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Senate continues partnership with Forum for Young Canadians
NEWS
Senate continues partnership with Forum for Young Canadians
March 27, 2018

Today, young people are better educated and more connected to the globe than any past generation. But they don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of Parliament.

Enter the Forum for Young Canadians — a weeklong program that fosters leadership skills in Canadians aged 15 to 19. Its participants have the opportunity to learn about government, democracy and citizenship, to meet various actors in the Canadian public sphere and to connect with other young people.

For decades, senators have hosted the Forum for Young Canadians for a morning in the Red Chamber. This year, senators also joined participants in smaller groups to talk about specific policy issues.

Indeed, it was an opportunity for participants to learn from the expertise of senators — and for senators to get the youth angle on the work done by Parliament.


Senator René Cormier

Senator René Cormier speaks with Forum participants about diversity and inclusiveness in the Canadian context.

Gabriel Gagné

For me, the Forum has been amazing. I met people from all over Canada. We talked about politics, debates, legislation and the future ahead of us. Whether we like it or not, we’re Canada’s future — its youth. Today with Senator Cormier we spoke about minorities and diversity. It’s something that affects me personally, coming from Quebec and being a francophone in a very big Canada. But I think we had good exchanges, we talked about the difference between being assimilated and just opening up to the world. After the senator asked us about the legalization of cannabis and what we, as young people, think. I think it went very well, we got to know each other some.


 

Senator David M. Wells

Senator David M. Wells discusses the role of the Senate within Parliament during a break-out session with Forum participants.

Maryan Chabursky

The Forum for Young Canadians is an excellent program for youth from across the country to gather, meet, discuss important political issues and learn about how our government functions. Today we talked to Senator Wells about the Senate works. I believe there are a lot of misconceptions in the public about how the Senate actually works. It’s seen as less democratic since senators are appointed, but after talking with Senator Wells I feel much more confident about the leadership of our country.


 

Senator Nancy J. Hartling

Senator Nancy J. Hartling has a conversation with Forum participants about the importance of mental health awareness and what Parliamentarians are doing to address the issue.

Taryn Bowen

Forum has been such a learning experience. I’ve met so many people from all across the country. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to come to the nation’s capital too and learn about what goes on here. The conversation we had with Senator Hartling touched me very personally. We talked about mental illness and went in depth about different issues and solutions. It was nice to see that somebody is working towards finding common solutions to these challenges.


 

Senator Yonah Martin

Senator Yonah Martin speaks with Forum participants about being yourself and finding your place.

Olivia Morrone

“Forum is a really valuable experience for learning about how politics actually works. It’s also great because you get the chance to bond with likeminded youths from all across Canada. For example, coming from Ontario, I didn’t know as much about the western provinces before. Also, with Senator Martin, we talked about how our future potential already exists within us and how to find our own path. That was really inspiring. For me, someday I hope to get into politics or become a lawyer — either way, I’ll be fighting for justice.”


 

Senator Linda Frum

Senator Linda Frum speaks with Forum participants about Bill S-239, which seeks to eliminate foreign influence in Canadian elections.

Brianna Cairns

“The Forum for Young Canadians is an amazing experience — I’d absolutely recommend it for any youth looking to get into politics. Today, we had the chance to speak with Senator Frum about foreign influence in Canadian elections. Surprisingly, I learned that it’s not completely illegal! She’s proposing a bill to try and close the loopholes in the system. I’ll certainly be following if this bill goes through.”


 

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard talks with Forum participants about leadership and citizen engagement.

Layne North

“The Forum is a great experience. It definitely prepares you to engage with your local representatives, and to find out both about what they do and what you can do to help out the community too. Earlier today, I had the pleasure to speak with Senator Bernard about leadership and how to get more youths engaged. We talked about racism too and how it occurs in everyday life. Being able to better understand that will help us build a future in which everyone is treated equally.”


