My Week in Parliament
As Youth Councillor for the City of Fernie, I was surprised to learn that it meant that I had the opportunity to go to the British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP). After applying in early November, I received my letter of acceptance and was thrilled to represent Fernie at the 91st Session of BCYP.
I was even more surprised to learn this organization was founded in 1924 and known as the Older Boys Parliament! Thankfully today the BCYP has grown to include diverse members who represent all areas of the province. Every year members aged 16 to 21 meet in the Legislative Buildings in Victoria where they debate and pass a variety of legislation and Private Members Resolutions.
The parliamentary session is only one small part of what members partake in during the year. The main mandate of BCYP is “youth serving youth” with members taking part in and running various service projects in BC. The main service projects of BCYP are Regional Youth Parliaments (RYPs) and Camp Phoenix. RYPs are smaller scale events of BCYP that aim to educate 14 to 18-year olds on parliamentary procedure and debate. Camp Phoenix is a camp run for youth ages eight to 12 who would not normally be able to attend camp due to financial or social circumstances. Both of these projects are run by BCYP members. For Camp Phoenix, this means that BCYP members volunteer to run the camp for the week of August 24. Hence, the mandate of youth serving youth.
There are many highlights of this experience for me, most notably meeting BC’s own Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin and touring the Government House in Victoria.
For me, debating bills as well as Private Members Resolutions (PMRs) was such a cool experience. One of the PMRs was that BCYP should support a ban on non-critical single-use plastics. This was an interesting debate and was passed by a vast majority of members. BCYP is also an opportunity to meet many interesting people and enjoy memorable activities every night of the Session.
This experience has left all of us with many positive memories, and I was inspired to see so many engaged youth despite the camp being over Christmas break!
It has also motivated me to recruit members from Fernie to participate in the Regional Youth Parliament, and of course, encourage everyone to understand how legislation is passed!