Three St. Thomas University students have been chosen to be part of the new Fredericton Constituency Youth Council.
Olivier Hébert, Oriana Cordido and Noah Turner were chosen to take part in the 18-member council which gives youth the opportunity to directly voice their concerns to Fredericton MP Matt DeCourcey.
“It’s not just saying youth matter, but taking the time and space to actually hear youth and valuing what they have to say,” Hébert said.
The council allows DeCourcey to meet with the youth and discuss local issues that are important to them. DeCourcey will present the feedback he receives from the youth to his cabinet colleagues and the House of Commons.
“Young people bring energy and creativity [to developing policy], of course,” said DeCourcey. “But I think young people also have wisdom and a fresh perspective on issues.”
The council was selected by DeCourcey and his advisors from a pool of 30 applicants in the Fredericton constituency, which includes New Maryland, Oromocto, Fredericton and the Grand Lake region. It features people from various neighbourhoods and schools between the ages of 14-24.
Cordido, an international student, applied because she wants to learn more about Canada and be involved in the country.
“Since I’m spending part of my life here, I want to make it count,” she said.
Members will meet four or five times over a period of nine months to discuss youth issues and brainstorm solutions with DeCourcey. In addition, DeCourcey hopes to bring in public policy guest speakers from the community to talk with the council members at the meetings. The council members will also participate in upcoming community projects.
The council gives students the opportunity to apply their education in a practical method.
“I’m super excited to have the chance to take what I’ve learned in the classroom and directly apply it to issues I’ve read and heard about,” said Turner.
The issues the group decides to tackle will depend on the discussion during their first meeting in November. The exact date is yet to be determined. However, issues that will likely be discussed include employment opportunities, climate change, voting and LGBTQ rights.
LGBTQ rights and lowering the voting age are particularly important to Hébert.
“Canada’s a pretty great country, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve things,” said Hébert. “These issues are my life and if they aren’t talked about in meaningful ways, they can potentially hurt me and those I care about.”
The youth don’t expect to change the world through their participation in the council, but they’re excited to be a part of the political process at the local level.
“All I’m looking to get out of this is some kind of voice on any topic,” said Turner.
If the council is successful this year, it will continue next year with a new selection of youth.
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