4-H Canada Blog
My First Six Months on the Prime Minister’s Youth Council
During the 2015 federal election, one of the Prime Minister’s campaign promises was to initiate a youth advisory group to listen and engage youth in areas like mental health, environment, employment, clean growth and agriculture. Last fall, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected, he created the Prime Minister’s Youth Council and out of a pool of 14,000 applicants, I was honoured to be one of 15 youth members selected to join! Below is a reflection of my first six months in this exciting role as a Canadian youth and as a 4-H Canada member.
As soon as I was officially invited to join the Prime Minister’s Youth Council I flew to Ottawa and had the unique opportunity to learn from government leaders like the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Minister for the Status of Women, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of the Communications Security Establishment and experts on employment about challenges and opportunities within their portfolios. Together with my fourteen peers, we identified youth engagement gaps and gave our creative and practical input for getting youth involved. We then participated in events like the One Young World conference, watched live debates on Canadian affairs during Question Period in the House of Commons and had opportunities to speak on youth engagement.
One of the topics that repeatedly came up in all of our conversations with government officials was the question of how to get the young people of today involved. What we quickly realized was that no matter the issue, no matter the discussion, the only way to make significant progress is to get people involved.
4-H is exceptionally good at getting young people involved; after all, 4-H follows the Learn To Do By Doing motto.
My biggest role on the council is to provide the other council members and government officials the 4-H perspective and that of rural youth. 4-H has been successful at developing young leaders with millions of members’ worldwide and after these meetings; I brought back to British Columbia some new perspectives to continue the momentum of driving youth engagement in my community. As the only representative from British Columbia, I also discussed the role universities play in engaging youth in the community and in preparing youth for meaningful careers in Canada in meetings with the Dean of the Engineering Department and the Deputy-Vice Chancellor of University of British Colmbia Okanagan.
As the only 4-H representative, I had the unique opportunity to attend a 4-H leaders training conference in Kelowna, British Columbia, to talk about the Council and why I believe my long-term involvement in 4-H was one of the reasons I was selected to join.
As a 4-H’er, I am always promoting the 4-H youth development program. My experience with 4-H has helped me better counsel Members of Parliament and community leaders across Canada to foster authentic partnerships with today’s youth and increase youth involvement.
Into the new year, we recently welcomed 11 new members to the Council and shortly after, we had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the Prime Minister to discuss ways to respond to issues Canadian youth face. I am exceptionally privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of young Canadians. Getting the opportunity to meet and work with our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Peter Schiefke, has been a tremendous honour and I owe that to my experience with 4-H.
I am thankful to the 4-H program for helping me on my path to becoming a leader and for helping to give me the skills I need to make a difference. I hope to one day, when I am done my schooling, become a 4-H leader so that I can help give someone else an amazing 4-H experience. As amazing as my opportunity is to serve on the Council, I feel equally as fortunate to have been, and to still be, involved with 4-H.
My advice for members of 4-H who want to get more involved or want to take on a leadership role, is to not be afraid to take risks and to never sell yourself short. For any member of 4-H wanting to get involved with the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, keep looking for the opportunity to apply. Also, the members of the Council, including myself, are always looking for ways to become involved. We are committed to listening to the voices of young Canadians and would love if you reached out to us with any ideas you have or any events that are happening within your community.
The Prime Minister’s Youth Council has a Facebook page that we use to provide updates and our events and activities, so please follow and get engaged. I look forward to hearing and working with 4-H’ers from throughout Canada.