“No one is ever too young to be a leader, and seek the answers that could combat climate change, build fairer, more inclusive societies, and change the world.”
This proclamation came from Canada’s Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, in his role as Minister of Youth, during International Youth Day on August 12, 2016.
Having lived his own youth under the auspice of Canada’s 15th Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, it is unsurprising that the subject remains a key concern for Canada’s newest Prime Minister, now 283 days in Office. Pierre Trudeau himself was famous for the “Trudeaumania” that coined his significant following of passionate youth supporters.
Justin Trudeau carried on the legacy of “Trudeaumania” when Canadian youth participated in the largest voter turnout since 1993. Since his landslide victory, Trudeau has been decisive in exhibiting his commitment to Canadian youth, making headlines and history by appointing himself Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth – the first time youth had been included in any Prime Minister’s title.
There’s rhyme to his reason – youth as a policy issue in Canada is not insignificant.
Children and youth under 24 years-old represent close to 1 in 3 people in Canada, with youth comprising 13% of the population. In 2007, 2% of all Aboriginal people in Canada were under 15;
13% of youth are unemployed, and 27% are underemployed (defined by the ILO as lack of available hours to work when willing or able to, or inadequate use of worker’s skills). Over 25% of Canadian youth want to work more or better quality jobs, but can’t;
Youth make 1 in 5 of all Canadians using homeless shelters, and more than 50% of homeless youth have been in jail, detention centers, or prison;
Suicide accounts for 13% of deaths for youth aged 10-14, and 25% of deaths for youth aged 15-34. Aboriginal youth die by suicide 5-6 times more than non-Aboriginal youth, with suicide rates for Inuit youth being 11 times the national average, and among the highest in the world;
As young people flooded poll stations on the unseasonably warm day of the October election, their vested interest in the future of Canada was heard loud and clear.
On July 19th of 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the initiative that would provide the platform youth need to shape the future of our nation.
The Prime Minister’s Youth Council will consist of 30 non-partisan individuals between the ages of 16 and 24, from diverse backgrounds and regions. 300 youth will be selected for video interviews based on their community involvement and leadership criteria, from which the 30 council-members will be selected. The Council will meet online and in person several times a year, advising the Prime Minister on issues of national interest, including employment, access to education, the strengthening of communities and climate change.
As of the morning of August 12, 9 929 youth had submitted applications to Trudeau’s youth council. An additional 22 027 had started the application process, but had yet to submit their application before the deadline.
Of the applications received, 52.8% identify as a visible minority, 11.1% as a recent immigrant and 14.8% identify as Inuit, Metis or First Nation. 31.3% identify as LGBTQ.
[The Canadian Press]
Despite the fervent response, the Prime Minister’s Youth Council comes with reservations. Some have been quick to point out the strategic element of creating a so-to-speak youth focus group. The Council may conveniently function to bolster Trudeau and his parties’ favorable youth following, as they forecast the 2019 election.
Other reservations point to the accessibility of the council across Canada –
Maatalii Okalik, president of the National Inuit Youth Council, responded to Trudeau’s initiative:
“With our bandwidth and limited resources across Inuit Nunangat, I don’t think that Inuit have the same opportunity as other youth Canadians to participate in this process,”
Regular video conferencing with the Youth Council would be inaccessible for many young people in Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Inuvialuit region.
Despite the pending discussion on inclusivity, Okalik acknowledges the potential of the youth in fulfilling Trudeau’s promise of nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous people in Canada.
In the wake of uncertainty regarding Canada’s concentrated housing market, employment opportunities, and access to education, no one is better positioned to provide valuable input than the future innovators, educators, and leaders of Canada: youth.
“That is why we established the Prime Minister’s Youth Council to ensure we hear, at the highest level of government, what young people have to say. Youth issues are everyone’s issues, and youth should have a voice in decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives.”
[Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau]
If you are aged 16 to 24, seize your opportunity to
join Canada’s Youth Council.
Youth council members will serve for a two-year term
Applications must be submitted during one of two “waves” of intakes
First Wave | July 22 until August 12
Second Wave | July 22 until October 7
Please Note: The application will have an option for youth to not apply for the Youth Council, but have their information submitted to a database for further youth engagement opportunities. This database will be shared with other federal departments who wish to offer youth engagement opportunities.