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Participants at Our Future, Our Voice are eager for change

October 09, 2013

On September 28th, young people from across Metro Vancouver braced the rain to attend the Our Future, Our Voice youth forum. Throughout the day, participants challenged the notion that youth are disengaged, and contributed their ideas for charting a more equitable and sustainable economic future.

The day began with moderator, Kai Nagata, instructing participants to “move to the right side of the room if you are concerned about the direction our province is headed (economically). Move left if you are optimistic, and stay in the middle if you are undecided.” The room shifted to the right.

Indeed, throughout the day, youth voiced many concerns about the BC economy, most relating to affordability and employment. There was an obvious uneasiness about the rising cost of education, housing, and living in general, and discussions of employment were fraught with anxiety and frustration.

Generally speaking though, participants at Our Future, Our Voice were confident that the situation can and will improve. With a view to supporting that improvement, the majority showed a profound openness to change - change in the way we count and consider wealth; in the way we structure and access education; in the way we produce and consume; in the way that we deal with waste; and in the ways we collect, distribute and share public finances.

Their enthusiasm and eagerness to embrace creativity and innovation was apparent in the strategies they put forward. Cradle to grave waste plans, foreign credential recognition, and tax reform were just some of the policies youth at the forum hoped to see our province adopt.

They saw the diversity of our population as a major strength, one which needs to be more deliberately embraced, and short-sighted policies as an underlying cause of our weaknesses. This passionate and inspiring group of young people made it clear they prefer growth, but not at any cost; especially not at the cost of their future.

Author Jackie Pichette is the Research and Communications Officer with SFU Public Square

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