Photo by Ben Welland
At the end of May, two of our youth Big Buddy volunteers had a chance to participate in Youth In Office, an event that pairs youth with Members of Parliament in Ottawa. Both of our youth representatives volunteer in our In-School Mentoring Program to spend time with their Little Buddy once a week. One of our representatives even used to be a Little Brother himself! Below is more information about this exciting trip to Ottawa from our national office Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is very excited to update you on the Youth In Office event that happened over the past two days in Ottawa.
We were proud to match 108 youth from the Yukon to Newfoundland and Labrador with 100 Members of Parliament from across Canada in the third annual Youth In Office event.
Once again we partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada to give young people a one-of-a-kind hands-on experience on Parliament Hill, and this incredible event would not have been possible without the tremendous support of Canada Heritage and WestJet.
Placing youth at the centre of programming, the event began yesterday with a day of orientation and training where youth were asked to identify the top 4 areas on which the Government of Canada should focus. Mental health, Indigenous supports, education and the environment were their key interest areas. During the day, the youth led a Twitter chat where they discussed the importance of engaging young people in democracy and the political process. This online discussion had #YouthInOffice trending on Twitter for most of the day, reaching the number two spot at its peak!
As President and CEO of BBBSC, Peter Coleridge helped start the morning by highlighting the impact of mentoring and the long term societal outcomes with the 100 MPs present. The youth and MPs were then matched and spent the day touring Parliament, attending policy meetings and getting a behind-the-scenes look at life on ‘The Hill’. Over lunch, we hosted a Youth Caucus in the House of Commons where youth fired tough questions at MPs and engaged in open and honest dialogue. To end the afternoon youth saw their MPs in action during Question Period, and met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who answered questions from the youth and posed for photos. This had #YouthInOffice trending for the second day in a row!
We would like to express our tremendous appreciation for the Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across Canada for their support in making this event happen. Thank you for helping select youth and facilitate their arrival at the event. A special thank you to the agencies representing Michelle Misener from Colchester, Rose Higgins from Greater Vancouver, Beth Sinclair from Lanark, Laura Bauman and Eric Lapierre from Ottawa and Brad Mulligan from Waterloo Region who have volunteered as SUPER HERO chaperones to support our youth throughout these two very special days.
It is through events such as these that we, as a movement, will achieve our strategic goals, amplify our voice and lead policy action regarding mentoring and youth services.
To produce this event we worked closely with the Prime Minister’s Office and Peter Schiefke, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth). The Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker, in the House of Commons provided us with the reception space where our youth and MPs were matched. These partnerships serve our youth, and provide them with such once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Thank you for your continued support and feel free to reflect back on the day by using the hashtag#YouthInOffice. Thank you to everyone that assisted with the details to get all our youth to apply and supporting those selected to get to Ottawa, a true team effort!