Seven Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) students were immersed in the world of provincial politics in December, participating in the 86th British Columbia Youth Parliament session in Victoria.
British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP) is a non-profit, non-partisan service organization run by youth for youth who are between the ages of 16 and 21.
Prince Rupert students joined their counterparts from Terrace, Hazelton and Prince George to represent the Northwest region at session, which was held from Dec. 27 to 31.
“The Northwest has never been this well-represented down south, so I’m super thrilled with the people who were chosen to represent Prince Rupert with me,” said Morgan Weir, who along with Navi Nanan attended the event for the second time in December.
Each year BCYP holds session in the Victoria Legislature to discuss the organization’s plans for the coming year, with goals being laid out through parliamentary style procedure and debate. Participants also get to debate on Private Members Resolutions written by members on issues relevant to youth.
BCYP partakers fill the seats of real parliamentarians during the annual session, with a speaker and deputy speaker being appointed, along with cabinet and shadow cabinet members being assigned.
“We run through a whole bunch of procedure stuff so people get a feel for what government’s about and how decisions are made that influence us,” explained Weir, who holds a position on cabinet as Minister of Regional Youth Parliament, with Nanan being appointed Critic of New Members Relations on shadow cabinet.
“We pass our legislation for the organization that supports the execution of projects we do,” said Weir, adding after session members take on service projects and volunteering initiatives to promote the service aspect of BCYP and create change in their communities.
Joining Weir and Nanan at session were CHSS students Ashtyn Andreesen, Jeremy Angus, Paul Cavin, Tanveen Randhawa and Eva Rutherford, who were all attending for their first time.
During a presentation to the Prince Rupert School District board of education earlier this month, Cavin said he’s thankful for the experience and plans to become more involved with the organization.
“It was really cool because there’s such a huge group of people that have views from all different standpoints, so you get to hear everything and debate it,” he said.
Rutherford said the experience helped further develop her public speaking skills, with Rutherford leading a debate on her Private Members Resolution.
“BCYP definitely allowed me to push my boundaries,” she said.
The trip was funded by CHSS, with teacher Diane Rabel promoting the organization to Weir, who got other students involved.
Since joining, Weir has become a star of BCYP. Weir was a top fundraiser in the province, winning the Inspiring New Member Award that recognizes a second-year member who made exceptional contributions to BCYP’s service and fundraising activities during their first year in the organization.
As Minister of Regional Youth Parliament, Weir is responsible for planning the six Regional Youth Parliaments across the province for youth aged 14 to 18, which are mini-versions of the Victoria session.
Prince Rupert hosted the Northern British Columbia Youth Parliament for the first time last year, with Weir planning another in the community in May.