SFU student represents local riding at Daughters of the Vote conference in Ottawa
An invitation to attend the Daughters of the Vote initiative in Ottawa allowed Simon Fraser University student Lydia Tang to represent her local community and connect with other politically engaged peers across Canada.
Tang, a history and political science student, travelled to Ottawa to attend the conference this April, where young women and non-binary individuals from each riding in Canada were invited to take their respective MP’s seat in the House of Commons.
Over a four-day program, delegates attended workshops and various panels to learn what goes on behind the scenes of a career in politics.
“Most importantly for me,” says Tang, “the conference allowed me to meet dozens of other politically engaged delegates. We remain connected and continue to discuss the leadership grant available to us.”
She is referring to the Rosemary Speirs Leadership Grant, a $1,000 grant that directly funds delegates who make successful applications to accelerate advocacy efforts in local communities across Canada.
Tang’s experience with SFU’s co-op program was what influenced her to apply for the conference. She had completed several co-op work terms in various government departments, giving her a taste of what it’s like to work in government in Canada.
“I’m seeking a career in policy development, so I hoped to gain more insight on the political side of government through Daughters of the Vote,” says Tang.
The Daughters of the Vote conference wasn’t without its controversies, however. A few delegates came forward with allegations of bullying throughout the program, and a Muslim delegate who spoke out at the conference later faced harassment online.
Tang is still mulling over the events of that week. “There is still such a long, long way to go for intersectional inclusion in Canadian politics,” she says.
While the Daughters of the Vote conference did not entirely convince Tang that running for office was in her future, another SFU co-op experience gave her more food for thought. She heard from the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Melanie Mark, who inspired Tang with stories of how her elected position allowed her to make significant, lasting change in British Columbia.
For now, Tang remains on her path to work in policy development in her community.
“Change begins at the grassroots,” says Tang. “Not all of us fighting for progress will seek election, but the work being done outside of the House of Commons and traditional rooms of power is just as, if not more, significant.”