The children are our future

By Emily Senger

The majority of youth are not card carrying members of a political party. The majority of youth don’t even vote. But, youth are not lazy or uninformed; they are finding alternate meaningful ways to get engaged.

On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 Canada 25, a national non-partisan policy organization, will hold a series of roundtable discussions in Calgary where young adults between the ages of 20 and 35 will have a chance to get their voices heard, as they attempt to answer the question: How can Canada develop the most engaged citizens in the world?

“Young people are typically not involved in political parties,” explained Canada 25 Policy Director and event organizer Michael Willmott. “These institutions are not appealing to youth—they’re involved in different ways.”

The Calgary roundtable, which is part of a national series, will address issues of civic engagement in eight main categories: political engagement, social activism, volunteerism, religious and cultural engagement, play and expression, international engagement, philanthropy and virtual engagement.
Willmott emphasized the roundtables provide a voice for a demographic which typically goes unheard.

“Twenty to 35 is the rough age of people in Canada 25,” said Willmott. “This age group is relatively underrepresented in the major institutions of the country. This is an awesome opportunity for young people to get involved on more than just a superficial level.”

The event will begin with a panel discussion on Friday evening to introduce issues for discussion. Featured speakers include Founder and ceo of Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitization Technology Camile Dow-Baker, who will speak on overseas engagement; Hillhurst United Church Minister John Pentland, who will speak on traditional ethno-cultural engagement like churches and community centres and Regional Director of the Canadian Unity Council Jane Ebbern.

On Saturday a series of round table discussions will focus on the eight areas of engagement, areas which can help build a better Canada, according to Willmott.

“Strong healthy societies have citizens who are engaged to promote the well being of their community, province and country,” said Willmott. “People contribute to society in a voluntary way—they’re not coerced to do it. It helps to make Canada a stronger country.”

Results of chapter roundtables will then be gathered at the national roundtable to be held in January 2006. This roundtable will bring together delegates from Canada 25 chapters across the country and the world. Delegates at the national conference will choose the best ideas, which will be used in a policy document to be presented to the federal government.


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