those thoughts and say something!

While I felt this year that my best contribution would be to attend Pride as a regular citizen, it is my goal for next year to march proudly alongside my party and reject selfie politics. We’re going to get there, but we’ve got to start thinking and acting now.

As the final votes are tallied…

It has been quite the interesting election season for the Coquitlam Burke Mountain riding!

Weeks after the election, we still don’t know for certain just who is going to sit as our new MLA, though we can be certain it didn’t turn Green this time.

There has never been a more exciting time or place to be Green than here in BC, and while I would’ve loved to have the opportunity to represent my constituents, I am thrilled with the way the province has currently stacked up this time around.

To the 2,771 people who voted for me and my party:

THANK YOU.

I am honoured to have had such an incredible and humbling experience speaking with you and helping raise awareness of a new way of doing politics in our great land. I know it has been tough to be Green in the past, and certainly it wasn’t easy with the negative campaigning surrounding the election, but we’ve come out so much stronger than before, and we proved everyone else wrong by not just growing the vote, but also splitting it- on the RIGHT!  We have officially left the “fringe” status and taken on a whole new body of our own; distinct and separate from the other parties around us.

As a young person, it has been very educational learning how the world interacts with itself, in this case through politics, and it has given me all sorts of tools from participating in it.

If nothing else, it has been a delight to meet so many people in our community, and to get to know the world around me. I’ve only lived in Coquitlam for a few years, but I’m really starting to feel like I’m setting down roots here now.

What’s next for this little Green? Well, until the next election rolls around – which may be sooner than we’re expecting – I’ll be working on my own landscape company, making the world a greener place from the ground up! But don’t think that’s it for me, I’m still going out to volunteer with organizations that need an extra hand- especially if it means engaging and inspiring youth to get active and involved in their communities!

(Like these kids from the Youth Leadership Society of BC, eager to see some change!)

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The Writ has Dropped!

It’s campaign time folks! Nearly a week in and I’ve had hundreds of flyers delivered, and thanks to the hard work of some committed volunteers, it’s looking like a great start to the election season in Coquitlam Burke Mountain!

With crunch time on, it’s time for local Greens to converge. Click this link here to visit the Facebook event for volunteering. We need all the help we can get, and the team is starting out hard on Monday!

We have three major focuses now that we’re in the writ period:

Flyer Dropping: hit as many houses as you can, dropping flyers in mailboxes
Door-to-door: teams of two; one talking to residents, one taking note
Sign Waving: pump up the public by shaking Green signs on the road side!

We’ll be out on the road for the following days:

April 28 – 10am-8pm: Flyer Dropping
April 30 – 10am-12pm: Flyer Dropping; 4pm-8pm: Door-to-door
May 1 – 4pm-8pm: Flyer Dropping
May 2 – 10am-3pm: Flyer Dropping; 4pm-7pm: Sign Waving
May 3 – 10am-5pm: Flyer Dropping
May 4 – 10am-3pm: Flyer Dropping; 4pm-7pm: Sign Waving
May 5 – 10am-5pm: Flyer Dropping;
May 6 – 5pm-7pm: Flyer Dropping
May 7 – 4pm-8pm: Flyer Dropping
May 8 – 10am-2pm: Flyer Dropping; 4pm-7pm: Sign Waving

If you’re showing up a little late, call in to find where we’re at! 1.604.791.5459

Email ian.soutar@greenparty.bc.ca to let us know if you can make it 🙂

The Green campaigns are entirely grassroots driven- even a couple of hours one day can make a world of difference ❤

Global Greens Congress (I’m back!)

What an experience!

Global Greens Congress was by far the most confirming experience of my life. I always knew that the Green Party was the only international party, but to see it in action with representatives from 103 different countries brought it front and center.

It would take a far longer post than you’d be willing to read to describe the entirety of the event, but I will try to highlight the biggest parts of this five day event in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

First of all, it was so great working alongside my fellow Canadian delegates; my co-chair from the Young Greens of Canada, Cherie Wong, President of the Green Party of Canada Feeral Council, Ken Melamed, our FC critic on Agriculture, Jean Rousseau and of course our leader Elizabeth May! It’s clear after interacting with so many different Greens from around the world that we Canadians play a special role indeed and that the work of our Member of Parliament is renowned and respected.

Both Cherie and I became very fast friends with delegates from youth parties from 43 different countries. The Global Young Greens, until now, have had difficulty getting off the ground it seems, but with this largest gathering of Greens in world history, we are ready to make use of this incredibly powerful tool that is international cooperation. 200 or so delegates worked on forming new policy and passing new statues and several amendments to the previous body. I was so excited to have my own statue passed with consensus on a centralised database, a project I intend to work on myself!

