Photo from Elections Canada

Speaking Out: A critical moment for young voters

By  Kathleena Henricus, Youth Speak News
  • September 15, 2021

With the bizarreness that has been 2021 to date, the shortest campaign for an election season we’ve ever experienced seems par for the course.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have already flocked to advanced polling stations, special election sites and even their mailboxes if voting on Sept. 20 wasn’t an option. Millions more will go to their local polling station to cast their vote on election day.

With the last election occurring just shy of two years ago, this frenetic 36-day campaign period launches newly eligible voters, myself included, into one of the most impactful elections of our lives.

We’ll soon find out if Canadians will reward Justin Trudeau with a third term, or if a new leader is given a mandate to run our nation. It is important for young Catholics to have expectations and hopes of this new government, especially when the course of this election could serve as a major inflection point for our country’s current trajectory.

This past year has further exposed systemic issues across policing, education, infrastructure and the economy. And the discovery of thousands of Indigenous children in unmarked graves levies the incoming government with the monumental task of reformation, reparation and revitalization as we aim to bring ourselves back from the brink of this COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has shown us how vital retail, food service and delivery personnel are to a functional society (but with many of those working in these industries just barely making minimum wage). But despite the all-encompassing pandemic, it hasn’t clouded over the serious wrongs the Canadian government has done to Indigenous peoples, as the original stewards and reserves are still faced with food insecurity, boil-water advisories and soaring suicide rates in a country that prides itself on taking care of its own.

My hope for our the 44th Canadian Parliament is the amplification of Indigenous voices, the devising of a serious plan to bring back our economy, a focus on reducing our greenhouse-gas emissions and reversing climate change, a commitment to increase public-health funding and overall enhancement of safety, mental health and legal access systems. It sounds like a big ask, and it is, but it is exactly what we need to expect when the House of Commons reconvenes.

And it is up to us, particularly youth. So many of us in Generation Z are being empowered with the ability to participate in the democratic process in a new, impactful way — and it is important to participate.

It is often a trope, among news anchors and teachers, that young people don’t vote, don’t engage, don’t take part.

Our aim, if we could only choose one, should be to turn that stereotype completely on its head. Participate in the greatest generational voter turnout this country has ever seen — in spite of the pandemic, the lack of on-campus voting, the exhaustion of the past two years.

I hope all Canadians vote on Sept. 20. And I hope all vote for kindness and respect, amplification of the underrepresented and overall progress and growth. I hope your choice will help manifest the Canada you want to see. 

(Henricus, 18, has commenced her first year at Western University in London, Ont. )

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