 

Senator Lillian Eva Dyck

Senator Lillian Eva Dyck engages Forum participants on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Katherine Hansen & Ella Thomson

“It’s real neat having people from all across the country come together, bringing such a wide range of perspectives to one place. Speaking with Senator Dyck was also very enlightening, learning about how to support Indigenous youth for instance. I really appreciated getting her perspective. We also talked about self-esteem and how racism impacts that.” — Katherine <p> </p> <p>“As a young Indigenous Canadian, speaking with Senator Dyck about the Colten Boushie case was very interesting. The police needs to be held accountable for their actions if reconciliation is going to be possible. We need to talk about these issues more.” — Ella


 

Senator Diane Bellemare

Senator Diane Bellemare explains how Canada’s upper house functions in comparison to those in other countries.

Felix Gabriel Nault

“I think the Forum is really a great opportunity to learn about the political institutions here in Ottawa. It puts you right at the centre of things and you meet some incredible people. I think many of us will eventually go into politics and so we are making connections. I found my meeting with Senator Bellemare to be really interesting. She is fascinating and passionate about her work. She is always striving to improve and to understand the role of a senator as the Fathers of Confederation intended it.”


 

Senator Diane Griffin

Senator Diane Griffin talks to Forum participants about the importance of national parks and wildlife reserves. Prior to joining the Senate, Senator Griffin worked in land conservation in both Prince Edward Island and Alberta. She is currently chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

Jerni Stewart

“What's really great about Forum is that you get to meet people all across the country - from Quebec to British Columbia. You learn more from them about the challenges in their home provinces. It's a beautiful coming together. I met with Senator Griffin also and we talked about climate change and preserving the environment. I come from Manitoba, where Lake Winnipeg is currently being invaded by zebra mussels. We had a great conversation about what we can do as young leaders to help address that and improve the environment in our communities. It really inspired me a lot.”


 

Senator Éric Forest

Senator Éric Forest speaks with Forum participants about the importance of getting involved in one's own community. Senator Forest previously served as mayor of Rimouski.

Aïcha Baldé

“Forum really taught me the value of caring for the collectivity at both the local and national levels. I learned how to better pursue my humble contribution to my community and to society as a whole. Our conversation with Senator Forest was great too. He was super interested in advocating for youth involvement in politics, but reminded us how this starts first and foremost with community engagement.”


 

Senator Marilou McPhedran

Senator Marilou McPhedran talks about women's rights with Forum participants. Prior to joining the Senate, Senator McPhedran worked as an academic and activist in the field of women's rights. She also fought to have stronger gender equality protections enshrined in the Canadian constitution.

Shauna Bradbury

“I came to Forum from rural Newfoundland - from a small town with less than one-thousand people - so this was quite eye-opening for me. I got to see just how many perspectives there are from across the country. Senator McPhedran had a conversation with us on human rights and women's rights. We talked about the continued prominence of sexism and that this exists at the level of national politics too. I found this empowering because I see this all the time back home. The fact that this is a struggle that goes beyond individual communities, and that many women are showing they can be sharp and powerful, and make their voices heard is quite inspiring.”


 

Senator Michael L. MacDonald

Senator Michael L. MacDonald talks about the importance of trade to Canada's economy. Senator MacDonald is co-chair of the Canada-US Interparliamentary Association.

Denon Heidebrecht

“I think that Forum really broadens your perspective. It's rejuvenating to see the broad range of views people bring to the program. And even though some of us may disagree, we're always respectful and try to find common ground. That's especially valuable in today's climate of polarization. Hopefully we can carry this forward and have an impact on politics. Senator MacDonald showed his passion, knowledge and interest in what we had to say too. I'm really thankful for the opportunity.”


 

Senator Terry Mercer

Senator Terry Mercer tells Forum participants that youth advocacy makes a difference. Senator Mercer's most recent project was helping create a Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector.

Anastasia Lettieri

“Forum is an excellent way to broaden your perspective, to learn about yourself, your voice, the power of young people and the country more broadly speaking. I had the chance to speak with Senator Mercer about youth advocacy, which really relates to everything we've been learning about in the program. I appreciated his encouragements to stay engaged.”