GYG was also electing a new steering committee, a role with regional representation and gender balance that would direct the organization for the years to come. As the Global Greens are divided into four continental federations (Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas), there would be only two delegates elected from each area. Both Cherie and I ran for this spot, and while one place from our confederation was filled by Gloria Polanco of the Dominican Republic Greens, the rest of Congress decided that I should be the one to help guide our federation! It will truly be an honour to serve this great organization and help make it the power that I know it can be.

We heard amazing discussion from vastly different Greens on various topics, including a fascinating discussion on “Green Trade” with a fantastic panel that Elizabeth spoke on. I heard the term “re-localization” here, which is something that I’d like to catch on here in CAnada- perhaps when I run for Member of Parliament! If the US is sending cookies to Britain, and Britain is sending buscuits to the US, why not just trade recipes?

Another personal victory came at the submission of an emergency resolution that I submitted to plenary! While spending time with the Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas, I became close with ta delegate from Argentina who expressed a strong need ot Canadian support to repudiate the Canadian megamine company “Barrick Gold” which had just that day had another massive leak in their gold mine. Somehow, over 1 million litres of cyanide have spilled into rivers in Veladero, and no one is stopping them. We snuck out from plenary for a brief while to draft the resolution, and to our delight it passed the following day!

I also participated in the formation of the Global Greens LGBTQ+ organization, something that I am very much looking forward to watching grow in the coming years.

As usual, sticking my nose into the bigger picture has resulted in an even greater workload for myself, but the rewards are just as great, and it helps put my work on the provincial level into perspective. It’s grounding, and it’s actually quite relaxing. My fellow steering committee members are going to be an absolute blast to work with (see above image) and I know that the next Global Greens Congress is going to be an absolutely tremendous show of international cooperation.

See you on the campaign trail!

The Global Greens (and the Global Young Greens)

The time has come! After months of planning, I am just one day away from flying to Liverpool for the largest gathering of Greens in the history of the planet!

If you hadn’t heard, the Green Party is the only true international party, and it’s also the fastest growing. We are united by our international, core values and a common goal of keeping our planet safe for the generations to come.

The Global Greens is an organization comprised of continental federations: the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific. Each of these bodies are divided by country, and each country gets a select number of delegates who can vote in Congress, which happens every five years.

Canada is sending five delegates, Elizabeth May (of course), Ken Melamed (president of federal council), Jean Rousseau (critic for agriculture), Cherie Wong (YGC co-chair) and myself. Three of us have voting power, and I have been one of the delegates to be chosen!

I’m really excited to have an opportunity for the first time in my life to use all the languages spinning around in my head. Communications within the Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas (FPVA) is primarily in Spanish, but the Brazilian Greens are many in number, so I will get the chance to work with them simultaneously. Then of course there are the Greens from West Africa, the French and the Belgians who speak French, which I’ll admit is a little rusty for me, but I’m excited to get back into the mix of it!

Cherie and I will be posting a great deal on social media in the coming days, so keep an eye on our social media, @youth.greenparty.ca on Facebook, @younggreenscan on Twitter and @younggreensofcanada on Instagram!

This is a big deal for Greens everywhere, young and old! The need for a strong Green leadership from across the world has never been more evident, and how fortunate for the planet that we’ve got a growing organization already in place.

For more info on Congress, visit the Global Greens website.

Together we are changing the world! ❤

The Green Hats

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!

First step.

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!

Coquitlam is ready to go Green!

It’s been a few days since the kickoff to the campaign here in Coquitlam Burke Mountain, and what a roaring success of a party it was! These Greens really know how to put the Party back in Green!

While my goal for the night had been to break even for the drinks and entertainment, but we blasted FAR past the 350$ mark with well over FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS!! I’m still in shock! We had donations rolling in left, right and center, but most impressive was the youth participation. As a youth advocate for BC, Canada and our planet, it always warms my heart to see fellow youth getting involved at any level of participation, but to see so many donations coming in despite the average Millenial being burdened with 32,000$ of debt really hit home for me. We got rounds of applause for everyone jumping in!

We had folks signing up to volunteer, asking to be part of the mail lists, and all sorts of interest in the short and long-term goals for the Green movement, provincially and otherwise.

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who helped pull this fantastic night together: my husband Rafael for always supporting me and for handling the drinks, my parents and grandparents for coming in with appetizers for an army (not a crumb left!), Joe Keithley for coming and speaking to his past constituents, Sandra Ang for organizing the venue and all my Greens young and old for coming out to help. Of course as well to the Kwikwetlem First Nations for the beautiful land that we live on.

This night really motivated me to hit the campaign trail running; everyone had such kind words and for some reason are all convinced that I’m a natural politician! (Compliment or..?) I’m reminded of how well Joe did in the by-election last year and I am confident that we will be able to keep up the Green momentum, perhaps even land ourselves with another seat in Legislature!

