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Rusnak Around the Riding: Youth engagement

As we embark on a New Year, it is important to take time to focus on what the future holds for our communities in the Thunder Bay—Rainy River riding and our country as a whole.

Youth Engagement in Thunder Bay-Rainy River

As we embark on a New Year, it is important to take time to focus on what the future holds for our communities in the Thunder Bay—Rainy River riding and our country as a whole.

When we consider the future, our youth must always be a priority as they will inherit the outcome of any decisions our current leadership makes. 

The youth of today are engaged in a way we have never seen before; according to a study by Abacus Data and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, youth turnout jumped by 12 percentage points between the 2011 and 2015 elections. These finding suggest that Canada’s young people should no longer be considered politically disengaged and apathetic.

It is for this reason that I have made it a priority to visit schools and interact with students on a regular basis across the riding.  I look forward to continuing this work in the New Year in order to give the young people in our riding a voice. So far I have heard from students at St. Elizabeth School, Ogden Community School, St. Patrick’s High School, the Kingsway and Hyde Park schools in Thunder Bay and a number of schools in the western portion of the region.

I am also proud to say that the Thunder Bay—Rainy River Youth Council held its founding meeting on December 3rd, 2016.

Thirteen youth from across the riding -some currently in high school and others attending college or university- were in attendance. The members represented their distinct home towns of Thunder Bay, Churchill, Fort Frances, Big Grassy First Nation, Sault Ste Marie, Rainy-River First Nation and Atikokan. This youth council is part of a larger movement of community youth councils being founded across the country.

This passionate group of community-minded young people will meet both in person and online several times a month to provide me with non-partisan advice, speak to the concerns that matter most to them, their communities and their country, and then take action to address some of our local issues.

Youth involvement is crucial to the innovation and evolution of our political, social and economic sectors. 

I am proud to have such a diverse, dedicated and inspiring group of young people join together to discuss the changes they aim to see in the world and commit to creating solutions that will make a positive impact on our community and country as a whole.

Having the Thunder Bay-Rainy River Youth Council identify and respond to community needs will increase these young, engaged individuals’ already reflective and empathetic qualities, and I am confident they will continue this important work in their future careers.

 The Thunder Bay—Rainy River Youth Council is proof positive that Thunder Bay-Rainy River’s young people not only care about the issues facing their communities, but are willing to commit their time and efforts into creating positive change.

I wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year and I encourage youth across the riding to join us in having your voices heard in Ottawa.

“Countries that do not use the talents of all their citizens –regardless of ethnicity, gender or age– risk finding out that the status quo is no way to meet the very real challenges they face. I am excited to work with the Youth Council, to invite them to take part in government policy, and to make clear to Canadian youth that there are many avenues for them to be the leaders of today.”
—The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Youth