Adults in the community have their minds on the upcoming elections, but there is also a youth parliament that is looking for applicants aged 16-21, and application forms must be received by Oct. 29.
Every year in the last week of December, 95 youth from across BC gather in Victoria for the annual session of British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP). This year will be the 86th youth parliament.
Youth who participate in this program meet others their age from across the province. They debate issues, learn about parliamentary processes, practice public speaking and carry out community service projects.
“Members develop skills and have experiences that will have a lasting impact on their lives,” says Dora Turje, registrar of the BCYP. “Youth from rural communities are encouraged to apply! The more diverse the backgrounds of the members, the more enriching it is for everyone involved.”
According to Turje, at the parliamentary session, members debate in the Legislative Chambers in the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, sharing their views on current issues and having input on BCYP’s plans for the year. After debates are done for the day, members participate in planned social activities. There are also enrichment activities such as a tour of Government House and a luncheon hosted by a local service group. After Session, members return to their home communities and are supported to get involved in community service and educational projects.
The ideal candidate, says Turje, is interested in learning more about democratic processes and becoming more involved in their community. Turje hopes that candidates are able to commit to the organization beyond the five-day parliamentary session.
“Youth parliament is described as a year-long commitment because of the community service, education, and fundraising aspects of the organization,” says Turje.
Applicants are chosen by the Board of Directors and the youth leadership of BCYP. There is a $275 registration fee, which includes accommodations in Victoria. Some financial assistance is available, so contact Turje about the financial assistance before you apply.
Application forms and letter templates are available at bcyp.org/joinus.html, and you will need to include five letters of nomination plus a personal statement about why you want to participate.
“It would be great to get some applications from Lake Cowichan and the surrounding area this year,” says Turje.
Visit bcyp.org or contact Dora Turje at email@example.com before Oct. 29 for more information and FAQs.
Last year’s prorogation (closing ceremony) procession on Dec. 31, 2013. The procession walks down the centre aisle of the Legislative Chamber with BCYP members on either side. Linda Reid, near the end of the procession is the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and a a BCYP alumna. Reid was Honourary Lieutenant Governor in 2013.