Since this night, I’ve had youth reaching out to find out how to get more involved in politics, both to run for MLA in their own ridings and how to help out on the bigger movement. It really inspires me to see other young people wanting to do more; as my main goal for this election has been to get more youth out to vote, I really feel validated by the excited responses I’ve seen from my fellow Millenials. Take that, voter apathy!

There are only about eight weeks left for the election, but with this surge of young blood rushing into the political sphere, I’m starting to get really excited about the potential turnout for e-day. If nothing else, I will be happy to have drawn greater attention to participatory democracy- we can only make this happen if we’re all getting out to vote, and I’m starting to feel that we’re going to see similar rises in turnout as we did in the federal election in 2015. With any luck, we’re going to see the Green light switch on as the NDP and Liberals unearth scandal after scandal, but regardless you can count on these Greens to keep trucking on, steadfast and true to the values you’ve come to know and love us for.

See you out there!

The biggest party of my career

Friday, March 10 6-9pm

Undoubtedly this will be the biggest event I’ve ever hosted, both politically and socially!

Do you like homegrown, live entertainment? How about free food? Everyone likes free food. There will even be a bar!

While perhaps not the biggest to-do that Coquitlam has ever seen, this will surely be the biggest Green event the Tri-Cities have ever seen! Whether you’re interested in community, politics, or all things Green, if you were thinking about going to any event this year, make it this one!

Yes, politics are the driving force behind this party, but I promise we will keep the banter to a minimum. Most people aren’t terribly interested in hearing politicians ramble on about scandals and statistics, so I’m throwing that crap out the window! Of course, if you ARE interested, the team will be there to hear your thoughts and help you channel that frustration into action.

If you, like me, would rather just get together with your friends and neighbours and listen to local talent strumming out some tunes with a Canadian drink in your hand, then this party is right up your alley!

Join your local Greens at the Nakoma Club, 1137 Kensal Place from 6-9pm this Friday and help us make REAL change for Coquitlam Burke Mountain. The May 9th election is coming up quick, and before you know it we’re going to have an entirely new government in BC. With your help, we can make it more honest, collaborative and inclusive.

Hope to see you there!

This event will be held on traditional, unceded Kwikwetlem territory.

Best Endorsement EVER

I have had the pleasure on many occasions now to get to visit with the only Green Member of Canadian Parliament, but our get-together this past Friday was by far the most amazing.

As Co-Chair for the Young Greens of Canada, it is my duty to engage youth across the country. While this is something that I usually only get to do online (travel in this giant massive country of ours is not very affordable for youth), when it comes to youth in the Lower Mainland or the Fraser Valley, I am always down for a little road trip to work with my fellow young politicians.

Being a young person myself, it seems clear to me that the only party that really speaks to youth in a meaningful way is the Green Party- I used to suspect that the federal Liberals might come in at a close second, but after the Minister for Youth (aka our PM) went back on some major promises, the Greens seem to be all I have left.

I had hoped, perhaps, that our busy, busy federal leader might be able to pur some time aside for the recently activated SFU Greens for a Skype call, but when Elizabeth heard about our little group, she blasted right through that notion and declared that she would come out personally for a visit! It was only the second SFU Greens meeting of 2017, and already we got the most prominent Green in the country to come and talk with us!

The students, needless to say, were THRILLED- and I was too!

In our talk, our leader mentioned (with hopes that this wouldn’t discourage us) that her focus has not been on growing the party, that while she is leader of the organization, her goals were more centered on Parliament and her constituents of Saanich Gulf Islands. Personally, however, I can’t think of a more inspirational method of growing the party! The person who is perhaps the most partisan member of our party is truly living and breathing the Green way, something that I would call “leading by example.” While perhaps not directly focused on attracting new members, this is exactly the direction I want to take as a Green and as a politician: doing right by our people, even if the battle is entirely uphill. It might take longer than we hope for others to join this noble movement, but eventually, when folks are truly sick and tired of waiting for the traditional politicans to do the right thing, they will notice that we have been doing it right all along. I suspect when that time comes, people will come out in droves to join us.

As an individual, I am so, so, SO motivated by the direct involvement Elizabeth has had in inspiring me to be the best Green I can be. Not just that she will always take a moment for a selfie (though that’s always fun), but doing what she can to help me in my campaign to turn this city of mine into the greenest place it can be. It’s not just her time and her passion that she has dedicated to me and my fellow Young Greens, she has even put her own, hard-earned money into my campaign as well! This is not just some glorified politican making a financial contribution, this is Parliament’s best AND hardest-working MP putting funds directly where they can be put to good use.

My hope now is that I can continue paying this goodwill forward! If elected MLA, I will do everything I can to continue motivating other youth to participate in their community, whether that’s politically or not. I will share the wealth that is lent to Legislature and put it right back where it belongs: in our constituency, to inspire and activate as many people as possible.

We can do this, if we all work together. All you have to do is BE THE CHANGE.