Written by: Anjum Sultana, from Young Women’s Leadership Network
Youth Civic Engagement – Before, During and After Elections
2018 has been a big year for politicos and voters alike!
With a municipal election around the corner and a provincial election behind us, the importance of participating in our democracy has never been more salient.
For the upcoming Toronto municipal election, there are several initiatives to Get Out the Vote:
- Know Your Vote T.O. – Developed by Toronto Public Library to support voters in learning about how and who they can vote for
- Prosperity Platform – Organizations such as Commitment to Community TO, Faith in the City, and others are collaborating to push candidates to pledge that if elected, they will fund the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy
- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is asking candidates their stance on different issues such as newcomer strategy, community safety, and civic inclusion
- YWCA Toronto is running their #WomenVoteTO campaign providing a feminist lens on municipal issues
Elections are critical moments where we pause as a community, reflect on our values and collectively decide on the future of our city. But why stop there? How do we ensure that the deliberation, participation and active interest in the fate of our civic institutions continues throughout the year?
Building Pathways to Inclusive Youth Civic Engagement
One way of ensuring continued interest in our democracy post-elections is to invest in youth civic engagement.
I would like the City of Toronto’s Civic Innovation Office, and Social Development, Finance and Administration Division to work together, along with other key stakeholders, develop innovative and inclusive ways of promoting youth civic engagement.
Fortunately for us, we do not have to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch. We have a strong foundation with several initiatives that can be leveraged to create more inclusive opportunities for youth civic engagement such as the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Youth Health Action Network, Indigenous Internship Program and the Muslim Youth Fellowship just to name a few.
Actions that can be taken include:
- Create a City of Toronto Mandate Tracker similar to the Government of Canada
- Implement a city-wide Charter of Rights of Children and Youth such as in Hamilton
- Organize a Civic Engagement Bootcamp with skills-based workshops on doing deputations, writing op-eds, applying for public appointments and more
- Create a municipal version of the Feminist Law Reform 101 course
- Fully implement the City of Toronto Youth Engagement Strategy
To have a healthy and vibrant democracy, we need to ensure that the spirit of civic engagement does not dissipate after October 22nd. Rather we need to promote the need for it to be an ongoing presence–one that is punctuated by elections, however does not lie dormant between them.
There’s no time to lose. Let’s begin today and create opportunities where youth can engage in all facets of our democracy, from the thrilling to the mundane, and everything in between.
The “If I Were Mayor” blog series profiles the ideas of youth and rising leaders from across the GTHA as a way to add their voices to the municipal conversation. Posts have been curated by CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network, For Youth Initiative, Laidlaw Foundation, Toronto Youth Cabinet, Citizen Empowerment Project, Young Women’s Leadership Network, and the Centre for Community and Immigration Services. The views contained in this post are the author’s and are not reflective of CivicAction or the CivicAction Leadership Foundation.