A week in Ottawa. Do you ponder issues, society, and our inherent place within it? Are you curious about the country you live in and how it shapes you on a social and political level? To fully appreciate democracy, a long standing century old tradition of thought, the Forum for Young Canadians is the perfect place to be. This not-forprofit organization sets to expose young leaders coming from all across the nation, to discover the depth of politics at the heart of our country: Ottawa!
I highly recommend the program to any student. My recent experience as a participant at Forum 2016 taught me much in one week. I am very grateful for the support of the SUJAC in my participation and especially to Mr. William Mahon! Delving into the world of federal politics on Parliament Hill and visiting a variety of landmark Canadian institutions, from the House of Commons to Rideau Hall and the Senate itself was an unforgettable experience. The friendships you build and the people you meet make it incredibly memorable.
I view this experience as one that puts a concrete step forward to challenge the 120 youth participants to take action in their communities from all across the nation. We were lucky enough to experience the vibrancy of Parliament and its personalities; some of the most memorable activities were the MP Dinner at the Château Laurier – we discussed with representatives from all corners of the nation- and a breakfast with parliamentarians, where we met and exchanged with Senators. This week-long event was demanding both emotionally and intellectually. The Canadian political discourse is varied and dynamic. This was seen at the emotional Question Period in the House of Commons, which we were fortunate to attend, on Wednesday March 9th. A simulated election and debate kept us busy during the week as well.
Among the many lessons I take with me from Ottawa is a newfound perception on leadership. There, we were highly encouraged by inspiring personalities to affect change by being involved and contributing to the betterment of society. This fascinating experience empowers you to be a voice in your community but especially to seek new initiatives and opportunities. I am grateful to have shared this experience with 120 like-minded students from coast to coast. Waiting for about an hour in front of the Parliament, at twenty degrees below zero, for the House of Commons session, was worthwhile, as we met the Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons, who gave us insight on the workings of the House of Commons and his role within it.
My answer to the question ‘‘what is politics’’ changed over this week. I now view politics as an effective tool to create change so that the systemic barriers our country still faces crumble. Be it on an environmental level, healthcare, or First Nations’ rights, there is much left to improve… I highly suggest you get out of your comfort zone, broaden your mind, and experience something truly unique by participating in the great learning opportunity that Forum represents. As such, it is a world hitherto unknown to me that I discovered, one that is dynamic and challenging. I am confident that the FYC will make you see politics and hopefully yourself too, in a different light, just as was the case for me!