Photo illustration by Michael Swan

Speaking Out: I want to be a prime minister

By  Kathleena Henricus, Speaking Out
  • September 5, 2018

When I was five and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be the first female prime minister of Canada. 

I found out later that Kim Campbell had already beat me to it in 1993 by being elected leader of the governing Conservative party, but that only motivated me to become the first “elected” female prime minister. 

I’ve always been entranced by the life of a public servant. There’s a passion and conviction that can be found in an honest-to-goodness politician that can’t be replicated and it’s the drive to do right that has always been it for me. This is it for me. 

The opportunities I’ve had over the last 15 years have allowed me to actively pursue this vocation. I started volunteering in local politics early last year and I’ve been lucky enough to work with federal politicians since then. 

I was at my second provincial nomination when I was approached by now PC caucus member Victoria Ly. We got to talking and at one point she asked me, “Are you Catholic?” Without even thinking I replied, “Yes.” 

Shortly after, she introduced me to federal MP candidate Stella Ambler, who offered me my first federal volunteering position at her kickoff rally. It was at this rally I learned an important lesson about our faith and politics. Ambler had many supporters and many important endorsers, but I’ll never forget her ending remarks: “God bless you.” 

Just three words, but they’ve completely changed the way I look at my vocation. Thinking back on my experience as a political volunteer, I realize that if I hadn’t been bold about my faith, I may never have met these two amazing role models.

I have much to learn, but being completely authentic is the most important thing I could have ever learned from that moment. Even if it may not be popular opinion, your beliefs, your faith and your passions are things that should be shouted from the rooftops. 

As Catholics we are called to evangelization, but we are also called to shape our world for the better. Catholicism and public service are my passions and I promise to try to always be completely authentic about it. 

As a Catholic youth, it’s hard to be open and authentic about who we are. It’s not always regarded as cool, but through pursuing my passion I’ve found that it must be done. I can’t expect people to believe in me if I can’t stand up for what I believe in. 

I’d like to thank my parish for teaching me to be proud of my faith, my parents for teaching me to be proud of my passions and the people I volunteer for, for rewarding me for boldness in my beliefs. 

The next time someone asks you about your faith and your beliefs, dear reader, I hope you reply proudly, and in complete honesty, because amazing things happen when you do. 

(Henricus, 15, is a Grade 10 student at Cawthra Park Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont.)

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