By Gordon Mason
This weekend, youth leaders from around the Kootenays will gather in Revelstoke for the 10th Kootenay Youth Parliament. The event will be hosted within the Revelstoke Secondary School from Friday, May 5th, to Sunday, May 7th. The event gathers youth from throughout the Kootenays to participate in a parliamentary session similar to that of the provincial legislature in Victoria, and is one of a series of regional Youth Parliaments taking place across the province of British Columbia.
Regional Youth Parliaments are an opportunity for youth aged 14-18 inclusive to participate in the parliamentary system in their own communities. Held around the province, Regional Youth Parliaments are designed with the idea of providing an excellent method of teaching public speaking and parliamentarianism. Regional Youth Parliament’s also facilitate practical experiences in leadership through the debate of resolutions pertaining to local, national, and international issues of their own choosing. In addition to facilitating debate, Regional Youth Parliaments create legislation outlining their activities for the following year. With activities ranging from social gatherings to volunteer service projects, members receive opportunities to meet other youth in surrounding communities and work together to promote the British Columbia Youth Parliament mantra of “Youth Serving Youth”.
The first Regional Youth Parliament ever run by the British Columbia Youth Parliament, the Kootenay Youth Parliament held its first session in 1987. Since then, the parliament has had a complicated history, featuring both cancellations of the parliament altogether and its combination into the Southern Interior Youth Parliament. This year marks the reinstatement of the Kootenay Youth Parliament in time for its 10th session.
Local British Columbia Youth Parliament Alumni Jacqueline Cottingham and Gordon Mason are co chairing the event. The premier for the session is Mission High School student Victoria Sukra, and the Speaker for the event will be five-time attendee of the British Columbia Youth Parliament and Kelowna resident Seamus Benwell.