On November 7, our partner Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada headed to the nation’s capital for YOUth in Office, an event that provides young leaders aged 14 to 24 with the opportunity to shadow a Member of Parliament on Parliament Hill.

Participants attended a media training session, learned from the experiences of  young Indigenous activists and the 2017-18 Parliamentary Interns, spent the day with an MP, and attended Question Period in the House of Commons.

Created by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, this initiative ensures young Canadians, who have traditionally been less politically active, become more engaged by providing them with the opportunity to experience firsthand how our political system operates and connect with Members of Parliament and Hill Staffers.

“YOUth in Office is an important part of our mission to give youth in Canada a voice,” said Owen Charters, President & CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. “Job shadowing an MP for a day helps our youth explore different careers, learn about the democratic process, and get involved in their local communities. We are proud to partner with Coca-Cola Canada to give young people this incredible opportunity.”

Typically, youth participation in politics has been rather low in Canada. A study by Samara Canada found that the number of young voters surged in the 2015 election. While all cohorts saw an increase in turnout, the 18 to 29 age group rose from 42% in 2011, to 57% in 2015. Canada has made a lot of progress when it comes to youth voter turnout, but there is still a long way to go.

Another study by Samara Canada showed that only four per cent of MPs in the 41st Parliament (2011 to 2015) were aged 18 to 30, a cohort that makes up 17% of Canada’s population. Unfortunately, this means a large portion of the population is not represented. Canada’s youth are the future and it is very important that young Canadians are politically engaged and represented in the House of Commons. Events like YOUth in Office give youth exposure to jobs in politics and cultivate politically active young leaders.  

“I have learned so much from participating in YOUth in Office,” says Lauren, a member of Boys and Girls Club of Truro and Colchester in Nova Scotia. “It is wonderful to have a day on the Hill with our MPs focused on us and listening to us tell them what we care about. It has really helped spark my interest in politics.”

Coca-Cola Canada is a proud supporter of the YOUth in Office event and has partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada on various programs for over a decade. Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is a national charity providing services to 200,000 young people in 700 communities throughout Canada, helping youth to experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships, and develop confidence and skills for life.