It’s hard to believe it, but we are halfway through the 2022 Youth Policy Program! This module was extra special because we were finally able to meet in person! We spent the better part of 3 days with one another in beautiful Victoria. Here’s a quick snapshot of what we accomplished.
Wednesday May 18th
Participants and staff travelled by bus, ferry, plane and vehicle to get together for Module 4 in Victoria! It was a busy and late day for everyone, so we quickly settled into our hotel rooms to be well rested for tomorrow.
Thursday May 19th
We woke up bright and early to walk together to the lawn of the Parliament Building. The sun was rising, the air was crisp, birds were chirping- it was a lot different than our typical Zoom meetings!
Upon arriving at the Legislature, staff and participants gathered in a circle to hear a beautiful land acknowledgement read by YPP participant Madelaine, who shared more history on the particular piece of land we were gathered on.
We shared breakfast together in the Parliamentary Dining Hall and got to do our first in person check in with one another. Participants got to brainstorm over questions they’d like to ask the elected officials over lunch. Being able to brainstorm together in person brought a different energy than before- folks were able to share ideas in real time and compare notes with each other. The brainstorm session was a success!
After breakfast, we sat in for the Question Period during a Legislative Session. Folks were able to see how elected officials propose new bills, ask questions, and even challenge processes in place. We had a quick tour of the Parliament Building and then it was onto lunch.
Participants then had the opportunity to meet with elected officials who graciously set time aside to meet with us. Conversation flowed easily, touching on subjects relating to their field of work, policy advancement, how to get started in policy work, and what policies the participants are interested in pursuing. The hour was quick and rapid fire, but very helpful in the long run! Thank you kindly to everyone who made time to join us for the lunch hour, it was valuable beyond words for our aspiring policy workers.
The afternoon was spent travelling to the Songhees Wellness Centre and getting settled in the space. Participants debriefed their visit to the Parliament Building, and had more opportunity to brainstorm with one another. Jessica Wood joined to talk about her role as Associate Deputy Minister of the Declaration Act Secretariat, and how she is leading British Columbia’s cross-ministry work to align provincial laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples. Jessica shared vital information such as how long it takes to pass legislation, how treaties have been treated historically and how that affects us today, and how to lean into your discomfort. Thank you for your time with us, Jessica!
Dinner was shared with City Councillor Shamarke Dubow, who shared his journey in becoming the first Black City Councillor in Victoria in more than 150 years. Shamarke shared the story of how he received his name and what it means, and went around the room asking participants and staff to share their story as well. Shamarke spoke about how he believes that city councillors should not only focus on service delivery, but on efforts that create a sense of participation and belonging to the benefit of all community members. Thank you for everything, Shamarke!
Friday, May 20th
Friday was another whirlwind day. The day began with travelling back to the Songhees Nation and sharing a meal together before diving into our first module. Participants learned from Kris Statnyk and Eugene Kung, who taught about Indigenous Governance. We learned more about how the “Dominion” of Canada led to federal and provincial laws, the Indian Act, and the reserve system. Kris and Eugene spoke about how all of this correlates with UNDRIP, which we learned about with Jessica the day before. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and stories Kris and Eugene!
Lunch followed shortly after, full of laughter and conversation as we connected with one another. We ended the day with a virtual session with AndAlsoToo, the design agency that will be designing the policy project books, who got everyone thinking about the design of their policy ask cover page and what messages they’d like to share with the imagery.
Being able to spend this module together in person was a treasured gift, and the memories we made together won’t be soon forgotten. It was a joy to be able to laugh, share a meal or a hug, be there for others in solidarity, and learn together. Thank you to everyone who helped make this trip as amazing as it was! Thank you to the Songhees Nation, Oswego Hotel, and the Parliamentary Dining Hall for graciously hosting us.
Stay in touch with the LEVEL YPP for more updates: https://levelvf.ca/#stay-in-touch
Learn more about the faculty and participants here: https://levelvf.ca/youth-policy-program/faculty-and-participants-2022/