Sunday, September 4, 2011

UNREAL!! (Youth are NOT a priority for politicians)

Yesterday AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities) was supposed to host a forum called GET REAL where the provincial candidates for Point Douglas were supposed to get together to answer questions from young people at Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre.

Unfortunately this event didn't happen. It has been post-poned due to lack of involvement of political candidates.

This event was promoted on facebook and twitter. It also was shared on the radio (Streetz 104.7 fm, Urban Nation Live). We also made over 100 posters that were distributed by community members. It was a very well advertised and promoted I think.

But the morning of our event... This was the status:

Was still game. He was the first candidate to agree to attend the event and said youth were a priority. He even had his staff confirm with me the morning of the event. Awesome.

Was not able to make it due to a previous commitment to her husband. She informed us if this cancellation 3 days in advance of the event and arranged to send a delegate in her place. Thanks.

Unfortunately she was unable to attend due to health reasons but was only able to inform me the morning of our event. Thankfully she was able to quickly arrange someone to go I her place. Get well.

JOHN VERNAUS (Progressive Conservative)
This guy didn't even respond. Even though I emailed his info line, even though I tweeted Hugh McFayden and he responded. Even though I sent him the GET REAL Qs like I did to everyone else one day in advance. No answer. Just like last time. Whatever. This is a disturbing trend from conservative candidates.

It was unfortunate because that left Kevin as the only Point Douglas Candidate that would be attending. This was not acceptable to me, and as I checked with a few other youth organizers, we determined that this was not fair for the young people and the event would have to be rescheduled. As such, we informed the youth the event was cancelled and will let the community and candidates know when a new date has been set.

Youth NOT a priority

The rescheduling of this event is frustrating for me because it makes me feel like young people are not a priority for our politicians. I know that FAMILY, individual HEALTH are important, and I also know that sometimes stuff happens. Unfortunately, sending delegates renders our activity not effective, especially when the delegates outnumber the actual candidates. The point is for the youth to get to know and interact with the candidates face to face. It is upsetting because it makes me feel like youth, hearing their voices, answering their Qs in their arena, on their turf, in their language, is NOT a priority for these candidates. It is a disturbing trend and politicians can't relate to young people and behave in ways that are disrespectful, short sighted and shady. I mean, for the 2nd time in a row the Conservative candidate didn't even respond. This kind of situation is discouraging as an organizer, but even more discouraging as a resident, and as an aboriginal youth who wants to vote. We tried organizing this event with no funding using only the relationships we had within the community to put the event together, in our usual Anti-Gang way. In the end, the event will have to happen on another day.

Health & Family

Young people in our hood often have challenges due to poverty, family and social situations, gangs and more. Its interesting to note 2 of the candidates can't make a simple meeting due to their own commitments to family and concerns with their own health. I think it is safe to assume that someone who is running for a political position lives with a significant amount of privilege and what kind of example has been set if they can't make a meeting with youth for those reasons. They (candidates) can't come out to see youth, when those are their barriers...and yet they expect young people to go and vote for them on october 4th? Interesting example. This hypocrisy is exactly the type of behaviour consistently displayed in politics and part of the reason why they are so disengaged and turned off by politics.

Validated and Engaged

Its frustrating, but there are opportunities and positive elements to this situation. Now the youth have even more time to gather their thoughts, observe the candidates a little bit into the campaign, and for the candidates to think of a good explanation of how they are going to make young people feel heard. ( We are going to be able to formulate a better strategy to communicate with candidates and the political world in general so people from the North End, especially young people begin to feel validated and engaged in this political system.

I'm discouraged, but we won't give up. If any of you have any ideas or ways of supporting our next GET REAL event so our youth feel more support you can e-mail Thank you to all the media, Turtle Island, Kevin Chief and the other candidates but especially the young people who were and are committed to making our voices heard.

Love & Respect


Michael  Champagne
"Let us put our minds together to see what life we can make for our children" - Sitting Bull

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North End MC

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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Representin the North End of Winnipeg since 1987. I will share my journey tryna set an example and live a proud Cree life. I'll include my challenges and feelings and progress in terms of AYO! Aboriginal Youth Opportunities. You(th) are the reason.